I was thinking of doing a Costa Rica Map on a cork board with map pins showing where I’ve been – which is a lot more places than most people I know here among both Ticos and Expats. Then suddenly in my electronic mailbox appears an email from Google Maps titled: Google Maps Timeline 2019 Update. Yep, it included the feature photo map above and some other stuff that seems to go back to 2015, my first year here when I began traveling Costa Rica. It seems I approved them tracking me (my cell phone) back then and this is what I get! Should I be afraid of Google or send them a thank you note? 🙂
The big red blob in the middle is the space between Atenas & San Jose that includes Alajuela and all the places I go there including the big SJO Airport. I cannot explain the red dot in the Pacific Ocean, but if you study the map more you will see the large green area in the south-southeast above Panama that has no red spots for my visits. One main reason is that it is the Talamanca Mountains, much of which is indigenous reserves with no public roads going through there plus protected national forests not allowing travel. My May trip will put me on the Western edge of that area at Chirripó and my visit to the Bribri Yorkin Reserve had me on the eastern edge. And that is it! 🙂 So just 17 more parks/reserves to go! 🙂
After 37 national parks & reserves are visited, I will do a photo book like I did with all of Tennessee’s State Parks in my photo book A Walk in the Woods Through All 54 Tennessee State Parks. There are technically only 28 national parks here! But the nine reserves count as equals and for my nature photography purposes especially, so I’m saying 37, with only 17 more to go! I don’t have a car which slows me down a little! But I will get there! 🙂
This bird (above & at right) is a Tropical Kingbird (click name for more about him). He is the first one photographed on my terrace this year, at breakfast, January 1, 2020.
Just three weeks before I visited Tapirus Lodge in Braulio Carrillo National Park Christmas Week, David Attenborough and a BBC film crew visited the same lodge and park! I have trouble keeping up with all his documentaries, but hope I see whatever he filmed there! 🙂 Maybe it is part of his new “Green Planet” Series which is being filmed all over Costa Rica?
“The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.”
~Will Ferrell, ‘Elf’
And that is what they do in the annual Christmas Lights Night Parade in Atenaswith participants and viewers coming from other “pueblos” (towns) surrounding Atenas including the large Zarcero Community Band which marched in the Rose Parade earlier as well as smaller, rural bands and dance groups. Colorful, long, and loud!
A terrific Christmas Fiesta that continued after the parade with live music & food in the partly remodeled Central Park Atenas until midnight! Since I can hear the sound system from my house, it meant I was delayed going to bed last night! 🙂 And for some of us . . .
“The world has grown weary through the years, but at Christmas, it is young.” ~Phillips Brooks
“And we are better throughout the year for having in spirit, become a child again at Christmas time.” ~Laura Ingalls Wilder
And that is what I am doing again for this Christmas! Tonight (Friday) I watch the Christmas Lights Parade in Atenas which is always beautiful and colorful. (Feature Photo is 2017 Atenas Parade) I missed the parade last year while on a trip. That means that tomorrow, Saturday, I hope to report on the parade with photos, though it could be mid-day before I can get that many photos processed! 🙂
Then Sunday morning I leave for the mountains where I will be spending the week at Braulio Carrillo, our second largest national park in Costa Rica at the Tapirus Lodgewhich I’m hoping was a good choice since my first choice (Arenal Observatory) had no vacancies a year ahead of this Christmas Week! (I now have them scheduled for Christmas 2020! Tapirus is operated by Rainforest Adventures which seems to emphasize the young with zip-lining and white-water rafting much more than bird-watching (but I am becoming a child again!) – so we will see! But at least I will be in the forest – me gusta mucho! 🙂
I know, the Spanish dictionaries will say “tortas de Navidad” or “los pasteles de Navidad” but Costa Rica has its own Spanish and we call cake “queque”here! 🙂
My favorite bakery here is Crema y Nata and they got an order this year for 40 Christmas Cakes for a corporate Office Christmas Party in San Jose. I snapped a few shots of my friends there preparing some of the 40 cakes. Also there are some shots of the patio dining area where I have coffee and sometime breakfast at least twice a week. In addition to their Christmas Cake which is okay (like a spice cake with icing, fruit on top & nuts inside–not as good as Corsicana TX fruit cake in my opinion) they have the best eggnog I have ever tasted in my life – very rich! Called el rompopehere!
Queques de Navidad
“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.” ~Norman Vincent Peale
My once-a-week maid’s daughter graduated from the public technical high school (Colegio Técnico Professional) last night and I attended. Nelyin has been a hard worker in school and helps her Mom a lot, even cleaning my house some weeks. I am proud of her and hope she doesn’t rush into a marriage too soon. She has no specific plans for now except to get a good paying job.
Note that this school does not use caps and gowns for the commencement service (just one for their official photos) but wear their regular school uniforms which for seniors is a different color golf shirt, orange for regular students this year while the night school students are wearing the blue shirts and are generally older. In fact, some of the night school students walked up for their diploma carrying a baby or small child. There was a total of about 60 graduates. December is the end of school year (calendar year) for all schools with summer break until February when new school year starts.
I apologize for the poor cell phone photos. This current phone was cheaper than the previous one and the camera is just not as good, plus the lighting was horrible in the gymnatorium. Two other retiree couples Mayra works for drove all of us in their two large cars. Me and my maid’s family have not cars! 🙂
Nelyin’s aunt & niece, brother Rudito, Mom Mayra and father Rudy.
Each graduate is greeted by each of her teachers
In the gymnatorium
Nelyin with little brother Rudito
Nelyin – photo of photo
Her family! Rudito, Mayra, Nelyin & Rudy.
Nelyin with diploma & photo
Her Mom Mayra surprises her with a school ring.
Teachers sitting in front of us
Nelyin leaving the stage
For full size files of these photos go to the Graduation 2019 CTP photo gallery where you can download them.
“Your education is a dress rehearsal for a life that is yours to lead.” —Nora Ephron
People around the world buy these interesting tropical plants as an indoor natural Christmas decoration. I bought two last year and after Christmas decided to plant them in my garden so I would have my own outdoor Christmas Poinsettia this year since they are native to Central America. And surely you know that they do not have a flower but the top layer of leaves turn red around Christmas. Well, I kept watching mine in the garden as it got closer to December and now Christmas and MINE STILL HAVE NOT TURNED RED!
“The Poinsettia is a light sensitive plant. When you deprive the plant in its full leafing stage of light, the only chlorophyll used to turn the leaves green cannot be produced. As a result of this total darkness and lack of light, the only color that will be produced is red. This is called photoperiodism.”
~from the internet
I’ve seen red ones in other gardens here but this quote makes it sounds like I needed to cover them from the sun in my garden to get red. Then by reading further online in this article on How Poinsettias Turn Red, I learned that the two I bought from the supermarket last year are hybridized by nurseries as indoor plants and yes would have turned red if I had given then weeks of darkness. BUT, the ones in other gardens here that bloom are “wild poinsettias” which have somehow developed a way to turn their leaves red to attract pollinators. Wow! Nature is amazing and interesting! So . . . if I want them blooming in my garden, I need to get wild ones! 🙂 Oh well, I tried! 🙂
Now, to get my red, I bought two new ones again this year, one little and one bigger one and I now have Christmas red inside my house, just not in the garden! 🙂 But most importantly I’m trying to “live Christmas every day!” 🙂 And hope you are able to do that too! Be Merry!
“Peace on earth will come to stay, when we live Christmas every day.”
Yesterday morning I had an intruder in my house during breakfast. The sliding glass doors to my terrace stay open all day when I’m here but I close the sliding screen doors except for during breakfast when I’m in and out a lot for coffee, etc. Yesterday for the first time a juvenile Chachalaca just like these two photos made earlier flew right by my breakfast table and into the house. (A youngster exploring!)
I went inside and hollered at him which just scared him further back into my bedroom. I then opened the other door, a regular door into my garden (for multiple exit options), then walked calmly into my bedroom to the opposite side as he went under the bed and back out the other side away from me, then immediately flying back outside through the big door.
Kind of amusing. He of course was afraid of me and the house, just a kid exploring! The only other bird to fly in has been a little Rufous-naped Wren inside my house which I made photos of then. This time I just wanted the chicken-sized bird OUT! 🙂
This is a typical line for getting on the bus to Alajuela or San Jose, at least at the times I usually board them in the mornings or returning in early afternoons. As a senior adult I could go to the front of the line but I don’t. That still feels like “breaking in line” to me. But I do use my residency card for my free passage to Alajuela or discount for San Jose (which I rarely go to – too big & noisy!).
The buses are comfortable, on time, and the price is right! 🙂 I am still very happy living without a car and I save money for more fun travel! Plus I read more books riding buses! What’s not to like?
“You can’t understand a city without using its public transportation system.”
― Erol Ozan
Well – the ones I have taken the time to photograph in my normal activities of the last week or two. I failed to photograph a big one at the Alajuela Hospital and did not go to the Juan Santamaria Park for Alajuela’s biggest outdoor tree this year and the Atenas City Hall does not have a tree out front this year, though I included their ugly one in Central Park. But these photos give you an idea of the fact that Christmas is the biggest holiday of the year here in Costa Rica with decorations going up around Halloween (which is not celebrated here).
Of course the trees in the little country town of Atenas don’t match the huge ones in Alajuela’s big City Mall – but it is all in the spirit of the biggest fiesta of the year. And the funny thing to me is that the Ticos who can afford it here go to the beach Christmas Week! Pretty much everything except supermarkets and pharmacies are closed Christmas Week – and I too travel, but not the beach this year! 🙂 Stay tuned for my “Christmas Mountain Forest Adventures” coming 21-27 December! Retired in Costa Rica Five Years as of this Christmas Eve!
Christmas Trees 2019
La Coope Supermercado, Atenas
Escuela Central, Atenas Daytime
Escuela Central Atenas at Night
Ugly Tree Atenas Central Park
City Mall Alajuela
City Mall Alajuela (Kolbi Telephone Tree)
Libreria Internacional, Biggest Bookstore, City Mall Alajuela
“City sidewalks Busy sidewalks Dressed in holiday style In the air There’s a feeling Of Christmas…”