2021 Calendar with a Purpose

I’ve always had a wall calendar by my desk to see the current month at a glance even though appointments, etc. are on my electronic calendar. I mark only my trips on the wall calendar. And for the last few years I’ve zeroed in on calendars by the Costa Rica Nature Photographer PUCCI. The one I just bought for 2021 (feature photo) has a greater purpose than just nature, part of the price I paid goes toward planting trees in Cost Rica! It is called Árboles Mágicos and supports one of the best ways to fight Global Warming! Our trees absorb some of that carbon dioxide the fossil fuel cars are emitting and Costa Rica is already working on that, planning a future of only electric cars. And if you don’t already know, Costa Rica already has 100% clean electricity now! 🙂 The United States should be embarrassed that this little developing country is so far ahead of them! The Árboles Mágicos proposition in a one minute video en español:

Árboles Mágicos Propósito

“Trees exhale for us so that we can inhale them to stay alive. Can we ever forget that? Let us love trees with every breath we take until we perish.”

― Munia Khan

¡Pura Vida!

And for those interested in more details, this year (2020) I had Pucci’s “Backroads & Trails” Calender with photos of twelve trails/roads, eight of which I’ve been on! 🙂 I love this place!

Now here is just one month from the new 2021 calendar to show how it looks:

The November 2021 page of my calendar.

And here’s the back with all 12 month’s photos shown if you can see the small image. The majority are flowering trees.

My 12 months of tree photos on the Pucci “Arboles Mágicos” calendar.

And of course I have a Trees Gallery as a new sub-gallery of my Flora & Forest Gallery. 🙂 All photos made in Costa Rica, the most bio-diverse country in the world!

¡Pura Vida!

Insect Bites on Hikes?

One of my regular readers asked about insects and bug bites on all the wilderness hikes I make with every trip and in a little-less wilderness around where I live in Atenas, Alajuela Province, Costa Rica. And he asked what I did about them.

YES, in the tropics, and Costa Rica specifically, there are actually more insect species than all of the U.S. and Canada combined. Generally they seem to me to be worse at hot times, our summer which is North America’s winter – ironically the time of year we have the most tourists! 🙂 But also location is a big factor, para ejemplo (for example) hotter lowland rainforests and year-around wetlands seem worse to me than mountain cloud forest like I was in last week. And that includes most beaches which have more mosquitoes for example than I have ever seen here in the central valley. But the government has done an excellent job of keeping down the population of mosquitoes all over the country because of diseases they carry and I seldom see one. But there are still many other bugs that bite all over the country! And spiders too!

And you birders remember than many birds eat insects, thus the places I have photographed the most bird species like Maquenque Lodge Boca Tapada and Rancho Humo Guanacaste are wetlands year-around and thus more insects than some dryer places. Here in the Central Valley I see more insects just before and at the beginning of rainy season (April-May) than I do during the daily rains like right now. Not sure why.

When hiking in the reserves and parks I usually spray with Deep Woods Off (a high % of Deet) before going out, and occasionally here at home when I see lots of insects. For treatment off bites I always take a tube of Allergel with me or a similar antihistamine gel/ointment /cream to relieve the itching (many brands here from Europe, U.S., etc). When you live in the tropics you must learn to live with insects! 🙂

Around my house I notice at different times of the year an influx of different flying insects that are pests more than biters, while at other times I get biten and don’t even know by what! 🙂 I just pull out the antihistamine gel and treat it and so far I have lived through all my bug bites! 🙂

Frogs have it easy, they can eat what bugs them. ~Unknown

¡Pura Vida!

See my Insects Gallery which is separate from my Butterfly Gallery or an earlier blog post titled “Living with Bugs.”

El Silencio Book Published

I’m happy to announce that the trip report photo book from my visit to El Silencio Lodge is finished and now available for you to preview electronically for free or order a copy if you like! 🙂 It’s 60 pages with 97 photos of a truly incredible place! See it in my Blurb Bookstore at https://www.blurb.com/b/10309436-el-silencio.

Feature photo is front cover and the back cover is below:

“God is the friend of Silence. See how nature — trees, flowers, grass — grows in silence . . .

We need silence . . . to touch souls.”

~Mother Teresa

¡Pura Vida!

Bajos del Toro Waterfall

This was my waterfall for today and the biggest of the week. If you go to their website Catarata del Toro you can tell that it is commercial and on private property with all of their “biggest and best” claims. The same people own the property that yesterday’s Las Gemelas Waterfall is own. So of course you pay admission to each.

Bajos del Toro sits in the shadow of Poas Volcano, next to the Poas Volcano National Park, Juan Castro Blanco National Park, and the Bosque de Paz Rain/Cloud Forest Biological Reserve. Outdoor activities abound with rugged trail systems to explore the forest’s flora and fauna.

This is beautiful wilderness area and today’s guide, Daniel, another great new friend and excellent guide has done a cross country hike with friends over this trail-less wilderness using machetes to blaze their way through. There are plans to build trails connecting the two national parks and Bajos del Toro.

There were two of us from El Silencio Lodge to go with Daniel on this waterfall hike. I chose not to walk the 400 steep steps down to the bottom of falls, but the Tica young lady guest did walk down while I walked through the hummingbird garden. I do most of the things younger people do, but not all now! 🙂

For you history enthusiasts, the full name of the town and the waterfall is Bajos del Toro Amarillo, translated literally as “Low place (valley) of the Yellow Bull” and the story is that when the first settlers came it they saw a yellow bull that later historians say was actually a bison that did populate parts of Central America in the early 1800’s. It is always fun to get the history behind some of these place names. 🙂

I did my guided bird hike before breakfast this morning also with Daniel but have barely started sorting bird pictures. But with this morning hike + my solo hike in the Hummingbird Garden here + a noon-time experience I will be recording 3 lifer birds or 3 that are new to me. Not bad! 🙂

Today’s waterfall hike slide show:

And this is one more added to my CR Waterfalls Gallery.

Or see THIS TRIP GALLERY: 2020 El Silencio Lodge & Reserve.

¡Pura Vida!

Virtual Rainforest Hike with Iván Castillo

Earlier I shared two videos of virtual night & day rainforest hikes with one of the young female guides at Selva Verde Lodge, Melany Ocón. The kind I experience on my trips, though we see more on our live hikes than these short videos . . .

Today is a hike with one of the young male guides whom I have been hiking with before when there (an expert on frogs). We saw a lot more than they see on this video, but it gives you an idea of what it is like to hike at Selva Verde Lodge & Reserve, one of my many favorite places in Costa Rica. You will see a couple of frogs, a helmeted lizard, a pit viper and an anteater, so worth your effort to watch for 20 minutes and see just a little of why I love to explore the forests of Costa Rica with guides like Iván and Melany. June 30 I head north of Sarapiqui (location of these videos) for a week at Maquenque Lodge with other guides but similar experiences. And remember that English is not their first language! They do much better with English than I do with Spanish!   🙂

 

“If man doesn’t learn to treat the oceans and the rainforest with respect, man will become extinct.” 
~Peter Benchley

And for my photos of two visits to Selva Verde Lodge, Sarapiqui:

2019-May 9-15 — Selva Verde Lodge Sarapiqui

2016 December 23-27 – Selva Verde Lodge, Sarapiqui

¡Pura Vida!

World Turtle Day

Whether you are thinking of one of the ocean giants or a common river turtle, today is the day to remember the fragility of our decreasing turtle population and to do your part in the conservation of turtles!  Read more about WORLD TURTLE DAY and consider getting involved.    Https://www.worldturtleday.org/

The feature photo is a baby Olive Ridley Turtle I released Christmas 2017 in Tambor Bay. Read more about their program at Tambor Turtle Rescue. Costa Rica has the protected birthing beaches of thousands of ocean turtles every year. Did you know that . . .

Five species of sea turtles and eight species of freshwater turtles have been recorded in Costa Rica. All sea turtles are endangered and two of the freshwater species populations have been reduced, mainly due to poaching, being caught as pets, illegal trade, and the destruction and pollution of their habitats.   ~Freshwater Turtles of Costa Rica & Sea Turtles of Costa Rica, an NHBS Field Guide available online. 

See also my Costa Rica Turtles Gallery for more photos of turtles here.

Today, May 23, 2020

WORLD TURTLE DAY

¡Pura Vida!

And 2 days later I find and add the short video Nashville Zoo Celebrates Turtle Day  which is cute and mostly for children.

Costa Rica’s Reopen Timeline

The Health Ministry on Monday presented Costa Rica’s plan for a gradual reopening.

Beginning May 16, Costa Rica will further ease coronavirus restrictions and allow limited visitation at beaches and national parks. If the epidemiological curve permits, more measures will be lifted in June and beyond.

Here is Costa Rica’s timeline for reopening, as presented Monday by the Health Ministry.

May 16 to May 31

  • The following national parks can open at 50% capacity: Irazú Volcano, Poás Volcano, Guayabo, Braulio Carrillo, Carara, Corcovado, Manuel Antonio, Cahuita, Arenal, Rincón de la Vieja, Los Quetzales and Tapantí. Monteverde, a private reserve, can also open. Tickets must be pre-purchased.
  • Non-contact and individual recreational sports / athletic training are permitted.
  • High-level contact sports are permitted, without spectators.
  • Small hotels (maximum 20 rooms) can reopen at 50% capacity.
  • During the week, beaches can open from 5 a.m. to 8 a.m.

June 1 to June 20*

  • Remaining national parks reopen at 50% capacity.
  • All restaurants at 50% capacity.
  • Public parks at 50% capacity.
  • Museums at 50% capacity. (Prior ticket purchase is required.)
  • All other hotels at 50% capacity.
  • The current border restrictions will expire on June 16; these may be extended.

June 21 to July 12*

  • All stores at 50% capacity.
  • All cinemas and theaters at 50% capacity.
  • Religious centers can hold gatherings (maximum 100 people with 1.8 meters of separation).
  • Bars at 25% capacity.

July 13 to August 2*

  • Schools under to-be-announced protocols.
  • Contact sports with spectators (20% capacity).
  • Beaches with social distancing.

* All plans beyond the measures announced for May 16-31 are tentative and may be changed if Costa Rica experiences a surge in cases. 

‘Golden rules’ for containing coronavirus spread

The Health Ministry announced a series of “golden rules” that should be observed by all residents of Costa Rica.

  1. No one with a cold or flu, or with respiratory symptoms, should leave the house.
  2. People with coronavirus risk factors should avoid going to public places.
  3. While in public, maintain a distance of 1.8 meters (6 feet) between anyone not in your “social bubble.”
  4. Do not touch your face in public without first washing your hands.
  5. Do not sing, shout or speak loudly in public.
  6. Wear face masks, especially on public transportation or if remaining in a public place for more than 15 minutes.
  7. If possible, take the temperature of patrons before allowing them into an establishment.

Vehicular restrictions to continue

Starting on May 18, the following daytime vehicular restrictions will be enforced between the hours of 5 a.m. and 10 p.m.:

  • Mondays: Vehicles with license plates ending in 1 and 2 cannot drive. Vehicles with license plates ending in all other numbers can transit freely between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m.
  • Tuesdays: Vehicles with license plates ending in 3 and 4 cannot drive. Vehicles with license plates ending in all other numbers can transit freely between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m. .
  • Wednesdays: Vehicles with license plates ending in 5 and 6 cannot drive. Vehicles with license plates ending in all other numbers can transit freely between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m. .
  • Thursdays: Vehicles with license plates ending in 7 and 8 cannot drive. Vehicles with license plates ending in all other numbers can transit freely between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m. .
  • Fridays: Vehicles with license plates ending in 9 and 0 cannot drive. Vehicles with license plates ending in all other numbers can transit freely between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m. .

A total vehicular restriction — with a few exceptions — will be enforced nationwide every weeknight from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. the following morning.

The weekend driving restrictions will continue between the hours of 5 a.m. and 7 p.m.:

  • Saturdays: Vehicles with license plates ending in even numbers cannot drive.
  • Sundays: Vehicles with license plates ending in odd numbers cannot drive.

A total vehicular restriction — with a few exceptions — will be enforced nationwide every Saturday and Sunday night from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. the following morning.

Cronograma

 

Thankful to live in Costa Rica with common sense national leadership!  ~CD

¡Pura Vida!

WILDFLOWERS – Tennessee & Costa Rica

Okay, yesterday I compared waterfalls so today as I finished my last gallery in the Pre-Costa Rica TENNESSEE Photos gallery, I must do the same with wildflowers. The last gallery for the state of Tennessee is simply Tennessee WILDFLOWERS and again I tried to pick just one photo from each of about 150 species of wildflowers for this gallery with more variety or multiple images in the location galleries where they first appear. The wildflowers were another of the many elements of nature that I enjoyed during my 37 years in Tennessee with an amazing variety!

Shot with Velvia Film
Tennessee Coneflower  —  Growing across from my Nashville row house in the Bicentennial Capital Mall State Park where I spent many hours with nature.

And the featured photo at top is on a huge Magnolia tree in the same park near my house. The beauty of nature is everywhere!

-o-

Similarly I have enjoyed the beautiful tropical wildflowers (most of my garden is wildflowers). See my Costa Rica through regional flower galleries in my big gallery of flowers I call FLORA & FOREST Costa Rica. Click and enjoy! I’ve only been here 5 and a half years, but spend most of my time with nature now! Just one of the many reasons I love being Retired in Costa Rica!

IMG_0043-A-WEB
Growing in a ditch along my street uphill from my house. Pura vida!

 

“Do you know why wildflowers are the most beautiful blossoms of all, my son?”

Dain shook his little head.

Soft waxen curls blew forward in the breeze as she lifted her storm-gray eyes to gaze out over the sea of petals. “Wildflowers are the loveliest of all because they grow in uncultivated soil, in those hard, rugged places where no one expects them to flourish. They are resilient in ways a garden bloom could never be. People are the same, son—the most exquisite souls are those who survive where others cannot. They root themselves, along with their companions, wherever they are, and they thrive.”

Micheline Ryckman, The Maiden Ship

 

¡Pura vida!

Costa Rica by Bus

Someone recently asked me about getting around the country by bus and I think I referred them to the Bus Schedule website which lists all of the option when you type in the “From” and “To” spaces on that website with all bus companies included.

Well, I forgot about an even better help beyond schedules, the Facebook Group Page Costa Rica by Bus on which you can post a question (may have to join group first) and some of the many people who travel by bus will share their experiences and advice. And of course they also recommend the bus schedule site above. And by the way, that bus in photo above is the one I took to Turrialba.

I plan to go to a birding lodge near San Isidro del General in May, so anticipate my report on that bus experience then. I use the bus almost weekly to go from Atenas to Alajuela for many different reasons and have gone to San Jose by bus many times. Some of my other bus adventures have been (with links to photo galleries):

All of this was to simply say that you can travel on a “shoestring budget” and see a lot of Costa Rica whether you live here or visiting. Buses are cheap here! That is the way most Ticos travel! And you can do it without the Spanish language, though much easier and a richer experience if you speak at least a little Spanish.

Now, as a retiree who has made seeing all of Costa Rica my main activity, I do not do everything the budget-way and love to go the longer distances on Sansa Airlines or to places less than 3 hours from Atenas by my favorite driver here in Atenas, but I do not have a car and have basically quit renting cars because of the high insurance cost, thus seeing Costa Rica by bus is one option I still use when I consider it the most practical way. The next bus report comes in May!   🙂

“Live with no excuses and travel with no regrets”    ~ Oscar Wilde

I just realized that I did a similar post in 2017, Seeing Costa Rica by Bus   🙂

¡Pura Vida!