Walking out my compound gate.

Not sure if I have ever mentioned that across the street from my house is a cow pasture with about a dozen cows keeping the grass trimmed until the developers slap houses on it. (Without vistas!)

I’m not sure of the breed, maybe Brahma? Whatever, they have big ears!
And a cowboy riding the fence line! Just one wire, electrified!
But the cows still get out some. Grass is always greener . . .


Life-giving Rain! Hard to photograph, but easy to accept!

I rushed to plant my garden the first week of May because I understood that the rainy season started in May and it would be raining every day. Well, I have been watering plants almost everyday with only a few good rains thus far and none the last 4 or 5 days. Well, I watered this morning and this afternoon we got a long, soaking rain which I hope is the beginning of a near daily event. Then it started again this evening, so our longest rain yet this year. And now I know why they call it winter this season, it is cold during the rain.

My Garden in the Night Rain

The Rain to the Wind

The rain to the wind said,
You push and I’ll pelt.’
They so smote the garden bed
That the flowers actually knelt,
And lay lodged–though not dead.
I know how the flowers felt.

                            ― Robert Frost

I walk in beauty!

Frangipani (or Plumeria) tree in Alajuela.

Beauty is before me.  

Beauty is behind me
Beauty is above me
Beauty is below me

I walk in beauty!

         – Navajo Poem

All of nature is beauty to me and in Costa Rica I feel like I am surrounded by nature more than anywhere else I have ever been. And as a walker, I truly walk in beauty! (You see more walking!)

Boxes, boxes, everywhere!

Some of the book boxes in my office & the African Chest unpacked already.

I intended to move here with only what would fit in the max allowed 5 suitcases and with more preparation time I could have. But once I was on the time line to move I couldn’t get rid of everything quick enough and decided to ship about 20 boxes of scrapbooks to photograph (make digital books) and destroy hard copies here. Then there was my art collection and good number of framed and canvas photos I liked and knew I could use some of, so boxed them securely for shipping. I also had a few boxes of misc. stuff, Christmas decorations (should have given away) and some winter clothing (big mistake!).

And more on the other side of my office!

I ended up with about 50 boxes shrunk wrapped on pallets that were shipped in December, arriving in Costa Rica in shared container space on a boat by February. Because I knew I would not likely stay in the apartments, I kept my boxes in storage in Alajuela near the San Jose Airport until this week when they were delivered to my new house.

Now the lovely, uncluttered house is a mess for a long while! Though I have already unpacked 4 or 5 the first day! I have to get ruthless again to clear out this stuff, like I did with all my furniture in Nashville. I’m still getting little checks from ReMix Furniture where much of my stuff was on consignment sale there.

Once I display the artwork and photos I think fit here, I will probably give the rest away. And the Christmas decorations will go to Su Espacio Community Center for their first Christmas tree this year if I can hold the decorations until maybe November. My manger scene collection may get advertised on Craig’s List Atenas.

But the scrapbooks and genealogy books/research will be the most difficult and time-consuming to deal with. And then there’s the stamp collection I didn’t get sold before the move. Craig’s List again! I’ll be busy for awhile!

Artwork, photos and Christmas stuff in my Living/Dining Room.
Plus the wicker trunk in my bedroom.

Hummingbirds & Butterflies!

This is one reason I made my garden. Glad they like it!
Male Cinnamon Hummingbird on a Plumbago plant
Atenas, Costa Rica
Yellow & Black Swallowtail Butterfly on a Plumbago plant.
Atenas, Costa Rica
Crescent Butterfly or maybe a Peck’s Skipper on Tutti Frutti Lantana
Atenas, Costa Rica

Peck’s Skipper on Tutti Frutti Lantana
Atenas, Costa Rica
Mustard White on Tutti Frutti Lantana
Atenas, Costa Rica

I’ve seen two other hummingbirds in the garden but without a camera. Also some other butterflies.

Today my boxes were delivered – mostly scrapbooks and artwork that I shipped from states before leaving in December. More about that tomorrow! And here is tonight’s sunset:

A different view tonight! I walked up driveway and shot over my roof looking west instead of usual north.
Also it is a 5-shot panorama. 

House Tour – Inside Today!

Dining Room & Kitchen with my new pot plant on right.
Looking out towards balcony from kitchen. Living Room left, dining right.
Living Room with my Strangler Fig Tree out the window.
And my new indoor plant at left. (She had an artificial plant there.)
Guest Room Bed is a couch until you get here! Living room couch also a bed!
This one is my office couch most of the time.

This office/guest room came with a desk and chair!
I added printer table and have an extra desk chair for sale!
(The one I bought while at apartments.)

My bedroom without her pretty comforter on bed. I don’t care for her orange accent
and plan to replace that lamp with a bronze one I saw at the hardware store today,
maybe this week. I’m pretty quickly making it my home in every way. Sleep well!
Ceiling fans are in here, office/guest room, and living room. A/C is not needed.
Remember, Atenas has the best climate in the world says National Geographic.
I leave all windows open around the clock, including the sliding glass door.
That way I get breeze from all directions and a wide overhang roof keeps rain out.

One bath is plenty even with the rare overnight guest.
I have plenty of storage, big shower & like brown trim.
Entrance Plaza to Entrance Hall at end of my driveway parking space.
Fall color oil painting isn’t very Costa Rica like or tropical, but beautiful!
I may not replace it. Everything doesn’t have to be tropical or Latin American!

Laundry Room off the kitchen
The electric dryer was almost reason enough to move!
And this is an American brand with English on dials!
It was fun hanging clothes out, but its rainy season now.
Had I stayed in apartment, I would have purchased a dryer.
“La Terraza o El Balcón”  in Spanish and Latin Culture, Patio/Deck or Balcony
I’m sure I’ve already said that this is my favorite room! I eat most meals here and
do a lot of reading out here. I’m more than halfway through Lord of the Rings!

Yesterday’s post was “House Tour – Outside” in case you missed it!

This is where I enjoy retirement! Pura Vida! in Atenas, Costa Rica!

House Tour – Outside Today

Here’s a few views of the outside of my house and some of the new plants I got today. Tomorrow I will show the inside rooms.

My favorite room in the house is actually outside, my balcony, deck, patio.
This tile floor is throughout the house and outside walkways around three sides.
Nice! Plus the wooden ceiling is throughout the house.

105 Calle Roca Verde, one of the few houses in Atenas with a house number!
I’m the house on right behind trees, Don & Linda to left with carport and
our landlord lives on top of the hill behind us. I guard the gate, ha, ha!
There is also a gate to get inside the development with a real guard 24/7.

View of my house from street. The three little decorative palms in front were
added today to replace the three that died from lack of water in dry season.
I plan to make watering plants a major dry season activity!
You can barely see the Red Palm planted at end of balcony &
a tall, skinny Guarumo Tree in front of balcony.

You have already seen my new entry garden, but
we planted ground cover today that should spread fast.

Three Fishtail Palms and a Banana Plant (on right) were planted today as a screen
in front of my bedroom window (right) and guest room (left) for privacy
on this street side. They will fill in and spread in a month or two.
And maybe I’ll be eating the bananas by Christmas!  🙂
The driveway and entry side. The entry hall is to left by garden, but I mainly
use the balcony at right as my main entrance. This may be the least interesting
side of house, but my new entry garden is going to change that! Pot plants on
this wall would block the tile walkway, except maybe at that corner on patio.
I’m making it my home and so for love it inside and out! It is just right for me.

Tomorrow I’ll show you around inside the house as it is now decorated. My art may arrive this week, but I will probably add only a few pieces around a well decorated house! Buenas Noches!

Tonight’s sunset colored the clouds in the north. Beautiful! Each evening a new surprise!
How did I ever live without a balcony? This is my cathedral!

Walking Snaps Today

Walking by Alajuela Cathedral this morning
I was struck by this beautiful flowering shrub.
Cell phone snap

Walking through Atenas later today, I caught this Blue-crowned Motmot
with my cellphone in someone’s yard. I did have to crop in a bit on this one.

It was a very busy day today and I did not get everything accomplished that I intended, but did get a lot done. Tomorrow Cristian and his crew come to finish my garden and add some trees and shrubs to my yard. You will probably hear about them tomorrow! And eventually I will get around to making and showing some photos of my new house. A busy two weeks!

By the way, Trip Advisor, for which I write reviews, has just published its “Top 10 Beaches in Central America” list and 8 of them are in Costa Rica! Or see the actual Trip Advisor site listing where you have to hit the arrow to scroll through the photos of each beach.  Makes me want to reconsider living at a beach, but probably not! 🙂  Beaches are hotter, more humid, and more expensive for living. I can get to a beach in 2 hours or less any time I want to.

Interested in the Nicaragua Canal? Click to read the latest news and how construction has begun. 


A few lingering flowers still on one of the four Yellow Bells trees in my yard.

In this quintessential Tico town, everyone is friendly and strangers greet you on the sidewalk if you are a walker like me and I always want to greet them. One of the interesting things I learned early on here is that younger people like to shorten phrases as they talk fast and a lot.

The common greetings are of course:

Buenos Dias – up until noon
Buenas Tardes – afternoon until dark
Buenas Noches – after dark 

But now the most common greeting is just “Buenos” and some make the afternoon and evening distinction by saying “Buenas” (the feminine adjective for the feminine words tarde & noche, “a” instead of “o”.) But of course most older people still use the full phrases above, though not all.

Always trying to act younger, I’m now in the habit of saying “Buenos” to most people I meet. Of course if I know them or come into a class or other specific relationship with someone, it is then all the “How are you?” greetings and small talk for a bit. Almost as much as West Africa, though not quite.

Buenas noches from Pura Vida Atenas, Costa Rica!    -Charlie

Sunset Over Atenas from my balcony

Garden Almost Finished

Seen from driveway

Seen from house door

Looking from garden back to driveway and Don & Linda’s house
The back sidewalk with red palm at end
Pot plant in Living Room

One pot on patio/balcony

The other patio pot to help screen neighbors
It will get much larger

Sorry, I took most of these photos before sweeping and mopping the tile walkways because I was in a hurry to go shopping in Alajuela. And note that the vines are planted at top of walls but will take a few months to trail down, maybe looking good in August. Still to come next Saturday:

  1. I have been debating whether to use mulch or ground cover and think I have decided on ground cover. He said he would give me two choices, so we will see what happens with that. 
  2. Plus the Maraca or Shampoo Ginger plant is still coming next week. A prize plant!
  3. I’m adding a Guarumo Tree in the front yard, a member of the Cecropia family that has a fruit toucans love, so you know why I am planting it. Sloths like to eat the leaves too, so who knows, it might even attract a sloth. 
  4. Also we are adding another red palm to hide the balcony post and give more balcony foilage. 
  5. In front of my bedroom window he will put some fish-tail palms to add to my privacy from the street and also . . . 
  6. banana plant for my breakfast fruit as well as a screen! 

This is fun! And the landlord is paying for some of the above additions as I improve his property. I plan to stay here a long time! 🙂 I love the house and yard, my neighbors, and a great landlord who also a good neighbor! (And reads my blog some!) Pura Vida! This is more what I envisioned in Costa Rica than the apartments, though there were some good things about them and I enjoyed my time there as a good place to start.

I highly recommend J&C Gardens if you live anywhere near Atenas or La Garita. You can email Cristian (who speaks English) at or call him at 8873-7483 cellular. Tell him Charlie sent you!