Alajuela City Workers Strike

You do not see strikes often here outside the capital city of San Jose (where they shut down the already horrible traffic), but the other day when in Alajuela a small group of city workers (police, fire, others) were striking across the street from City Hall which had police barricades to keep them off city property (sorry I didn’t photo that!). The homemade signs or posters taped to the railing of a closed business were complaining about waste of money by city and low salaries for employees – plus they were blowing horns and beating drums to attract attention and possibly annoy city offices across the street. Common low pay complaint around the world I guess.

Public employees picketing for better wages, Alajuela.

Though life is much better here than in the states for the poor, greed still causes the rich to get richer and the poor to get poorer. Life is not always fair.

Safe working conditions, fair wages, protection from forced labor, and freedom from harassment and discrimination – these must become standard global operating conditions.    ~Paul Polman

¡Pura Vida!


I have an Alajuela photo gallery if interested in more from our provincial capital and home of the San Jose Airport.

Bonus for CR Travelers

One of the CR Travel Agencies I use is Costa Rica Expeditions and they just sent out this message with 5 Secrets of Visiting Costa Rica in October.  Helpful information for traveling here near the end of our “Green Season.” (Rainy Season) Anytime is a good time to visit Costa Rica!

VAT and Other CR Negatives

The featured photo today has nothing to do with the article, but I liked it and never found the right place to use it in all my reports on Xandari. It is a Rufous-capped Warbler peeking around a leaf in the Xandari Gardens. Now my post on both negatives and positives of living in Costa Rica   🙂


This last month we got a new tax in Costa Rica, as if we didn’t have enough, the “Value Added Tax” was passed by the legislators to replace a 13% Sales Tax on a limited number of items which in essence just expands the sales tax to almost all items and even services now, still at 13%. For example, my National Healthcare Insurance fee (based on my income) was 13% more this month with the VAT as was my meal in a restaurant last night. The Costa Rica Star English Language online newspaper had this article: Crazy New Tax Laws in Costa Rica That you Need to Know About. And remember that this is on top of one of the highest import taxes (Trump would love) making cars very expensive here. BUT, we have no income tax and one of the lowest property taxes in the world. So, maybe it evens out?

Yet Christopher in his “Live in Costa Rica Blog” had this to say recently with his biggest specific complaint being the economy of Costa Rica:

Negative Things About the “Real” Costa Rica

Also from that blog is this interesting article, not necessarily negative, but for a lot of negative/critical Americans it is:

How Difficult is it for Retired Expats to Have Costa Rica Friends?

It really boils down to your attitude towards locals as an expat. One reason I liked Costa Rica better than Panama for retirement is because the retired Americans are not quite as segregated into English-speaking groups here as in Panama, nor is the country as “Americanized” as Panama, but unfortunately we do have segregation here too and some Americans who never intend to even try learning Spanish. (I’m not very good, but I try daily.)

Now as one who also tries to stay positive I cannot complete this article on negatives without at least two positive!   🙂


Two stories of interest for anyone considering a move to CR or any other country: (1) About a man who came 50 years ago as a Peace Corp worker and still lives here and   (2) Another useful article on “Why move to Costa Rica?”

This link takes you to the online English Language Magazine, El Residente, for the organization Association of Residents of Costa Rica, ARCR that has articles like these in every issue. It is free for members and if thinking of moving here, I encourage you to join ARCR. They will be your biggest help when you finally take the big step! And that’s another positive!   🙂

¡Pura Vida!


The Heart of the Evangelical Crisis

Featured Photo above is of a Mandinka Potter in the Makasutu Forest of The Gambia, West Africa using an old foot-treadle potter’s wheel. Scripture is my addition to a favorite photo from my 3 years in The Gambia, a print of which hangs in my bedroom here.

Though I dropped my paid subscription to Christianity Today, I continue to get the free CT Newsletter and just read this article that speaks to my desire for a new church and new identity: The Heart of the Evangelical Crisis. I hope the link works for you to read it. Like other writers on the subject, he does not have all the answers, but describes the problem in an interesting way that rings true with much of my life experiences.

While serving as a missionary in The Gambia, West Africa, I soon quit calling myself a “Christian,” a “Baptist” or an “Evangelical” as I related to Muslim friends calling myself “A Follower of Jesus.” The difference in our relationships was amazing with a new label and I found other reasons for the title when I returned to the states for the first 12 years of my retirement and even now while living as an expat American Retiree in the Roman Catholic Costa Rica. I’m a follower of Jesus!   🙂

The primary focus of this blog is retirement in Costa Rica, my love of nature and especially the birds here in Costa Rica, but occasionally I feel the need to speak my deep feelings about what I consider a crisis in America today, for which I partly blame Southern Baptists (the largest of the Evangelicals) for whom I worked my total adult working life. I now have no pride in those years, even though the denomination was different when I started. I apologize to the readers whom I offend when I speak like this, but it is a sincere concern of mine that I feel compelled to express at times. We who follow Jesus cannot allow the “Republican Trump America” of today to define Christianity! Far from it!

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 

Matthew 16:24-26

And it was accentuated by this morning’s Bible reading in The Message, Matthew 7:13-29 titled “Being and Doing,” a sort of warning to us believers.
¡Pura vida!

The Brave

Read below about a new “Great Big Story” coming March 25 – The Brave – I received as a subscriber to The Great Big Story.

It is time to do something about man’s destruction of earth!

So in 2019, we’re making a concerted effort to drive change, fusing the storytelling you’ve come to expect from us with action-oriented programs focused on the environment, diversity and inclusion, community, and audacity. We believe in leaving a gentle footprint on the planet and making a big imprint on our communities. We believe in the resiliency of people and in our power to achieve the seemingly impossible. But above of all, we believe this world—the one we all call home—is worth fighting for.

Introducing: “The Brave”

We’re excited to kick off a month-long celebration of our Great Big Planet with a new series, “The Brave,” on Monday, March 25, where you’ll meet the extraordinary people taking incredible action on Mother Earth’s behalf.

Watch the trailer HERE.

Describing My 2014 Journey Here

This week’s death of Nature Poet Mary Oliver (1935-2019), and article about her in Washington Post, plus reviewing her poems led me to her “Journey” which in some ways describes what I was unable to describe in my 2014 “Decision Process” I called it then, of getting away from the depressing world of conservative Middle Tennessee, the clouds of a failed marriage and subsequent loss of family, branches and stones in my path of a vocational “calling”  manipulated by power-hungry “rulers” ending unceremoniously first in 1999 and finally by 2002 in unplanned early retirement. In a daze . . .

I’ve always tried to “make lemonade out of lemons” and I turned my retirement into an adventure of nature travel and photography as much as I could afford, including visits to all 54 state parks in Tennessee with a book about that, A Walk in the Woodsalong with many other nature/travel books and my growing nature photo gallery. But I was still looking for something else.

Moving from the vibrant life of rowhouse living in downtown Nashville to a suburban “Independent Living Retirement Home” was still not what I was looking for.

It was to commune closer with nature, to travel in natural exotic places that my limited income could not afford, then suddenly it hit me, why not move to one of the nature places in which I love to travel and just live there?

With only 2 family members left and no grandchildren, it was easier for me than some people to make such a life-changing move! And now I see it described in a new way in this poem by Mary Oliver:

The Journey

One day you finally knew

what you had to do, and began,

though the voices around you

kept shouting

their bad advice–

though the whole house

began to tremble

and you felt the old tug

at your ankles.

“Mend my life!”

each voice cried.

But you didn’t stop.

You knew what you had to do,

though the wind pried

with its stiff fingers

at the very foundations,

though their melancholy

was terrible.

It was already late

enough, and a wild night,

and the road full of fallen

branches and stones.

But little by little,

as you left their voices behind,

the stars began to burn

through the sheets of clouds,

and there was a new voice

which you slowly

recognized as your own,

that kept you company

as you strode deeper and deeper

into the world,

determined to do

the only thing you could do–

determined to save

the only life you could save.

~Mary Oliver

¡Retired in Costa Rica!

¡Pura Vida!

Perfect Weather Here & Horrible Politics There

WARNING: Please Don’t Read if Politics Offend You!


The header photo above is Bribri Watsi Waterfalls, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Costa Rica where I was two weeks ago. Warmer there than Atenas.

El Mejor Clima del Mundo = The Best Weather in the World

That is the Chamber of Commerce slogan for the small farming town of Atenas, Costa Rica because some writer said that years ago in an article he wrote in National Geographic. Of course a claim like that will always be debatable, but it is basically true for me and I cannot say it better than a fellow expat retiree in Atenas wrote yesterday in one of our local Facebook groups:

Weather and our green season = another perfect day in Atenas. Nice hot, clear skies in the morning (82F inside our home) and now rain with brilliant colors of blue, grey and white in our clouds. Perfect!!!! Feeling = happy.       ~Mary Cook

Note that we locals call “Rainy Season” (May-Nov) “Green Season” here. And it is definitely my favorite time of year! Sunny mornings & rain in late afternoon or evening. More comfortable, greener, more beautiful and fewer northern tourists!  🙂

¡Pura Vida!


I love the rain. I want the feeling of it on my face.

~Katherine Mansfield


My Left-wing Take on the U.S. November 6 Election

For years I have watched the dangerous fascist rightward movement of my beloved country of birth. I watched a John Birch Society take over and nearly destroy a church I served in South Florida in the 1960’s. As a lifetime servant of the Southern Baptist Convention I watched immoral shenanigans of power-hungry despots increasingly gain control of the then largest non-Catholic denomination at annual meetings. During this time I watched fellow-Christians being seduced  by the obviously non-Christian “Tea Party” politics. Then as a 22-year employee of the Baptist Sunday School Board (LifeWay Christian Resources) I suffered the “takeover” by right-wing fascists who brought in bankers and businessmen who saw only a bottom line profit and created the collapse of one of the greatest publishing houses and ministries ever created for Christianity, while “downsizing” out experienced servants like myself. At times I thought my total world was collapsing with the added trauma of an unfriendly divorce, single-parenting, death of a child and both my parents right before losing my job only 3 years before retirement age.

God’s provision for those 3 years was miraculous and wonderful, but the following 12 years of retirement in Tennessee continued to expose the dangerous political changes coming to America and my church and was one of my major, though unstated, reasons for moving my retirement to Costa Rica in 2014. And that was even before I knew anything about Trump.  Other reasons for moving here were listed in this 2014 post when I still feared alienating my conservative friends and blamed it mostly on high costs in the states. I think too much is at stake in America today to worry about alienating people now.

The dangerous fascism of many of my own Christian friends and many other factors led to the disastrous election of 2016, while I was enjoying retirement in my new home country of Costa Rica. Anyone who is not shocked by the immoral Donald Trump and his spineless Republican Congress has probably not continued reading this far. But I sincerely believe that NOW IS THE TIME TO BEGIN CHANGE! And I have yet to see it stated any better than an editorial in today’s Washington Post:

A reminder: America’s future is at stake in the 2018 midterms, an opinion article by Brian Klaas.

I hope you will be able to open and read it without being a subscriber. I’m not sure how that works. And I hope you will vote Democrat at every level this election! I already have in my absentee ballot. A blue wave is needed!

And now I hope to avoid politics for a long time in this blog. It is really about my retirement in wonderful Costa Rica! (But part of my heart is still in the states.) One week from tomorrow I will be reporting from a rainforest lodge near Golfito, Costa Rica:   Esquinas Lodge   Only positive stuff then!

¡Pura Vida!