Is Costa Rica My “Middle-earth?”

In many ways, YES! And in more than one place I have used the following Tolkien quote in relation to my nearly 7 years of continuous exploring the most magical place on earth to me – Costa Rica!

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

-J.R.R Tolkien
The Wingfeather Saga uses maps and your imagination for their spirited land.

I just finished the Wingfeather Saga of four books where Andrew Peterson created his own imaginary world called “Aerwiar” and, like Tolkien before him, created this imaginary world before he wrote all the stories so that the places helped shape the stories. I don’t know if Lewis created Narnia before his stories, but as a best friend to Tolkien, he probably did! 🙂 And I can assure you that Costa Rica was created long before me and shapes all of my stories! 🙂

The Stone Bridge in the movie-version of Narnia.


The Wingfeather Saga started off a little slow but ended with a powerful impact on me and probably most other readers. The many places within his world of “Aerwiar” not only influenced his story but also how we the readers react to it. You can easily say the same thing about Narnia and of course the most powerful sense of place in the make-believe world remains Tolkien’s “Middle-earth” that people still study and the fantasy of it keeps readers coming back for more!

Frodo runs through the magical Hobbit village in movie version.

But to me, the best fantasyland of them all is the real country of Costa Rica! It has greatly influenced not only my blog reported adventures here but how I’m living my new “pura vida” daily life in Costa Rica. In some ways I’ve tackled this country the way the Hobbit Frodo approached Middle-earth and how those children approached Narnia & Aerwiar; all with a sense of awe, adventure and purpose! I think it’s the way to approach all of life, wherever one lives! I just think it’s easier in a magical place like Costa Rica! 🙂

And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.

Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.

~Roald Dahl

My Magical Place is Costa Rica!

Everywhere in Costa Rica is magical like this view from Villa Calletas, Jaco.

¡Pura Vida!

Costa Ricans Live Longer Than Americans. What’s the Secret?

As a kid some pushy boys would challenge you with “I double-dog dare you to . . .” do whatever outlandish thing they thought I or someone else was too scared to do. Well the linked article below in The New Yorker Magazine is a very long article (taking time to read), but if you are really interested in the health of people wherever you live, then I “double-dog dare you” to read the whole article! 🙂 I believe you will be impressed!

It tells the story of a doctor almost my age from Atenas, Costa Rica (my current home town) who revolutionized Costa Rica’s health care system to make it arguably one of, if not the best in the world by blending public health and medical care. It’s a life-changing story for Costa Rica! And it could be for rich, self-centered countries like the U.S. who need to quit fearing “socialism” and start thinking about what is best for ALL the people and not just the RICH few as it now works in the states. I applaud The New Yorker for this excellent article! May America soon wake up! And thanks to Steve for bringing it to my attention! 🙂

COSTA RICANS LIVE LONGER THAN US. WHAT’S THE SECRET?

¡Pura Vida!

Due Diligence when relocating to Costa Rica

Because I know there are several readers of my blog who are considering relocation to Costa Rica for retirement like me or other reasons, I must link to this article: Due Diligence when relocating to Costa Rica on the Live in Costa Rica Blog and Tour website. It is one of the best summaries I’ve seen yet of some basics which you must consider if you are even thinking about moving to Costa Rica.

Landing in Limon for my annual Caribbean Trip.

And the feature photo at top is my shot of “Whale’s Tail Beach” Uvita from a plane.

My 3 Most Important Things to Do Before Moving to Costa Rica

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Take an Urban Walk with Me

These are some of the houses and businesses that are along my 650 meter walk every day from the hotel to Radioterapia Siglo XXI clinic for my radiation treatments. Bear in mind that in the early days this neighborhood, called Uruca, was a “suburb” of downtown San Jose, a 10+ minute drive away now.

A mostly residential walk.

As in most urban development, some residential slowly turns to business and this neighborhood is no exception. I thought some readers would enjoy seeing what urban houses in this part of Latin America look like today. As a point of comparison, note that Costa Rica tends to be more modern and less traditional than Latin countries like Guatemala and Mexico. On this walk there is only one old house that would be considered “Spanish Colonial” with the tile roof and high compound wall. I think the neighborhood is interesting, but to help you not be bored, it’s a fast-moving slide show 🙂

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Earth Day Hope

Wherever there are birds, there is hope.”

~Mehmet Murat ildan

And of course this is just one of the many birds who have brought hope to my terrace here in Atenas, Costa Rica – A Keel-billed Toucan in my Cecropia Tree (link to my Keel-billed Gallery). There is hope that the big rich nations are waking up to global warming and their long-time destruction of our planet. And there’s hope in the battle against my destructive cancer. Below is my update of activities that finally make it possible to begin Radiotherapy Monday.

Second Covid Shot this Morning

Quick and painless. I walk into the temporary vaccination clinic ahead of my 8 AM appointment, paperwork done quickly with shot even quicker and I was out of there before my appointment time. 🙂 I walked home, having taken a taxi to the clinic. With my knee no longer hurting I’m back into walking more and hopefully every day during radiation, though I will have to wear the big wide-brimmed hat they tell me! I must avoid sun during radiation.

Tomorrow Morning Stitches Removed

Tomorrow (Friday) morning at 9 AM I see my Ophthalmologist in San Jose who will remove the two stitches from my left eyelid and supposedly this is going too help me use my left eye for longer periods of time without an eye patch. So far I’ve gone up to 6 to 8 hours at a time without covering it. Reading tires it out more than general activities like kitchen work or even a little TV. I seldom watch more than an hour a day, if that much. For Earth Day I found a special on the internet streaming channel Curiosity Stream for wonderful nature documentaries and signed up for a year at just $10 or $2 more than one month of Netflix here. I will probably drop Netflix again. Seen all their documentaries I care about and the rest is mostly junk.

Got off subject there! 🙂 I assume the eyelid will stay partly closed now when the stitches are removed since she did something to make the top and bottom grow together at one corner. But, FYI, my left eyelid will never blink again or fully close.

UPDATE: 23 April – She did not remove the stitches today. She first said she would remove just 2 of the 3, leaving one to help protect from radiation. But because she used nothing for pain, I flinched and she said she would not remove them at all for now, saying I have a “low tolerance for pain” and I think she has a low sympathy level! 🙂 She was also very painful to me at beginning of surgery. So now she will wait until after radiotherapy and try again in June. Hmmm. 🙂 Permanent stitches? — But the Good News: both eyes are doing very well and she is pleased with the surgery results. I’m already using my left eye more than 6 to 8 hours a day, so progress even if I have a low pain tolerance! 🙂

Radiation Starts Monday

This coming Monday, 26 April, I get my first radiotherapy in San Jose and daily Monday to Friday for six weeks or through June 4. They were not comfortable with all these other overlapping medical appointments plus needed the time this week to prepare for my targeted treatments. She is studying all the reports on both of my left cheek surgeries, the earlier “skin cancer” one and the big one March 15 including biopsies, etc. to help her target all remaining bits of possible cancer. My future is sort of in her skilled hands. 🙂 Dr. Bonilla is both an oncologist and radiologist and my surgeon says the best here.

I’m still bargaining with hotels near the radiation center but hoping for the Best Western with four nearby restaurants and hope to schedule that today. I plan to spend Monday to Thursday nights there and back in Atenas Friday-Sunday nights. I will be giving regular updates from San Jose starting next week which I hope will be interlaced with some nature reports also! 🙂

¡Pura Vida!

People Reasons for Living in Costa Rica!

Both photos from Oxcart Parades in Atenas

Here are just some of the many reasons I love being “Retired in Costa Rica” and I thank Christopher Howard for first printing this “song” in his Live in Costa Rica Blog & Website. It was written by the late Lair Davis to express his love for this wonderful country. It lists many of the reasons that I live here and will continue to until I die. Though he does not emphasize my primary love of the country – NATURE – and all of the natural beauty found here, it expresses many of the “people reasons” for living here:

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1st Covid Shot – No April Fool’s Joke!

Today (April 1) is the day that our local Atenas Public Clinic & Social Security had scheduled me for the Coronavirus COVID19 Vaccination at 1 PM and I got it right on time! I earlier asked the radiation doctor if the vaccine would be any conflict with what they will be doing and was told “no”, thus continued as scheduled.

In Costa Rica they started vaccinating with healthcare workers and first responders, then the many here in their 100’s, the 90’s and 80’s, just now getting to us who are exactly 80 year olds this week. So when I got to the clinic they sent me around back to a storage building that had been converted into a vaccination clinic and joined about 10 or so other 80-year-olds waiting for their vaccination too. Quick and totally painless. One of the easiest shots I ever received and a guy nurse did it! I had earlier said that girl nurses give more gentle shots, but not over this guy! 🙂 And we are getting the Pfizer type here in Atenas if that matters to anyone. They brought the shots in one at a time in a little hand cooler from the big freezer, quickly jabbed me, and asked me to wait 5 minutes for any reaction – none! My arm is not even sore! 🙂

In a Storage Building Behind the Clinic
Covid Vaccination Clinic

My vaccination card showed that I had the first shot today and that my second one is scheduled for 22 April. I asked if I could get my second shot before beginning radiation on the 19th? The poor guy went all over the place trying to find someone with the authority to change my second appointment. Finally he told me that he was sorry, but I would have to reschedule it through the Clinic by calling them (en español). I handled all of the above in my limited español, but I never do good on the phone, so I will see if Radioterapia can call them and reschedule it as an official medical person speaking Spanish.

My New Vaccination Card with only Covid on it.

Front, folded
Inside, opened

On the way home I stopped by the Farmacia for some more stick-on eye patches (I’ve internet-ordered some better black cloth ones), got some groceries before all shuts down for Easter and then grabbed a Grande Nachos from Donde Bocha and on home. I ate my nachos and then a neighbor stopped by with two desserts for my Easter Weekend and now the day is nearly gone! 🙂 And that is what a big day is like for an old man retired in Costa Rica! 🙂

¡Pura Vida!

I Registered for a Coronavirus Vaccine Today!

On my round of errands this morning, one stop was at the public clinic to sign up for my Coronavirus Vaccine as one of an expected. 3.7 million to be vaccinated in Costa Rica this year, basically the whole population. It has begun all over the country as a free vaccination provided by the government with millions of doses already in country. As an older adult I should be called in before younger people and within the month the technician told me. I just wait for the phone call, in Spanish, and hope they speak slow enough for me to understand! 🙂

Though millions of doses are already here, more have been ordered says this Tico Times article: Costa Rica to purchase coronavirus vaccines for 648,000 more people

I also saw my female private practice GP doctor this week and already my hurting knee is much better and less swollen. Medical services here are really good! Both public and private and cheap or free!

¡Pura Vida!

“Not My Problem!”

The other day I was walking over the hill in my neighborhood and a friendly Tica woman my age or older pointed to my “Pura Vida” cap (photo above) and asked me in perfect English, “Do you know what that Pura Vida means?” I responded, “Pure life among other things!” with a big smile. She retorted, “No, it means ‘Not My Problem!’” with an even bigger smile on her face and then a laugh as she continued on in the opposite direction. 🙂

So today, the morning after the American election, with the vote-counting expected to last many more days and your idiot president already lying and threatening to legally challenge the results, I’m trying to have that version of the Pura Vida attitude.

After all . . . one of the main reasons I left the states to live in Costa Rica was to get away from the Republican Party and the ugly, racist, lying, nasty people like Donald Trump – and there were plenty in Tennessee back in 2014 before Trump ever came on the scene. And 6 years later it is worse as the rich white folks keep getting richer and the poor keep getting poorer and the people of color keep getting targeted and segregated. God help America!

I have only one vote and I caste it. That is all I can do to help my country of origin. It saddens me that even if Biden wins, and he certainly should, the right-wing madness will continue with conspiracy theories, lies, racism, and hatefulness that is slowly dividing and may ultimately destroy America. How sad that so many people would vote for that! My old evangelical friends no longer follow Christ but desperately seek political power instead. I used to feel sorry for people who lived in third world countries, but now I feel sorry for people who live in America, especially if they are poor or of color. And what an ugly place to raise children of any color!

But in the true spirit of Costa Rica and a new interpretation of Pura Vida, I will continue to enjoy life in this great little nature country and say to you Americans . . .

Not My Problem!

¡Pura Vida!