Central Park Squirrels

Variegated Squirrel – La ardilla centroamericana (Sciurus variegatoides)

 

Yeah, I know, that’s what old men do – watch squirrels in the park!  🙂  But I haven’t done that until recently and snapped a few shots with my phone camera. These are called Variegated Squirrels in English, the most common squirrel all over Costa Rica. I hope that in the future I will sit in the park more whether watching people or squirrels or just relaxing or reading. It is a good place to be! To be in nature and to be in community. And eventually we will have a newly remodeled park which will necessitate more photos!   🙂

Note that we also have a lot of birds in the park also with parrots coming to the tops of one group of palms at one particular time of year and we also have had some Montezuma Oropendola nests in another part of the small park. I’m hoping they keep the trees with the remodeling!

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.

~John Muir

Rough translation of sign in park:  “Celebrate your life, take care of nature”

¡Pura Vida!

New Wall Mural Atenas Central

This vacant lot looks like it is being made into a parking lot and if so, parkers will have the colorful mural on one side of where they park. We don’t have a lot of parking lots in Atenas with the old-fashion expectation of parking on the street, but as we grow and more people get cars, parking lots are becoming a necessity. I’m repeating the image here since the use in the large header crops too much off the ends of my panorama shot, plus with photos inside the article you can click to see fullscreen:

And the meaning of the mural? I don’t try to interpret art. I just like that it is bright and colorful – representative of the spirit of Atenas!  🙂

-o-

And here is another positive article for retiring in Costa Rica from Christopher Howard:   Costa Rica is Still One of the Best Countries in the World for Seniors

¡Pura Vida!

New Coffee Shop in Town

Above Canario Supermercado is a new little coffee shop overlooking the entrance to Atenas Mercado Central, bus station, and a busy street for people watching. See photo above. Just this one visit today and it is now in my top three coffee shops (called cafeterias here). (1) Crema y Nada, (2) Cafeteria by the church, and now (3) Cafeteria above Canario. (If the last two have names, they are not prominently displayed, but most things here are described by location as I just did.)

One of my retirement joys these days is slowly sipping 2 or 3 mugs of coffee every morning after breakfast, with breakfast or like today, after my cereal breakfast I walk to town and have a pastry and cup of coffee downtown while people watching or finishing today’s Washington Post on the Kindle. This is what retirement is like for me when not traveling! And of course my favorite and most common place to enjoy morning coffee is from my own terrace as seen on this cloudy morning in the photo below.

My Terrace is My Favorite Place for Morning Coffee

 

Living the Dream

Retired in Costa Rica

¡Pura Vida!

 

Our Hidden Danger in Costa Rica

And for those who think I never have anything negative to say about Costa Rica (and I seldom do) I will admit that one thing here that scares me is the  Terciopelo, the Costa Rica name for what Americans call Fer de Lance snake (Bothrops asper).  (Click Terciopelo link for English article in Tico Times)  It is one of the most deadly snake bites in the world and unfortunately we have them living in my Roca Verde neighborhood. I know of two neighbors who have been bitten, both going outside in early morning barefoot (note that I will never do that). Both stepped on the snake (a sure way to get bitten!) and were rushed to the public clinic here for anti-venom shot and from there in ambulance to the public hospital in Alajuela for further treatment. They are both fine now, but it was a big scare for both with swollen leg and a lot of pain. One guy had an allergic reaction to the anti-venom and got extra allergy treatment for the hives it gave him.  See Wikipedia article on the snake.

Surgery Scheduled for Monday Evening

Monday 30 July. Yep! That does seem different, evening instead of morning, but that is the way it is (and maybe when an operating room was available at the small private hospital). And the doctor said the sooner we do it, the less damage will be done to the tendon and the sooner I will be without pain. And instead of using the main Hospital Metropolitano in downtown San Jose we are going to one of their 4 suburban campuses, the only one with an operating room. It is in the Lindora barrio of Santa Ana which is on “my side” (west) of San Jose just off our “freeway,” Ruta 27, and about 30 minutes closer than the downtown hospital campus, especially during rush hour, thus easier and quicker for both me and my driver whom I’ve already scheduled.

I am to be there at 5PM, with the surgery scheduled for 7PM to 8PM with one hour in the Recovery Room and return home soon after 9PM. That should be a good way to get sleepy for bedtime!  Ja, ja, ja, (español for ha, ha, ha)   🙂 though the anesthesia is only local.

He says my activities can be normal in a week to 10 days though I will have 5 weeks of physical therapy (2X a week), the hardest part one U.S. friend said. But I did cancel or postpone my August trip to Sarapiqui, which I now have rescheduled for next May. Before then I will be a new man who will try harder to not fall off the bed or on the rough sidewalks of Alajuela! It’s just that time of life!   🙂   No cane yet and hopefully not soon! But maybe needed someday?

“Getting old is not for sissies.”     ~Bette Davis

¡Pura Vida!

Retire Here on Less Than $30,000 a year!

One of the regular blogs I read is Christopher Howard’s Live in Costa Rica (he also does the best relocation tour) and his latest blog post quoted International Living Magazine on Costa Rica being one of the best places in the world to retire on less than $30,000 a year. Read his post or go to the online version of International Living and maybe find it there. And bear in mind that it is still true even with Costa Rica having the highest cost of living in Central America, but right now I don’t think you want to retire in any of the other Central American countries! (Panama being a sometimes exception.) I chose to retire in luxury in Costa Rica over sliding into retirement poverty in the U.S.

Description of 5 Locations in Costa Rica that Retirees Love in an International Living article.

Today’s photo is of a Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, the most common in my garden and possibly all over Costa Rica or at least in many of the places I have visited. They are aggressive and chase other species of Hummingbirds away from feeders and even “their” garden sometimes. Thus I have mixed feelings about them!   🙂    ¡Pura Vida!

Life is Good in Costa Rica!

Things are good in Costa Rica with a very stable democracy and a wonderful and progressive new president and we are the first country in the Americas to elect a black woman as Vice President! 

Ths and other things are discussed in my San Ramon retiree friends’ newsletter and in this edition they reprint their list of reasons for retiring in Costa Rica. I think you might enjoy it at link below.

Retire for Less in Costa Rica NEWSLETTER Current Edition:
http://retireforlessincostarica.com/retire-for-less-in-costa-rica-may-12-2018/

I basically finished my photo book on Arenal Observatory Trip today, but need to double check it and then wait for Blurb to announce a sale. In the meantime check out my TRIPS GALLERY on this trip to Arenal Observatory Lodge. 

And I now look forward to my June visit to Boca del Toro, Panama on an island in the Western Caribbean, my first trip of 7 days since moving here. More time means not only seeing and doing more but more relaxation!

¡Pura Vida!


Tree Frog HAIKU

Haiku poem on photo made at Tortuguero, Costa Rica.
 by Charlie Doggett

Check out my Haiku Photo Gallery for more like this. Expect a book eventually!  🙂

Or if it is the frog you like, see my Amphibians Photo Gallery for many more.

-o-

Retire in Latin America?

And for those thinking about retiring somewhere in Latin America, I agree with Christopher Howard’s evaluation of the latest ranking from International Living magazine which I used at first but do not trust as they invest in property in places like Ecuador, then push it as the best place to retire. If you are even thinking about the possibility of retiring “south of the border,” you will find this article by Christopher Howard helpful:
INTERNATIONAL LIVING ERRONEOUSLY RANKS LATIN AMERICAN COUNTRIES FOR RELOCATION

I am thoroughly convinced that I made the right decision, not only with Costa Rica but also a small town in the Central Valley. But I am not pushing retirement here because I think there are already too many Americans here! Nor am I encouraging you do it like me, because we are all different with different goals. That said, I will be glad to answer questions or give my opinion about concerns you may have about retiring here or anywhere in Latin America. The economics depend on your lifestyle as do the specific location (beach, mountain, valley, city) and also the kind of services you require. I have visited Panama & Nicaragua twice each and like them both. Nicaragua wins on cost of living, while Panama is more developed and Americanized which is one thing I don’t like about it, though even it has a lower cost of living than Costa Rica. My best economic decision was to live without a car! Easy to do in Costa Rica! ¡Buena suerte! 

P.S.
And oh yes, the question of do you have to learn to speak Spanish? The simple answer is “No.” But the many gringos who do not stand out like sore thumbs. You cannot fully enjoy the people and culture nor function effectively in the business, government and medical worlds here without speaking Spanish. I am a slow learner, but determined to learn and I get by in most situations, with fluency my long-term goal. And that is saying a lot for a 77 year-old! 🙂  Long term?  🙂

How I Know I’m in Costa Rica

Peacock photographed at Rescate Animal Zooave – More about it tomorrow.

ELEVEN REASONS I KNOW I’M IN COSTA RICA

  1. The first week I used the washing machine and microwave with my Spanish-English Dictionary in one hand!
  2. People write emails of concern when I go 4 days without a blog post. (And Thanks!)
  3. I use Google Translate to write out questions and directions for bus drivers and taxi drivers before I leave for a trip! And still they don’t always understand me!
  4. Then when I still get lost or have trouble finding my bus stop there is always a friendly Tico to help me out. Like today a worker from Zooave stood out front with me to make sure I got on the right bus back to Atenas – Then when the bus zoomed by without stopping, he called the cab for me since after an hour I was tired of waiting. Still don’t quite have Tico patience yet!
  5. I’m averaging about 5 miles of walking per day with much of it uphill and feeling great!
  6. Have I mentioned that everything is in Spanish and I am still in Beginner 1.1 Spanish? Unlike the tourist towns where it pays locals to know English, a farming community has no motivation to learn English. (Can you imagine a farming community in Tennessee learning Spanish because a few migrant workers live there?) So communication is still the biggest challenge!
  7. I’m eating more fresh fruit and veggies than ever in my life and feeling great!
  8. I’m in shorts and T-shirt all day every day while sleeping under a comforter with the windows open at night.
  9. I already have two visits from Nashville scheduled on my calendar and I’ve only been here 4 weeks! And I’m excited about both! Though a little nervous about the first group that includes two Nashville restaurant owners who want me to take them to one of my little farm town restaurants. But . . . I think they’ll like it!   🙂
  10. The word I hear most often from the maintenance man here is “manana.”
  11. Today a letter was slipped under my door addressed to “Senor Charles Doggett, Apartado #3.”
I gave up on my Iolo System Mechanic support for my latest malware problem and went online to Geek Squad (since my new computer came from Best Buy with the geek service – I used Live Chat since calling them even with an 800 # is an international call.). They were wonderful! The poor guys spent 3 hours on my computer but everything is back to normal again. Think I wills stay with Geek Squad! And renew after my one year free subscription expires!
I’ll catch you up some more tomorrow and hey! Life is still good!

 

Most Searched Travel Destination

According to Bing’s December 3 report on searches by people in the U.S. Costa Rica is the most

Sign on Playa Dominica

searched travel place in the world. Read the article. It also says that more U.S. citizens retire in Costa Rica than any other country. No surprise to me, but an interesting report.

These photos I made in August on our tour as we stopped by Dominica Beach in the South Pacific. I just liked their sign! This particular spot was near the mouth of a river, thus the drift wood abundance.

Playa Dominica

10 Reasons to Go to Costa Rica

One View from a Rainforest Trail
In Corcovado National Park by Me

10 Reasons to Go to Costa Rica is one of the later posts on Chris Howard’s “Living in Costa Rica Blog” could almost all be my reasons for both visiting and moving there. I would just substitute nature photography and affordable living for the zip-lining and surfing.  🙂  Check out his article and continue to watch his blog which is probably the best one on living in Costa Rica! Or if you just want the 10 reasons, I’m copying here:

1. To find happiness

Costa Rica has been ranked as one of the happiest countries in the world, based on its high quality of life, good life expectancy rate and small ecological footprint. The country abolished its army in 1949, and it’s been one of the most peaceful countries in Latin America for the past five decades. The main saying in Costa Rica is “Pura vida” which means the good life – something that people say all the time, with big smiles on their faces. Often when you ask people how they are, they respond with “Pura vida”. It’s inspiring, infectious and incredibly heart warming to spend time in a country that has so much invested in being joyful. The rest of the world could definitely learn a thing or two from Costa Ricans’ approach to life.

2. Eco tourism

I’ve never been to a country that wears its green credentials on its sleeve as proudly as Costa Rica does. The country is one of the top eco-tourism destinations in the world, and it’s easy to see why: over a quarter of Costa Rica is protected land, the government is very active in conservation efforts and the country plans to become the first carbon neutral nation by 2021. Costa Rica’s eco commitment doesn’t seem like tokenism: the local people and guides we met were genuinely enthusiastic about conservation, most hotels have watercoolers to encourage guests not to buy plastic water bottles, and there are recycling bins almost everywhere you go.

3. Birds

Costa Rica has a whopping 900 species of birds, from the incredibly beautiful green-and-red resplendent quetzal (which I was lucky enough to see while zip lining through Monteverde Cloud Forest) to glorious scarlet macaws and 54 species of jewel-coloured hummingbirds. In just over a week of travelling through Costa Rica we saw dozens of species, including the elusive great potoo, the pretty northern jacana and four species of herons. I’ve been teetering on the edge of becoming a birder, but Costa Rica was the trip that took me to the other side: I’m now a committed twitcher.

4. Wildlife

Costa Rica is staggeringly diverse when it comes to wildlife. With half a million species, it’s home to 4% of the world’s total species, which is quite something for a relatively small country. In fact, it’s considered to be one of the planet’s most biodiverse nations. Expect to see butterflies, frogs, (incredibly cute) sloths, snakes, loads of monkeys, anteaters, caimans, bats and iguanas. More rare are the cats: jaguars, ocelots and pumas.

All over Costa Rica there are opportunities to encounter the country’s wildlife, whether it’s going on a canal cruise in Tortuguero National Park under tunnels of trees (which felt like being in the Amazon), or a catamaran cruise with dolphins in Manuel Antonio National Park, or walking through the misty Monteverde Cloud Forest. The best thing is that Costa Rica’s amazing animals are everywhere: monkeys hanging out in the trees outside your room (or even inside your room), sloths sleeping in trees next to the highway and crossing the path next to the park entrance and raccoons coming to watch you eat a post-hike snack in the car park.

5. Forests

What I loved most about Costa Rica was its magical forests, where time seemed to stand still the air was alive with the sound of insects and birds and everything smelled like green. Much of the country is forested with either humid, tropical rainforests and misty, cool cloud forests, which you can explore on guided hikes and by walking on shaky suspension bridges.

6. Zip lining (and other adventures)

Costa Rica is an adventure lover’s dream destination. Just about everywhere you go in the country there seems to be some kind of adrenaline-inducing adventure on offer, from white water rafting to zip lining through forests. My favourite adventure was cayoneering in the Lost Canyon near Arenal volcano, which involved abseiling down sheer rock faces and scrambling through the canyon and jumping into cold poolsunder a cover of huge trees.

7. Beaches

Costa Rica has two coasts – the Pacific on the west and the Caribbean on the east – lined with over 1500 kilometres of beautiful beaches, with sand ranging from cappuccino to icing sugar, flanked by palm trees and rainforests. My favourite beach was in Manuel Antonio National Park on the Pacific side. Not only was it a perfect beach, with a long stretch of white sand and palm trees for shade, but to get there you have to walk through a forest where you can spot sloths, birds, lizards and monkeys – so you get a wildlife walk and beach bumming in one.

8. Turtles

Tortuguero National Park, on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast, is the Western hemisphere’s main nesting site for green turtles: during the nesting season (April to October) there are as many as 700 turtles laying their eggs on a 30-kilometre stretch of protected beach. You can hire a certified guide to take you to the beach at night to watch turtles nesting – a truly magical wildlife experience which feels like watching a dinosaur in action.

9. Volcanoes

Costa Rica sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire (almost a Johnny Cash song) – an area of high volcanic activity. The country has 122 volcanoes, of which four of active. The most famous of Costa Rica’s volcanoes is Arenal, which was active up until 2010: it hasn’t spewed lava since then, but it does smoke constantly (which makes for great photos). Around Arenal and some of Costa Rica’s other volcanoes you can go hiking and mountain biking on lush hilly slopes and (my favourite) soak in hot springs. There are hot springs all over the place in the area around Arenal, and many hotels have their own hot springs, or you can go to ahot spring resort and spend an evening swimming around in pools as warm as a bath, drinking pina coladas (highly recommended).

10. Surfing

Surfers love Costa Rica: the swells and breaks are great, water is warm year-round and the surf is good on both the Caribbean and Pacific sides. There are plenty of surfing schools and retreats lining the coasts, especially on the Pacific (where you can find the best waves during the rainy season from May to November.

This blog post was originally published on Duff’s Suitcase.  This article, 10 reasons to go to Costa Rica, was originally posted on the Getaway Blog by Sarah Duff.

 

— o —

Another reason I am so seriously considering the move is that I plan to expand what little online business I have to give a better supplement to my meager pension and I can do it just as easy from Costa Rica as I can from Tennessee. In fact I have just enrolled in an online class to help me build a strong online business that really works. We will see! But I’m believing it will happen and will include a lot more than me just trying to sell my nature photos. So that could be my eleventh reason to move!   🙂   Two weeks from today I go on the tour with Chris Howard. I’m excited and now I’m now looking for reasons why I shouldn’t move. I’ll share my list later, but so far more positive than negative. The two-week trip will probably be the decider.