Appreciating a Neighbor

My walks to town or “Central Atenas,” as they call it here, always includes passing the house of a family that plants many flowers, including a zinnia garden at least twice a year. As I walk by I often pull out my cell phone and snap a butterfly or flower. To show my appreciation of these who take the time to plant flowers, I made a little 20-page photo book of the butterflies I photographed over the last year in their garden and will take 3 copies to them as a Christmas gift once the books arrive. You can preview every page of the book for free by clicking the front cover image below or go to this address and click the word “Preview” then each page to see the next: https://www.blurb.com/b/11328129-jard-n-de-mariposas

Of course it’s in Spanish. That’s the language of Costa Rica! 🙂

¡Pura Vida!

Mystical Flower Reappears in a Kindness

About a week ago I passed by “the flower lady” house where I’ve gotten several new butterflies on her zinnias (now gone) and discovered as I looked through her fence that she had the Red Vein Indian Mallow flower I reported on from Guayabo Lodge in Cartago Province in , my first sighting of this magical lantern-like flower, and my favorite new discovery at Guayabo. I phone-snapped the above two shots at the flower lady house.

Then 3 days ago I was walking back to town with my neighbor Steve, and as he is a gardener I wanted him to see this flower. I was pointing to one of her only 5 or 6 blooms when her husband snapped out something he thought was funny in Spanish that I didn’t understand and she just walked over to the shrub, picked the flower I had pointed to and came over handing it to me. I felt terrible that she picked one of her few blooms but it was the common Costa Rican courtesy to do that because I praised her flower. I walked home carrying it gently and decided it best to just float in a bowl of water since it is a hang-down lantern-type flower. Another of the many cultural surprises I’ve had here. 🙂

It is prettier on the shrub, but here it is floating in water on my kitchen counter!

Since my Crown of Thorns pot plant on the patio died, I’m going to see if Cristian & Alfredo, my gardeners, can get me this Abutilon striatum, Red Vein Indian Mallow, “Chinese Lantern” or in Spanish: Abutilon pictum, “farolito japonés” (Japanese Lantern) as a new pot plant on my terrace. Always something new to look forward to. 🙂

It originated in South America, Brazil and other countries and has adapted to tropical climates all around the world including Costa Rica and India (thus the English common name). It is an edible flower both raw and cooked and is said to be both sweet and astringent, whatever that means. 🙂

¡Pura Vida!

My Radiation Treatment Testimony

Siglo XXI Radioterapia, the private clinic that treated me post-cancer surgery asked if they could interview me on camera as a way of helping future patients understand a little more of what they will go through. So I did and it is now on YouTube with me speaking in English and of course they added Spanish Subtitles. I’m always embarrassed to see and hear myself on a video, but if it helps even one other patient face the treatment, then more power to them! 🙂

My Cancer Treatment Testimonial Video for Siglo XXI.

¡Pura Vida!

And that book in the feature photo can be previewed free at True Grit in my bookstore.

Plantains & Bananas Vendor

Many of my walks to town are up this street by the Sports Park (Calle 0) and on one corner across from the park this bearded man and his dog are always there with his truck selling mostly plantains and bananas and occasionally some other fruit or vegetable, but always lots of plantains! Many people grow them in their yards and they sell cheaply in all the markets, so I can’t help but wonder how he makes a living selling something we have an over-abundance of here? Plus us foreigners prefer bananas over plantains which are larger, tougher and must be cooked to eat. Often served with a traditional breakfast here.

And if I spoke better Spanish, I would try to interview him and write his story for the blog, but though my Spanish slowly improves, I’m not up to that kind of conversation or interview yet! 🙂 And I didn’t even want to ask him if I could photograph him up close, so the below photo of him is from half-a-block away on my cell phone and the second larger image simply a crop of the first! 🙂

Banana Vendor, Atenas, Alajuela, Costa Rica
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Park Sign at Night + Other New Views

Here are more views of the new Central Park Sign including a selfie and what it looks like at night and from behind! 🙂 My earlier reports on the sign did not include the finished product at night or from behind! 🙂

At night your eyes see the color of the art on the letters and thus not as bright as this white in my camera. And that white spot in middle of sun is yellow to your eyes, though still bright! 🙂
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STREET ART: Panama City, Panama

From my Caravan Tour of Panama Gallery and full Panama City Gallery is a sub-sub-gallery titled Casco Viejo Street Art, one of my favorites from that trip. “Casco Viejo” just means “old city” and is one of two such historic districts in Panama City, the one resettled in 1673 after the big fire. Here’s just 4 of the many photos in the above linked gallery . . .

Casco Viejo, Panama City, Panama
Casco Viejo, Panama City, Panama
Casco Viejo, Panama City, Panama
Casco Viejo, Panama City, Panama

There is a temptation for me to write my interpretation of each piece, but this kind of art is better left to the interpretation or meaning of the viewer.

DISCLAIMER: “Street Art” for this series is paintings and tile work along streets, usually on buildings, that may or may not have been commissioned or done “illegally” without permission. I have no way of knowing. I purposefully did not include public statues, fountains, etc. obviously sanctioned by the government.

“Art must not be concentrated in dead shrines called museums.
It must be spread everywhere – on the streets, in the trams, factories, workshops, and in the workers’ homes.”

~Vladimir Mayakovsky

¡Pura Vida!

El Bastón del Emperador

I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness;
I will sing the praises of the name of the Lord Most High.

Psalm 7:17

This Spanish name of what English-speakers call “Torch Ginger” flower, “El bastón del emperador” has stuck with me from my first hearing of it. The English translation is “The Emperor’s staff” (or king’s scepter). And since most of the time I have at least one blooming in my gardens, it is a reminder of who my king is and my early pledges to follow Jesus as my life guide, ruler and “King” if you please. And what better “scepter or staff” for Him than a beautiful tropical flower! 🙂 Here’s the one blooming this weekend:

El bastón del emperador

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
    let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.

Let us come before him with thanksgiving
    and extol him with music and song.

For the Lord is the great God,
    the great King above all gods

Psalm 95:1-3

¡Pura Vida!

My Flora & Forest Galleries

Morning Waterfall Hike, Almost

This morning was to be my last “organized hike,” called the Primary Forest, led by scientist Phillip who did last night’s night hike, scheduled for 8-11. At 8 one of the employees came out and apologized that Phillip called in sick and that the hike was canceled for today. “No problem,” I said, “I wanted to go down the Pacific Trail and low tide is this morning, just right!” The guy in charge asked me to wait a minute. He made a call and then said he would be right back. He came with one of the gardeners with a name that sounded like Aniavey, and said, “Now you can practice your Spanish!” 🙂 The Nicaraguan was wearing a sheathed machete. The guy in charge said, “I simply cannot let you go down that trail alone, especially all the way to the waterfall! After you go down the very steep trail, it’s another mile hike including up another hill. I did not get incensed and thanked him for his concern, still not knowing what I was in for. And thinking I didn’t really need help. 🙂

The Old Man and His Hiking Guide

Wow! It was a steep trail with 500 steps carved into the side of the mountain and in moments my knees and legs were killing me. About halfway down or a little more, my knees gave way and I crumpled to the ground. My helper came to my rescue, helping me up and I sat on one of the steps. He took his machete out, going into the forest to cut a little sapling for a brand new hiking stick and I was soon ready to go, just slowly. But I had already decided I would go only to the beach and not all the way to the waterfall, which relieved Aniavey. And by the way, the return trip back up the hill, all 500 steps, was much easier on my knees and legs, just slowing my breathing! 🙂 On the hike we saw 3 kind of monkeys: Howler, White-faced Capuchin and Spider Monkeys!

Here’ s 4 shots and I don’t know why I didn’t photograph the trail or steps?

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Clinic Art

With most museums closed for the pandemic and me now low on energy, it looks like I won’t be visiting Art Museums in San Jose during radiation. so I will share today just a few of the art pieces I photographed with cellphone at the clinic and tomorrow some more from the hotel.

These are from the waiting rooms and treatment hallway. I didn’t go into the doctors’ offices.

And in the parking lot I consider this sign a type of art: 🙂

TRANSLATION: We are life expectancy, for the cancer patient. Twenty-first Century Radiotherapy – Or most here translate “esperanza” as “hope,” making this “hope of life” but my online dictionary considered the context and used “expectancy” as a more modern translation. Languages cannot be translated word for word in every case. Spanish speakers know what it means! 🙂

And at 2:30 this afternoon I get the stitches removed from my left eyelid. Hoping for minimal pain.

¡Pura Vida!