Chorreras Waterfall

20191017_095055-A-WEBJust a 4 km walk yesterday morning – to breakfast(0.5 km) and afterwards directly to the Chorreras Waterfall through parts of the Hotel farmland and other scenery (1.5 km), watching employees arrive by bus, bicycle, motorcycle and walking. A pleasant walk down a dirt farm road that became rocky and steep on the hill by the river and waterfall. Then the 2 km return with a friendly dog.

As the first one to the Falls that morning I was greeted by the barking dogs and very helpful security guard, Norman, a friendly young man from Nicaragua. (Costa Rica doesn’t chase its immigrants away or put them in cages.) And as in this case, immigrants help make life better for all of us here!   🙂    I love our immigrants!  (And of course I am one myself!)    🙂

Like most Latin Americans, Norman showed a great degree of respect for my age and seemed a little surprised I was hiking in the mountains and climbing down steps to the waterfall, offering to help me of course. Evidently not many 79 year-old people are as adventurous!    🙂

We talked about the difficulties of me learning to speak Spanish and him learning to speak English. Then he shared a quote with me in both English and Spanish to encourage me in my language learning (probably someone used to encourage him), which I include in both languages at the end of this post. Great advice from a young man that I will take to heart!  “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”

Wow! I love living here! All the neat people! And places!

20191017_100301-WEB
My dog companion walking ahead of me here.

No rain the previous afternoon or night, thus the Falls not as full Norman said. After visiting with Norman awhile I walked back and one of the guard dogs decided to walk back with me, all the way to the Adventure Tours station, nearly 2 km, where they said he does that frequently with guests – every creature is friendly here!    🙂

Chorreras Waterfall

 

Birds on the Walk

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Hotel Grounds on the Walk

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Flowers on the Walk

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.

Vive como si murieras mañana. Aprende como si vivieras para siempre.

~Mahatma Gandhi     –     Given to me by Norman at Chorreras Waterfall to encourage me with my study of Spanish.     🙂

¡Pura Vida!

Hacienda Guachipelín

Quick! Snap it!

WHALES! The magic of seeing them and the difficulty of photographing! I spent 4 hours on the ocean this morning trying to do that. Not easy, but a real rush and satisfaction. None of our whales today jumped out of the water like you see in the classic photo and we were told that it doesn’t happen very often. In fact they even have some days when no whales are seen, so we were lucky to see 5 or more!

Our guide said all of these are humpback whales, though they looked like two different species to me, but maybe some are juveniles which are often different in many other species.

And we had 4 “species” of people on our boat! A group from Argentina, another group from Chili, a family from Costa Rica, and one little old man American who now lives in Costa Rica. Guess which language was spoken on this tour!   🙂

I’ll do another post tomorrow with scenery, boats, swimming and other information, but these photos are just a few of my whale photos – my reason for being here. CLICK IMAGE TO SEE LARGER.

Whales in Costa Rica

The full size versions of these photos are in my Trip Gallery for 2019 Cristal Ballena, Uvita,  sub-gallery Whales. I’m developing this trip gallery day by day during the trip. And read about my hotel at their site: Cristal Ballena Hotel.

As a matter of information, all these whales are from the south, along the Pacific coast of South America and possibly from Antarctic. They come here every July-October for the warm waters and to calve their babies.  Then in December to March we have whales coming from the Pacific coast of the States and Canada and as far north as Alaska and the Arctic and Russia. But we don’t get as many of these in Costa Rica because some go to Hawaii.

Ships are expendable; the whales are not.

~Paul Watson

¡Pura Vida!

This trip gallery:  2019-September 13-21–Cristal Ballena, Uvita

Two Hours in Bank Today – Lessons Learned

After waiting  only a short time for a teller, she could not help with my problem, I was therefore sent to “la platforma” or set of desks with persons supposedly more knowledgeable than a teller. My problem was that I got an email, in Spanish of course, that told me the auto-debit of my TV/Internet Service monthly bill failed. Well, it was because they used my local bank debit card to get their money and this month my card was replaced with a new one to include “a chip” which also meant a new number. The teller did pay my TV/Internet bill with a transfer, so at least no disconnect for now! 🙂

After waiting nearly an hour (15th in line) for one of the three “specialists,” she worked and worked on her computer and called the cable company talking at least 10 minutes to someone there and finally used a translator on her computer to tell me in English that the only way CableTica would correct it was for me personally to respond to the email (in Spanish of course) with my new card number. They are not allowed to let the bank or anyone else speak for me! I came straight home and did that. Hope it works!   🙂   Just another little irritation of living in a modern society in any country! 🙂

But this is also another lesson in the importance of learning the local language! I’m doing much better and communicated with all in the bank in Spanish though understanding what they say back to me is more difficult!   🙂  To make me feel a little better, a French couple was at the next desk to mine and the man was going on and on about something in the French language, raising his voice and I felt sorry for the banker helping him. She too used her computer translator and a cell phone. It is disrespectful to not learn and use the local language and that was part of the reason our waits were so long at the bank!

“You live a new life for every language you speak. If you know only one language, you live only once.”     – Czech proverb

¡Pura Vida!

“Hardships” Americans Have Here

Christopher Howard’s Blog “Live in Costa Rica” quoted a list of things from still another blog call “Tico Bull.” It is titled:    WHAT IS CONSIDERED NORMAL IN COSTA RICA, BUT NOT ACCEPTED BY FOREIGNERS

I encourage you to follow the above link to his original article and maybe get acquainted with his blog. BUT, I wanted to “update” or add my comments to the list in dark red that he copied from Tico Bull below:

The following list is a generalization, though, so obviously doesn’t apply to all Americans and Canadians.

  • Not being able to pay a bill by mail (send in a cheque). In the past, you had to go to a particular business to pay a bill, now it can be paid online or at the bank or supermarket, but no check in the mail. Through my local bank I have all my regular bills “auto debit” paid automatically except my rent because my landlord uses a different bank. 
  • Not being able to receive mail at your home, six days a week.
  • Not being able to send mail from your home, six days a week.
  • There is periodic home mail delivery in Atenas (and some other towns), but if you are not home the carrier will often just stick it in the gate and wind can blow it away, thus I have a moderately priced post office box for my mail address to avoid worrying about being home when the mail carrier comes. Plus I have a U.S. Address in Miami through Aeropost.com for some mail which I pickup at the Aeropost office in Alajuela when I am notified by email. Going there on a free bus.
  • Not having Amazon Prime. Similarly Netflix is hugely different here with not nearly as many movies included because Hollywood wants each country to pay some outlandish fee to “license” the showing of their movies in that country. Here you get lots of Spanish language movies with a limited number of usually older American films plus lots of TV shows and fortunately a lot of nature shows, Nat Geo stuff, etc. Some of it is in verbal Spanish with English subtitles available, though more is in the original English with Spanish subtitles available. My personal default setting on Netflix CR is verbal English with Spanish subtitles which helps me a little in learning to speak Spanish. 
  • Knowing that even if you order something online, there is a good chance that someone in customs will decide they want it and confiscate it. Using a service like Aeropost.com for internet orders solves that problem as they walk it through customs and have insurance on your orders. It is expensive, but most of the cost is the customs charges or import taxes. Worth the cost to me. I order everything on the internet sent to my Miami address at Aeropost. 
  • Having to pay very high import taxes on any package that gets through, including items confiscated out of it.  Import taxes & Sales Taxes are high here, but there is no income tax nor much property tax, so it kind of evens out for most people. 
  • High priced cars.  I have no car here and walk or use taxis locally and buses to other towns which are free or discounted for a senior adult. I go to Alajuela regularly by bus totally free!
  • Towns and villages that have either dirt or gravel roads. This is changing rapidly! i.e. Atenas Central is all paved, though a few rural roads out of town are still gravel. “Backwoods” or out of the way places are still not paved and the popular tourist town of Monteverde is one example, but they are paving the highway to there as we speak!  🙂
  • The necessity to have very good home security, either through iron bars at the windows, high walls, dogs, security guards, or all of the above. Americans and Canadians typically don’t wall their properties; dogs are pets; and enjoy large, plate glass windows with no need for security bars over them.  I’m in a “gated community” called Roca Verde with an entrance gate and 24 hour guard service and we rarely have a problem. I’m in a “casita” or little rent house on the fenced & gated property of a big house and I have no bars on my windows and no dog and have never activated the built-in burglar alarm. I used to leave everything open and unlocked even at night, but one evening someone walked into my house while I was there and grabbed my cell phone and left. That and a backpack being taken from the floor of a touristy sidewalk cafe in Puntarenas my first year here are my only two robberies. Common sense helps, like I lock my doors by nightfall now and hang on to my backpack. 
  • The need for women to hold their purses at all times, never putting them on a bench or a chair beside you or it might get stolen.
  • The assumption that if a repairman comes to your home, he will speak to the man of the house, rather than the lady of the house—even if she knows more about what needs to be repaired than her husband. This is changing now with so-called chauvinism frowned upon by all generations, especially the younger. There is a high respect for women and all older people. 
  • The extreme caution one must take before letting someone (repairman, employee, new acquaintance) into your home because he/she might come back and steal from you later.
  • If something is accidentally left somewhere, you can know that someone else took it. There is no going to lost and found to see if the item was turned in. Depends on the place or people there. I’ve returned to a business for an umbrella left and it was still there and once briefly left my wallet and got it back. 
  • Each culture is different. American and Canadian culture has a few things that other cultures view negatively. But there are always reasons behind cultural differences.
  • As an Italian, for example, we are loud, especially among a group of friends. Americans and Canadians love their large personal space. Costa Ricans and most Latin Americans can’t understand stand. Nor Europeans for that matter.
  • In addition, the majority of Americans, Canadians and Europeans have a level of personal honesty and integrity not always seen in Costa Rica, despite Ticos adopting much of North American and European cultures. An example of that is eating at a mall food court, but ladies won’t hang their purse or he his backpack on the back of the chair.
  • Living in a home with huge windows with no bars is unheard of, unless living in a gated community, but even then it won’t be surprising that someone will put up bars. For example, as I write this, I am looking out of my big glass window onto my yard, about 30 meters from the street. The window has bars, but I refuse to put up razor wire on the metal fence. I have dogs.
  • In closing, generalizations can be helpful, but they need to be understood for their limitations. Each culture has beauty if you’ll take the time to look, adapt and adopt the “pura vida”.  Maybe his most important statement!

Much of this sounds like a typical “negative American” who criticizes everything not American and thus really has no business living here. Most of the above is true to some degree, though the dishonesty and thievery by Ticos is greatly exaggerated and in my small town I find almost everyone to be honest and very helpful to or accommodating of foreigners. And remember that you are the foreigner, not them.   🙂

It is essential that one adapt to the local culture when they move to another place anywhere in the world and recognized that it is yourself that is “abnormal” not the locals. You try to speak the language and go with the culture and they will love you and help you in every way possible! I’m amazed at the many Americans who in the states expected Mexicans and Cubans to learn and speak English there, but they don’t even try to learn Spanish here! They become “The Ugly American” of the 1958 novel by Eugene Burdick and William Lederer.   🙂

¡Pura Vida!

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   🙂

NEGATIVES

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
http://www.liveincostarica.com/blog/2019/06/negative-things-about-the-real-costa-rica.html?

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?      https://www.liveincostarica.com/blog/2019/07/how-difficult-is-it-for-retired-expats-to-make-costa-rican-friends.html

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!   🙂

POSITIVES

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!

 

How Costa Rica Retirement Helps Me Avoid Alzheimer’s. . .

This morning’s Washington Post has this very revealing article: Ditch the GPS. It’s ruining your brain.

20160414_104320-A-WEBI have always been a map person and my first two years here I rented cars for most of my trips, but found that my old habit of using maps did not work well here because the actual highways, roads, streets and houses/businesses are mostly not numbered or labeled, therefore not relatable to a paper map. Thus I always got a rent car with a GPS included that works great here and many locals prefer the free WAZE on their cell phone. But it removes your brain from the challenge of getting somewhere as the article above suggests.

Now that I walk everywhere in town, I use my brain instead of GPS to get around using landmarks like a true local. (Yeah, with cell phones you can walk with GPS too! I don’t!), Here are some typical Atenas directions using landmarks:

  1. MY HOUSE: Take the street that dead ends into La Coope Gasolinera south until it ends at Avenida 8 (locals still call it Calle Boqueron), then left about 300 meters to the Roca Verde main gate on the right. Inside the gate go straight about 150 meters to the 3rd gate on the left, 105 Roca Verde (which is labeled).
  2. SPANISH LESSONS ATENAS: From Central Park Atenas take the street behind the main church west about 250 meters or 150 meters beyond Pali Supermercado to a house on the left before the Lions Club and Police Station, in front of Veterinario Occidental. There is a “Spanish Lessons” sign on the gate.
  3. OR MY LOCAL LAWYER: 100 meters south and 75 meters east of Justice Court. (Most know the courthouse, but I can add that it is at corner of Central Park near church.)

And of course all of these directions exercise my brain even more when I try to give them in Spanish!   🙂   Yep, I’m very slow at learning Spanish but learning another language is another good deterrent to Alzheimer’s! And as a walker in town it is amazing how many cars stop and ask me directions to something, usually in español. Mental exercise!   🙂

Another simple health advantage to retiring in Costa Rica!   🙂

-o-

 “Remember what Bilbo used to say: 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.”

– JRR Tolkien

Electric Cars in Costa Rica?

Those considering retirement here who are also ecology-conscious will be interested to know that Electric Cars are in Costa Rica and available for those who can afford the sometimes higher cost (though one Chinese Electric Car sells for just $15,000!). For details on prices and availability see this Live in Costa Rica Blog article:  EXPAT RETIREES AND ELECTRIC VEHICLES.

Electric-Vehicle-Charging-in-Costa-Rica-672x372

AND THESE RECENT TICO TIMES ARTICLES ON ELECTRIC CARS IN COSTA RICA:

April 4, 2019:  Costa Rica announces charging grid for electric vehicles   34 charging stations to start off with in a tiny country is not bad! More are being added!

Dec. 29, 2018:  Clean energy leader Costa Rica turns attention to electric cars

¡Pura Vida!

My 2 New CR Birding Books

On my way to the dermatologist last Thursday I stopped by a nearby Liberia in Alajuela and bought my first all Spanish bird book, Aves de Costa Rica by the now deceased ecologist Alexander Skutch who worked in the southern province of Pérez Zeledón for many years. The book is incomplete of all the many birds here, but it has the Spanish names and descriptions which makes it the only one I know about in español.

I also recently purchased a new English birding field guide that I learned the guides at Rancho Naturalista and others are using because it is more up-to-date than the older English book The Birds of Costa Rica A Field Guide by Garrigues & Dean that has been my main source of info since moving here. The newer book is bigger and includes all of Central America, published this year: Birds of Central America by Valley & Dyer. I’m still getting used to it but like it and it will probably become my new “go-to source” on paper for bird ID here and all of Central America.

It is possible that it could eventually replace the only English birding book for Panama, The Birds of Panama by Angehr and Dean.  And the two birding books for Nicaragua that I have: A Guide to the Birds of Nicaragua by Martinez-Sanchez, Chavarria-Durlaux, and Muñoz. It is my only BILINGUAL birding book which I got on my first trip to Nicaragua. Very good! But now on Amazon you can get a newer English-only book Birds of Nicaragua A Field Guide by Chavarría-Duriaux, Hille & Dean.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These could be the last of the paper birding books for Central America with internet and cellphone apps taking over the field with the ability to update daily if needed! eBird and their app Merlin are possibly the best available electronically.

 

 

NOTE: If you live in Costa Rica, most of these paper books are cheaper at a local bookstore (Libería) than on Amazon, especially that Spanish book I just got, Aves de Costa Rica.

New Hospital Adventures

Hospital San Rafael de Alajuela, Costa Rica

Adventure 1: New Cardiologist Scheduled

It was time for my one-year checkup with my public hospital cardiologist yesterday, 27 Agosto, made by the doctor one year ago, Dr. Hernandez. In the meantime I heard around June from someone else with the same cardiologist that Dr. Hernandez (whom I really liked) had gone to Spain to study heart surgery and I would be getting his substitute whom the other person also liked very much, especially because he spoke English! So I was already expecting a new doctor, whom I learned today is Victor Andres Garcia Rojas (called Dr. Garcia) – and I will do another article below on Spanish Names using his.

Adventure 2: I Forgot Pre-appointment Blood Tests

Yeah! No good excuse! It was on my calendar that I wasn’t watching and I forgot that appointment a week earlier. The results were to be with the doc by yesterday so they would be part of his evaluation of my heart. I rationalized and said, “oh well, he will reschedule that and add to my file later. No big deal! Pura vida!”  Well, it is a big deal! Hospitals are very serious!

So I wait in the adultos major line (for old people & shorter than other line) for about 30 minutes. When I get to the desk there is suddenly a computer problem with a bunch of supervisor types coming in to explain something on the computers to all the clerks. Then finally my clerk takes my cita (appointment paper) and my cedula (ID card) and starts to check me in and I casually tell her about forgetting the appointment for blood workup. She stares at me, shakes her head and tells me she is sorry (this is all in Spanish of course) but “the doctor cannot see you without the blood tests.” Thus she makes a new appointment for me with Dr. Garcia on September 5 (Whew! I leave Sept. 6 for my Caribe trip!) Then, with multiple attempts, she explains to me that I must go down to main lobby (photo at top) and wait in line at the laboratorio for a new appointment and show them that it is needed for a Sept. 5 doctor visit. By then I remember waiting in that line a year ago for the missed appointment. My punishment for living a pura vida life!  🙂

So back downstairs to that crowd in top photo and actually the laboratory line was not as long as some of the others. I had my new lab appointment for this Friday in less than 45 minutes! This girl was not as slow a speaker or as patient with my bad Spanish and so she used her phone translator some with me, though I was understanding more of her Spanish than she thought. Language is all part of the adventure!

So now, (with all the complaints about slowness in public healthcare), I’m doing blood workup this Friday (just 4 days later!) and I see the doctor next Wednesday! Pretty fast I think! And this delay is the fault of my forgetfulness or not setting the phone calendar alarm on my lab appointment! Now I get to go back to the hospital two more times (More adventures!). And I will remember to fast 12 hours before my 6am appointment Friday!  Aren’t I lucky?    🙂

Adventure 3: Spanish Names – Why 4?

Be aware that this can be slightly different from country to country, but for the Costa Rica explanation I will use Dr. Garcia as my example:

Dr. Victor Andres Garcia Rojas

Victor = First Name;     Andres=Second or Middle Name;

Garcia=His Father’s Last Name;     Rojas=His Mother’s Last Name (maiden name)

Most people go by their father’s last name, thus he is “Dr. Garcia.” But on legal documents and other places they use all four names, like on the Cedula (ID Card) and in the hospital. Since I have only 3 names, the hospital or national healthcare program has given me a fourth name that is on all my hospital records = “Noindicaotro” as a replacement for my Mother’s last name. Interesting since it is not a word in my Spanish Dictionary!   🙂

Adventure 4: Talkative Old Man on Bus

On the bus ride back to Atenas (45+ minutes) I sat next to a very talkative man who did not stop talking and even singing the entire trip. It was mostly in Spanish with an occasional English word or phrase to show me that he knew some English. I had a crick in my neck when I got home for having my head turned to the left the whole trip. And no, what he said was not very interesting, but I appreciated his friendliness and I guess he appreciated me listening attentively.   🙂

 

¡Pura Vida!

 

 

My Calendars in Spanish

My Favorite One was free from the local Cooperative Supermarket
Featuring Atenas Coffee Farmers who make up the Cooperative.
Atenas, Costa Rica

My “Store Bought” Calendar from the mall yesterday is
“Caminos y senderos” Backroads and trails
of Costa Rica of course! I have been on the above road.
It is along the Caribe beach, Banana Azul, Puerto Viejo.
A Costa Rica Produced Nature Calendar
Hard choice of trails, trees or animals! I chose trails!

I am a very slow learner of spoken Spanish and need to surround myself with as much as possible and little things like calendars are a little help and help define where I am. Likewise I try to do most of my grocery list in español, count in Spanish, all greetings and as much conversation daily as I possible. That means avoiding gringos, especially Americans who only speak English.

Did you know that Spanish is the second most spoken language after Mandarin Chinese? Yes more people speak Spanish than English around the world and it is the second language of the United States.

-o-
An Older Slide Show of Atenas Scenes/Places
Someone walked/drove around Atenas with a video camera showing lots of people and places a few years ago. Two of the restaurants have changed and one completely closed, so definitely not current, but it is little of the local flavor of Atenas if that is what you are looking for :  
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xcTX45N4S3o

And in the right column on this blog page is a link to the most current Atenas PR Video I highly recommend!  

Integration – The Path to New Adventures

Since a copy did not work, I am linking to an article by my fellow expats and friends in San Ramon, Costa Rica who do the very helpful monthly newsletter/blog Retire For Less in Costa Rica. It expresses perfectly my philosophy about retiring in a country different from your birth country:


If you are considering a move to Costa Rica or any other country, I hope you will read the above linked article and not plan to just segregate yourself(s) with other foreigners as many Americans do. 
My Conversational English Club at a local high school.
 Atenas, Costa Rica 
I am not the perfect example of integration, but it is my goal and I am trying. Here is some of what I have done since moving to Atenas, Costa Rica 3 years ago: 
  1. Immediately got involved with language/culture studies at the local Su Espacio Spanish Atenas. I highly recommend it to anyone moving here from anywhere in the world! Though I am a slow language learner, they have stuck with me and slowly but surely I am able to “get by in Spanish” most places or have simple conversations, just not fluent yet! As we say in Spanish: “poco a poco” or step by step, or little by little. 
  2. Supplement my class studies of Spanish with two online studies occasionally: Duolingo is a free web-based language school with advertisements to cover the cost. It is very helpful and I highly recommend it. After realizing that Google Translate is not very good with Spanish, I discovered http://www.spanishdict.com/ which not only gives better translations, but has hundreds of articles and lessons on Spanish to help you. PLUS they also have an online course that competes very well with Duolingo as a slightly different approach that will fit some learning styles better, though it is not free! But well worth the moderate price! It is called “Fluencia” and you can get to it and a few free lessons from the dictionary address above. Once you do the free lessons and sign up as a student, you get a different app address. Great help!
  3. Attending church with Spanish music and sermons is a slow way to learn, but a help. The little Bible church I go to some has an English translation on the first Sunday of each month. At first that was all I attended. But now I prefer the other Sundays better and Ticos over expats. 
  4. Seeing a movie in Spanish at the mall theater in Alajuela.
  5. Watching local TV in Spanish of course! 
  6. VOLUNTEERING with local Angel Tree Project, fundraising for two schools, Spelling Bee in high school English classes, and as leader of a high school after school club for conversational English for those going to states as exchange students (above photo). 
  7. Walking everywhere (no car) is one of the best things to get me close to local people, not always communication, but communion, closeness, immersion, integration! And also . . .  
  8. Riding bus anywhere away from Atenas. I have now been on trips all over the country and it is not only getting easier, but I’m traveling like locals travel and feel integrated! 
  9. Traveling all over Costa Rica gives me more opportunities to use Spanish and meet more people and have more adventures and be a part of the broader culture! 
  10. Joining clubs: My first two years I was active in the Costa Rica Birding Club, which is an expat club of mostly rich Americans who drive their big cars all over the country for birds. I’m still a member, but more actively participating online in the local Costa Rican birding organization called Asociacion ornitologica de Costa Rica. I’ve met two local Atenas Tico birders and one has invited me to go hiking with him some weekend! A local expat club takes trips to concerts, museums, etc which has been good, but I’m hoping again to do less with expats and more with locals!
  11. My latest photo book is in Spanish! Plus most of the other books I have tried to give both the English and Spanish names for all the birds. And though my primary blog is still in English because of the audience, I also have a Spanish Blog. 



The deepest of level of communication is not communication, 
but communion. 
It is wordless … beyond speech … beyond concept.” 

¡Pura Vida!