Las Gemelas Waterfall

Okay, for you Spanish readers, yes, that says “The Twins” Waterfall and thus you may ask, “Where is the second one?” Well . . . sometimes my better judgement overrules my sense of adventure. We had already hiked about 4 km and waded across the ice cold, rock-strewn river with Bryan, my personal guide, helping me wade across the slippery rocks just to get this photo of the biggest of the twins. To see the other one we would have had to wade up a separate stream of slippery rocks to the left of the bottom of this falls maybe 50 meters. Bryan had already said “I can’t believe I’m helping an 80 year old do this hike!” He was doubting the wisdom of going further and after nearly slipping down more than once. I did too! But I was thankful that I could make the hike solo with my excellent young masked guide who was perfect for me in every way! Most of the holiday weekend crowd have gone. We have a max of 9 guests the rest of the week, so very tranquilo! Which I prefer! 🙂 And yes, I love this place! Already another favorite and I have so many favorites in Costa Rica. Here’s just a few shots of the Las Gemelas Falls Hike and notice that weird V-shaped bridge over one of the streams, like none I’ve seen before:

See my Waterfalls Gallery for more Costa Rica Waterfalls.

Or see THIS TRIP GALLERY: 2020 El Silencio Lodge & Reserve.

¡Pura Vida!

On the trail to the waterfall this sign was laying on the ground. My guide said that the biggest danger is sudden flash floods when there is a rainstorm in the mountains above.

Widening our bridge

One of the things that drives perfectionist Americans crazy about Costa Rica is the multitude of one-lane bridges all over the country even in the cities! Look no further than right outside the main gate to Roca Verde Housing Development! Our entrance gate is on Avenida 8, better known by the little bario (neighborhood) there as Calle Boquerón. Just outside our gate going towards central Atenas you cross the little rainy season stream that goes by the cow pasture in front of my house. And of course on a one-lane bridge! Don’t know why or who influenced it, but the city of Atenas is widening that little bridge.

The concrete tubing for water flow has already been extended and fill dirt and rocks added around it and as I photographed Monday they were pouring concrete for maybe a base to something or a wall? These two school kids out of school for Coronavirus will probably soon be joining the city construction team as they sit here and learn how easy it is to build a bridge over a concrete pipe.   🙂

20200330_111052_002-WEB
Walking from town, the bridge is just before Roca Verde gate on the right.  Note also on the right the pedestrian sidewalk & bridge built by volunteers a few years ago.

 

20200330_111126_001-WEB
School’s out and these two boys are learning how a bridge is built here over a big pipe!

 

“If Rome had been built in a day we would have used the same contractor.”

¡Pura Vida!

Alajuela Coronavirus Adventure

Friday I went to Alajuela early for my appointment at the government hospital to get an appointment scheduled with my Cardiologist in Nov-Dec for my annual checkup (yeah, its weird to have an appointment to get an appointment), plus I had a package to pick up at Aeropost and a couple of items to get at PriceSmart.

Wow! I had not been to Alajuela since the Coronavirus scare hit and it has nearly as many cases as San Jose as the second largest city (and my provincial capital by the way).  EVERYTHING WAS DIFFERENT!

1st, to get to the hospital early enough for shorter lines, I took the 6:30 AM bus, which is usually packed with people going to work, shopping, appointments, visits, etc. There were just 5 of us passengers on the bus – scattered out one to a seat. And at the entrance to bus was a bottle of hand sanitizer.

Empty streets!

2nd, as the bus arrived in Alajuela I could immediately see a difference with fewer cars and people – some streets like a ghost town!

3rd, no wait for a taxi with few people there to use them.

4th, when I got to the hospital, there were few people out front as I was expecting by now, but I wasn’t expecting to be turned away! When I got to the door a guard was stopping everyone and I showed him my cita (appointment paper) and he rattled off several things rapidly that I did not fully understand but I think he was basically telling me “no” that “all appointments not emergencies are canceled.” Bottom line, he would not let me in!   🙂

I got there early on purpose to avoid a long wait, yet I still expected to spend an hour or more. But I spent only 5 minutes there and it was now about 7:20 AM, with Aeropost not opening until 9 and PriceSmart at 9:30. Ugh! Oh well, I drank no coffee at home that morning and had only a bowl of cold cereal, so I took my time walking about 8 blocks to the nearest McDonald’s for breakfast.

5th, I entered the biggest MacDonald’s in Central Alajuela with only one other customer inside! Like the bus, they had hand sanitizer at the counters.  I took my time with ham & eggs and lots of coffee while reading the Washington Post. At about 8:30 I began the 6 block walk to Aeropost, getting there 10 minutes before they opened officially.

6th, at Aeropost I only waited a few minutes before one of the clerks, who recognized me through the glass (I’m a regular), came out with my little package, so I did not even have to be one of their limit of 3 customers inside the store – see sign below. And the bright red & green sign reflected backwards in their window is a MegaSuperMercado, a downtown chain-supermarket across the street! The English translation of their home-made sign:  “Maximum 3 customers within the branch.” In what they call a “branch office.”   That is also the feature photo and the recommended “Social Distancing” to help stop the spread of the virus. Costa Rica is doing its part one little business at a time!   🙂

“Social distancing!” inside banks and businesses.

7th, Because of the time I saved from the hospital rejection, I had about 30 minutes before PriceSmart even opened, so I just walked the 12 or so blocks to PriceSmart which opens at 9:30. This is one way I get my exercise!   🙂   And in so doing, I walked by Alajuela Central Park which, like the one in Atenas, is closed with yellow tape wrapped all around the whole block:

“No large public gatherings” thus all parks are closed in Costa Rica!

8th, at the entrance to PriceSmart (our store like Costco or Sam’s Club) they not only had a bottle of hand sanitizer, but specifically asked me to please use it while the lady wiped off the handle of my push cart. But unlike everywhere else I had been that morning, they were full of people and at opening time! Full with long check-out lines! And still some crazy bulk-buying by the panicked!

I actually don’t like this store which is too expensive, too large a quantity of things, and not consistent in their stocking; BUT they usually have about 5 or so items I cannot get anywhere else – things I really like. (Another option might be at AutoMercado, an American-styled supermarket specializing in American brands, but their location is not as handy for me as PriceSmart, as a bus rider.)

When I got out of PriceSmart it was a little after 10, meaning I had just missed the 10 o’clock bus! In the mornings the return buses only run on the hour (tho every 30 minutes in the afternoon), so I just slowly walked the 6 blocks to the bus stop for Atenas and still had time to read a little of my new mystery book before it left at 11. Oh well, another morning is gone! But hey! I’m Retired in Costa Rica and this kind of virus-influenced inconvenience is simply part of my daily adventure! Its what you do when you are retired in Costa Rica!    🙂

“An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.”
― G.K. Chesterton

🙂

¡Pura Vida!

 

Indigenous woman?

Maybe – or maybe not – just art that my second dentist (Ureña) likes or maybe a relative made. He has these in his lobby and 3 appear to be the same indigenous woman from behind but in different clothing and accessories. Whatever the story behind them, my first impression was good and I snapped photos with my phone. The other appears to be an early migrant from the Caribbean Islands to the Caribbean (Atlantic) Coast of Costa Rica, where most of the Afro-Costa Ricans live and have roots in Jamaica or other Caribbean Islands, originally brought here by Spaniards to work their banana and other farms. We have the largest Jamaican population outside of Jamaica.   🙂    Anyway, I think it is good art and I enjoy art!

 

The job of the artist is always to deepen the mystery.” 

~Francis Bacon

¡Pura Vida!

 

And a local sense of humor at Tico Times Digital Newspaper:

Since all the people are staying at home, the native animals are reclaiming our Costa Rica parks, even Jurassic Park!   🙂    Or is that the lake in downtown San Jose’s Sabana Park?

Native animals return to Costa Rica as coronavirus forces humans indoors
The Tico Times – Mar 21, 2020

🙂

el irlandés

I subscribe to a “word of the day” service in Spanish and today it is:

el irlandés

(eer-lahn-dehs)

Irish

HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY!    🙂

¡Pura Vida!

New Medical Adventures

La dentista +

Over this last weekend an upper right jaw tooth was hurting when I chewed on that side. So, first thing Monday after Spanish class I go to my dentist, Doctora Karina Valerio, who speaks only Spanish, which is good for me!   🙂

Office of Dra. Karina

She checked it out and said she really needed a digital image to make an assessment and sent me to Doctor Ureña Bogantes Rodrigo, one block away, who is also a dentist along with being the only dental radiologist in Atenas with all the expensive equipment for that. And he speaks English!   🙂

Office of Dr. Ureña

He x-rayed my teeth from different angles and gave me the printout from his computer to take back to Dra. Karina, saying he believes I need a root canal. His charge was 15 mil or $26.35.

Digital Image of my Upper Right Jaw – Root Canal is needed on the right side of the bridge.

So I took the image back down the street and Dra. Karina says, “Necessita la endodoncia.” which of course is a root canal!  🙂  And she does not do those, but Dr. Ureña has someone he can bring in to do it. So I pay her only 5 mil or $8.78 for two visits and consultations. 

Then I walk back down the street to Dr. Ureña again where he calls and schedules a root canal specialist to come to his office 3 days later, this Thursday. The woman Endodontista (root canal specialist) will have to drill through the right side of a bridge for the needed root canal. Of course it will cost only a tiny fraction of what one costs in the states!   🙂  AND it is soon (3 days) AND  ¡No más dolor!  (No more pain!)

And yes, I could have gone to the public clinic for free social security dental work, but it would have taken much longer and they would send me to their  specialist in either Alajuela or San Jose for a root canal at who knows how long a wait, so I chose private care that is local (I walked to both dentist offices), and so reasonably priced, quick and with excellent service for which I’m willing to pay. While the very poor here can get similar treatment for free, just a longer wait and bus ride to Alajuela or San Jose. 

You are possibly aware that dental tourism is one of the big businesses in Costa Rica! You can buy a plane ticket to Costa Rica, stay in a hotel, have the dental work done and do a little tourist activity all for less than what a dentist would charge you in the states for the same work. Dental work prices here are about 20% of the U.S. prices. And remember that doctors and medical care here is ranked higher than that in the USA by the UN World Health Organization, but you guys do rank number 1 as the most expensive in the world on all medical care and services.   🙂     ¡Pura vida!

 El urólogo

OK, I won’t go into as much detail about the urologist here. I’m an old man you know.   🙂    At 80 everything starts malfunctioning!   🙂

But the interesting thing I wanted to report is that our quiet, peaceful little farm town does not have a urologist (or many other medical specialists), either in the public clinic or in private practice. Thus, as I do for my dermatologist, I expected to go to Alajuela for this specialist.

But now we have two new private clinics (competing of course) in Atenas who bring in various specialists based on need. In my case, Dr. Rodriquez, urólogo, comes here to Clinica Santa Sofia (photo below) once a month. While young doctors like him probably stay a lot busier by sharing their time between a big city office and probably several small town offices, it is also very helpful to us in the small towns! We can avoid a trip to the big city!  I like my dermatologist in Alajuela very much, so I probably won’t change him, but I expect all other future “specialists” to be found in one of these two new clinics here in Atenas.    🙂

Centro Médico Santa Sofía El Coyol   –   For specialists and the only complete radiology facility in Atenas including sonar which is especially good for our pregnant women!

Coronavirus

Yes, the dreaded pandemic is even here in paradise! The last I read there are 13 confirmed cases in Costa Rica.  (The first 3 were Italians who flew over for a “holiday.”) CR just cancelled 2 cruises to here  and suspends mass gatherings but has no airline travel restrictions here yet and I imagine the tourism industry will discourage such but may be necessary. And yes, this virus hurts the tourism business maybe more than any other, just like in the states!

But to indicate the virus panic we already have here, I thought I would be well prepared “just in case,” far in advance and I tried to buy some surgical masks yesterday. After visiting 3 Farmacias (drug stores) here in Atenas I learned that there are none available anywhere in the whole country of Costa Rica – all “Out of Stock” they say.    🙂   Ours probably come from China and I imagine China is using all they can make there now!    🙂

This morning I walked to my favorite supermarket for a regular shopping trip and found that they are “Out of Stock” of all hand sanitizer and Liquid Hand Soap in dispensers but had some “refill” liquid soap in plastic bags that I got 2 of. They were also nearly out of alcohol. Hmmmm.  Ticos are very health conscious and most are very healthy. So I am optimistic about avoiding the virus here. And generally I prefer avoiding crowds or many people anyway, which we must do now! So stay healthy!   🙂

“Health is better than wealth.”   ―Spanish Proverb

¡Pura Vida!

Spanish Names Added to CR Birds Gallery

For the last two weeks I have been adding the Spanish name after the English name on each of my 337 Costa Rica Bird Galleries, one bird at a time! My source was the fairly new book Aves de Costa Rica, Guia de Campo by Garrigues and Dean which is available only in bookstores and lodges here in Costa Rica, while the English version, Birds of Costa Rica is available on Amazon.com as well.  This Spanish version is a translation of this older English version, Second Edition and is my first printed source of Spanish names for the birds here in Costa Rica. Nicaragua had one first that is bilingual!   🙂

I should add that for my English bird information I now use the more up-to-date Princeton Field Guide to Birds of Central America. My online source of birding information is Cornell’s eBird and Neotropical Birds websites. But even they do not have the Spanish names added to their articles. Wikipedia does but it is not specific to Costa Rica like the above book and my web gallery and I’m not sure of their sources.

Needless to say, this makes my web gallery of Costa Rica Birds one of the best online and the only one I know of that is bilingual, though I only have photos of 337 species out of over 900 here – so a long way to go!   🙂

“The presence of a single bird can change everything for one who appreciates them.”
― Julie Zickefoose

¡Pura Vida!

 

Un-immersed

Is that a word?   🙂   Well, anyway, I finished my week of Spanish Language Immersion and can say that it was very good or helpful! The most effective language immersion class/living is when one does it for two months straight or longer, then you are more or less fluent, people tell me. If I had my move to Costa Rica to do over, I would have scheduled the first two months in language immersion, but I didn’t – so I will keep up my plodding along here in Atenas with a tutor two hours a week along with relating to locals in Spanish and I may go back to Heredia for some more one week experiences in the future. We will see. It is not as expensive as my birding trips but nor is it as much fun!   🙂

The featured photo is from my breakfast table back home in Atenas this morning (got in last night) with that pretty pink-blooming tree on the horizon. It is always good to “get back home” after a trip. And in a lesser sense, I still have a type of language immersion living in Atenas, just not in my house! Though I guess I could talk to myself in Spanish!   🙂   I use only Spanish here with taxistas, at the supermercado, mostly in restaurants & other business and with my tutor – so not bad – but still not quite like the full immersion of this past week.

I recommend the experience and really liked the folks at Tico Lingo which I recommend, though I can’t compare it to any of the many other such programs here or in other countries. My uncle and some friends had good experiences at a similar program in Antigua, Guatemala while I have known others to do it in various places in Mexico – thus there are many opportunities if you are interested! And remember that living in a local home that speaks only Spanish is maybe just as important as the several hours of class work in the school.   🙂   AND using the language when you leave!  🙂  And I just now found one website that compares 18 such schools mostly geared to youth also wanting a beach experience and it doesn’t even include Tico Lingo, but if interested check out: Language Schools. My relocation tour stopped at two of these schools for quick introductions and there are more than these!

Speaking in Spanish with other students was also helpful. I was at a lower level than the one group class during my week, thus I had a solo class or 3 hours of personal tutoring each morning which was definitely best for me, but I did go out to lunch with some others and practiced with them a little, though it’s too easy to relapse into English with other Americans!   🙂

20200228_120542_002-A-WEB
They have “Graduation” every week! Me with my certificate & Profesora Ana.

20200228_133029_001-A-WEB
And as I left my home for the week 4-year-old Daniela said “adios” to me!

 

And of course I have a “Trip Gallery” of photos from this week, titled:

2020 February 22-28 — Heredia for Spanish Immersion

 

“The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.”
~Ludwig Wittgenstein

¡Pura Vida!

 

 

My Spanish Classes

My mornings are spent at Tico Lingo Language School where I am not up to speed with the classroom of students in their 20’s for 4 hours a day so they placed me with a private tutor for 3 hours a day which of course is better for me. The featured photo is of my Professora Ana. Below are more photos of the house converted into a school and where I spend my mornings this week. It is a trial week for me to see if this kind of immersion language study will work for me. If so I will continue more later.

At Tico Lingo

 

Art in the School

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

They are all tourist souvenir art work, and yes, if it were me I would stretch those fabrics tight and mount them level, but that is not my job! And the high school and college kids who are most of their customers couldn’t care less!   🙂

Today after class I went to lunch at a different Soda for another Casado with one of the 20-somethings in the other class (to where he wanted to go) and he treated me! He acted amazed that an 80 year old was doing this. So? He ate fast and took an Uber to see his Costa Rican girlfriend called a “Novia” here. I walked around downtown again today and stopped for an ice cream cone, then walked back to my student boarding house where I make this post!   🙂   Tomorrow is a bigger treat as I go to Toucan Rescue Ranch in the afternoon.

And of course I have a “Trip Gallery” of photos from this week, titled:

2020 February 22-28 — Heredia for Spanish Immersion

 

¡Pura Vida!

FYI:     Costa Rica Is The Second Best Destination In The World For Foreign Investment In Tourism

 

Tico Casa & Heredia Central

I had a great dinner last night with Vera and Daniela off and on with others out – it was arroz con pollo or chicken and rice with a typical Tico breakfast this morning of Gallo Pinto or beans and rice with egg and coffee and bread and a big plate of fruta and glass of juice! I ate breakfast with Jose, I neat young guy from a little village an 8 hour bus ride south of here near the Panama border. He works for a robotics company and goes to the university in night school for more robotics skills. Lots of different things are manufactured here in Costa Rica and there are some really sharp young people here!

If there is any downside of a boarding house it is sharing the bathroom with many other people. No wait for my shower this morning, but after breakfast before leaving for school I could not brush my teeth because it was occupied. It is all part of “being family” or sharing which is ultimately a joy!   🙂

I had a good morning at school today followed by a tour of downtown Heredia with lunch at the Central Mercado, a typical lunch plate called a “casado” which is your choice of meat and an assortment of vegetables, rice and salad served for lunch everywhere in Costa Rica, like what Mamma would serve you at home. The word “casado” literally means “married” and implies that if you are married this is what your wife will serve you for lunch.  🙂  I will report on the school tomorrow and Wednesday I’m going to the Toucan Rescue Ranch for another interesting experience. Never a dull moment! Even when learning!

Casa de Garcia

A 4-bedroom Boarding House Apartment

 

Heredia Central

CLICK AN IMAGE TO ENLARGE

And of course I have a “Trip Gallery” of photos from this week, titled:

2020 February 22-28 — Heredia for Spanish Immersion

¡Pura Vida!