Letting Nature Be My Teacher

Come forth into the light of things, let nature be your teacher.

~William Wordsworth

Emerald Toucanet Monteverde 2016

In planning for my trip to Monteverde, I scheduled a different cloud forest reserve for each of the 5 full days I have there, believing the variety will give me more bird photos and I am expecting some “lifers” (1st time seen birds) on this trip.

My biggest discovery in the planning was learning about the reserve I’m visiting on my last day there – Children’s Eternal Rainforest. Wow! What a place with a great history from the Quakers setting aside virgin forest for a reserve, to the children of Sweden rallying financial support and to the reserve being a place where Montessori schools all over the globe bring their children to experience and learn from rainforest nature. From them I got the above Wordsworth quote. See some of the videos on their website linked to their name and you will know that I have a treat coming along with each of the reserves for which I have private tours scheduled:

Monday:  Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve

Tuesday:  Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve

Wednesday:  Curi-Cancha Reserve

Thursday:  Selvatura Adventure Park

Thursday Night:  Monteverde Wildlife Refuge Night Hike

Friday:  Children’s Eternal Rainforest, Bajo del Tigre Trail

And for the whole week I’m staying at Monteverde Lodge and Gardensa step up from the local cabins I stayed in on my last trip there (2016). I’m really looking forward to this week!  This hotel uses Costa Rica Expeditions (a tour company connected to select hotels over CR) to plan their excursions and they are handling the first three days plus the night hike Thursday. I made my own arrangements for Selvatura and Children’s Eternal Rainforest, both of which will pick me up at my hotel and return me there.

Brown Jay, Monteverde, 2016

For people visiting here from out of country, a tour company like CR Expeditions is the best way to go because they connect all your needs like transportation, hotels, and the kinds of activities you want. You will notice in the right column I also recommend “My Costa Rica” because they were a big help in a tack-on trip I added in 2014 to my relocation tour. Both companies are excellent! And when I go to the Caribbean side of CR I use the services of the very helpful crew at Caribe Fun Tours who have an office in Hotel Banana Azul where I always stay. I use these companies and I live here! So I definitely recommend them to foreign visitors!

Costa Rica is such a wonderful and diverse place to visit with something for everyone! I will never finish exploring it! But for next week, I’m in nature’s classroom of the cloud forests of Monteverde – photographing birds and much more! Stay tuned for nightly reports beginning Sunday.

¡Pura Vida!

The Brave

Read below about a new “Great Big Story” coming March 25 – The Brave – I received as a subscriber to The Great Big Story.

It is time to do something about man’s destruction of earth!

So in 2019, we’re making a concerted effort to drive change, fusing the storytelling you’ve come to expect from us with action-oriented programs focused on the environment, diversity and inclusion, community, and audacity. We believe in leaving a gentle footprint on the planet and making a big imprint on our communities. We believe in the resiliency of people and in our power to achieve the seemingly impossible. But above of all, we believe this world—the one we all call home—is worth fighting for.

Introducing: “The Brave”

We’re excited to kick off a month-long celebration of our Great Big Planet with a new series, “The Brave,” on Monday, March 25, where you’ll meet the extraordinary people taking incredible action on Mother Earth’s behalf.

Watch the trailer HERE.

For My New Hampshire Friends

New Hampshire Fall Trip, October 5, 2004
Kancamagus Highway October 5, 2004

One section of my photo gallery was recently added as Pre-Costa Rica TravelI am slowly adding one trip at a time until it is finished, starting with my Latin American travels since that is where I live now.  🙂

But one couple living in snowy New Hampshire just left their winter visit to Atenas to return home until their trip next January which will be longer or two months next year. They are not sure yet about retiring here, but wrote to say that my blog keeps them looking forward to their annual trek here.

Well, their message reminded me of my only trip to New Hampshire which was a fall color photography trip in 2004. including lots of vistas and 22 covered bridges along with many of my other interests!  So I just got motivated (by new friends) and added this photo gallery ahead of schedule with some of my favorite fall color shots. See this “New” old travel gallery now included here – CLICK Linked Title Below:

2004 October – New Hampshire

A part of the joy of being “Retired in Costa Rica” is occasionally remembering old times and places which is something my photography and Gallery provide, along with the personal pages of my Blog/Website on the top menu above (still being developed). And of course I continue my regular reports on Costa Rica!   🙂   My first love now!

“What I like about photographs is that they capture a moment that’s gone forever, impossible to reproduce.”
― Karl Lagerfeld

¡Pura Vida!

Fiery-billed Aracari

For more than 4 years I have been trying and hoping to get a good photo of a Fiery-billed Aracari (Neotropical Birds Link for description), one of the unique and more rare smaller toucans found only on the Pacific slope of southern Costa Rica and western Panama. I really expected to photo one at Punta Leona last week but the only one seen was at a great distance up a mountain and impossible to photograph.

In 2016 I got one shot of a Fiery-billed in a high tree at Los Campesinos Ecolodge, Quebrada Arroyo, Naranjito, Costa Rica, up the mountain from Quepos on the Pacific (Not a very good photo.). I also got one shot of an injured Fiery-billed at the ZooAve in La Garita, but it is wild birds I want!

Thus I was surprised and thrilled Tuesday morning when on my terrace for breakfast around 7, five young Fiery Billed Aracaris flitted between my Strangler Fig Tree and my Guarumo or Cecropia Tree. They were socializing and eating what appeared to be leaves on the fig tree. Here’s 20 of nearly 200 photos I quickly snapped before they left. As Alice said, “There’s no place like home!”  and though our part of Central Valley is on the Pacific Slope, it is mid-Pacific and not southern Pacific where they say these aracaris are. So I consider myself quite fortunate! I think they are juveniles and probably siblings or one might be the parent. 

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Being in the right place at the right time!


¡Pura Vida!


See all my Fiery-billed Aracari photos or all of my Costa Rica Birds.

My Best Helps in Moving to CR

Helps not necessarily in order of priority:

  1. ARCR 2-Day Seminar  and their “countdown” checklist of what to do by number of months, weeks, and days before move.
  2. ARCR website and magazine El Residente  is there to help you. 
  3. Christopher Howard Live in Costa Rica Tour  and his website/blog   (Feature photo above is of his tour group I was with, 2014) and note that his tour includes the ARCR 2-Day Seminar that answers all your questions.
  4. Retire for Less in Costa Rica  website and newsletter and also their
    On Healthcare Tour after I moved here – very helpful to me!

    “Healthcare Tour” is excellent and I highly recommend.

  5. Checking out many other websites, books, organizations, though the above were the most helpful for me personally
  6. Securing a Costa Rica Attorney BEFORE the move really helped me! I did it through ARCR but there are other sources.
  7. Starting the Residency Requirements while still in the states makes it easier to get the needed apostille legal documents BEFORE the move and your attorney here will help you with what to get before leaving states.
  8. Make several visits here BEFORE you move, getting acquainted with places to live, people, and your options, and always rent before you buy!
  9. Starting Spanish classes BEFORE the move and continuing here. You can live here without the Spanish language, but you will then always be an outsider, a foreigner and life will be more difficult than the difficulty of learning the language. I’m still struggling, but locals appreciate my efforts.
  10. Getting acquainted with local expats who came here before you. Their experience is always helpful even if their situation is different.
  11. And when zeroing in on a town or community, join any expat groups or Facebook groups there to learn more from the expats now doing it! In Atenas we have Atenas CR Info Facebook Group which you have to join for free to read the posts and answers to questions (like all FB Groups). It is at:   https://www.facebook.com/groups/atenascostaricainfo/about/

A few people like the organization and its magazine International Living. I did not like them nor find them helpful to me. They were more about getting my money – that was my personal experience. And I question their motives for promoting certain countries, places, etc. But you may want to check them out.

After 4 months in an apartment, I found this rent house on hillside overlooking Atenas Central. Love it – walk to town!

And for the final decision, follow both your heart and your head, but most important is to follow your heart! Where do you want to be? Doing what?

For me, Costa Rica is true   ¡Pura Vida¡   

Charlie – Retired in Costa Rica!

A Weekly Blog Post?

A Change in the Blog . . .

I am thinking about a purpose and need for this blog, my goals, and what the 20 to 100 actual readers per day want to see here.  (Tell me!)

As I re-evaluate the blog I see it in danger of becoming a personal journal, more about me than my original purpose of “How to Retire in Costa Rica” or now about “Being Retired in Costa Rica.” My retirement hobbies of travel, birding and photography don’t speak to all, but that’s a given.

Beginning this coming weekend, my new “trial approach” is to post only one weekly, quality article on Friday, Saturday or Sunday (flexible day).  I will seek to:

  1. Use fewer/better photos with a gallery link for those wanting more.

  2. Try for shorter, easier to read posts. This is already too long!   🙂

  3. Try to include some “inspiration” though not always my purpose.

  4. Try to improve my photography so one photo says it all!

Please Give Your Input  —  Reader Survey

Use the Comments box below or email saying:

  • Keel-billed Toucan on my Terrace

    What subjects you would like me to include?

  • What you think of a weekly approach?
  • Do you read this for information or photos?
  • Are your interests (1) Retirement in CR?  (2) Costa Rica in general?  (3) Nature photography?  (4) Travel?  (5) Birding?   or  (6) Keeping up with me?

If your prefer a private message click Contact on top menu to email me.

 ¡Pura Vida!

Weird Drums of Pipes & Pots

Just another one of the unusual things I see in Central Park Alajuela. Yesterday this guy was drumming away on his psychedelic apparatus in the park for tips. A quick snap of it  on my way to the bus station. He looks and acts more like a young American, but some young Ticos try to be that way.

¡Pura Vida!


And there were more! A wetland rainforest like Tortuguero has many animals and this is just a sampling from the River Otter to the Spider Monkey – a lot more than just my birds! To keep it simple I’ll use the auto-slideshow today, randomly presented and the name of each animal appears at the bottom of photo. This is part of the beauty of Tortuguero National Park – enjoy!


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“A forest’s beauty lies with its inhabitants.” 
― Anthony T. Hincks

See my 2019 Tortuguero Turtle Beach Lodge Visit Gallery for more on this exciting rainforest trip!

Or the Turtle Beach Lodge hotel website

Or my photo book on 3 visits to TORTUGUERO, The Amazon of Costa Rica

¡Pura Vida!

BIRDS at Tortuguero

This is not all the birds seen but the ones with a halfway decent photo, 28 photos here of 24 species – 2 shots of the Boat-billed Heron since one is mother with chick and other the nest-guarding father, two of the White-crowned Parrot because the images are so different, two of Mealy Parrot front & back, and separate male & female shots of the Grackle. My only “lifer” or first-time-seen bird was the Agami Heron and he was at night meaning not a real good photo. Now that my Costa Rica Birds Gallery is up to 301 species, it is getting harder to find a new species I haven’t already photographed, but thus far every trip in 4 years has had at least one!  🙂  We saw several American Pygmy Kingfishers sleeping on the night tour, but none of my photos are good.

Since my first trip to Tortuguero in 2010 on the Caravan Tour I have liked the rainforest/Amazon atmosphere of living on the water and what I’ve always thought was a lot of birds. Nine years later I have discovered several places with more birds and better food in the lodge, but I still like Tortuguero and will return again someday.  I’ll do a lodge post later and compare the two lodges I’ve stayed in here.

I’m sharing the photos in a gallery format rather than the auto-slide show because you can see the image larger when you click on it or at same time start a manual slideshow. Also hover your mouse pointer over an image to see the bird’s name. Photos are being shown in random order.

BIRDS at Tortuguero

In order to see birds it is necessary to become part of the silence.

~Robert Lynd


See my 2019 Tortuguero Turtle Beach Lodge Visit Gallery for more on this exciting rainforest trip!

Or the Turtle Beach Lodge hotel website

Or my photo book on 3 visits to TORTUGUERO, The Amazon of Costa Rica

¡Pura Vida!