WALKING PATHS of My Ancestors

MAP By Saioa López, Lucy van Dorp and Garrett Hellenthal – López, S., van Dorp, L., & Hellenthal, G. (2015). Human Dispersal Out of Africa: A Lasting Debate. Evolutionary Bioinformatics Online, 11(Suppl 2), 57–68. http://doi.org/10.4137/EBO.S33489 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4844272/, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50508700

All of us literally walked out of Africa at one time ancestrally and the paths taken greatly affect who each of us are. Because I participated in the National Geographic DNA Genographic Project I got a report on both my Maternal and Paternal paths out of Africa which are greatly different . . .

Continue reading “WALKING PATHS of My Ancestors”

Unique Insects

I didn’t actively search for insects on this trip, but as in any rainforest you can’t help but notice some unique ones! Here’s three:

¡Pura Vida!

How I Choose & Plan My Trips

The thrill of landing on a short strip by the ocean!

This may be too boring a topic for many of you faithful readers, but IF you are one of those considering retirement here AND you are a details persons like me AND you also want to see the whole country like me OR you are a birder or other kind of nature lover/collector, then this post is for you! 🙂 Otherwise it gets footnoted as another biographical page on my website! 🙂

Continue reading “How I Choose & Plan My Trips”

Costa Rica News Used My Photo

The only thing is that they didn’t use one of my many nature photos I love so much, but a selfie of me holding my new drivers license back in 2016. It has now expired. No problem! I don’t drive anymore! 🙂 That’s both by choice and now by requirements since I practically have only one eye, meaning little perception of depth of field which is not good for driving! 🙂

It’s illustrating an article about the new requirement for expats to get a DL.

That’s what can happen when you post a photo on your blog or online gallery. They did not ask me or give me credit, but I enjoy getting attention from people who see it! 🙂

Costa Rica is First Place Again!

That is on International Living Magazine’s list of BEST PLACES IN THE WORLD TO RETIRE 2021!

Read about it and see total list of all countries on Tico Times Article Costa Rica is #1!

And I tried to link you to the International Living Magazine article, but they only allow subscribers in. Sorry! But all the info is in the above article on Tico Times with the top 25 countries listed and ranked by 10 categories. Pretty impressive! I keep getting my “radical decision to move here” confirmed by all kinds of organizations. 🙂

And if you are a beach person and thinking of Costa Rica for living and/or retiring, Tico Times has an article Ranking the 5 Best Beaches to Retire/Live On. What are you waiting on? 🙂

And if that is not enough to convince you, check out My Costa Rica Photo Gallery


¡Pura Vida!

2020 Photo Smiles

2020 was more than COVID-19 – closed borders & businesses – lockdown – mask-wearing! Like all of life – it’s what you make of it! . . . So I continue my New Year’s Eve tradition of posting 12 photos representing my concluded year . . . not restricted to exactly one per month.


The feature photo at top is a vista from my room at Xandari Nature Resort where I had two weekend trips, one in January and one in August. It’s overlooking the great “Central Valley” of Costa Rica where I live to the far right in that photo on one of those hills or mountains. Then from March to July no travel for me beyond walks in the neighborhood where nature still smiles! 🙂

In March I started wearing a bandana for virus protection, then graduated to a layered cloth mask (called mascarilla here) made by a local seamstress, and by summer I added the additional plastic shield seen on me in this photo when completing my application for permanent residency . . .

I took off the mask and shield for the required face photo! 🙂 But I have stayed cautiously safe from the virus.

Since the above photo was made the government Health Ministry has ruled that the plastic shields alone are not adequate and everyone must wear a cloth or surgical mask when outside their home. So I quit using the plastic shield and ordered a cloth mask from my gallery with one of my sunset photos on it that I photographed last year here in Atenas on Calle Barroeta. The photo doesn’t look as great on a mask, but at least it is unique! 🙂

Selfie with an Atenas Sunset Covid19 Mask. Someday it will be strange to not wear a mask. 🙂

“Make everything an adventure. Otherwise, it will suck.”  

― Nita Morgan

When not traveling I found photo smiles in my own garden and neighborhood . . .

Above is a Passion Flower along the road, 100 meters above my house. 🙂
Princess Flower in my garden! 🙂
Nature playing hide and seek in my neighborhood! 🙂

Man’s heart away from nature becomes hard. —Standing Bear

My last trip before lockdown was to Heredia in February for Spanish Immersion plus . . .

. . . I photographed a Roadside Hawk at Toucan Rescue Ranch, Heredia. 🙂

At the heart of everything there lies a stillness and a light.”

― Lynn Thomson

I had several “Lifer” (1st time seen) birds this year including this one literally “handed to me” while at El Silencio Lodge & Reserve in September . . .

Chestnut-capped Brushfinch at El Silencio Lodge in September. 🙂 He flew into a window of the lodge office and this girl was comforting him until he eventually flew away.

One touch of nature makes the whole world kin. —William Shakespeare

And also at El Silencio were 5 great waterfalls with my favorite . . .

. . . Catarata Los Gemelas Waterfall, Bajos del Torro Amarillo, Alajuela Province. 🙂

And many flowers . . .

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

~Leonardo da Vinci

Baby Green Iguana at Maquenque Lodge, Boca Tapada.

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.

~Lao Tzu

Happy New Year 2021!

Flower at Xandari Nature Resort, Alajuela, Costa Rica 🙂

¡Feliz Año Nuevo!

¡Pura Vida!

Photo Books Tell My 2020 Stories

And part of that story is fewer photo books with fewer trips this year. Three books were drawn from my 5.5 years collection of Costa Rica photos. And one book was on my earlier life in Africa. Plus I did not do a book on every trip like usual, but for now you can enjoy the online photo galleries of every trip! 🙂

NOTE: I’m still doing my usual New Year’s Eve Photo Summary TOMORROW which I’m calling “2020 Photo Smiles,” twelve favorite photos of life in Costa Rica, just not restricted to a photo-a-month. 🙂

Roca Verde Birds

First book this year was not released until April 6, 2020 and by then I was itching to be creative! I went through my photos of birds photographed right here in our housing development called “Roca Verde” and came up with a book of 40 species of birds photographed in my yard and neighborhood which I was pleased with, and simply called Roca Verde Birds.

Go to the title link or click the cover for a free digital preview. I gave gift copies to the president and vice president of our homeowner’s association, the guards at the front gate, my 2 head gardeners and maid. All seemed to appreciate the book and giving them away is my main reason for making photo books! It’s an 8×10 coffee table book of 56 pages.

The little 7-inch ones I do on lodges or my trips I give one to the lodge and sometimes to a very good birding guide. 🙂 They are always very appreciative!

Pura Vida Birds

My second book this year was also created from my collection of photos from my years here in Costa Rica and one I have been wanting to do from the beginning. I published it June 5, 2020 with over 300 species of birds included and of course I saw a new bird the very next week that did not make my book! 🙂 That’s life!


It’s called Pura Vida Birds and was announced as a celebration of my nearly 6 years of living in Costa Rica. It is maybe the best summary of my first 6 years in Costa Rica and is my “main book” now, an 8×10 coffee table book of 230 pages. Makes a great gift!

Maquenque Mágico

Finally I make a trip in July and produced another little 7 inch photo book about it and this cool lodge! To celebrate my 80th birthday, I spent a week in a treehouse at Maquenque Lodge, Boca Tapada, Alajuela Province and was their only guest for the 1st 3 days and 1 of just 12 guests over the weekend spent solo-hiking away from people during the pandemic.

It was my second great experience there with 60 species of birds photographed! That’s more than at any other lodge so far!

Plus this is my first lodge or trip book published totally in español, Maquenque Mágico. As a photo book you don’t need the language, plus I named the birds in both Spanish & English! 🙂 It was published July 27, 2020, 7×7 inches, 92 pages.

El Silencio, Touching Souls

After Maquenque I had only 3 nights at Xandari in August before my second week-long trip during the pandemic at El Silencio Lodge & Reserve in September, a new place that immediately became a favorite and definitely one of the best in Costa Rica, even if it is also one of the more expensive! 🙂  A beautiful 7×7 inch book of 60 pages.

And if you are a waterfall lover, this is your lodge, with more waterfalls at or nearby than almost any other place in Costa Rica! Similar to Maquenque, there were only 2 or 3 of us there during the week with about 7 over the weekend. Great service, food, waterfalls, birds, and butterflies! I loved it and got 4 lifer birds! El Silencio, Touching Souls was published September 26, 2020.

Pura Vida Butterflies

More than 120 photos of butterflies and moths in Costa Rica that I’ve made during my first 6 years of retirement in the land of Pura Vida – Pure Life! A colorful coffee table book or guide to help the hobbyist label his Costa Rica butterfly photos. Plus a great gift! Pura Vida Butterflies was Published October 1, 2020. 8×10, 106 pages.

Magical AFRICA

The only book not about Costa Rica! 🙂 One of my many pandemic lockdown activities was putting together a collection of a few of my favorite Africa photos as basically my Africa Portfolio. It includes photos from living in The Gambia West Africa for three years and two trips back in 09 plus my three trips to East Africa, Kenya & Tanzania with two safaris in the Masai Mara Reserve of Kenya. Magical AFRICA was Published October 27, 2020. 7×7 inches, 102 pages.

Faces of Nature

I forgot what motivated me to do this creative project, but it was originally to be one book until I started curating my bird faces photos and with so many, I decided to do a separate book of bird faces, coming soon I hope! 🙂 This first volume is all other animals including a few insects and was a fun project for me! Though I kind of favor the frogs, the monkeys and sloth faces are irresistible! 🙂 Faces of Nature, Book 1 was published November 12, 2020. It’s a colorful little 7×7 inch book of 42 pages.

And that was my 2020 Pandemic Year in 7 photo books! And to see all of my photo books, click Bookstore on the menu or here! 🙂

Cancelled or Postponed 2020 Trips & Books

I had two little short trips of 3 & 4 nights at Xandari Nature Resort (Jan & Aug) without doing a book but highly recommend that lodge near Alajuela!

My March Trip to Hotel Savegre in San Gerardo de Dota was postponed until January where I look forward to my second visit there after a first in 2009 on a birding tour from the States. That area is the best place in Costa Rica for the unique bird Quetzal and in-between I have visited two other lodges in San Gerardo de Dota, but still prefer Savegre.

My May trip to Talari Lodge, Chirripó I canceled since it required a day-long bus ride to get there and that’s not good in a pandemic. Long range I plan something there or in that area so I can visit Los Cusingos Bird Sanctuary started by the now famous first birder in Costa Rica, Alexander Skutch, and where I can find birds not anywhere else, plus some other good reserves are nearby. This is a location where having a car would be more convenient! 🙂 And I’ve let both my TN and CR driver licenses expire, so can’t even get a rental car until a get a new driver license.

My Rancho Humo trip in November was cancelled because they just didn’t have enough customers to re-open as planned on November 1 after closing in March because of the pandemic. It has been a sad year for so many here in the tourism business. I’ve been there once and will eventually go again. Great birding and plush lodge!

Christmas week was scheduled at Arenal Observatory Lodge with me returning home on December 27, thus I can’t have a book completed from that week in time for this post. But one is very likely in January! 🙂

And to see all of my photo books, click Bookstore on the menu or here! 🙂

¡Pura Vida!

Only the Cow Knows!

One of my closest neighbors, across the street, seems to look at me and say “How can I help you?” Or is that just my good imagination? Only the cow knows! 🙂

Moo may represent an idea, but only the cow knows.

~Mason Cooley

¡Pura Vida!

Costa Rica’s ‘La Sele’ unveils uniforms inspired by biodiversity:

And well, an ad for New Balance too! They make the national team uniforms & the “official” fan T-shirts.

¡Pura Vida!

Effects of Eta Rain on Costa Rica


For 4 days and nights it has been raining almost constantly in my Central Valley town of Atenas, while some lowland areas that typically flood or have landslides are being effected much more than we and our just wetness.

For example, see this related Tico Times article: Indirect effects of Eta lead to at least 500 evacuated in Costa Rica   (my feature photo by Tico Times from this article)

Most of us in Costa Rica are fine with no landfall of Hurricane Eta here, it has made landfall in Nicaragua and Honduras and I understand will just scrape Guatemala and Mexico as it heads for Western Florida and Alabama.

And the rain just makes us greener and more beautiful for when you tourists come here in the next few months!  🙂

¡Pura Vida!



It is time to tell my fairy tale,

I swear I’ve not been on the ale.

Lend me your ears, hear me out,

a fairy left me a rose, I shout!

On a toadstool, yes go and see.

She also left a note for me.

The note, sorry, I can not read.

My friend, a Leprechaun, indeed.

Lent me his eyes, and his voice,

had to give them back, no choice.

His voice, too squeaky, eyes too small!

He took them back, and read it all.

All listened to that recitation.

The fairies had no hesitation.

In asking me to make it known

many spells of peace they’ve sown!

All humanity received their gift,

to dismiss war, give peace a lift.

When they think we have succeeded;

my fairy friends will help if needed.

Should they find that we did fail?

You’ll not forget this fairy tale!

~Mick Talbot, ©2017

Featured photo of toadstool (or mushroom maybe?) by Charlie Doggett alongside Avenida 8 in Barrio Boquerón, Atenas, Alajuela, Costa Rica. Nature spurs the imagination! 🙂

“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.”

~Mark Twain

¡Pura Vida!

A Landslide for Biden!

That is all that can save America now!

Anyone who watched that nasty, rude, interrupting liar in tonight’s debate can surely not vote for that devil. I turned it off after 50 minutes and will not watch any more debates. It is too sickening to watch him. There is something deeply wrong with a country that elects and supports a racist fascist like Trump. Vote him out overwhelmingly! Your only hope America!

We don’t have room for all of you in Costa Rica. 🙂