Pancakes at the Cathedral

I had a package to pick up at Aeropost Alajuela Saturday morning, so I went early before they opened and had pancakes and sausage with coffee at the shiny new (remodeled) McDonalds Restaurant across from Central Park Alajuela. They’ve always had an upstairs with a balcony overlooking the park, just new and nicer now! Sorry I didn’t photograph their new modern furniture and white tile floors and walls, but nice.

Yes, the photo above was shot through large hole screen wire which is necessary to keep the park’s pigeons off your table and food! And remember, with perfect weather here, we need no air conditioning or heat, thus it is an open air restaurant like almost all here. It is very pleasant to me to eat a breakfast outside (as I always do at home) and here I enjoy watching Our Lady of the Pillar Cathedral also called Alajuela Cathedral and watching people in the park. It helps make my 45 minute free bus ride to Alajuela worth the time, plus I picked up my newest travel photo book on Rancho Humo.   And read the Washington Post on the bus!

I was back home before 11 and had a quiet rest-of-the-day at home adding photos of Africa to my gallery and website. I introduced those new web pages yesterday. I enjoy life here!

¡Pura Vida!

Rio Tempisque

My last full day at Rancho Humo was the only thing I have done once before here, a boat trip down the Tempisque River looking for birds. It is the 2nd largest river in Costa Rica and has a great bridge over it near the mouth where it enters the huge Gulf of Nicoya, called “Puente La Amistad de Taiwán,”  (Taiwan Friendship Bridge). It was a gift from the Taiwanese government and saves hours when driving from Guanacaste to the San Jose area. We of course drove over it on our trips to and from Rancho Humo. A beautiful bridge!

Back in 2016 when my friend John from Franklin, TN came looking for investment property, we went to Flamingo Beach and the general Tamarindo area looking and he pampered me with the treat of a day trip from Flamingo Beach to Rio Tempisque for a similar float trip. See the 2016 post on that boat trip, some of the same birds then with 3 then I did not get this time, but I got more total this time with 10 not seen in 2016, including a Zone-tailed Hawk, a “Lifer” for me.   🙂     Here’s slideshows on this year’s visit, both birds & other animals:

BIRDS on Tempisque River 14 November 2018

Randomly presently

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Other Animals on Tempisque River 14 November 2018

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Water Hyacinths along the banks of Tempisque River

¡Pura Vida!


And note that my transportation for this trip was provided by Walter’s Taxis and Tours. Click his logo in the right column for more information. Great service!


Next Adventure Starts Saturday

Saturday morning I leave early for a 3 hour drive to the dry tropical forests of Northwest Costa Rica or the Provincia de Guanacaste. But since water is necessary for life (including birds) I’m going to a park with a grand river running through it, Rio Tempisque (Wikipedia) in Palo Verde National Park  (Facebook) while staying just outside the park in Rancho Humo Estancia. In addition to the boat and jeep tours this hotel offers, I hope to also visit the Palo Verde Biological Station in the heart of the park for birds, though not staying there. And being in November, the last month of rainy season, it won’t be dry there at this time.

And my main birding goal? It is to get a photo of a Jabiru Stork, the largest stork in the world. And an island in this river is considered their main nesting spot, so maybe I will see one or more even though I just learned that they don’t nest until April, which means I may have to return in April-May?   🙂

This trip will be quite a bit different from my rainforest visit last month!

On this linked google map the Palo Verde is left center and Atenas (my home) lower right side:

Or here is location (Red X) on a Costa Rica Relief Map:

Red X is the location of Palo Verde National Park, Costa Rica

¡Pura Vida!

I Pray for America Today

And more specifically I pray that a huge majority of you will vote in opposition to the lying, hateful, racism that is destroying what used to be a great country. Your future as a country and your place in the world is at stake tomorrow.

When you lie down among the sheepfolds, You are like the wings of a dove covered with silver, And its pinions with glistening gold.      ~Psalm 68:13



Photo is of a Homing Pigeon in Alajuela this week. Beautiful and with a better map memory than humans. It’s the closest bird photo I have to a dove with glistening silver and gold!   🙂

POST SCRIPT:     Based on the response to this post by my friend Leo (below) I am going to try to leave politics out of this blog in the future and just talk about my retirement in Costa Rica, the purpose of the blog. I apologize to anyone I offended and will try to keep this blog about my retirement here in Costa Rica. I’ll save politics for Facebook, though I don’t use it as much now.


About Birding Guides in Costa Rica

I have never had a bad guide at any of the lodges or national parks I visit though of course some are better than others. Kevin at Esquinas Rainforest Lodge last week was great and helped me get photos of 52 species with 10 lifers! That is amazing and one of my best trips! One of the best I have ever had was my first and thus far only female birding guide while on an earlier visit to Rancho Naturalista, Mercedes “Meche” Alpizar who I think is now a freelance guide and has been honored by the other guides for finding the most birds one year.  She is the one who found the Sunbittern for me to photograph, so I am always thankful to Meche!

Check out her Facebook Page to get an idea of things she is doing.  That’s her new FB Profile Picture I copied here just in case you think all the birders in Costa Rica are rough and dirty boys or old men!   🙂


And maybe a more typical guide is the young 20ish David Mora Vargas I had at Danta Corcovado recently. He is high energy and also has an interesting Facebook Page!  

I generally cut back on using Facebook because of all the ugly, angry arguing from the states, but I enjoy using it to keep up with some of my young Tico friends like Meche and David!

Guide Training

All guides have completed the Costa Rica Institute of Tourism’s training course and been certified as a guide. They are trained at either a public university or a private school and have basic skills in at least one other language than Spanish, though most lodges and tour companies require English. I had trouble finding information about their training online, but here’s a tiny bit:

Tourist Guide Requirements

Inside EcoTeach Guide Training

A Private Guide Training (Lapas Rio) Overview – 6 days for $1,760 which is too expensive for most Ticos – You can see the itinerary here.


 “Do not follow where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


In a Rainy Rainforest

I left early this morning, like at 4am from my house for a 5:30 flight arriving in Golfito at 6:35 after a brief stop in Puerto Jimenez – I just love flying in these small planes even when it is cloudy like this morning.

Here the bird photographed today in the rain:

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And here are some shots of the grounds of my lodge for the week:

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And other animals seen today:

Common Basilisk, adult male
Common Basilisk, juvenile male

Patience is Costa Rican!

Your have heard me brag about the tranquility and great weather of my little farming town of Atenas – and the “muy amable” or very kind people here. But one thing that many hyper and efficient Americans don’t always realize when they move to such an easy-going society, is that to be that way means everything and everybody moves slower here! No rush! ¡Pura vida! To not adapt to this slower way means you will not be happy here. Always frustrated at the inefficiencies!

My example of this today is my efforts since Monday to pay my surgeon for the work he did. (No pressure from him.) I made arrangements in advance with my Credit Union in Nashville to move the needed money from Savings to Checking so I could easily pay with my debit card. Hospital payment was quick and easy as I had planned, but the doc requested to be paid separately. Okay.

The doctor comes in my room with his little portable credit card machine, saying he doesn’t like to wait for the hospital to reimburse him if I pay through them (the most efficient way), saying they sometimes take a full month to forward the money to him. Okay. He tries repeatedly and his machine doesn’t work or at least he blames it on the machine and not my card which had just worked for the hospital. He leaves and returns in a little while with a bigger machine he plugged into the wall (still dependent on hospital WiFi). And it did not work. He then says we will take care of it when I see him at his office later this week (Wednesday). It still did not work there. He then gives me his account number at Banco Nacional and asks that I just transfer the money to his account from my account – but that account (my SS check auto-deposit) is just for housing costs, so I still have to get the money from Nashville.

Thus Wednesday afternoon I go to the bank with my CU debit card and ask them to get the needed money from it and put into my local account so I can transfer it to the doctor’s account. Sure! The teller aims to please, and tries repeatedly (7 times – service is important!) and he continues to get “denied” or “acceso denegado.” I call Nashville and they raise the cash advance limit (I thought they had already done) and say everything else is cleared – it should work! It did not! I told the patient teller (not the long line of people behind me) that I would return tomorrow and try again. Lo siento señor, mañana es un día festivo, no estamos abiertos. And I reply, Hasta el viernes.  Tomorrow is a holiday and we are closed. See you Friday.   🙂

Well, Thursday was Virgen de los Angeles day, (patron saint of Costa Rica) with only Christmas and Easter being bigger for Catholics here, when thousands make the pilgrimage to Cartago Cathedral to touch the black stone Maria. So nada yesterday! (Click above link to learn about the holiday.)

This morning I call the Credit Union again and make sure the card is good for a large amount of cash on this day and I’m assured it is. I go to the bank with teller lines going outside onto the sidewalk and street, more than an hour wait for a teller, so I tell the guard I need the “special services desk” and go wait nearly an hour for it, but those persons are more accustomed to “different” transactions like mine and I figured they could handle it better, maybe quicker, and once I finally got to a desk, it worked very smoothly, though taking another 25 minutes to do it! Remember – everything is slower here! Why rush? But she did go ahead and let me pay my monthly CAJA (public healthcare) with her and not have to go wait for a regular teller to do that.

Sooooo . . . an hour and a half at the bank, another chapter read in my latest book (which is so, so), my doctor bill is paid AND my monthly CAJA (public healthcare) bill paid! I breathed a sigh of relief and headed home for a more relaxed weekend! Pura Vida!

And, if you are wondering, the reason I didn’t use CAJA for the surgery, is that I would still be waiting to see a surgeon and I chose not to have patience for that!  Choices and Patience! Retired in Costa Rica!   🙂   ¡Pura Vida!



Inside Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Los Ángeles Church

An Eventful Day

8AM Spanish Class with Hilda my new “more mature” teacher who has been trying to help me understand past perfect participles in Spanish and I’m not sure I do in English! 🙂

An errand-running morning after class with about 5 stops and much accomplished.

2:30 bus to Alajuela gave me time for my late lunch or early dinner there before a 4:30 appointment with another new Jesus in my life, Dr. Roberto Jesús Gamboa Arend, Dermatologist. He looked at all my “tags” and other growths, moles, assuring me that I do not have cancer, then used the nitrogen or whatever to freeze-dry most of them. I have a cream to put on each of them until they fall off on their own, which took two pharmacies to find and I barely made the 5:30 bus back to Atenas which was standing room only. I stood less than a minute when a young man, maybe 20 I guess, got up and insisted I take his seat. This is typical of the high respect given to older people here. A good feeling.

I’m home and tired now with only 1 little errand for tomorrow. Whew! Photo is of sunset from my terrace last night.

¡Pura vida!