New Sidewalk Is Exciting for a Walker!

Looking West Toward Town
Atenas, Costa Rica

Looking East Toward Colegio Gym
Atenas, Costa Rica

And Down Near the Corner
It will go around corner for another
full block, then right to Colegio Liceo
Atenas, Costa Rica

Like governments everywhere, they seem slow about getting things done and of course funds are not always there. But finally I do not have to walk in the street around “Dead Man’s Curve” or a blind curve between my house and downtown Atenas. And I imagine they hope the high school kids will use it. They now flood the streets around the school before and after school, slowing car traffic. 

My favorite place is whichever sidewalk is beneath my feet because I am just constantly fascinated by walking and looking and learning.
~Danny Meyer
And you will see much of my looking and learning from walking in my photo gallery called: 

¡Pura Vida!

Frogs at Rancho Naturalista

Blue Jeans Frog
La Mina, near Rancho Naturalista, Costa Rica

Blue Jeans Frog
La Mina, near Rancho Naturalista, Costa Rica

Probably one of the Forest Toads or Rain Frogs
Rancho Naturalista, Costa Rica

Probably one of the Forest Toads or Rain Frogs
Rancho Naturalista, Costa Rica

See my photo gallery of Costa Rica Amphibians

English Festival Speech & Conversation Competition

First to Fourth Place Winners of Casual Conversation
Liceo de Atenas, Costa Rica
Winner of the Formal Speech Contest
Liceo de Atenas, Costa Rica

One of the students delivering her speech before us judges.
Liceo de Atenas, Costa Rica

Recognition of the Blind Student who participated in the speeches.
Liceo de Atenas, Costa Rica

Pulling Judge Charlie into the festival picture frame
Liceo de Atenas, Costa Rica

For the second day in a row this was a delightful experience with some of the nicest people I have met or worked with anywhere in the world! We had fun and though all could not win first place, all the kids were winners! And they do English better than I do Spanish! Being old is my excuse!  🙂

The teachers say they will expect me to help next year and Zaray is going to get me an invitation to judge in the regional contests. 
One of the boys in his speech talked about the diversity of nature in Costa Rica and mentioned his Dad was a bird watcher. Afterwards I gave him my business card and he gave me his dad’s facebook address where he posts bird photos:
At the time I did not know that I had already discovered his Dad’s Facebook page and was already a “Follower.” He is one of the best nature photographers in Costa Rica. I must learn to speak Spanish to relate to guys like this! In a post on his page I referenced my Birds photo gallery, not as good as his but not bad!  🙂

Photos of Liceo de Atenas on the web  (Google Image Search)

And a cool locally made video about Atenas  from local Chamber of Commerce type organization

My ATENAS photo galleries:
Vistas  (Click Roca Verde, My House and La Jacaranda)
Walking in Atenas (flowers mostly)
Atenas is quite a wonderful place to live as you will see above.  🙂

Birds at Celeste Mountain Lodge

Golden-hooded Tanager
Celeste Mountain Lodge, Bijagua, Costa Rica

Clay-colored Thrush
Celeste Mountain Lodge, Bijagua, Costa Rica
The National Bird of Costa Rica

Great Kiskadee
Celeste Mountain Lodge, Bijagua, Costa Rica

Barred Antshrike Female
Celeste Mountain Lodge, Bijagua, Costa Rica

Kiskadee, White-ringed or Social Flycatcher
Celeste Mountain Lodge, Bijagua, Costa Rica

Blue & Gold Tanager
Celeste Mountain Lodge, Bijagua, Costa Rica

Sepia-capped Flycatcher Maybe
Celeste Mountain Lodge, Bijagua, Costa Rica

Yellow-faced Grassquit
Celeste Mountain Lodge, Bijagua, Costa Rica

Passerini’s Tanager Female
Celeste Mountain Lodge, Bijagua, Costa Rica

Passerini’s Tanager Male
Celeste Mountain Lodge, Bijagua, Costa Rica

Black-cheeked Woodpecker
Celeste Mountain Lodge, Bijagua, Costa Rica

Yellow-throated Euphonia
Celeste Mountain Lodge, Bijagua, Costa Rica

Rufous-tailed Hummingbird
Celeste Mountain Lodge, Bijagua, Costa Rica

I saw several other birds and a couple of others I got bad photos of, but these are the ones I’m willing to share!

Most of these are repeats for me but I’m always looking for a better photo of every bird! The new species for me here at the lodge are the Barred Antshrike Female, though I got a male in Nicaragua; the Yellow-faced Grassquit and the Sepia-capped Flycatcher.

Of course you can also see my photo gallery titled Costa Rica Birds for more!
Or for all of Central America, go to Birds
Later after this trip I will share some photos of the flowers and insects seen here plus what the lodge’s rainforest trail looked like. But birds come first.  🙂

Or you might want to see the lodge’s website for more about their services, great food, etc.
Happy International Day of Happiness!  March 20   🙂

No computer for a week

Therefore I will go a week without making posts since I can’t post photos from my Kindle and don’t know how from phone. Then a lot of catching up with parade tomorrow and 5-day trip to Caribe Friday. Be back the 20th! When computer is suppose to be ready. 😀

I will be checking email.

Whats a VPN?

What is a VPN? It stands for Virtual Private Network and the link is to a detailed Wikipedia definition. But the short answer and why I would want one here is to “trick” the internet to thinking I am in the United States instead of Costa Rica when I surf the web, and particularly when I use my digital download subscription to Netflix. The movie producers in Hollywood (not Netflix) won’t let a movie be shown in a country unless it is licensed for that country. Most that I’m interested in are not licensed yet for Costa Rica.

So I have a subscription to My Expat Network which means I can get anything from Netflix that I could get in Tennessee. Funny thing is that I hardly use it because I’m too busy enjoying real life in this neat new country. But I will probably use it more in rainy season and it is good feeling to “be connected.” There are other reasons like security and limiting some marketing efforts over the internet, but Netflix was my main reason to get a VPN.

I get same movie titles available in the states with a VPN internet connection.
Including a lot of junk! But I have more choices this way. 

UPDATE: VPN No Longer Works Here for Me!

Netflix somehow detected I was using one and knocked me down to their fewer titles Costa Rica version. At first I just canceled them, then decided it was still better than paying for TV channels here which I no longer subscribe to. And rarely watch Netflix now, though I like some of their nature documentaries.

And here’s a video someone asked me to add here:

¡Pura Vida!

5 Things You Should Know Before Moving to Costa Rica

Here’s a new article I just read on a website that has heretofore not been very helpful, but this article is true even if incomplete:  5 Things You Should Know Before Moving to CR  It seems to address someone who wants to work here rather than retire here. HERE’S MY SUMMARY:

  1. The laid-back culture is really different from the USA and requires an adjustment!
  2. The cost of living is not cheaper here unless you choose to live simpler than in states. 
  3. Import Taxes are very high, making cars very expensive. Otherwise buy local!
  4. Commuting to and from the city of San Jose is expensive and stressful unless you do it by bus. Reconsider if you plan to drive in and out for work!
  5. Working here can be legally complicated unless you work online. See a local lawyer first.

And my more practical suggestions for a retiree that I’ve listed before:

Feel free to email me or come visit if you are considering such a move. I will be brutally honest!  But warning! I like it here! 

I’m still here!

I’m having computer problems and difficulty getting the computer help I’ve paid for but will be back writing more soon. Can’t get to my photos to post any. But I am fine and staying busy with two more trips to Alajuela this week, one for Walmart and one today to visit Escate Animal ZooAve today. A report soon on that. Tomorrow morning the residents of the apartments have a meeting with the attorney of the family that owns the apartments, so we are hoping for the best. I have looked at another rental possibility, but hoping to stay where I am.

More later.   -Charlie

Merton’s Prayer of Abandonment

Arenal Volcano


I made this photo from the “Hanging Bridges” in the area in 2010. It is the most popular volcano because of its nearly perfect conical shape. It also reminds me of the strength and steadfastness of God in my life.

I just shared this on my spiritual blog called HIS SPIRIT which has been neglected lately with my focus on Costa Rica (and no longer using), but because it is as much about my move to Costa Rica and the risk so many here in Nashville think I am taking, I decided to share it on this blog too: 

As I am two days away from the move to Costa Rica, I am trusting God more and expecting Him to give me more purpose in life than I have felt in my simple volunteering in church and other places here in Nashville. And the fact that I don’t know everything that will happen is part of the adventure and excitement of the move. I am abandoning a lot of supposed security here in the states, though financially I know it will just get more difficult for me in the states. (And friends will still be friends from afar!) In the process of this thinking I was reminded of the poem/prayer by Thomas Merton which I may have shared somewhere earlier. I discovered it in 2012:

Prayer of Abandonment
Thomas Merton
My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain
where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
and that I think I am following your will
does not mean I am actually doing so.
But I believe
the desire to please you
does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire
in all I am doing.
I hope
I will never do anything
apart from that desire.
And I know if I do this
you will lead me by the right road
though I may know nothing about it.
I will trust you always
though I may seem to be lost
and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear,
for you will never leave me
to face my perils alone.

Websites, Blogs, Books and Tours

“Costa Rica Sunset” photo I made in 2011

My initial thinking was either Panama or Costa Rica as a retirement home and at first I focused on Panama, my most recent visit. The InternationalLiving site and products were the first ones promising I could live very nicely on my social security check or $1,500 a month in most Latin American countries. Then I found both Panama and Costa Rica sites saying something similarly. My hope were up! I can live a tropical life and have money left to travel to the other countries I don’t live in and all over the one I live in. I subscribed to the InternationalLiving Magazine, which I now would not advise, though I’ve only received one issue. Actually, there is good information, but that organization is pushing buying property and I will definitely rent for many reasons I’ll list later. They also have a free InternationalLiving Postcard (daily email) which has some good stories of people who have retired in many different places around the world, but focused on Latin America which is good for me, but again they are selling something in each email. So I’m learning from these but peeved at the way they keep asking for my money.

The first focus on PANAMA led me to these sites with various amounts of help:

Panama City from Cruise Ship in Canal, Photo by Charlie
  •  Panama For Real which is an unprofessional blog kind of site by a young man from Tulsa who married a Panamanian is the “Panama Gringo” and writes straight-forward opinions about various parts of Panama with his added home videos. It is interesting and certainly not a hard sell on Panama. He only wants to sell ads on his site.
  • Panama Relocation Tours which is modeled after the long time tour in Costa Rica and would be a must to take if I were still considering Panama.
  • TheInternational Living Panama Page has different info and more links
  • Google will take you to many other sites including real estate sites, but my initial searches discouraged me on Panama and I started focusing on Costa Rica

So I started searching for COSTA RICA information and found much more:

“Blue Jeans Frog: in Tortuguero by Charlie
  •  Christopher Howard’s Live in Costa Rica Relocation/Retirement Tours which also has books, web information galore, a blog and simply the main guy to go to if thinking about moving to Costa Rica. I will be talking about him more in future posts.
  • The Real Costa Rica which is a less professional page with lots of information and his own tour
  •  InternationalLiving site has some good articles on Costa Rica too, but you have to sign up to get access to some of them. Again they seem to be more interested in real estate sales than anything
  • And of course Google will give you more than you want