Some mornings I just walk the circle drive over the hill my house hangs on the side of. Near the top in just one spot, directly above my house, is this view of Atenas, Alajuela Province, Costa Rica – the tranquil little coffee-farming town where I’m living out the rest of my life, Retired in Costa Rica! The town slogan is Mejor Clima del Mundo, “The best weather in the world!” A subjective opinion of course! 🙂
As noted earlier, one of the things I’m doing more of during the “lock-down” time is trying get all of my old photos culled through and posted in one place.
One of the biggest collections is from my 10 years of volunteer work at Nashville Zoo and my Nashville Zoo Gallery is now completed. It includes one of my biggest collections of bird photos along with so many other animals and a really large number of people photos which was what the Zoo PR Dept. wanted a lot of. It was a nice re-living of many great memories at Nashville Zoo. And as I go through other photo files I expect to find more of Nashville Zoo, like when friends and family visited, I often took them to the zoo but haven’t gotten to those photos yet! 🙂
Though we have fewer cases of the Coronavirus here in Costa Rica, our government has done a better job than many countries of educating people and keeping the number of cases low and thus as an “older person” I am staying in my house now (as recommended) except for these limited people contacts:
Supermarket – And I finally wised up to going when they are not crowded, like early morning.
Bank to pay 2 monthly bills and get cash at ATM (avoid Monday, Friday, & 1st)
Maid comes once a week and we keep our distance
Neighbor delivered Carrot Cake to several of us live-alone singles 🙂
And what keeps me from having “cabin fever” or boredom staying at home all the time? Well, that is easy to answer! I keep doing what I’ve always done since I retired in Costa Rica (minus the travel now):
What I Do Without Other People
(1) Birding that I can still do early mornings right here in my own neighborhood or even walk to other parts of Atenas away from the crowds solo as I prefer anyway.
(2) Blogging started becoming a regular thing for me back in 2014 before I even moved here as I focused then on the decision-making of such a move and now it is my replacement of many failed attempts at journaling, plus I actually have regular followers now and enjoy helping others who are considering retiring in Costa Rica, plus it is still a report to family and friends back in the states who want to keep up. Its a fun and creative outlet! 🙂
(3) Life History Recording (very slowly in the background) as it becomes much of the undated portion of my blog/website, the way WordPress blogs/websites have been organized from the beginning (dated blog & undated “static” pages). And in some ways a part of this history is my . . .
(4) Photo Gallery which was originally going to be pages of this WordPress website, but because of the future potential problem of using too much memory and slowing down access, and me not liking their gallery templates that well, I chose to use a photo gallery specialist at a separate address with a link from my site menu where I can put the full-size photo files (WP wants me to “web-size” photos). Though it is only a click away from my website/blog Home Page, it is actually located on a different server where I have a plan with unlimited space, thus putting all of my important photos, both historical and current on it. And I’m still working on the historical part! 🙂 Hey! I have thousands of photos made just since 2000 and still picking through them for the best to put in the gallery. And oh yes, I chose SmugMug.com as the best looking and easiest to use of the many options today! (Having tried Flickr & Pbase.) And from my gallery you can even order prints or wall art of any of my photos! 🙂
(5) Spanish Lessons Online now! No people contact there! 🙂
(6) The heaviest people contact I’ve had in the past was in almost monthly trips to lodges all over Costa Rica. I postponed two trips, one next week to San Gerardo de Dota and my May trip to San Isidro del General, which had included going on public bus (not healthy now). After that I’ve planned a July birthday trip to Manquenque Lodge in a tree house room as I turn 80 and things will have to get pretty bad for me to miss that! 🙂 I’m using my personal driver to get there and its in “the middle of nowhere” jungles where there should not be any virus. But I wait and see! 🙂
“At this point, it is believed many of the world has come in contact with the virus. And for that reason, we all have to experience social distancing and self-quarantine at various levels.”
RAIN — RAIN — a real rain with a lot of water yesterday afternoon, not the little sprinkle we had on the 24th. This is good news! The gardens and trees will love it and maybe the rainy season is starting early this year – we will see. But at least I don’t have to water for a few days now! 🙂
I still find it hard to show rain in a photo, so I won’t share my effort. But this is a big deal because there has been no rain since early December and we sometimes have to wait until May! I am not living in a rainforest, even though nearby. The Central Valley is in between the cool/wet cloud forests and the hot/wet/humid rainforests, thus our claim of “the best weather in the world” needing no a/c or heat ever here! But we do have rainy and dry seasons and it is still considered “tropical.” 🙂
One of the many retirement blogs is titled “This Retirement Life”and the writer Dave Hogan, a financial planner, just took the Caravan Tour of Costa Rica which I highly recommend for a 9 day overview of the whole country as a tourist first, before you start the serious work of planning on living here.
After doing the Caravan Tour Dave stopped in to San Ramon to interview my friends Paul and Gloria Yeatman who have done the excellent blog “Retire for Less in Costa Rica” for the last ten years along with a healthcare tour of Costa Rica and are slowing down now, about to phase out their monthly blog post that I highly recommend to all couples considering retirement here and I will likewise recommend the book they are soon putting together by the same title, in addition to Gloria’s CR Cookbook already available! 🙂
Read this great Interview with Paul & Gloria Yeatman on the Retirement Life blog. If you are considering retirement anywhere outside the U.S., it will help you with the big picture from another first-hand experience! And get to know a couple who did retirement as well or better than anyone I know! Enjoy!
“It is better to live rich than to die rich.” – Samuel Johnson
I was thinking of doing a Costa Rica Map on a cork board with map pins showing where I’ve been – which is a lot more places than most people I know here among both Ticos and Expats. Then suddenly in my electronic mailbox appears an email from Google Maps titled: Google Maps Timeline 2019 Update. Yep, it included the feature photo map above and some other stuff that seems to go back to 2015, my first year here when I began traveling Costa Rica. It seems I approved them tracking me (my cell phone) back then and this is what I get! Should I be afraid of Google or send them a thank you note? 🙂
The big red blob in the middle is the space between Atenas & San Jose that includes Alajuela and all the places I go there including the big SJO Airport. I cannot explain the red dot in the Pacific Ocean, but if you study the map more you will see the large green area in the south-southeast above Panama that has no red spots for my visits. One main reason is that it is the Talamanca Mountains, much of which is indigenous reserves with no public roads going through there plus protected national forests not allowing travel. My May trip will put me on the Western edge of that area at Chirripó and my visit to the Bribri Yorkin Reserve had me on the eastern edge. And that is it! 🙂 So just 17 more parks/reserves to go! 🙂
After 37 national parks & reserves are visited, I will do a photo book like I did with all of Tennessee’s State Parks in my photo book A Walk in the Woods Through All 54 Tennessee State Parks. There are technically only 28 national parks here! But the nine reserves count as equals and for my nature photography purposes especially, so I’m saying 37, with only 17 more to go! I don’t have a car which slows me down a little! But I will get there! 🙂
“The great benefit of slowing down is reclaiming the time and tranquility to make meaningful connections–with people, with culture, with work, with nature, with our own bodies and minds”
— As vegetarians who eat slow and move slow, Sloths conserve their energy and live happy lives. So maybe we humans can learn something from them at this often busiest time of the year! 🙂 Or just “Retire in Costa Rica!” like me! 🙂
See my collection of sloth photos in two galleries:
As National Geographic closes out their human history project or “Genographic Project,” they have just made all information available one last time to participants, of which I am one, having sent them my cheek swab in 2013. They are no longer accepting participants and totally close the project at the end of 2019 with data going to another research company, FamilyTreeDNA.com. Here is link to the latest summary image of my DNA family history findings (won’t let me copy image}:
And I am posting the more detailed information (12 pages) on my Family History web pages if you are interested. Their latest (22 Nov 2019) report of my DNA ancient roots are on a sub-page of the above family history page called Genographic Project Family Report page. And at the conclusion I posted the original 2013 Summary Image which is almost the same with fewer participants. And I’m posting that DNA Summary Image in my Family History Gallery also. FYI.
And for relatives doing research you may also find helpful photos in my Family History Photo Gallery, though much more recent than these ancient DNA trails from Africa! 🙂 Though a few images from 1800s.
Family history is not my main activity or hobby now, so additions to these family pages may seem very slow or seldom, but I have great plans for them! 🙂
And actually there are some pretty interesting things on my family history pages now like the 1800’s Hardgrave Family Cemetery I discovered in Nashville, TN while living there and the stories and photos of my Uncle Earl Doggett’s World War II sacrifice. More to come! Little by little! (Or poco a poco we say in Costa Rica!) There’s even a page just for Stories from my life – eventually family history! 🙂
“Every man is a quotation from all his ancestors.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Postscript to Regular Readers: For the last two days I did not have internet connection and I will share that story soon + my very busy week with two medical appointments, a lost phone and more! Too busy a week!
Even though Costa Rica does not have all the “safety net” programs of the U.S. (though free medical care & education), plain ol’ regular daily life for Ticos (and most expats) is easier here for the poor than in the states. (And that is even with CR having the highest cost of living in Central America.) I’m first motivated to say this because of the latest article in the “Live in Costa Rica” blog:
Also because I know that there are people from the States living here on no other income than their monthly Social Security check. A person can live solo here on a thousand dollars a month, though very simply. For residency (like Green Card in States) you must prove income of at least $1,000 a month. I think it would be much more difficult to live on that in the states! (And by the way, I meet that requirement by having my SS Check auto-deposited in my Costa Rica bank account. )
In fact there is a whole website & tour/conference program here entitled Retire in Costa Rica on Social Security. George supposedly shows you how to do it. (Disclaimer: I have not participated in his tour/program but like his concepts and his Intro Video!) On his site he quickly refers you to another blog/website that I know from experience helps you with specific budgeting: Retire for Less in Costa Rica. I highly recommend their newsletter/blog as the best for someone retiring here on a tight budget. It just may be my favorite newsletter on retiring in Costa Rica!
Remember that a large number of Ticos live here on less than a thousand dollars a month (even families). They do not travel somewhere every month like me nor have some of the luxuries I have, nor eat out in restaurants, but they are very happy and live productive lives in one of the happiest countries in the world. And like me, most have no car! 🙂 That is one of my biggest savings and helps me to afford my monthly travels, thanks in part to affordable public transportation!
I do not talk budget/expenses much – not the focus of my blog – but it is the purpose of the two blogs linked above. If you are concerned about affording retirement in Costa Rica, you must subscribe to the Retire for Less in Costa Rica blog/newsletter and check out the social security one.
Then come experience the tranquil life of adventure and happiness in the land of Pura Vida – Rich or Poor! 🙂
The Feature Photois a current shot of the fading graffiti on the wall behind our public college-prep high school, Colegio Liceo Atenas. It may not have been intended to represent poverty, but it seems to fit for me. 🙂 The phrase written to the left of the face, No dejemos que los niños pierdan su sonrisa. is roughly translated: “Let’s not let the kids lose their smile.” And the schools along with the Catholic Church work hard to help those in poverty, especially children. I find happy children in the poorest neighborhoods I walk through. As my grandmother used to say, “In life you do the best you can with what ya’ got.” 🙂 And that is . . .
A very popular name for boys here is Jesús, yes that is Spanish for the English name Jesus but with the Spanish pronunciation and noted accent on last syllable: for you English-only speakers it is pronounced like “yay-sús.” It is not considered sacrilegious to use our Lord’s name as a given name, though some boys and more men tend to use their other given name, possibly because of the religious connotation or I can imagine little boys being kidded or bullied over their name.
Just today I conversed with Jesús twice. My taxi driver to the bus station was named Jesús Alpizar and his spirit and relation to me gave honor to his name which is what he is called by everyone as a young man in Atenas. Then in Alajuela today I went to my wonderful dermatologist named Jesús Roberto Gamboa Arend, who goes by Dr. Gamboa or Dr. Roberto Gamboa (choosing not to be called Jesús). But he too gives honor to his first name in his spirit and ways of relating to me. In addition to being my doctor, he is now my “Tico Travel Buddy” as he too enjoys traveling all over Costa Rica for both the sights and adventures, he with his family (2 children). He is the one who has removed all my skin cancers and is regularly monitoring the many growths I continue to get over my body due to my outdoor sunshine in the past. 🙂
A Break from Blogging
Yes, partly I just need a break from the blog sometimes. And after two trips rather close together, I was sort of tired which I seem to get more now that I’m nearly 80. But I have still been writing or really posting photos on my “static” pages of this website, just slowly. For a few days I added more trips to my Pre-Costa Rica TRAVEL Photo Gallery, particularly some of my many Zoo visits across the states. And thus more to my ZOOS I’ve Visited – Photo Links Index gallery page.
AND I also got motivated to start working some on my FAMILY pages, starting with one of the heaviest, fullest, and most emotional pages, titled Death of Juli 1997. On the Menu under FAMILY – Family of Marriage – LOSSES.
I had already dealt with my dozens of scrapbooks from over the years in my bio books mostly, but I still have two full “scrapbooks” I called Juli Doggett Memorial Book 1 and Book 2. The soft pink covers are perfect for her but two more things I don’t have room for and what would anybody do with them when I die? So I am scanning most of what is in the two binders for perpetuation on the web for at least now (not finished scanning).
And one page from these books is the poem I wrote the day after her funeral. The photo of her was the last decent or useable photo I had made of her back in April ’97 on one of our weekend trips from Columbia, this one at Falls Hollow on the Natchez Trace Parkway in front of a waterfall. (And I know! She needed a haircut! But we were busy!) 🙂
Thanks to those many friends who shared those dark days with me in August 1997! Your presence, help and comfort made all the difference!
One of the things the government is doing with the increased taxes is providing free WiFi all over Costa Rica in most public places: national and city parks, libraries, all government and public buildings and for university students access anywhere for free. The online world is expanding everywhere and more countries like Costa Rica are providing it for everyone. Read this article in Living in Costa Rica Blog: