New “Business” Card

NOT business for me! So maybe “Calling” Card is a better name? 🙂 It’s my easy way of sharing my contact information.

The one I’ve used for years had one of my Keel-billed Toucan photos on it and I have been in the “Red-eyed Tree Frog Mood” for awhile now, so decided to change to this shot from Danta Corcovado Lodge 2018 that I used on my Christmas Card last year. I order these cards fairly cheap online from VistaPrints. None of my contact info has changed, just the look:

Well – not very large! VistaPrint Proof 🙁

Calling card image – part of the tropical magic of Costa Rica! 🙂

¡Pura Vida!

My Red-eyed Tree Frog Gallery.

Staying Positive When Cancer Comes

Since I was a high school boy when Mom gave me that book The Power of Positive Thinking for Young People by Norman Vincent Peale, I have made being positive a part of my life philosophy and really a part of my personal faith in God and the act of following Jesus.

It is kind of like happiness, it is inside you and you actually decide to be happy or not I believe. Then when bad things happen or come to your life, you make the best of them and keep on living. That is what I did for 20 years of a very difficult marriage while she was never happy and I was always happy in spite of the situation. Likewise with those overlapping years of a special needs child with autism and another rebel child. One survives by staying positive and finding the good things and opportunities, even within the bad!

Now don’t jump to conclusions – I’m not announcing my imminent death by cancer! 🙂

What has been for several years little skin cancers all over my body may have grown deeper roots or a separate and totally different cancer may have come that is more complicated.

New Adventure Started February 11

Not sure what to expect, I kept a journal of what was happening on one of the “static pages” or non-blog-post pages of my website and called it FIRST RAMPANT FEELINGS ON POSSIBLE CANCER. Kind of long.

The Latest Diagnosis

All those appointments and diagnostic tests lead to this current summary diagnosis with more detail in the online journal:

  • I have a tumor inside the salivary gland between my left ear and left eye that has grown fairly rapidly to around 3 X 4 cm now.
  • Though the needle biopsy indicates it is almost certainly a type of cancer only removing it will tell us for positive. Outside chance of no cancer. Prayers appreciated! 🙂
  • Surgery is scheduled for 15 March at Hospital La Católica in San Jose, Costa Rica
  • Dr. Christian Hernández Mena is my oncologist and surgeon – terrific in every way!
  • After surgery, a full biopsy is done, and the exact type of cancer determined, I could be receiving radiation and yes going bald! 🙂 More reports after surgery!

My Blog and Travel Plans Continue

I had to postpone my March trip to Tambor Bay, but hopefully by the time of my planned May return to Arenal, I will be able to travel just like always if radiation schedules don’t interfere! 🙂

For any readers who are also facing cancer, I want to recommend the following website and encourage you to stay positive and continue life as I will with the same kind of travel and nature blog posts right here at Retired in Costa Rica!

How to Keep a Positive Attitude With Cancer

“Choose to be optimistic, it feels better.”

—Dalai Lama

¡Pura Vida!

New Village View

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! 🙂

¡Pura Vida!

My Nashville Zoo Photos Posted

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!   🙂

screenshot-charliedoggett-smugmug-com-Pre-Costa-Rica-Nashville-Photos-Nashville-Zoo-Volunteer-Docent-1593136960804-WEB
Organized in 6 super-galleries with many sub-galleries under each.

 

And check out the current Nashville Zoo Website – A wonderful zoo!

¡Pura Vida!

Good COVID19 Quarantine Activities

Limited People Contact Now

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:

  1.  Supermarket – And I finally wised up to going when they are not crowded, like early morning.
  2.  Pharmacy
  3. Bank to pay 2 monthly bills and get cash at ATM  (avoid Monday, Friday, & 1st)
  4. Maid comes once a week and we keep our distance
  5. 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!    🙂

I find plenty to do while quarantined at home in my Atenas Roca Verde rent house.

 

“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.”

¡Pura Vida!

FLASH NEWS!

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.”    🙂

 

RETIRING TO COSTA RICA: ONE EXPAT COUPLE’S STORY

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

¡Pura Vida!

Retired in Costa Rica

All Over Costa Rica!

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!   🙂

See links to the photo galleries of the 20 National Parks & Reserves I have already visited  or for all of my travels over Costa Rica browse through the family of galleries:

Costa Rica Trips (80) which is the best collection of my photos here!

 

“My wish is to stay always like this, living quietly in a corner of nature.”

~Claude Monet

¡Pura vida!

Live like a Sloth

“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” 

~Carl Honoré

Photo by Charlie in the Caribbean

—  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:

Brown-throated Three-toed Sloth   (the one always smiling)

Hoffman’s Two-toed Sloth

The featured photo at top is one I took at Banana Azul Hotel in the Caribe Sur. There are sloths all over Costa Rica but more at lower elevations and especially along the Caribbean (Atlantic) Coast.

My friends at Costa Rica Expeditions

have a nice sloth message for you who love baby sloths. See their emailed promotion to visit in January-February when sloths have their babies at:

Sloth Baby-A-WEBTAKE IT SLOW
AND COME TO SEE
BABY SLOTHS IN COSTA RICA

 

 

And one of my favorite T-shirts:

20190604_111253[1]-A-WEB

🙂

¡Pura Vida!

My Ancient History

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}:

https://genographic.nationalgeographic.com/results/infographic/885638a01aaaca26444a2d910b682301fc681?fbclid=IwAR3qpYvHRa-BqYGcCde0R626rHg1bPvA37UVI7NQYxbb-G7NrGGcmx5lQMY

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 Gallerythough 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!

 

Being Poor in Costa Rica

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:

It is better to be poor in Costa Rica than the United States

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 Photo is 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 . . .  

¡Pura Vida!