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!

Encountering Jesús Often in Costa Rica

Jesús

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). 

20190722_154151-A-WEB20190722_154231-A-WEB

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!)     🙂

My Daughter Juli--001-Cropped More-WEB
Poem easier to read on the web page My Daughter Juli, God’s Precious Jewel

Thanks to those many friends who shared those dark days with me in August 1997! Your presence, help and comfort made all the difference!

¡Pura Vida!

Free WiFi in Costa Rica!

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:

Free WiFi Country-wide

If I wasn’t so lazy I could save about $30 a month on internet charges, but I really like the convenience of having it in my house!   🙂

¡Pura Vida!

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology

For those who love birds and realize their importance in the future of planet earth, I hope you have already discovered The Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

It is from this institution or website that I have my best bird identifier, the free app available from your phone app store called:   Merlin

The basic app is for North American birds, but includes for many countries, like Costa Rica, a download for free of your country-specific birds. The quickest, easiest and cheapest way of identifying birds you see or photograph.

And participate in the research and learning about birds plus create your own checklist of birds seen through their online base program eBird (also with a phone app):

I have also starting taking online classes on their website, the first of which is free and introduces you to eBird, your personal online record of birds seen.

One of their latest award-winning documentary videos is is worth seeing just the free 2 minute preview:  Bird of Prey  about the rarest eagle in the world in the Philippines.

If you love and appreciate birds, I hope you will learn about and connect with

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology

¡Pura Vida!

Retire in Columbia?

Featured photo is one of mine from a 2011 cruise ship stop in Cartagena, Columbia.

A few days ago I posted a link to a great birding video made in the nearby South American country of Columbia which claims to have more birds than Costa Rica (maybe).

Also a year or two ago I told about a neighbor who moved her retirement home from Atenas, Costa Rica to Medellin, Columbia. Because of the lower cost of living there, many Americans and Canadians are considering it as an excellent tropical retirement home. Thus I did a similar post in Jan. 2018. If still considering your retirement plans, Columbia is worth looking into.

Christopher Howard of “Live in Costa Rica” blog and tours has just expanded his business to include a new “Live in Columbia” blog and tour. Yesterday he posted this article on his Costa Rica blog:  Violent Columbia vs Peaceful Costa Rica

I’ve discussed earlier here that I seriously considered retiring in Panama before choosing Costa Rica and after a blip of enthusiasm from other retirees and organizations over Ecuador and Columbia and even Nicaragua, I am still happy with my choice of Costa Rica and anticipate staying with it for the long haul!   🙂   And it is easy for me to travel to these other nearby countries when I think it worth the trip.

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On a birding trip in Cartagena, Columbia, 2011

Often when you think you’re at the end of something, you’re at the beginning of something else.Fred Rogers

¡Pura Vida!

Describing My 2014 Journey Here

This week’s death of Nature Poet Mary Oliver (1935-2019), and article about her in Washington Post, plus reviewing her poems led me to her “Journey” which in some ways describes what I was unable to describe in my 2014 “Decision Process” I called it then, of getting away from the depressing world of conservative Middle Tennessee, the clouds of a failed marriage and subsequent loss of family, branches and stones in my path of a vocational “calling”  manipulated by power-hungry “rulers” ending unceremoniously first in 1999 and finally by 2002 in unplanned early retirement. In a daze . . .

I’ve always tried to “make lemonade out of lemons” and I turned my retirement into an adventure of nature travel and photography as much as I could afford, including visits to all 54 state parks in Tennessee with a book about that, A Walk in the Woodsalong with many other nature/travel books and my growing nature photo gallery. But I was still looking for something else.

Moving from the vibrant life of rowhouse living in downtown Nashville to a suburban “Independent Living Retirement Home” was still not what I was looking for.

It was to commune closer with nature, to travel in natural exotic places that my limited income could not afford, then suddenly it hit me, why not move to one of the nature places in which I love to travel and just live there?

With only 2 family members left and no grandchildren, it was easier for me than some people to make such a life-changing move! And now I see it described in a new way in this poem by Mary Oliver:

The Journey

One day you finally knew

what you had to do, and began,

though the voices around you

kept shouting

their bad advice–

though the whole house

began to tremble

and you felt the old tug

at your ankles.

“Mend my life!”

each voice cried.

But you didn’t stop.

You knew what you had to do,

though the wind pried

with its stiff fingers

at the very foundations,

though their melancholy

was terrible.

It was already late

enough, and a wild night,

and the road full of fallen

branches and stones.

But little by little,

as you left their voices behind,

the stars began to burn

through the sheets of clouds,

and there was a new voice

which you slowly

recognized as your own,

that kept you company

as you strode deeper and deeper

into the world,

determined to do

the only thing you could do–

determined to save

the only life you could save.

~Mary Oliver

¡Retired in Costa Rica!

¡Pura Vida!

My Africa Adventures Added to Website

On Safari in Masai Mara Reserve, Kenya, November 19, 2005

I am beginning a new stories section of my website titled Travel. It will eventually have many stories of my many trips around the world (outside Costa Rica) with some illustrative photos along with links to the newest section of my Photo Gallery titled Pre-Costa Rica Travels.  where I am slowly creating a gallery on each trip over the years or at least the recent years, one at a time as I slowly move such photos from the Travel Section of my old Pbase gallery.   PHOTO ABOVE: Masai Shepherd in Kenya

Writing the stories and moving the photos are both very slow and time-consuming jobs, but time is what an ol’ retiree has isn’t it?   🙂

For multiple reasons, I decided to start with Africa in both the Travel Stories and the Photo Gallery sections. The photos are mostly moved but all of the stories have not been written yet. I have a good start, especially with most of my Gambia stories already told here. Here’s what you can expect to find now:

TRAVEL STORIES

Driving from Nairobi, Kenya to Musoma, Tanzania, November 7, 2005

You find Travel on the main menu above with dropdown menus for stories started here and additional menu links on each country’s home page for related stories in other pages of the site. For example: my Gambia Missionary experiences and mission trips are on the HIS SPIRIT menu first and thus linked to there from this Travel Gambia Home Page or Kenya Home Page, etc. The software allows for drop down menus for only items initiated on that page, thus regular links to other pages like the missionary stories.

And since my photo galleries are actually on SmugMug.com, they cannot be on any of my site drop down menus but must be linked to from each country’s Home Page or found by going to the big gallery first from the above menu. I hope that is not confusing. Just use the country’s home page to find everything about that country.   🙂

I have only barely started on all the stories I want to tell, but for the main Travel section described above I have started these pages with more stories coming on each in the future:

AFRICA

TRAVEL PHOTOS

Masai people in the Great Rift Valley near Masai Mara, Kenya

My travel photos made before moving to Costa Rica are in a special sub-gallery title Pre-Costa Rica TRAVELSLike my Costa Rica Trips gallery they are arranged chronologically by dates of each trip with most recent at top. At this moment, I have only travels to Africa included. Click above to see all or here is the list of my Africa Travel Galleries which will later be mixed in with other travels depending on the dates:

Africa Travel Photo Galleries:

Sunset on River Gambia, McCarthy Island, Janjanbureh, The Gambia

 

“The darkest thing about Africa

has always been our ignorance of it.”

~George Kimble

All photos by Charlie Doggett.

Questions?    Contact me!

The Dilemma of So Many Photos . . .

First Plan Was Everything on this Website

Even though WordPress websites have photo galleries and I could put all my photos on the website – my original plan – so far they do not have the flexibilities and quality options that I have with my SmugMug.com photo gallery which recently purchased and incorporated Flickr where I also still have a small class-related gallery. https://www.flickr.com/photos/charliedoggett/   I will eventually close it, even though free.

Currently I Have 2 Large Online Photo Galleries

Now back in my first 12 years of retirement in Tennessee I chose to use the online photo gallery called Pbase, which the Nashville Photography Club used. Images I sold in galleries and arts & crafts fairs are there in 5 categories plus all my travel photos by trip, and others. It is a great database type program with lots of sub-sub-gallery possibilities, etc. but not quite as user-friendly or as visually attractive as SmugMug which I chose as my new photo gallery after moving to Costa Rica and comparing several online galleries, thus came   Charlie Doggett’s COSTA RICA,  which has had only Costa Rica photos thus far.

Move Both Galleries With Website & Blog or Not?

This year when I decided to move my website AND blog to WordPress (from Joomla & Blogger), I really wanted to move all my photo galleries here too – the luxury of everything in one place! And WordPress has that option! But I quickly learned that the more photos I put on this site, the slower it runs! And that is with me reducing the size of most photos since the web does not need large files, but then they are not good for you to download and print if you want. While I upload full-size photos to SmugMug & Pbase that are not only good for you to download and use but they are big enough (except some zoomed in birds) for you to use the SmugMug “BUY” Button and order prints, wall art, etc.

Thus I changed my mind and decided to not move my photos to the new website. Though I will continue to use photos on the site & blog (web-sized), since photography is central to almost anything I do or write about.

One Gallery As a Linked Part of the Website

So on the top MENU of this site is the 3rd item GALLERY,  which is a link to my SmugMug Gallery that I want to become my only gallery. And what about the hundreds of photos still on Pbase? Well I started with some of the Family History photos as inefficient little galleries within this website’s articles, adding to the slowdown. Then I decided to move all of those to the SmugMug gallery which is created to handle a volume of pix. That means I have now started my first non-Costa Rica gallery inside my Costa Rica gallery!  🙂

Just Added Family History to My Photo Gallery

It is called Family History Photos and currently has 4 sub-galleries:

Only the first two sub-galleries are moved now from Pbase and they are both a part of the web pages Family History that includes much more like cemeteries and stories from WWII, etc. While the other two sub-galleries will eventually have their own web pages and likewise include a lot of other information! So lot’s of work still to do here. Keeps me out of trouble!  🙂

More Non-Costa Rica Galleries Coming!

One of my “Best Sellers” in Arts & Crafts Fairs in TN

Then I anticipate at least two more non-Costa Rica sub-galleries on SmugMug:

These too will be related to and linked from pages on this personal website. Eventually it will seem like my whole life is reported somewhere on this website. I cannot explain why I have a passion to do this, but somehow I am driven to complete it all long before I die. It is like my passion for nature, travel, photography, stories, my family history and reporting on it all here!

 “I would rather die of passion than of boredom.”

—Vincent Van Gogh

🙂

¡Pura Vida!

 

 

Building A New Info-Rich Website

One of my regular activities when not traveling and photographing nature has been to work on the total rebuild of my personal website while continuing to build a collection of Blog Posts or Articles about being “Retired in Costa Rica” which is now at the same location of my website, charliedoggett.net.

I moved my personal website that was Joomla-generated and continuing to give me technical problems to an easier-to-use WordPress.com hosting service. And since WordPress.com started as a blogging platform and is considered by many to be the best for blogs. I transferred/moved my blog from Blogger.com to WordPress. The blog part transferred everything but the subscriptions so that I still have my blog history of the big move to Costa Rica and now with many more ways to find articles about different subjects I have written on, though most are under “Nature” and the “Places” I have discovered here. But there are some  practical articles about actually moving here, residency processes, healthcare possibilities, and even some more mundane daily life issues for the followers who are considering a move here.

In addition, as with my old website, there are many “static” (WordPress label) pages about me, my adventures, family and  family history as aids to those writing and researching their own family history related to my family lines. i.e. I have several family cemetery inventories with photos, lots of old family photos and reports on family reunions, etc. I also have extensive research recorded on my Uncle Earl Doggett whose plane was shot down in World War II.

For both fun and to get to know me better I have an extensive About Page full of details and fun “Life Stories,” “Biographies,” “Schools,”  “Doing Good,” “Art Lover,” “Photographer,” and more! And a lot of fun and interesting history is wrapped up in my extensive research on the ship or Frigate Charles Doggett in the 1800’s with ties the Mutiny on the Bounty, the nickname of “Old Glory” for the American Flag, the American Civil War, Nashville, and South Sea Island adventures! As I approach the end of my life I will have it all documented or reported on right here on this website and along with the failures and disappointments, some great experiences and accomplishments to help me see that my life did have value. And maybe a tiny bit of inspiration for someone.

So, for a boring, rainy day you might want to explore my website which is still being built. The Header Menu or Top Menu could be divided into these three sections:  (1) BLOG,  (2) LINKED PAGES, and  (3) STATIC PAGES

BLOG

  • Home – has an excerpt from the most current blog post and I may add some more introductory information there later. I have 8 or so favorite Costa Rica Photos that pop up in rotation here full screen which was how I wanted people to enter my website.
  • Blog – This is where all my blog posts reside in reverse chronological order, most current on top, going all the way back to my June 2014 emphasis on “The Costa Rica Decision Process” where I debated the pros and cons online and made the decision to move here publicly on this blog. The drop-down menu has “Categories” (WordPress term) and sub categories to help you find the articles of your interest. Plus the right sidebar or right column has several ways to search for articles by category, tags/subjects, and by date.

MY 2 LINKED PAGES

  • Gallery – My Costa Rica Photo Gallery, “Charlie Doggett’s COSTA RICA” is my pride and joy and located on SmugMug.com which simply has a better presentation than I can currently get within my WordPress site. That could change later and reside on the website, but for now I encourage you to see my images of Costa Rica and for birder friends I have quite a collection of about 270 Costa Rica bird species that is growing! Plus more birds from neighboring countries!   – – –   For those familiar with my old Pbase photo gallery, it is still up now with all my past commercial and Tennessee photos, travel photos and family photos. But I am slowly moving them to this website in the simple galleries and slideshows that my template provides here, which will help liven up my family and travel articles and will be the new residence of my historical photos, in time!
  • Bookstore – Since before my time in The Gambia I was trying out different online photo book publishers as a way to preserve my many photos which otherwise got lost in closets, computers, or scrapbooks. By around 2003 I settled on Blurb.com as my book publisher of choice, mainly because they provided me with a free “Bookstore” of just my books that continue to be available for order indefinitely. Here you can see the many subjects and trips I have produced books on and even “Review” every page of every book on your computer. Pretty cool! No pressure to buy!   🙂 These books and the above Photo Gallery are the only places for my photos.

“STATIC” PAGES

  • Travel – is where all my many pre-Costa Rica trips will be reported with those photos from Pbase.com, but more than that, with pages on places I lived and about my jobs in these places and just about everything else that doesn’t fit somewhere else on the website!   🙂   I have not started this page yet.
  • Family – I have started with Family History pages and will work back through both my family or origin and family of marriage, probably first with photos, but just barely started at the time of this post writing.  Only Family History now.
  • His Spirit – In some ways I no longer want to be considered “religious, Baptist or Evangelical,” but maybe “a man of faith” or better yet a “Follower of Christ.” I try to explain this here with more writing than photos, though it seemed to be the best place to report on being a missionary in The Gambia, West Africa, thus one of my most exciting adventures is recorded here with lots of old photos or copies of print photos and some of my best stories! It is still in progress, but a lot already here!
  • About – Biography, personal interests and hobbies, and the beginning of a collection of “Life Stories” that I hope will be both entertaining and inspirational. I am still in process of writing these!  🙂  It is my personal history and hopefully not too much ego!
  • Contact – Your basic online contact form and all my addresses and one phone number. At the strong encouragement of WordPress, I removed my email address from this page which they say spammers and bad guys know how to harvest. The form will give you a response on my email and you can collect it that way.   🙂

I’ll try to make future blog posts shorter!

But I felt like I needed at least one thorough explanation of my new website/blog combination. You got it! Contact me with any questions and I try to respond quickly to all comments on blog posts.

Interesting Link

Why we need to break down the barriers between us and nature. 

An article on the BIRDLIFE website.  I have to include a little nature in all posts! The birds require it!    🙂