What’s a Texas Smile?

A lot of you asked that question, and the answer is sort of a “figure of speech” or a euphemism for an asymmetrical smile or lopsided smile or even a sneer or smirk. 🙂 Possibly the name “Texas smile” came from one of those old cowboy movies my doctor saw, who knows? But that’s what my Costa Rican surgeon called it when, because of the cut nerve, I cannot lift the left side of my lips when I smile. But I’m not sneering! 🙂 Just not functioning normally and hopefully with some exercise we can call up some other nerves to help left that side a little more than now, but no promises. Same hope for blinking and closing my left eye which is burning most of the time now because I cannot blink or close it. In fact that is even more important to me! At night I now use an eye patch and put an ointment in my eye. My two big challenges before we even find out if the tumor was a cancer. Hopefully I will not permanently be “the sneering, one-eyed Charlie!” But if so, I’ll make the best of it! 🙂

The scabs on my lip are where the dermatologist removed growths earlier and they are just slow to heal. And of course I can’t shave on my left side with cheek and neck swollen and sore, so I’m an ugly mess! Like an old house or old car, everything breaking down at once! 🙂

Drainage Tube Removed Tomorrow

At least I have that to look forward to! Tomorrow afternoon the doctor sees me again and says he will remove the drainage tube which is a real bother. Then I think I will have one other post-op visit in another week when I will learn if cancer or not and what else we need to do. So seemingly always something else, but we are getting there – step by step.

Dinner Delivered to My House Every Afternoon

The ladies of Roca Verde have been wonderful! Delivering a “soft” food dinner each evening that will continue into next week. I’m really getting the “royal treatment” from my neighbors! And its looking like enough leftovers for more extra meals than I will likely need. This is the life of being “Retired in Costa Rica!”

Plus Prayers from Around the World!

I’m so thankful to have so many friends and family around the world who believe in prayer and have assured me they are praying for no cancer and a quick and complete recovery. Wow! I’m a fortunate person in so many ways! 🙂

¡Pura Vida!

Illegal Buffet?

Sorry that you got a false email notice of this post two days ago! In short, this old man is sometimes technologically challenged! 🙂 I often schedule posts a day or so ahead and when the scheduling calendar popped up I clicked the 4th and entered. Whoops! I had just clicked the 4th of December! 🙂 I quickly changed it to the 4th of January, but alas, the auto email had already been sent out. 🙂

Since March and the first arrival of COVID19 in Costa Rica, the government Health Ministry prohibits buffet service in restaurants. But I guess that does not include ants eating a spec of food together on my terrace! 🙂

These tiny black ants are eating a tiny spec of something: food, fruit, flower, other insect or I’m not sure what on my terrace, right in front of my rocking chair. I just had to photograph them! 🙂

Ant Buffet on my terrace.

If all humans disappeared today ,the earth would start improving tomorrow. If all the ants disappeared today ,the earth would start dying tomorrow.

~David Suzuki



And more photos from Arenal & Caño Negro are coming! I’m still organizing photos! 🙂

¡Pura Vida!

Thanksgiving Dinner at Neighbor’s

At Margaret & Dario’s house on top of one of the Roca Verde hills with the assistance of Susan and Fred, 26 of us had a huge American-style Thanksgiving dinner with Turkey, Ham and Beef Brisket along with more vegetables and salads than I can list after gourmet appetizers and Champagne, followed by a course of exotic cheeses and then deserts. Each of us brought a dish of something and a bottle of wine. It was a feast fit for a king and even though I only ate breakfast beforehand, I feel stuffed (Thursday night after dinner) while I write this.

Thanksgiving is not a Tico holiday, but the Ticos who came sure enjoyed it!  🙂  Margaret and Susan are the high-energy, highly organized leaders of the Roca Verde neighborhood and put this together.

SORRY MY CELLPHONE PHOTOS ARE NOT GOOD which I will blame on the lighting and I didn’t even try to get the group photo by the pool because it was dark, raining and the light worse. But we had a lot of fun with a great meal and I have two new couples-friends!

Margaret’s Group Photo on Facebook.


“I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.”

~Psalm 9:1

¡Pura Vida!

La Pitahaya or Dragon Fruit / Pitaya

“Pitahaya” is not a Spanish word but rather a word from the indigenous people of Costa Rica and what everyone calls this unusual fruit or flower growing on a cactus plant. It is used most popularly in bebidas or fruit drinks like American Smoothies and the fruit is called “Dragon Fruit” or “Pitaya” in the states. The inside is gelatin like and pink in color with tiny black seeds and very sweet.

The photo is of one David brought to Spanish class the other day and I thought I would share another one of out unusual foods here in Costa Rica (and all over Latin America and in Asia). Read about it on Wikipedia (en español) or  in English as pitaya/dragon fruit.

¡Pura Vida!

NORMAL! NORMAL! — Mi Aventura Médica

That is what the wonderful young Tico doctor almost shouted to me at the conclusion of my angiogram. Normal! Normal! (Fist Bump!) He seemed as pleased as me that I have no blockages or other problems. Now I will try to summarize my gran “Aventura Médica” as I am calling it. Totally using the national health system which means my only expense was the taxi fares!  🙂


Hospital San Rafael de Alajuela
Alajuela, Costa Rica

My friend Jason Quesada goes with me on bus and taxi to Hospital San Rafael de Alajuela for a 1:00 pm appointment for what I thought was going to be paperwork to take with me to the bigger Hospital Mexico in San Jose on Friday though Jason thought I was going to be checked into Hospital Alajuela, which I knew couldn’t be two days before a test. I was wrong again. In short they were full and one day in advance is enough said Lorenzo in Admissions. (See my last post) So he promised me he would have a room the next day because the test was pre-scheduled.

Jason & I get back there a little before 3;00 pm and wait about 30 minutes to start the process. One of the first things they did before taking a group of us upstairs to our rooms was snap on the usual hospital bracelet with my hospital ID number & name. Note that most Latin Americans use 3 names like mine shone here but with slightly different meanings. Of course the “first name” or “given name” is the same. But what I call a middle name “Everett” would be a Tico’s father’s last name and the one most commonly used for shorter names. My Dr. Hernandez is using his father’s last name as his primary family name. Then the third or last name in a list like this is their mother’s maiden name, which is what some here may think about my last name of “Doggett.”

Jason snapped this of me eating soup in hallway.

We had one delay because my hospital file (started earlier) was lost.  🙂  But they found it and up we went to the fourth floor which includes cardiology. Then we sit in a hallway while that nurses station gets me checked into my room 414 which was really my bed number in a room of 6 old men with heart problems, beds 413-418. We are sitting in a hallway with a TV playing a horrible Mexican Comedy Channel for maybe another 45 minutes. No TV in rooms, so you come out here to watch. They start serving the dinner trays and I get my first hospital dinner in Costa Rica while waiting in the hallway for my room preparation. It is very healthy and mostly tasteless bland! Vegetable/chicken noodle soup, beans & rice, mixed tropical vegetables you Tennesseans wouldn’t recognize, a cold beet and carrot salad, cup of fruit juice, and an apple for dessert. This was typical lunch & dinner with varieties and even a pear instead of an apple the next night. I would recommend those planning on a hospital visit to pack salt, pepper, herbal seasonings, hot sauce, catsup, or whatever you like to give more flavor.  🙂

My roommates were all nice and interesting gentlemen, all speaking Spanish of course. 4 of them were bedridden.  One came there after a massive heart attack and the following night or at 1:15 am this morning he had another attack and nearly died while I watched, but was still alive and on machines when I left today, but his son told me he had been given only 30 days to live by one doctor. Another commentary on Costa Rica: almost every bed had a family member sitting in the one chair by each bed. Family First here! And the heart-attack guy is why my angiogram!

They kept working on me to past 8:30 pm with things like blood for tests, shunts for catheters, x-rays and the constant blood pressure checks, etc. It was a very noisy night as was the second night with one roommate talking (hollering) in his sleep, nurses in every hour with whatever services and of course turning on lights, and the hospital has all kinds of buzzers, bells, etc and a PA system for announcements and paging of person, and the very friendly and happy crew at the nurses station, right outside our door, laughing and carrying on all night. If planning on a hospital visit here, I suggest you bring ear plugs!   🙂

And we all wore something like hospital sweats or whatever you call the buttoned shirts and tied pants. The only hospital gown I got was for the surgery room test Friday.

This was the big day and the part I had the most uncertainty about, cutting into my leg at my crotch and running something up the artery. Ugh. By 5:00 am the nurse was getting me ready with two stents for drips as needed and shaving parts of me, etc. We left a little after 6 am with a crew of 4 in an ambulance for the normally 21 minute drive to Hospital Mexico, but in rush hour it was probably 30 to 45 minutes (didn’t time it). Most of my attendants were in their 20’s it seemed, the doc maybe 30, a nurse, orderly, and some kind of helper. The driver was very professional as I learned on the return trip.

The ambulance pulled up to a side door of Hospital Mexico and I was rolled into the second room

Hospital Mexico
San Jose, Costa rica

where of course I waited at least 30 minutes while the crew enjoyed themselves! The happiest people in the world just love to be together! Laughing, talking, beautiful digital music and occasionally giving me attention. Someone was having this procedure ahead of me and course another gurney rolled in right after me; a regular assembly line! I was surprised at how quick it was having been told from 30 minutes to two hours if a lot of blockage. After he stuck me with the needle for the local anesthesia (the only part that really hurt), I would guess 15 or maybe 20 minutes before he shouted “Normal! Normal!” with a great big smile on his young face. Then gave me a fist bump. Made me feel good! Even though one of the Mexico nurses whispered in my ear in English, “You still need to avoid KFC and cheeseburgers.”  We smiled and chuckled at each other.

They quickly rolled me back in the waiting room where the next person was waiting or we traded places. I had to lay real still for 30 minutes before they rolled me out to the ambulance again and another ambulance had just arrived with another angiogram person coming in. Wow! They must like angiograms here!   🙂

BUT THE MOST FUN WAS THE DRIVE BACK to Hospital Alajuela which we did make in 20 minutes because the driver turned on the flashing lights and the siren and use the other loud horns and sounds to weave us through the bumper to bumper traffic on Ruta 1 which goes by the airport and thus heavy traffic all day. It was fun and I’m sure the driver enjoyed it and he did a great job! The Alajuela doctor kept reminding me “Don’t move! Don’t move!” referring specifically to my right leg because that is where they cut into an artery and that is not where you want a rupture or blood coming out. Then the rest of the day and second night was difficult because I had to lay still for 24 hours to help the incision heal and avoid a serious problem. I read on my Kindle and played games, talked a little, ate a little, and had to use a bed urinal, but I survived 24 hours of stillness of at least my right leg. Then another noisy night and a heart attack in front of me, meaning I am very tired now and will go to bed early.

THANK YOU to those of you who sent kind notes and prayed for me. It made a difference! It was a good medical test with a very happy result for a 77 year old with no junk in his arteries!   🙂

Keep Walking!   Keep Smiling!
Pura Vida!

Farm Fresh Food at Rancho Naturalista

Farm fresh food at every meal from
 the on-property farm!
Rancho Naturalista, Costa Rica

Rancho Naturalista, Costa Rica

All meat and dairy products from their own farm, even the cheese!
Rancho Naturalista, Costa Rica

Low Season means Fewer Guests
These 2 birders from states there my 1st two days only
 Rancho Naturalista, Costa Rica

My 77th Birthday Cake! I was not expecting! (Mercedes told them.)
Rancho Naturalista, Costa Rica

Just one piece!
 Rancho Naturalista, Costa Rica

And their website: Rancho Naturalista

“The only time to eat diet food is 
while you’re waiting for the steak to cook.” 

Photos of Hotel Aguia de Osa, Drake Bay

My Front Porch Hammock & Bay View
Aguila de Osa Lodge, Drake Bay, Costa Rica


My Front Door & Outside Chairs
Aguila de Osa Lodge, Drake Bay, Costa Rica


My Room, All those windows have only screens. High ceiling with Fan!
Aguila de Osa Lodge, Drake Bay, Costa Rica


One of 3 Flights of Stairs UP to Rooms on Top of Hill
Aguila de Osa Lodge, Drake Bay, Costa Rica


One of 3 Flights of Stairs DOWN from Rooms on Top of Hill
Aguila de Osa Lodge, Drake Bay, Costa Rica


Exit Sign from Drake Bay Community Trail to Hotel
Aguila de Osa Lodge, Drake Bay, Costa Rica


3 Meals a Day Overlooking the Bay 
 Though some trips included a box lunch on the day trip 
Aguila de Osa Lodge, Drake Bay, Costa Rica


Gourmet Meals Served Three Times a Day! 
Plus Happy Hour with Appetizers!
Aguila de Osa Lodge, Drake Bay, Costa Rica


Hotel’s Fleet of Boats is Important to Guest Transportation!
Aguila de Osa Lodge, Drake Bay, Costa Rica


As Are the Boat Captains!
Aguila de Osa Lodge, Drake Bay, Costa Rica


A Familiar Scene Coming and Going from the Hotel
Aguila de Osa Lodge, Drake Bay, Costa Rica


And the Hotel Pier is Really the “Front Door” to Hotel
You get here by boat or by walking a trail. No road for cars.
Aguila de Osa Lodge, Drake Bay, Costa Rica

I loved it here! Being gone the bulk of the daytime on adventures kept me from missing air-conditioning, which in the hot and humid coastal rainforest would have been better for resting inside during the day. But who does that with all the things to do during the day? At night the ceiling fan was more than adequate and I actually turned it off two nights and used the blanket.

The tour possibilities, guides and all other staff were simply great in every way! One family went deep-sea fishing and the kitchen cooked one of their fish for their dinner that night and the rest of us got a little as part of the appetizers! The food was excellent as was the food service. I highly recommend Hotel Aguila de Osa for anyone considering Drake Bay. Of course I have not tried any of the other hotels here to compare.  This was not my best birding location, but was very good and a big variety of total animals to see both in and out of the park. I was disappointed I did not see a wild Tapir, though people on other tours did. Wildlife is always unpredictable and sightings cannot be scheduled!
It is not easy to compare this to my visit to the southern end of Corcovado Park at Carate Village and the two inns of Luna Lodge and Lookout Inn. That was on a 2009 Birding Tour from the states and the link is to my old PBase Photo Gallery of the total trip that included San Gerado de Dota in the mountains, so more than Corcovado. It was my first trip to Costa Rica and I fell in love with the country immediately! I may have seen and photographed more birds on that trip, but this was a better and more relaxed trip with more variety. And though Luna Lodge is very nice with gourmet food, Aguila might have even better food and my room was better. But glad I’ve seen both ends of this great rainforest park! Next time I may try one of those lodges on the east side of park.

Though not made yet, I will soon have a “Trip Gallery” on this trip in a new area of my Costa Rica galleries simply called TRIPS.  And of course as always I use every trip to increase my collection of bird photos and other categories of photos in my big gallery called Charlie Doggett’s COSTA RICA.  If interested in Costa Rica you might enjoy exploring my galleries.

And this concludes the Blog reports on my recent Corcovado-Drake Bay trip, though more photos may pop up here in the future. A 6-day trip is the longest I have made since my move here and I like longer visits in the same location! A friend has scheduled a week-long trip here soon for birding and will be in a different hotel every night. He may see more birds but will be physically exhausted by the end of the week! I’m too old for that now!  🙂   Pura Vida!

My TRIPS Photo Gallery on this Drake Bay Trip

And  my Lodges & Hotels of Costa Rica photo gallery

Costa Rica to soon unveil its first hydrogen-powered bus!

día de Navidad: Jesus, Family, Friends and Food!

Christmas Morning Breakfast View
My tamales came from La Coope Supermercado, 2 to a package, 2 meals.

Here’s a recipe for making Costa Rica Christmas Tamales. (Mine didn’t have as many vegetables.)
And to watch them being made, see this YouTube video of a family making them.

I’m sure the homemade ones are better than the ones I got at the Supermercado, but to be honest, I did not care for them. Mine had very few veggies and only a small piece of pork. The cornmeal and lard wrapping is what I don’t like.To much fat and cholesterol and not that tasty. I had to add sauce. These tamales are not part of my tradition unless I find better tasting ones! And maybe a healthier version?

And some more local Christmas decorations:

Maybe typical of governments, but the city hall had one of the few secular
Christmas decoration in town plus their decorated tree in the park.
This is a very contemporary tree with reindeer of all things!
The “Municipal Building” is opposite one corner of Central Park.

And the Catholic Church in center of town had this indoor nativity
and an outdoor one with live people at certain times which I never caught.
More homes have nativities. Jesus is more popular than Santa here!
My nativity collection went fast at the silent auction earlier.

Christmas Dinner with neighbors at Hotel Colinas del Sol nearby.

There is never an excuse for being lonely here! In fact, I sometimes have to work at finding my needed solitude!  🙂

from Charlie in Costa Rica

Simple Pleasures 1: Thursday Night Dinner

I’ve been eating on the front porch lately, watching the world go by!
My old favorite was the side garden porch & inside you smell fresh bread!
So wherever you sit you will find enjoyable food! Buen Provecho!

Thursday night from 5-7 is my second Spanish class at Iglesia Biblica, just a half block from one of my favorite restaurants, El Balcon del Cafe, so . . . I started going an hour early for a very early dinner or late lunch at 4:00 with usually the day’s special. The couple who run this place are German but only a few items on the menu are German, and it is all very good! They are also a bakery with some of the best fresh bread and cakes in town, maybe tied with my other favorite bakery, Crema y Nata.

One of my two favorite fish plates in town is here a wonderful whole Corvina (Sea Bass) smothered in a white wine sauce that makes the fish melt in your mouth. And my favorite dessert here or maybe anywhere in town is her Queque Manzana con Helado (Apple Pie Alamode).

Her daily specials are usually gourmet recipes and always healthy, with or without a fruit bebida (drink). Tonight’s was an absolutely delicious steak or special cut of beef (beef not served much here) with her special German pan-fried potatoes and one of her scrumptious salads! No need for dessert tonight! I look forward to Thursday evenings and the surprise gourmet dinner before Spanish Class. One of the many simple pleasures I enjoy in Costa Rica.

Buen Provecho! The equivalent to the English “enjoy your meal!” or the French “bon appétit!” And believe me! I enjoy most of my meals here! For a light lunch snack I had some of my homemade guacamole with plantain chips to carry me over to dinner. My guacamole is from local fresh avocados and other veggies (I add fresh squeezed lime juice, onions, peppers, herbs, and tomatoes) and it is actually another one of my “Simple Pleasures.”  As is my usual breakfast of a bowl of 4-5 fruits with whole-grain cereal and nuts.   🙂 Charlie

There is no love sincerer than the love of food.~George Bernard Shaw (1856 –1950)