Living Alone but Never Alone

I have been receiving support from so many people around the world that yesterday’s article in Washington Post motivated me to say something here about it. The article is titled I had ovarian cancer, was single and living by myself. But going through treatment, I was never alone. – dated 23 May 2021.

Though everything about us is different (age, sex, location, cancer type, treatment, etc.) – we both experienced the marvelous good nature of most people and both of us enjoy living alone though appreciating the help and concerns of other people. 🙂

Some ladies of Roca Verde are still bringing me meals even though I told them it is no longer necessary. Several have shared their experiences with cancer, and sometimes it feels like everyone in this little farm town of Atenas knows I have cancer and lovingly ask me how I’m doing and offer to help. I know most of the taxistas here and they are all so caring and helpful. The wonderful, loving people of Costa Rica are a big part of the “Pura vida!” I’m so fortunate to live here.

Likewise through the internet, my blog and its links to Facebook plus emails I feel like there are literally thousands praying for me around the world and staying in touch, from old friends to never-met new ones, as is possible on the internet.

I am at peace and believe the Lord is watching over me just like all these friends and neighbors or is it God working through them? I believe so and I’m optimistic about the future with many more nature trips around Costa Rica with my camera that I can still use, even with one eye, and the trip I have scheduled 5.5 weeks after radiation concludes will have given me time to recover some from most side-effects and now gives me something to look forward to. . .

. . . I will be flying to the southern tip of the Osa Peninsula, near Panama border, overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the mouth of Golfo Dulce where you sometimes see whales, while also hiking around the southern end of the largest protected rainforest in Central America. What could be better than that? And I’m still alive to enjoy it! 🙂 Bosque del Cabo Rainforest Lodge is west of Puerto Jimenez at the village of Cabo Matapalo, south of Corcovado National Park. Places like this are the reason I moved my retirement to Costa Rica! 🙂 For photos of other places I’ve already visited here see: My Costa Rica Trips Gallery. And you’ll know why I’m “Retired in Costa Rica,” the name of my blog and website.

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps. 

Proverbs 16:9

¡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!

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

A People Day

And not a single photo of all the neat people I related to today!

I waved goodbye to my neighbors Don & Judy and the landlord’s gardener Javier as I walked out our compound gate for my Spanish Class at Su Espacio. Then “Buenas Dias” to Luis, the guard at our Roca Verde gate.  It is my habit to say just “Buenos” (the new, younger greeting) to everyone I meet on the sidewalk walking to town. If someone refuses to make eye contact, then they don’t want to be spoken to, so I don’t force them!  🙂

I greet the shop keepers around the Su Espacio Community Center and whoever is already in the center, except the exercise class which is very busy! Everyone here is so nice and friendly and we all greet and visit at first. The two hours of Spanish with an hour and a half just talking in Spanish which is what I need the most to learn the language! After class I visit with another student a bit and then head for the post office to wait in line to get postage on a letter to the states.

I mailed my request for U.S. Voter Registration to Nashville as a citizen living out of the country. I’m only allowed to vote in national elections, which is mainly the presidential election every 4 years. To vote for mayor or governor you have to actually live in the city or state. Makes sense! My national election vote is counted among the “Absentee Voting” and I read somewhere that they only count those if the election is very close and it could make a difference. But I like doing my duty!

While waiting in line at the “Correos” (Post Office) I see the business associate from my old apartments, Hacienda La Jacaranda with the new manager. We talk for 5 to 7 minutes in Spanish no less! I’m so proud of myself! The new manager wants some of my photos to possibly use in promotion or marketing of the apartments. I will gladly provide them gratis. I really want that place to succeed! It has so much potential. Then after talking to the two ladies I got acquainted with a nice guy behind me in line who speaks fluent Spanish and English and he chose to use English mostly with me.

From there to Coopeatenas, my supermercado, for about 4 items and a visit in the produce section with Carol, a former Spanish student who may come back. She is from Inglaterra (England) and just got back from a business trip back there.  We talked in Spanglish!  🙂

By then it was late enough for lunch and as I was headed toward La Carreta I bumped into Jason, a local Tico young man who helps in Su Espacio Spanish and English classes, for conversation and tutoring. I offered to treat him to lunch for some Spanish practice (meaning we only talk in Spanish) and we did, mostly! Soon after we sat down Corinna and Nicole came in for lunch but they did not sit with us because they were using this time for Nicole to work on a jigsaw puzzle (he’s the 6 year old son). So they were at the next table. Then one of my first Tica friends in Costa Rica, Anna, came in with an American friend and tenant in one of her houses and did sit with us. The 80 year old friend just moved here from the states and speaks no Spanish, so English took over again with a few exceptions with Jason and Anna. Wow! A big day already and then it started raining (Hallelujah!). After lunch I walked Jason home under my sombrilla (umbrella) and then on home myself. We are going to start getting together more to just talk in Spanish. His cousin sells good wood fire oven pizza and I’ll have him over for pizza one night and talk in Spanish. Whew! Hey! It is really hard work for me to carry on a conversation in Spanish!  🙂

I’ve been home the rest of the day and still greatly enjoy being “Home Alone” but also enjoyed the many encounters with friends today and much of it in Spanish! The best Spanish Class is talking with live people in Spanish! It is one of my goals!  Pura Vida!

La Casita Vista

La Casita del Cafe Vista
On a clear day you can see the Pacific Ocean on right behind close hill.

I finally got to have breakfast at La Casita del Cafe, 8.7 km from my house (but with an Atenas address). It is a tiny little restaurant on the tallest mountain you can see from my balcony. It was a typical Tico breakfast of beans and rice with eggs and I added ham and chose the scrambled eggs with tomatoes and onions in them, almost as good as I make. I made the trip as my first trial run in a rent car which I got yesterday afternoon in preparation for two sets of Tennessee visitors next week. I could get spoiled having a car!  🙂

Last week Berdelle Campbell and Michael King (my Germantown friends) came in for a visit with Marcia & Craig Jervis in their lovely Uvita house on the South Pacific Coast. Their plane was delayed and got here after dark, so our planned “lunch date” didn’t happen when they left the airport. 
Berdelle and Michael are returning Wednesday and decided to come up Tuesday to visit with me before I take them to the airport Wednesday morning. They will sleep in a lovely Bed & Breakfast, Vista Atenas, with another killer view! I’ll show it later. But anyway, I needed to learn how to drive around here and get to some of the places I will be taking Kevin later next week (like La Casita) and the following week. So I got it early and find driving is not that difficult here, at least with GPS! There are not many road signs or highway labels, so you either know where you are going or you follow the GPS which thankful is included on my phone. I also found the B&B on the same highway with La Casita and found the little country coffee farm, El Toledo, on another highway that Kevin and I will be visiting next Sunday. 
Today I was unable to find a auto charger for my Samsung Galaxy s4, but was told of a place that will be open Monday here that might have it. If not, I’ll try the Walmart in Alajuela. I have gotten so used to walking and using taxis and buses, that it really feels strange having a car! I can do things at the last minute or on impulse!

Chili Fiesta

Billboard at entrance and in town advertising Atenas Chili Fiesta.

This gringo-sponsored fund-raiser for Hogar de Vida children’s home is in its 8th year and a big help for the Christian home for abused and abandoned children in Atenas, down the road from my apartments. The chili cook off is a major event of the day, but as a parking and traffic cop I did not get to taste, vote or participate in the chili, the multiple concerts or the many vendors, games, raffles, bingo, etc. But I’m glad I got to be a volunteer helper and thoroughly learn one more Spanish phrase, “Directo y a la derecha.” (Straight ahead and to the right.) as I sent people to the parking lot or “parqueo.”

I did get a lunch break and tried Costa Rica BBQ Pork with coleslaw and baked beans, none of which is like we had in Tennessee, but good. The slaw was tangy and delicious, the beans so so, the BBQ sauce sweet and good, and the pork very good.

Since I don’t have photos of the fiesta activities, here’s some of traffic, oxcart at entrance, and flowers in a yard next to the Sabana Larga (fairgrounds and bull fight/rodeo arena). I’m tired, since I worked two shifts, but it was a good day and glad I helped! 

A Motorcycle Club Came to the Fiesta
And a lot of those dreaded Rich American’s SUVs.
The Famous Painted Oxcarts Add Color to Many Events Here
Most Are Made & Painted in Nearby Sarchi Village
And lots of taxis at left!
Red Ginger Flowers Along One of the Perimeter Roads I Worked Today.
In someone’s yard! I frequently photograph yard flowers.

This is one of, if not the biggest gringo event in Atenas each year. Though a lot of Ticos participated in producing it and attending, it was definitely a gringo event with Texans trying to dominate the Chili Cook Off and old white people in charge of everything. I finally met a lady from Nashville, Tennessee yesterday, my first to meet from anywhere in Tennessee. Fun! But I’ve already forgot her name! And I’m probably known for more for my accent than anything else here, at least among the gringos. At events like this I see people I know from all my circles now: the apartments, church, Spanish Class, and local Tico friends. So it was fun to be in the middle of it and start becoming a part of the Atenas community! There is a good chance I will stay here long-term.

Internet Friends, Church, Funeral Procession, Gringo Brunch and Pura Vida!

Funeral Procession in Atenas, Costa Rica

Another eventful morning! Yesterday I was contacted my a couple from Minnesota who are in Atenas for two weeks as a base for exploring. They came across this blog and asked to get together for coffee or a meal and how to get to the church I reported on last Sunday. So we met for the 8 AM service at Iglesia Biblica Atenas and after the all-Spanish worship walked the 7 blocks or so to Kay’s Gringo Postres, where everyone eating there was a gringo. It was a very nice American-style breakfast buffet with great omelets and all the trimmings plus lots of fruit and even a peach cobbler. Yum, yum!

On the way we picked up a group of Americans from Indiana looking for an American-style breakfast and just took them with us. We are all friends here! And it was fun getting a new friend from my blog meaning someone is reading it!  🙂

Two blocks from Kay’s we passed this small funeral procession, my first here.

First sighting of the Funeral Procession in Atenas January 11, 2015.

There were no noisy sirens, hired cops clearing the way, just a family walking behind the hearse (station wagon) with its lights on and flowers on top. Since it was approaching midday, several walked with umbrellas for protection from the heat. Behind them was maybe 5 or 6 cars following with their lights on, of course moving at a walk pace. Along the street locals stop what they are doing in respect to the deceased like we did in the old days in the states. It was solemn and respectful. Another new cultural experience today.

Tomorrow’s adventure is a trip to San Jose to see my local lawyer. I’m splurging and hiring a driver rather than the uncertainty of when the bus would get me there. Next time will be by bus. Pura vida continues in the happiest place on earth in the town with the best weather on earth! I am truly blessed! And then new friends pop up from my blog today! Wow! Pura Vida!

El Doctor y Farmacia Today

Now I have an English-speaking doctor, Dr. Candy, a caring and perceptive medical doctor less than a mile from the apartments or maybe one mile. I have her number and can call at any time. She has a lot of local patients but also does a lot with expats and tourists when needed and on call anytime. The visit and examination, diagnosis, and suggested treatment cost only $50 USD, while the four prescriptions cost a little more than that. Plus I must ride in Taxi’s and not walk until I’m breathing better she prescribed.

I have something like bronchitis that could develop into pneumonia, thus antibiotics for 5 days and see how I’m doing. Plus I got one of those bronchial breathing things, cough syrup, and something else to help clear out the phlegm.

My intention was to go from her office to a place I can buy a sim card for my phone, but she said no, get meds and go home and rest. So I am resting on a hot afternoon, but not using a/c, just staying on east side of apartment. Nights are very cool and use at least a blanket with window open.

So much more to tell and share, but one little bit at a time. Today I had soup from the Quebec couple above again and my next door neighbors from Switzerland made my doctor appointment. My friends from tour, Mark & Tina will be back the 1st. 

The Joy and Grace of Friends! And Let’s try Skype!

Collared Redstart
I photographed at Trogon Lodge in September
Also call the collared whitestart, it is a
tropical New World warbler endemic to the
mountains of Costa Rica and western Panama. 

Not only am I on the plane in 9 days, and my boxes were picked up today for shipping to Costa Rica, but the last few days have been an outpouring of love from friends here in Nashville, my home and family for the last 38 years! The Senior Adult SAALT Council at First Baptist gave me the biggest party at their last meeting with fun gifts and a beautiful cake by Kelly Porch with a camera and Costa Rica Flag on it! The Spanish Class sent me off last Thursday also and Saturday a party with my Sunday school class. The Christmas cards are nearly all thank you notes and farewell cards on top of Christmas Joy plus other farewells here at McKendree. One family takes me to lunch tomorrow and Saturday night a dear 91 year old lady friend is giving me a little party in her apartment. I am blessed!

I’m overwhelmed with love and the grace that goes with it (unmerited favor). I could start feeling guilty about leaving such a great support group – my Nashville family! Yet I am following my heart and believe this is God’s will and a fitting climax to my life of adventure as I truly try to obey God, allow Him to be central in my life and simplify living to an experience that pleases Him and me! I’m already feeling a new freedom without so much stuff to keep up with! Hopefully there I will figure out a way to diminish the quantity of art and books which is what I shipped. And maybe even reduce the amount of clothing.  🙂

Email will be the best way to communicate or stay in touch with me along with reading my blogs and commenting on them. I have also added a Skype account which means free phone calls with those of you who are also on Skype. I have even added the extra feature of a phone number you can call from any phone, but there is a cost for me on that. The number is with a middle TN area code: 615-649-4486. If I’m not at my computer when you call, I think it goes to a recorded message. NOW IF YOU ARE ON SKYPE, LET’S SET A TIME TO PRACTICE BEFORE I’M OVERSEAS. Most of the nights between now and Christmas Eve are available except Saturday, but we need to agree on a time to both be online for it to work.

Chao! Hasta pronto on Skype!

I’m “Sleeping On It”

When friends ask if I’m going to Costa Rica, I say “I’m making myself sleep on it for a week before I begin the paperwork, but I’m pretty sure I’m going.” The tour was very helpful both for what we saw and getting know the other 16 people who may move to Costa Rica. Our very knowledgeable guide, Chris Howard, mentions me and tells about our tour eating in his blog post today: LIVING AND EATING IN COSTA RICA which you might enjoy reading. The food was great with wonderful views at most meals!

View from Atenas

One of the couples on the tour with me had come to “try it out” for 4 to 6 months before they totally move to Costa Rica. They did a better job of apartment hunting than me and are now living for at least four to six months at Hacienda La Jacaranda in Atenas.  (click to see how nice it is – they don’t allow copying their photos)

My driver did not “have time” to take me to Atenas which was one of the places I wanted to see apartments. I’m sorry, because I really like the look and feel of this place and they have a waterfall on property! And it is a 5 minute walk to the central plaza, groceries, bust stop, etc. An office for printing from my laptop, gym, pool, and more! So it will be one of the first places I will look when I return or might trust my friends recommendations and try to make a reservation in advance for the last week of December or first of January when I tentatively see myself going to live without moving furniture yet (if ever). It doesn’t have to be permanent, but a great start on my newest adventure! Pray that I make the best decisions and that God is in on whatever I do. That’s important to me!

Colonial Church facing Central Plaza, Atenas 

Central Plaza, Atenas

And oh yeah! National Geographic says Atenas has the best year-around climate in the world! It gets to a high of 80 in the day and a low of 60 at night, all the time. Great sleeping without a/c and great daytime activity weather.