Unprepared for First Rain

Yellow Bells Trees Shedding Blooms
Sunny Sidewalk in Atenas

I walk in the sunshine under the Yellow Bell trees for a late lunch and early dinner out to try the ribs at the Don Yayo Chicharonerra Cafe. Beautiful day with some rain clouds in the sky like we’ve had for weeks with no rain, so of course it will not rain. Well, while eating we got our first rain of the year (not counting one little shower) and it was a “gully washer” as we would say back in Arkansas. I took a photo but rain doesn’t seem to show up in my photos. The streams and canyons were gushing as I walked home.

We were very dry and having grass fires, so we really needed the rain! But it was so unexpected that I left my apartment windows open AND my laundry drying out on the balcony! Guess what? Some floors got mopped and my clothes went back through the spin cycle with hopefully some sun tomorrow. This is a case for the electric dryer in my new house and almost reason enough by itself for the move!  🙂   Can hardly wait!

Then after clean up of the rain, I got this “After the Rain” photo of rain fog on the horizon. Hope I get as many photo ops from the new balcony! I just love nature, even in the middle of a town.

“After the Rain” from my balcony, Hacienda La Jacaranda, Atenas, Costa Rica


This flycatcher appears to have fallen off the balcony railing,
but was actually spoofed when I pointed the camera at him. 

The Majestic Vulture

Turkey Vulture glides over my balcony,
Hacienda La Jacaranda, Atenas, Costa Rica

The poor ol’ garbage collector gets a bad rap and he is really graceful in the sky and so beneficial on the ground! And note this cool quote from a bird book . . .

The face is ruddy and wrinkled and topped with an embarrassingly sparse cap of feathers.  Its expression is uncommonly serene and there is something about it that suggests infinite patience.  Huddled on their perches, wrapped in shabby vestments, the birds look like a group of balding monks gathered in prayer.
Pete Dunne, The Wind Masters

Spoiler alert: Tomorrow I’m scheduled to look at a new house for rent in the Roca Verde development. Downside is it will cost a little bit more and the walk to town is a little bit further, but upside is much better construction than what I’m in, better maintenance, more privacy, and I’ll still have a deck or balcony view and lots of birds around. We’ll see. I have to decide now whether I stay or move with my current contract up for renewal and some boxes ready for delivery. Hopefully this is my last big decision for awhile. You can pray that I make a good decision, not that either would be bad.

Cashew Fruit

Cashew Fruit is ripening on trees around Atenas now.
Photographed from my balcony, Hacienda La Jacaranda, Atenas, Costa Rica

This shot was made from about 50 meters away on a tree in a neighbor’s yard, shot from my balcony! The fruit reminds you of a red or yellow (come in both colors) bell pepper except for the seed or nut that hangs below it. Only one nut per fruit. No wonder cashews are somewhat expensive. Read about them in this Wikipedia article. New uses for the fruit itself are being developed, including one by Pepsi Cola. It is not a major export from Costa Rica. They grow in most tropical climes and we even had them in The Gambia. Most of what you get in the states probably come from India, Indonesia or Nigeria, where they are big exports. We stick with exporting bananas, pineapples, and coffee here! 

Sharing the Mangos

The Male Mantled Howler Monkey eating one of the apartment mangos.
A few are getting ripe, though most are still green as you can see.
So the howlers will be here for awhile I suspect.
Hacienda La Jacaranda, Atenas, Costa Rica

If you’ve never heard a howler monkey you must listen to the howler monkeys. We are hearing them more often now, day and night. But they don’t bother my sleep.

Mother-child don’t show their faces as much as Papa.
Hacienda La Jacaranda, Atenas, Costa Rica
Papa keeps a watchful eye on us humans looking up at them.
Hacienda La Jacaranda, Atenas, Costa Rica

If you liked my simple cell phone photos of the Easter Procession at our Atenas Catholic Church yesterday, check out this video of Easter Procession in an Escazu, Costa Rica church.

Vanilla Comes from an Orchid?

Vanilla Pod or
Vanilla Bean

Yeah, the second most expensive spice in the world comes from an orchid plant pods that grows on vines (up to 30 feet long) right here in Costa Rica and other tropical countries. Read about this unusual spice in this Huffington Press Report. And I learned this week that the original owner of these apartments didn’t get all his cash flow from rent, but more from his vanilla farms in Guanacaste and other areas of North Costa Rica. It only grows between 10 & 20 degrees north or south of the equator.

Hans, the new manager, gifted me with one of these expensive vanilla pods (often called a vanilla bean) from the Von der Bom Farms when I conferenced with him this week. They are picked green and sun dried for 2 to 6 months the article says. I could take a sharp knife and scrape little bits of the nearly black stuff from the dried pod to season a dessert or whatever. I am more likely to keep it as a conversation piece in my living room fruit bowl. Vanilla Extract is made from this pod mixed with water and alcohol to make the more familiar use of vanilla. So a full pod is quite valuable and could season a lot!

Phons von der Bom, the original owner, loved the vanilla vines (his major income) and the ornamental ironwork bridge over our swimming pool features vanilla vines as does the tile work on bottom of his pool and on some doors and other objects around here. This property was his home for many years before he added the apartments (after the price of vanilla beans dropped).   🙂  What an interesting place! I learn something new every day!

Close-up of Vanilla Pod or
Vanilla Bean
Vanilla Bean Vines decorate pool bottom and bridge
on what was originally Phons’ home and personal pool before the apartments.
Hacienda La Jacaranda, Atenas, Costa Rica

And oh yes, the most expensive spice just ahead of vanilla is saffron. In case you were wondering!


Diapause: a period of physiologically enforced dormancy between periods of activity.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary

My new word today is usually referring to animal dormancy, particularly butterflies in the pupae stage. I’m not in a pupae, unless you call my apartment that, but after preparation for two differents sets of visitors and a particularly full week with Kevin, I’ve kind of pulled into my apartment and mostly resting, reading, and taking care of just necessary business – not running all over Costa Rica looking for birds to photograph! This pre-sunset photo kind of symbolizes my diapause. It frequently looks like rain without ever doing it. It makes me look forward to May when the rain actually starts. It is very dry and grass fires are common. 

Rain Clouds that Don’t Rain!
Atenas, Costa Rica

It is fun to just sit on my balcony, watch the town below me, the sky, the birds and listen to the howler monkeys who are hollering as I type. Click to hear them yourself: Mantled Howler Monkey  Oh, go ahead! Click it and listen for 20 seconds! I hear every morning & evening.

Male Howler Monkey
Hacienda La Jacaranda, Atenas, Costa Rica
My photo made by me here at the apartments in a tree along the river

And by the way, it is pretty easy to rest this week as most every business has closed already or will after today for Holy Week. No Spanish Class either! Semana Santa.

A Day in Atenas Costa Rica

Waking up to Yellow Bells blooming out my bedroom window
Hacienda La Jacaranda, Atenas, Costa Rica
Yes, I really could see this while lying in my bed this morning!
Same tree where I made some of those earlier bird photos.

Kevin and I eat breakfast on top of a mountain and photograph the vista at
La Casita del Cafe, Atenas, Costa Rica
Pacific Ocean is on the far horizon
Monumento del Boyero – National Monument to Oxcart Drivers
Atenas, Costa Rica
(Yeah, it was cloudy, but not a drop of rain yet!)
“Adios Snowbirds” dinner party before Canadians and Europeans return north
Hacienda La Jacaranda, Atenas, Costa Rica 

Tomorrow we tour of Atenas’ El Toledo Coffee Farm and eat lunch in a family farm home there.

Kevin and Motmot Arrive in Atenas!

Kevin Hunter arrived today for his visit and brought good luck to my birding at the apartments. We went down to the river to see waterfall and howler monkeys and found a Blue-crowned Motmot, my first at the apartments! Thanks Kevin!

Blue-crowned Motmot
Hacienda La Jacaranda, Atenas, Costa Rica

Blue-crowned Motmot
Hacienda La Jacaranda, Atenas, Costa Rica

Kevin works on an email under the watchful eye of
My Apartment Nude

Kevin had a safe and uneventful trip to Costa Rica with his flight arriving 30 minutes early, but I checked online and knew and was there early to welcome him. We had a Tico lunch at La Carreta, walked around the central park and beautiful catholic church and he went with me for some business at ICE concerning my cell phone. Then to the apartments, settling in, going down to river to see the Mantled Howler Monkeys and the Blue-crowned Motmot. Then back up the hill to watch two Social Flycatchers chase a cat away from the tree they nest in. Then I served a tropical fruit plate for a lighter dinner with Robbie’s oatmeal cookies and some banana bread I got from an Atenas bakery. Then we both hit the computers.

The Social Flycatcher that chased the house cat in our front yard
Hacienda La Jacaranda, Atenas, Costa Rica