“New” Chairs

Okay . . . not really new, but like new to me as my 5 year old rockers on the terrace had become faded by the sun to nearly white in color and the old cushions were dirty, ugly and too small. I threw the old cushions away and hired one of my very skilled gardeners to sand (even in the little grooves of the carvings) and re-varnish the two chairs on his own time (he had earlier painted 3 of my flower pots much to my satisfaction). I am very pleased with his work on these two matching chairs and their “new” look now.  🙂


Sometimes when you are “quarantined at home” the little things make a big difference!   🙂   Social distancing from my house in tropical Costa Rica . . .

I enjoy the small things.

~Michael Buble


¡Pura Vida!

See also the photo galleries of my house:

P.S.   I’m writing posts 2 or 3 days ahead now, but decided last night to add this postscript note that I hope to get up at 5:30 this morning and go walking for birds again on Calle Nueva, so look for that birds post in 2 or 3 days! A friend walked it yesterday morning and saw a parrot and a trogon. Hope I’m as lucky!   🙂    I am so blessed! Retired in Costa Rica!

Happy Family Culture in Atenas

While waiting on a parade to start last year this Atenas father leads several waiting children in a game.
 As I did my daily walk through town today, not seeing a memorable photo op, I thought of this old one.
 It is so typical of the happiest people on earth right here in the center of Costa Rica!
Glad I live here!
Atenas, Costa Rica 

See also my photo gallery PEOPLE & FIESTAS.

Easiest Place for Retirement in the Whole World!

It is an especially easy place to retire for nature-lovers and birders!  🙂

Costa Rica is rated as “The Easiest Place for Retirement” by a recent report based on “fitting in,” “adapting” to the new culture, and a “happy lifestyle” which of course might relate to an earlier report that Costa Rica has the Happiest People on earth!  🙂

Now that I’ve been here more than a year, I agree that it is an easy place to retire. Like everywhere, there are some things that seem difficult at first or slow, like getting my residency (government bureacracy), but not as difficult or slow as it is for people moving to the states! It is the people of Costa Rica who make it easier with their friendliness and desire to help any way they can. And unlike most countries I have traveled in, the people of Costa Rica like Americans! Amazing!   🙂
Well, click the link above and read the article. It is good and explains the cultural acceptance.

Finger Prints for Residency

I am one step closer to my residency in Costa Rica. Immigration informed my attorney that it was time to be fingerprinted at the San Jose Police Station. I made no photos, so here is a verbal report of Thursday, 3 December 2015:

4:30 AM – Up for shower, breakfast and walk to the bus station
6:15 AM – Bus to San Jose
7:45 AM – I exit bus at northeast corner of Parque Sabana, 4 blocks from lawyer
                  Appointment is at 8:30 AM, so second breakfast at Soda Tapia (famous!)
8:30 AM – Meet attorney Jose Pablo Carter at his office 150 meters east of Soda Tapia
9:00 AM – We arrive in his car at Police Station with maybe 15 people ahead of us
                  We complete paper work and then I do the musical chair thing like at bank
                  This was just one long row of chairs. As a person is served we all move up
                       the chair line until I was next to be served. About a 25 minute wait.
                  Maybe 15 minutes of a guy two-finger typing all my info in a computer
                  He glues the three photos made back in February to 3 different forms
                  Then gives me all my paperwork and sends me to the fingerprint girl
                  I learned later she was new. She did 3 fingers then new form, start over
                        because she did one of my fingers twice  🙂
                  Then she gave me two of the photo/thumb print cards to take to my attorney
                  He gave one back to her and explained to her where it went (Wow!) Learner!
10:30 AM – We drive away from police station and he says no one knows how much longer
                     I will have to wait, maybe 2 months. But we have made some progress!
10:45 AM – He is taking me to a taxi stand to go to bus station because he has a meeting.
                    Then he sees a taxi, flags him down and I move to the taxi headed for the
                    Parada de Autobus de TUASA – there are about a dozen bus stations depending
                           on where you are going. I go to Coca Cola Station for Atenas bus but I need
                           to go to Alajuela to pick up a package at Aerocasillas. So I go to the
                           Parada de TUASA for the next bus to Alajuela. 5 minute wait!

By noon I’m in Alajuela with my package ordered from Amazon of  a Hypoallergenic & Bedbug proof mattress cover and pillow covers which I have not found here. Then a quick quesadilla and I have only a 5 minute wait for bus to Atenas (Lucky? God’s will?). Near the bus station in Atenas is my primary hardware store where I find they have only 1 soaker hose left, so I get it and try Coope Hardware and they have none (I need 2). I call a taxi and tell him what I want and he takes me to a third hardware store (ferreteria) and they have one left. Great! I just bought all (both) the soaker hoses available in Atenas!  🙂

I go home and install them in two gardens and water the gardens. My front yard and trees had a sprinkler system installed yesterday by my gardeners at a really good price, about what I paid for the two soaker hoses! Now my yard, trees and gardens are ready for the dry season without me spending two hours every two days holding a hose to them. Bear in mind that it may not rain again here until May!

When finished, it was 5:30 and I suddenly remembered I had a 5:00 Spanish class! Oh well! I am exhausted and will catch up next week. 🙂

Today is Friday and I got more cash for Angel Tree expenses (trying 3 ATMs before one worked!), paid one Angel Tree bill, got groceries, and I’m staying at home the rest of today! Susan picks me up at 6:50 tomorrow morning for Angel Tree party preparation. She and I are in charge of moving 300 wrapped gifts from Su Espacio to the church salon. Other volunteers will help. Then a fast-moving party and I’m on bus back to Alajuela for a rent car. I like to get a car the day before needed to get used to the car and make sure everything works! 🙂 I’m excited about experiencing another new birding place starting Sunday!  Rancho Naturalista. My happy feet are busy feet!  🙂  And when the bone spur in my heel hurts, I take an anti-inflammatory Rx the doctor prescribed and do great! The heel cushion in a real shoe helps also!  🙂  Wear my sandals only around the house now.


14 Reasons to Live in Costa Rica

The farming town of Atenas, Alajuela, Costa Rica from a walk over the hill above my house.
My house is bottom center between and below the big brown & orange roof houses. Orange roof is my landlord.
The church steeple is the center of town, facing Parque Central.

Must read research article by a Dutch expat living here: 14 Reasons to live in Costa Rica

Hope you will notice that Atenas is the only town mentioned as the only one being in the top 10 places in the world to live! It also has National Geographic’s label of “Best climate in the world.” People have asked me if I ever regret my “radical decision” to move here? The answer is unequivocally “No!” I love it here and continue to slowly become a part of the place. I will have been here 8 months on the 24th of this month!

I live in the Central Valley close to the best shopping, entertainment and medical services, while I can easily travel to a wide range of nature spots in an hour or three! (6 hours to farthermost point in country) Last week I was on Pacific coast just an hour away. In September I go with birding club to the Talamanca Mountains maybe two hours away plus a tack-on adventure of my own. Then in October I go with the club again to the Caribbean coast, maybe 3 hours away, after which I plan to explore further south in the Caribbean. All these exotic vacations almost monthly with no plane fares and moderately priced hotels, meals and transportation. I love being Retired in Costa Rica! I’m “Happier than a Billionaire!” (To borrow the title of another expat’s blog and book)

Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.

~Andre Gide


And if you didn’t bother to go to the link above, here’s the 14 reason without his good intro:

1. Highest score on happy life years by the Happy Planet.

2. Top 10 for best places to live or retire according to International Living.

3. An amazing amount of different locations to live, within a maximum 6 hour drive of each other.

4. The huge Central Valley urban location along with hundreds of beach locations on two coasts.

5. A real democracy with many political parties.

6. NO army and the funds are spent on education.

7. A large number of the habitants are bilingual.

8. The quality lifestyle you have been used to all your life.

9. Perfect weather with many micro climates to choose from.

10. Atenas is on AARP Top 10 for best places to retire abroad.

11. #29 world ranking for Press Freedom by Reporters without Borders in 2010 (1st in Latin America).

12. #31 world ranking for Global Peace by Institute for Economics & Peace in 2011.

13. #49 world ranking for Economic Freedom by the Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal in 2011.

14. Affordable healthcare and an important destination for cosmetic surgery and dentistry.

A Happy Birthday in Atenas!

One portion of the sidewalk I cleaned off. A community project, not the city!

I decided a few days ago I wanted to start a new tradition for each birthday: Do a good deed, service project, or something that helps other people. One I have been wanting to do is contribute to the neighborhood community-built sidewalk on the road leading to my subdivision. So this morning after breakfast I spent an hour and a half, before getting too hot, shoveling gravel and dirt and sweeping parts of the sidewalk. In short, someone left a pile of gravel for the concrete on top of the sidewalk so all of us who use it have to walk around it into the street. So the first thing I did was use my very small garden shovel to move the pile of gravel off the sidewalk onto the shoulder of the road. Hard work! Then another longer section of the sidewalk has a dirt wall along side it that is crumbling onto the sidewalk with each rain or bump of anything into the wall. I started shoveling a drainage ditch between the walk and wall and putting the dirt in the street which will be removed when they come to repave and widen the street. Then I swept the sidewalk and parts of the street. By 8:30 it was very hot with no clouds and I had to quit. But I plan to go back and finish the job! Lots of women and children and old people use this sidewalk and I want to help make it safe and usable!


Birthday Present  to myself is two handmade wooden rocking chairs.
That’s sillas mecedoras in Spanish
Sometimes you just don’t want to sit at the table!
Now I’m looking for a matching small table to sit drinks, etc. on.
That will be mesa pequeña in Spanish. No luck yesterday.


For weeks now I’ve been eating most all my meals at home which are generally better, healthier, but also more work! Today I went for a late lunch to La Carreta Restaurant and had a Casado with a new meat for me, a shredded beef called “Carne Mechada” which is Venezuelan in origin. His English translation of “Meat Loaf” on menu is not a good translation! It was very good and I recommend it! Also walked by the office supply store across from the Central Market to get a printer ink cartridge. 

David & Corrina with their full-time assistant at Su Espacio plus helpers Jason and Roni walked to my house at about 6:35 PM and they later found in my baby book that I was born at 6:35 PM – spooky huh? They are all young and full of life and brought everything for my feliz Cumpleaños party. It was a blast! And Jason even brought a gift, a Pura Vida coffee mug! My Tico friends are my best friends here and I will always remember this birthday party!

And tomorrow morning my neighbor Anthony is taking me to Kay’s Gringo Postres for and American Style Breakfast after we walk over the big hill here at Roca Verde! So you see I am getting plenty of attention on my birthday! And being 75 doesn’t feel any different from being 74! Pura Vida! Really now, how can life get any better? A simply great 75th birthday! 

Lilting Notes & Interesting Folks!

As I walked through Central Park after Spanish Class this morning, headed for the hardware store , I heard beautiful music in the air (like bells), not sure where it was coming from. Then on a corner opposite the park I discover this man playing his xylophone or marimba and the music made me feel happy! Atenas is such a simple and happy place with surprises around every corner!

Just making music on the sidewalk outside the Me Gusta Shop

Around the corner, at his usual spot, a fruit & veggie vendor.
Only 2 blocks from the Central Market, his biggest competition.
Though there is another guy at the next corner.  🙂
Nearer the market and the hardware store, my destination.

Yes, in Atenas some guys still
come to town on their horse.
Small town Costa Rica!
And watch where you step!

I also discovered the CATUCA today, but I will tell about it another day!  🙂  

And oh yeah, I forgot to say that beginning March 20 I have Costa Rica Private Health Insurance which will last a year and hopefully by then I will have my CAJA or government insurance after I get my Pensionado Residency. One step at a time! And timing was good because my Medigap Policy was going up in price next month, like double! I’ll be cancelling it now! Medical costs is one area where I really do save money living here instead of the states – big savings! The only drawback on my private insurance here is that they won’t cover preexisting conditions for a year. But the government plan will  and for a lot less money! This time next year I will be on it.


Jubilado is the most common word used here to name or describe a retired person (Jubilada for feminine). Even though there is a Spanish word that sounds more like our English “Retired” (retirarse), no one uses it here – always jubilado(a)! It comes from the root noun jubilo, “jubilation or joy,” and the corresponding adjective jubiloso(a), “jubilant, joyful.” And in the land of Pura Vida, what a great way to describe retirement! And it is becoming pure joy for me!

One view of our apartments while walking back from town.
Far from a retirement home!

Though the government talked in 2010 about creating “Jubilado Communities” like Retirement Communities in the states, it never materialized with most Ticos preferring to retire in place, stay a part of the total community and their extended family, says an article in La Nacion, the primary Spanish language newspaper here.

Of course there are North Americans who bought up property to create many gated communities of retired North Americans here, even in Atenas. I’m trying to avoid that. My apartments are gated for security, but we are not all gringo, not all retired, and not all old. I love the mix of peoples, ages, incomes, nationalities and the 300 meter walk to a real town! It is better than a retirement community! At least for me. We have two young couples who go to work daily, a couple of older working people,  an unwed young mother with a 2-year old, a community of teenagers next door (New Summit Academy), and all ages of snowbirds. Who knows who will move in when the snowbirds go home in April and May for their summer? We are surrounded by Tico houses plus a church and shopping within walking distance! It is a good balance.

Some believe in destiny, and some believe in fate
I believe that happiness is something we create
Line from Sugarland’s song 
“Something More”

Happy to be a Jubilado!

Charlie and the Wonderful, Enjoyable, Not Bad, Very Good Day

Sunrise at Tortuguero by Charlie Doggett, 2010

You’ll understand my title only if you’ve seen ads for the kids movie Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day which I know is a fun comedy, but I felt like being positive today since it was a very good day for me. Or actually a good weekend!

I dragged all my old computers & accessories over to the Treasure Shop yesterday along with my bike hoping some of it would sell. Not one of those items sold, though it too was a good day because I sold one of my more expensive items, the Frederic Remington statue titled “Cheyenne.” Then I lugged the bike and all the computer stuff home and listed it all on Craigslist last night. In 24 hours I had sold every single item except the bike. I got so many text messages on the old laptop for $50 that I could have sold a bunch of them!

The desktop was the last item to go tonight with a delightful visit with George the Egyptian, the buyer and a fellow nature lover and nature photographer. We talked for nearly an hour about nature photography and places to go for good photos. He capped off a very good day! And maybe we’ll have some warmer weather soon to attract bike-hunters or maybe Christmas shoppers? Or a lower price than what the bike shop suggested? $250 is a little steep for a used bike!

I have a little notebook by my bed in which I nightly write one thing about that day for which I am thankful. It helps me sleep better and have a better tomorrow! Tonight I may write two thanksgivings: George & Craigslist!   🙂  And may you have a blessed day also!