Village Morning

The Featured Photo is a shot from my terrace at breakfast this morning looking toward our mountain village of Atenas. I live in a peaceful place, appropriately called tranquilo in Spanish by the people here.   🙂



My Google Timeline Report for February:

WALKING: 36 km, 9 hours

BY VEHICLES: 351 km, 13 hours (Around town by taxi, several Alajuela trips by bus and the longest trip was to Heredia, north of San Jose. The walking was an almost daily walk to town plus 3 local birding walks with a Canadian friend.)

And they reminded me that my most distant destination for February was Heredia from which came my photo below. Should I be worried that Google knows so much about me?   🙂

Heredia Historic Building by the Spaniards – photo by Charlie.

¡Pura Vida!

Retired in Costa Rica

See Charlie Doggett’s COSTA RICA Photo Gallery.


Is that a word?   🙂   Well, anyway, I finished my week of Spanish Language Immersion and can say that it was very good or helpful! The most effective language immersion class/living is when one does it for two months straight or longer, then you are more or less fluent, people tell me. If I had my move to Costa Rica to do over, I would have scheduled the first two months in language immersion, but I didn’t – so I will keep up my plodding along here in Atenas with a tutor two hours a week along with relating to locals in Spanish and I may go back to Heredia for some more one week experiences in the future. We will see. It is not as expensive as my birding trips but nor is it as much fun!   🙂

The featured photo is from my breakfast table back home in Atenas this morning (got in last night) with that pretty pink-blooming tree on the horizon. It is always good to “get back home” after a trip. And in a lesser sense, I still have a type of language immersion living in Atenas, just not in my house! Though I guess I could talk to myself in Spanish!   🙂   I use only Spanish here with taxistas, at the supermercado, mostly in restaurants & other business and with my tutor – so not bad – but still not quite like the full immersion of this past week.

I recommend the experience and really liked the folks at Tico Lingo which I recommend, though I can’t compare it to any of the many other such programs here or in other countries. My uncle and some friends had good experiences at a similar program in Antigua, Guatemala while I have known others to do it in various places in Mexico – thus there are many opportunities if you are interested! And remember that living in a local home that speaks only Spanish is maybe just as important as the several hours of class work in the school.   🙂   AND using the language when you leave!  🙂  And I just now found one website that compares 18 such schools mostly geared to youth also wanting a beach experience and it doesn’t even include Tico Lingo, but if interested check out: Language Schools. My relocation tour stopped at two of these schools for quick introductions and there are more than these!

Speaking in Spanish with other students was also helpful. I was at a lower level than the one group class during my week, thus I had a solo class or 3 hours of personal tutoring each morning which was definitely best for me, but I did go out to lunch with some others and practiced with them a little, though it’s too easy to relapse into English with other Americans!   🙂

They have “Graduation” every week! Me with my certificate & Profesora Ana.
And as I left my home for the week 4-year-old Daniela said “adios” to me!


And of course I have a “Trip Gallery” of photos from this week, titled:

2020 February 22-28 — Heredia for Spanish Immersion


“The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.”
~Ludwig Wittgenstein

¡Pura Vida!



Toucan Rescue Ranch

png-logoOne of the things Heredia is know for is The Toucan Rescue Ranch, which is actually in a suburb, San Isidro de Heredia, which like so many other such places in Costa Rica was started not too long ago by someone dedicated to wildlife, and all the animals that recuperate from injuries or whatever to a level of independence are released into the wild.

After class today I had a quick lunch of something other than the rice and beans I’ve been having here 3 times a day and took a taxi to the rescue ranch for a pre-scheduled “Educational Walk” at 1:30 that lasted until nearly 3:30 and my taxi was waiting on me when finished. Plus a funny thing about the tour, there were 14 people on it with 5 of us from Atenas! Two retiree couples from Atenas were there, plus me. I have met both couples in the past but don’t really know them – another one of those “small world” kind of things!   🙂

Our guide was a really nice & knowledgeable young man from Hungary (the country).


Birds at Toucan Ranch

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Other Animals

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San Rafael Church

On the way back through the suburb of San Rafael de Heredia my taxista stopped here for me to photograph this Gothic architecture church building, second tallest in Costa Rica.


And of course I have a “Trip Gallery” of photos from this week, titled:

2020 February 22-28 — Heredia for Spanish Immersion


¡Pura Vida!

My Spanish Classes

My mornings are spent at Tico Lingo Language School where I am not up to speed with the classroom of students in their 20’s for 4 hours a day so they placed me with a private tutor for 3 hours a day which of course is better for me. The featured photo is of my Professora Ana. Below are more photos of the house converted into a school and where I spend my mornings this week. It is a trial week for me to see if this kind of immersion language study will work for me. If so I will continue more later.

At Tico Lingo


Art in the School

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They are all tourist souvenir art work, and yes, if it were me I would stretch those fabrics tight and mount them level, but that is not my job! And the high school and college kids who are most of their customers couldn’t care less!   🙂

Today after class I went to lunch at a different Soda for another Casado with one of the 20-somethings in the other class (to where he wanted to go) and he treated me! He acted amazed that an 80 year old was doing this. So? He ate fast and took an Uber to see his Costa Rican girlfriend called a “Novia” here. I walked around downtown again today and stopped for an ice cream cone, then walked back to my student boarding house where I make this post!   🙂   Tomorrow is a bigger treat as I go to Toucan Rescue Ranch in the afternoon.

And of course I have a “Trip Gallery” of photos from this week, titled:

2020 February 22-28 — Heredia for Spanish Immersion


¡Pura Vida!

FYI:     Costa Rica Is The Second Best Destination In The World For Foreign Investment In Tourism


Tico Casa & Heredia Central

I had a great dinner last night with Vera and Daniela off and on with others out – it was arroz con pollo or chicken and rice with a typical Tico breakfast this morning of Gallo Pinto or beans and rice with egg and coffee and bread and a big plate of fruta and glass of juice! I ate breakfast with Jose, I neat young guy from a little village an 8 hour bus ride south of here near the Panama border. He works for a robotics company and goes to the university in night school for more robotics skills. Lots of different things are manufactured here in Costa Rica and there are some really sharp young people here!

If there is any downside of a boarding house it is sharing the bathroom with many other people. No wait for my shower this morning, but after breakfast before leaving for school I could not brush my teeth because it was occupied. It is all part of “being family” or sharing which is ultimately a joy!   🙂

I had a good morning at school today followed by a tour of downtown Heredia with lunch at the Central Mercado, a typical lunch plate called a “casado” which is your choice of meat and an assortment of vegetables, rice and salad served for lunch everywhere in Costa Rica, like what Mamma would serve you at home. The word “casado” literally means “married” and implies that if you are married this is what your wife will serve you for lunch.  🙂  I will report on the school tomorrow and Wednesday I’m going to the Toucan Rescue Ranch for another interesting experience. Never a dull moment! Even when learning!

Casa de Garcia

A 4-bedroom Boarding House Apartment


Heredia Central


And of course I have a “Trip Gallery” of photos from this week, titled:

2020 February 22-28 — Heredia for Spanish Immersion

¡Pura Vida!

Arrival at My Hostess House

One Tico family picked me up at the airport and took me to la casa de Doña Vera Garcia with a hardy welcome from a very energetic & talkative 4 year old Daniela. Her father, Daniel, was working late tonight at the shoe store in the nearby Mall. There are 2 other boarders here, college-age Tico boys from smaller towns going to trade schools here in Heredia, a very big suburb of San Jose. The students went out and will eat here later as many Ticos do, but I ate at about 6:30 (late for me) and talked the best I could with Vera in my malo español.

The small apartment complex where they live became more lively as it got dark and people came home from work with little Daniela running in and out of the house and relating to all the neighbors and many coming in our house visiting; a close, friendly community, like a big family with everybody talking, in Spanish of course, and usually much faster than I can understand. And who knows where the college boys went? But first, one of them helped me get on the WiFi which Vera didn’t understand. And I settled down in my private room working on my computer. It is much cooler here than in Atenas and noisier because we are near downtown Heredia. I’ll be in bed soon. Hope I can sleep. Big day tomorrow!


And of course I have a “Trip Gallery” of photos from this week, titled:

2020 February 22-28 — Heredia for Spanish Immersion


¡Pura Vida!

Language & Cable Services

New Internet & No TV!

I live in a Spanish-speaking country where it is the official language and it is needed for almost all services, public and commercial. When I lived in the States I heard many people say about immigrants, “If they want to live here, they can learn English!” And I basically agree, though I now know from experience that it is easier said than done!

“Spoiled Americans” here who refuse to learn Spanish or even learn very slow like me, have created a need for English speakers in many of the commercial customer services here, like the competitive cable services who are learning that Customer Service in English can mean more money from the thousands of Americans living here.

My first cable service here was pretty good service for a long time and by waiting I could often get English-speaking customer service if needed, but recently everything was going wrong. No TV service (which helped me decide to drop it) and frequent failure of internet and more frequently the WiFi connections. I tried repeatedly to get technical service and to change my contract to faster internet and no TV, both with my bad Spanish and then asking for an English speaker. At least 5 efforts failed with either disconnected calls or the promise of a call-back that never happened.

Thus I decided to switch from CableTica to TeleCable and when I called the new company they instantly recognized I was weak in Spanish and within 30 seconds switched me to a very good English-speaker. We set up a time for the técnicos to come out and rewire my house at their expense. I waited until they were here in the house to call the other company to cancel my services with them. (I needed the internet even if intermittent!) I called and canceled in Spanish, briefly explaining why. Within 2 minutes I received a phone call back from a very fluent English speaker (probably a supervisor) at that company, apologizing profusely for their lack of service and English-speakers, almost begging me to give them another chance, even offering 2 months free! I told him I was sorry but he was too late with my new service being installed as we spoke. Then he took my credit card number to pay him for one of their trucks to come out and pick up their TV Box and Internet Router which was cheaper ($22) than me having to return it in the city by taxi!

I now have 100 MB TeleCable Internet Service and no TV! A happy camper!   🙂   And if you are worried about my lack of entertainment, I do have Costa Rica Netflix for which I attach my computer to the TV to see those great nature documentaries and rarely a movie!   🙂   Plus I’m always reading on my Kindle a book and the Washington Post for news and Comics! What else does a guy need?   🙂


+ Spanish Immersion Coming!

Thus cable service became “the straw that broke the camel’s back” on my slow fluency in Spanish and I signed up for one week of Spanish Language Immersion to see if an old man can handle it and then if so I will add more. This will simply make my 2 hours a week with tutor Arturo here in Atenas more effective and hopefully greatly advance my verbal & listening abilities.

I could have used the school that meets closer at Jaco Beach with 4 hours of Spanish a day combined with 4 hours of surfing lessons a day, but decided that was probably not best for me!   🙂    So instead, I chose a school in Heredia, just beyond Alajuela, where I will spend one week as my February travel experience at about half the price of most birding trips. I will live with a Tico family within walking distance of the school where I will have 4 hours of intensive Spanish Language Classes every day along with a few local field trips using the language (I’m going for InBio and Toucan Rescue Ranch), plus the Tico family speaks only Spanish in their house, which may be where I learn the most! 🙂   The name of this school is Tico Lingo and it is just one of many all over Costa Rica – but not one in Atenas.

These schools are packed with high school & college students in the U.S. Summer when school is out! Six weeks is common for them with some doing two months straight through. I am not sure my senior adult brain could handle that much immersion, so I am trying one week and then if it goes well will more likely do more single weeks scattered over the year and not straight through. MY NEXT ADVENTURE! Last week of February! And hopefully it will motivate me to do more in my Spanish Blog, Aprendo español en Atenas and not switch to Spanish on this blog!   🙂

¡Pura Vida!

Central Valley Day 1

Whew! Sitting in a seminar for two days was tiring, but a full day of touring was just as much so but more fun! We circled through all the neighborhoods and important places for living of San Jose then into suburbs of Rohrmoser, Escazu, Santa Anna, Heredia, Barva, and San Rafael. We saw a large house with a grand view (photo) that is now a boutique hotel plus inside a North American style suburban neighborhood home with two-car garage that was for sale. At the hotel we had tropical fruits and a short Spanish lesson. Then we had lunch at a place where the chicken is roasted over a wood fire using coffee tree wood. Nice! We had our “farewell banquet” a night early tonight and exchanged emails. And oh yes, we went to one of the largest Saturday Farmers’ Markets near Escazu in Rohrmoser and a big Walmart that had marimba players entertaining. Great! Here’s just a few of the photos from today:

The August 2014 Live In Costa Rica Tour Group of 17
Group at Hotel Posada el Quijote
Autopista from Escazu Walmart
 The multi-lane is only in the city and to airport with rest of country two-lane highways.
Marimba Entertainers at Escazu Walmart

View of Central Valley from Posada el Quijote
And oh yes . . .
Rohmorser Saturday Farmers’ Market