Juan Santamaria Day

Juan Santamaria was a young man from Alajuela who became one of the few ever “war heroes” in the only significant battle Costa Rica fought in the 1800s when a renegade army of southern Americans came down to claim Central America as slave states and a part of the confederacy. Well, they had temporary control of Nicaragua above us and so the Costa Rica army marched in to keep them out of Costa Rica. Young Juan sneaked behind the enemy line with a torch and set fire to all of the American tents and barracks that had been set up. They all ran and that was the end of making Central America a slave state!

Juan Santamaria Day is actually April 11 (once de abril) but like the U.S., government workers and bankers have moved most of such holidays to the nearest Monday, thus this year is today, Monday, 15 April 2024.

The hometown of Juan still celebrates it on the real day, once de abril, and I happened to be in Alajuela on April 11 getting a letter from Aeropost and on my way to my favorite Mexican Restaurant, Jalapenos, I had to cross the parade street and phone-snapped these two shots of the band from private Catholic High School, Colegio Gregorio Jose Ramirez Castro. Work that name into a ball game cheer! 🙂

High School Band in Alajuela Parade on Juan Santamaria Day, April 11, 2024.
High School Band in Alajuela Parade on Juan Santamaria Day, April 11, 2024.

The Mexican food was better than the parade, so glad I kept walking! 🙂

¡Pura Vida!

More . . .

A Young Dutch Hero for Me

Yesterday morning Stijn (he pronounces it sort of like the English word “sang”) who is taking a year away from a university in Holland to “see the world” is for now a tourism intern here at Guayabo Lodge (after spending time first in Indonesia). He does all the jobs here including front desk, restaurant waiter, and was my guide to visit the archaeological site and National Monument Guayabo. We are kindred spirits as he too loves to travel and do nature photography. (He’s a good photographer too!)

Stijn and Charlie at Archaeological Site. beside a 2000 year old road.

Read on to see more photos of the archaeological site and then the stairs that I tumbled down last night when Stijn again came to my rescue. 🙂

Continue reading “A Young Dutch Hero for Me”

Cloud Cuckoo Land a Must-read for . . .

. . . lovers of stories, books and libraries – the 3 main characters in this multi-layered story of totally different people from the 1450’s all the way through 2020 and to the future in 2164, all impacted by this fictitious lost and found story by a very early Greek writer who called his story “Cloud Cuckoo Land” (in Classical Greek of course!). It touches on so many life issues and about our own future on earth that I won’t try to list them all. You move between the stories of totally different people (ages 12 to 86) affected by Cloud Cuckoo Land (the Greek novel) in Constantinople (1450’s), Bulgaria (1450’s), Idaho (1940’s to 2020), Korea (1950’s), and outer space (2164) so that like his “All the Light” book (just 2 overlapping stories) you can get confused at first (if not more so). Eventually the many complicated pieces of the puzzle start coming together and you too begin to get what all these others are getting from Cloud Cuckoo Land. It is more multi-layered than Anthony Doerr’s previous classic All the Light We Cannot See (Goodreads Reviews), but just as impactful (if not more so) and will certainly become another classic! I highly recommend both books! 🙂

Read some other Goodreads Reviews of this NY Times best seller, Cloud Cuckoo Land. Now I will simplify my reading escapes with another Agatha Christie mystery! 🙂 Rest my simple mind which is still spinning from this read. 🙂

¡Pura Vida!

Happy Easter!

Its a beautiful sunny day in Atenas, Costa Rica for Easter Morning with the Yigüirro singing his heart out for the rains to come (any day now) though I cannot photograph him or any birds for several weeks now because of the high winds. The birds are hiding in the thick trees for protection from the wind. Thus I resort to Easter Flower Photos! 🙂

And our online English language newspaper Tico Times also wishes you a Happy Easter with a photo of the oldest church in Costa Rica. It is a beautiful historical place that I have visited once (my gallery link) in the Orosi Valley. The Ruins of Ujarras (Wikipedia link) is the site of Costa Rica’s oldest church, the Spanish colonial church built between 1575 and 1580 . . .

One of my photos of The Ruins of Ujarras in Orosi Valley

Happy Easter!

He Arose!

¡Pura Vida!

Adventures of the Brig Charles Doggett

When Lee Holloway introduced me to and gave me a copy of the 1931 historical adventures storybook Yankee Ships in Pirate Waters by Rupert Sargent Holland back in the early 1970’s while at The Brotherhood Commission, I had no idea how far it would lead in my future research of an 1800’s ship with my name.

For a long time I have had the research website on The Ship Charles Doggett  (the definitive website on the ship) and along the way discovered the relationships of the ship to Nashville and a friend there who is a descendant of the ship’s captain, William Driver. Driver is buried in Nashville. (Click above link for more info.) Also while there I learned of the U.S. Flag first being called “Old Glory” while flying on the Brig Charles Doggett with the actual flag at The Smithsonian Institute National Museum in Washington, DC. My web page above tells exciting stories of the flag, especially during the Civil War in a Confederate State Capital.

Then later I learned that it was this ship that rescued the survivors of “Mutiny on the Bounty.” Wow! The stories go on and are many and exciting as presented in this one 48-page Chapter 7 of the 1931 book Yankee Ships in Pirate Waters by Rupert Sargent Holland. 

As I have always intended to do, I finally scanned or used a print shop in Atenas to scan the pages of the stories for me. I now include those pages here. The chapter on The Charles Doggett is titled “Children of the Sun” and was introduced with this summary:  “How the men of the ‘Charles Doggett’ angered a witch-doctor, fought Fiji cannibals, and saved a sister-ship from yellow pirates in the gulf of Tongking.” You can read the stories online here now at Chapter 7: Children of the Sun. A fun read! And just one more bit of valuable information on this website.    🙂

The Header above is the book title page and . . .

Here’s the first page:

Continue reading at Chapter 7: Children of the Sun.

¡Pura Vida!

Independence Day Parade – Children

The children were the main part of the parade this year with respect to the teens. They are taught that this is a historical event and thus most are dressed in historical clothing for the parade. And of course kids are cute and make good photos, so enjoy the slide show of kids in the parade and later will be a post of the audience which includes a lot more kids.

Slideshow: Independence Day Parade – Children

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For all aspects of the parade see photo gallery 2018 Independence Day Parade Atenas 

One Horse Town?

Another Atenas Horse Experience

Stopping for a beer.

The other afternoon I was eating a pizza and salad at Napo’s Pizzeria when I looked out the window and this guy stopped his horse at the little pulperia (corner grocery) nextdoor for a beer, while staying on his horse. And today a local FB Group “Atenas Info” had someone to post 3 pages from an old history book describing downtown Atenas full of horses, wagons and beer drinkers. Culture dies slowly!  🙂

History never really says goodbye. History says, ‘See you later.’             ~Eduardo Galeano



¡Pura Vida!

Rainstorm Roof Damage

You might also be interested in seeing this few seconds local video during a recent rain storm in Atenas. That roof flying off is from the bus station where I catch my buses to both Alajuela and San Jose. I wondered yesterday why roofers were there with a new tin roof – now I know!

Pre-Columbian Art Retrieved

See the amazing artifacts retrieved from illegal collector in Venezuela
in this Tico Times article (one of their photos)
San Jose, Costa Rica

I imagine all the items will be on display here in time
The National Museum of Costa Rica  (my photo)
San Jose, Costa Rica

More and more around the world it seems that archaeological treasures are being returned to their nations of origin which is a big correction of colonial and money/power robberies of past history and arrogant countries. These artifacts of Costa Rican history belong here for the Tico children to learn from and not in a rich man’s private collection in Venezuela or any other country. Thanks to the UN and international laws for helping this important correction to be made. Occasionally there is justice!

See more interesting photos in my gallery Charlie Doggett’s COSTA RICA

Robinson Crusoe I’m Not, But . . .

Cover Plates of the first edition in 1719.

As much as I might like to compare my adventures in this tropical rainforest to a story like The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, possibly the first English novel, my modern conveniences and friendly natives are a completely different world than the one Daniel Defoe described on the little island near Trinidad & Tobago for Robinson’s unique adventures of surviving on the island for 28 years before rescue in the 1600’s supposedly. But I too “came to the woods” just for a different purpose.

I just read it almost as a parallel to my last year’s reading of Don Quixote, the first Spanish novel. Though lacking in many modern writing skills, it is a simple and hardy adventure story that is easy to read, with fewer boring moments than Don Quixote. Here is a good synopsis or description of the book found on Wikipedia:

Robinson Crusoe[a] /ˌrɒbɪnsən ˈkrs/ is a novel by Daniel Defoe, first published on 25 April 1719. The first edition credited the work’s protagonist Robinson Crusoe as its author, leading many readers to believe he was a real person and the book a travelogue of true incidents.[2]     

Epistolaryconfessional, and didactic in form, the book is presented as an autobiography of the title character (whose birth name is Robinson Kreutznaer)—a castaway who spends twenty-eight years on a remote tropical desert island near Trinidad, encountering cannibals, captives, and mutineers, before ultimately being rescued.

The story has since been thought to be based on the life of Alexander Selkirk, a Scottish castaway who lived for four years on a Pacific island called “Más a Tierra”, now part of Chile, which was renamed Robinson Crusoe Island in 1966,[3] but various literary sources have also been suggested.

Despite its simple narrative style, Robinson Crusoe was well received in the literary world and is often credited as marking the beginning of realistic fiction as a literary genre. It is generally seen as a contender for the first English novel.[4] Before the end of 1719, the book had already run through four editions, and it has gone on to become one of the most widely published books in history, spawning numerous imitations in film, television and radio that its name was used to define a genre, Robinsonade.

One of many illustrations from
many editions of the book.
Here he saves Friday’s life from
the cannibals & gains a servant.

I went on to begin reading Defoe’s sequel to his very popular book, The Farther Adventures of Robinson Crusoe. In short, not as good! (As most sequels!) He tries to take Robinson back to the island and populate it and much is an unrealistic stretch that is more boring and less adventure than the first book. I put it down and have not finished reading it, which came as a bonus with my Amazon digital copy of the original book.

But I hardily recommend the primary book as a classic representation of adventurous & religious men of the 1600’s! To be honest, I liked it better than Don Quixote, maybe because it was shorter and easier to read and less complicated development of characters. Devout Christians will like the ultimate confessional and faith elements included in Crusoe’s story.

And how cool is it to have read the first English novel AND the first Spanish novel?!   History!  Life insights!  Fun!

The more I read, the more complete my life feels!    🙂

¡Pura Vida!   . . . Loving Life!

We come to the woods for many reasons!
See the cool video Save the Americans  and go “full screen” 

Don Quixote

I finally finished one of the more difficult books to read for me yet, but glad I did. Don Quixote by
Miguel de Cervantes. I read the Edith Grossman English translation which many reviewers say is the best translation ever for this Spanish classic. It is actually two books now published together at nearly 1,000 pages.

More than once I nearly put it down to not finish, especially in book 1, which is just too crazy to really like, yet the plot slowly develops and by book 2 Cervantes is actually making sense of the mixed up world in which he lived and the silly escapades of a crazy Don Quixote, as Knight Errant, and his simpleton helper, Sancho Panza. It has all the tricks and gimmicks of novels today with a little bit of history, probably some of Cervantes biography, and is a parody of the romance novels of the 1500’s which is of everything that is gentle, forlorn, pure, unselfish, and gallant. It is in some ways many novels within one and for awhile a new story in nearly every chapter, that often had little, if anything, to do with the story of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. Its a morality play, a political novel, a touch of history, and multiple takes on the religious, spiritual, power, class, and money controlling life in the 1500’s. Whew!

It was heavy at times, funny at times, and sometimes just plain boring. Do I recommend it? Only if you like a challenge! And no, I don’t think it represents my adventure in Costa Rica. (Though there might be some parallels!)   🙂

See also my Goodreads Review