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!

Central Park, the Center of Atenas

Everyone hangs out at Central Park some of the time!
 Like these 3 men and boy who just road to town, stopping for 3 bottles of beer & a mug of root beer.
Central Park, Atenas, Costa Rica

They chose the one bar at the park instead of POPS Ice Cream Shop. It’s the cowboy way!   🙂
 Bar Punga – In Spanish “punga” means “very familiar, nicking, thieving, or pickpocket”
 Central Park, Atenas, Costa Rica

It’s an island of green in the center of town with trees, flowers, benches, playground, fiestas, celebrations, & people!
Central Park, Atenas, Costa Rica

The playground is always busy!
Central Park, Atenas, Costa Rica

A water fountain for a drink or spigot to fill your water bottle as this lady is doing.
 Central Park, Atenas, Costa Rica

The center circle radiates 8 sidewalks to all sides of the park.
All are lined with park benches full of gossip, romancing, reading…
and one leads directly to front door of the main Catholic Church.
Central Park, Atenas, Costa Rica

And this one leads directly to my bank!  🙂
 I try to walk through the park every day on my walks.
It is a simple blessing that I thank God for!
Central Park, Atenas, Costa Rica

Directly across from the full square block park you will find in addition to the above bar and ice cream shop, the courthouse, the municipal office building, one of our banks, several restaurants or places to get something to eat and drink, several clothing stores, one discount grocery store, an office building, a pharmacy, photography shop, bedding shop, the church, and I’m sure I left out at least one something!   🙂

And the interesting thing is that every Costa Rican town of any size has a Central Park in front of their central catholic church. The only layout difference I’ve seen so far is at Playa Coco (Coconut Beach) where their Central Park is the long boardwalk along their beach with the church facing it instead of a square block.

Multiple sub-galleries of photos are about Atenas in Charlie Doggett’s COSTA RICA gallery.

Rancho Naturalista – The Place

One of the friendly staff at
Rancho Naturalista, Costa Rica

My excellent young Birding Guide, Mercedes! 
 Rancho Naturalista, Costa Rica

Main Lodge & Dining Room (office, kitchen, library, etc.)
Rancho Naturalista, Costa Rica

My Cabin for the Week 
 Rancho Naturalista, Costa Rica
Tile steps invite me down from my cabin
Rancho Naturalista, Costa Rica

Observation Deck above the bird feeders and vistas
I had coffee at 5 AM each day here

One of the Vistas 
 Rancho Naturalista, Costa Rica

“I never get tired of blue sky.”  -Vincent Van Gogh
Rancho Naturalista, Costa Rica

Early Morning Fog adds Mystery to the Forest! 
 Rancho Naturalista, Costa Rica

And Recognition is Good!
Rancho Naturalista, Costa Rica

And their website: Rancho Naturalista

“The earth has music for those who listen.” 

George Santayana

Cars Slow Down for Horse and Carriage

It is not every day, but I do see both wagons and carriages in town occasionally.
And even more so, guys/girls riding horses. Safer than motorcycles!  🙂
Atenas, Costa Rica

“Sometimes I think there are only two instructions we need to follow to develop and deepen our spiritual life: slow down and let go.” 

― Oriah Mountain DreamerThe Dance: Moving To the Rhythms of Your True Self

And check out the “official” video on Atenas, just 2 1/2 min.
Or my little book on Atenas, Costa Rica   – Click pages to turn and fullscreen is best view
Or several of my Photo Galleries feature Atenas – just browse through them to see a quaint little town

Tope Tonight

Washing a Horse in the street . . .
That, cowboy hats and boots, means it is “Tope Time!”
A tope is a horse parade & this year at night, 1st in 3 years!

It is suppose to be about horses, but is mostly about partying & beer!
Lots of beer!

The last time Atenas had a night Tope was three years ago (before I came) and the story is they trashed downtown Atenas so much they had to take a 3-year break. The later it gets the drunker people get I’ve been told and it is not pretty. 

I had an early dinner downtown with Anthony and got just these two “pre-Tope” shots before we walked back home. I am not participating in the Tope tonight. I went to the afternoon Tope in Mercedes two years ago and it was pretty bad in the daylight! So I chose not to participate tonight. But I am hearing the music, noise, band, and an announcer from my house. I may sleep with ear plugs tonight. 
And an announcement about Anthony, my artist friend who lives next door: He is moving back to the states the end of May. He cannot get the art supplies and support he needs here and is missing some of the opportunities he will have living in Chicago. He is retired from a corporate job, but does not want to retire from being a professional artist which he can simply do better in the states! (And he never learned to speak Spanish!) Living in Costa Rica is not for everyone! Pura vida!
And on top of that I just learned today that my landlord has put his house or compound up for sale of which my house is a part. I have to wait and see who buys it to know what happens to me. Possibly nothing will change. Or the new owner could want my house as a guest house or “Mother-in-law Apartment.”  Either way, life goes on.  🙂  And maybe some new adventures.  🙂  ¡Tenga Paz!

Stay tuned for the continuing saga of “Retired in Costa Rica.” Every day an adventure!

A Little Costa Rica Culture Enroute

Our Lady of Angels Basilica in Cartago (I drove by on way to Turrialba)
The Basílica de Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles (Our Lady of the Angels Basilica) is a Roman Catholic basilica in Costa Rica, located in the city of Cartago and dedicated to the Virgen de los Pardos, officially known as Virgen de los Ángeles (the Lady of the Angels). The basilica was built in 1639 and was partially destroyed by an earthquake. The basilica has since been restored and constitutes a unique mix of colonial architecture as well as 19th century Byzantine style, the current building dates back to 1939.[From Wikipedia] Once a year there is a pilgrimage of thousands from all over Central America to this Cathedral, all walking!

I stopped by around 11 Sunday morning & it was packed,
standing room only with a crowd standing and listening outside the door.

It is my personal observation that Ticos are not only mostly religious but what I would call “Christian in their behavior” or relationships toward each other and outsiders and a very moral people.

This horse with his rider and cart came to lodge to pick up trash today.
Talk about a juxtaposition of cultures!
In rural areas it is still common to see people riding horses for transportation.

15th of September Post 4: CULTURAL COLOR

The local agricultural technical school (largest in Central America) had my fave!
This is the traditional dress from post colonial days with men’s in next photo.
Students of Agriculture come here from all over the Americas, including U.S.
I can see some of the school farms used for SFS, Sustainable Field Service
We help improve agriculture all over the Americas!
Beautifully painted oxcarts are a long time tradition here. Two in the parade.

Riding barefoot is a doubtful tradition, though
maybe early youth did so.

Día de la Mascarada or “Traditional Costa Rican Masquerade” (31 October) originated as an adaption of Spanish Carnival. The local band, una cimarróna, strikes up a beat for the masked characters to dance or walk in a parade or fiesta. The next 5 photos are of the masked characters in this particular parade by a school or organization I did not catch the name of: 

A Fire Truck, Bombero, always leads off in every parade, this time
followed by a group of “Future Firemen of Costa Rica”
 or some similar name in Spanish.

Not sure how 3 younger teens got to skate in the parade,
trying to show off, but none of them exceptionally good!
I guess they see this as future or current culture!?


Surfer at Manuel Antonio Beach

And will the World Surfing Games (link to article in English) be held in Costa Rica in 2016? Only if someone comes up with $1 Million Dollars in next two weeks (see article) and it is doubtful the CR government will spend that much. But, after all guys, Costa Rica came away from this year’s contest with the most gold medals! (link to 2015 tournament page)

It is like the national sport for those who live on the Pacific coast and Jaco is considered one of the best surfing beaches in the world. Not my passion, but very interesting! Here’s a surfer shot I made at Manuel Antonio Beach last year in mild waves.

Pura Vida!   And tomorrow, my last installment of Fotographias de 15 de septiembre desfile: CARAS (FACES) – maybe the best parade post!  🙂

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.