Birds, Rainy Season, and Personal Catch-up

Finally! Rainy Season seems to have started with rains every afternoon for 4 days straight now, but oh so much later than usual and from what I’ve read, we may still have a drier rainy season than usual. It is amazing how much greener it gets here after even one rain! And how many more birds! Below are photos of 4 birds I managed to snap this week. I love the rainy season, my favorite time of year here! And most days it rains only 2 or 3 hours in the late afternoon or early evening.

Rufous-naped Wren Eating an Insect, Atenas, Costa Rica
Continue reading “Birds, Rainy Season, and Personal Catch-up”

Saturday Morning Contemplation

Saturday morning on the terrace!

Sleep late – breakfast on the terrace – wandering mind.

Bible reading – Jesus’s exorcism of demons.

No Washington Post on my Kindle because no WiFi – CableTica  (my internet & cable TV provider) told me Tuesday they had a problem with all current routers and would come install a new one Saturday afternoon, that’s today! With better service! And cheaper!

And it was only a 5-day wait!  🙂   Plus I will get to practice my Spanish when the cable guys come! As I did with the 2 confirmation calls which I was told in advance that if I did not understand, just press “1” at the prompt – I only understood “uno” and pressed it!   🙂

Gazing out over my vista above – what are the people in those other houses doing? Who are they? Then the tranquility of this place takes over – a vulture glides serenely overhead while the chatter of chachalacas in a neighbor’s tree draws my attention before flying off – bringing sudden quietness – stillness for just a moment.

A truck load of topsoil breaks the stillness and is soon followed by the garbage collector who stops at my “canasta” (basket), tossing the trash bags into the truck as I wave a friendly greeting to them! Soon followed by a “moto” (motorcycle) with a young man headed to work at someone’s house up the hill, possibly as a gardener or handyman?

My thoughts go back to the Kindle in front of me with no newspaper – So I decide to read a chapter or two of my current adventure book (occasionally read instead of an Agatha Christie mystery):  Thunderhead by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. I was notified of this book because I gave a positive review of another Preston book also about archaeologists, and closer to where I live, The Lost City of the Monkey God, where they search in nearby Honduras up a crocodile-infested river for a different lost city. Terrific book!

Thunderhead is about a female Santa Fe archaeologist and her team that just floated to the end of Lake Powell, Utah (reminding me of my 2012 float trip there) and are riding horses up a canyon looking for an  Anasazi indigenous people city called Quivira. In both books the lost cities are rumored to be “cities of gold” with many indigenous myths of protection and dangers at entering the impossibly hidden cities. And already Nora has been warned by animal-skin clad humans. And my reading is constantly interrupted . . .

The low whir of a coasting bicycle passes by as another young man coasts down the hill toward our development’s exit gate.

Amidst my book reading, I go inside to look up something on the internet through my laptop’s cable connection (no WiFi remember) and find the power is off! Wow! Life in the tropics! (But power came back on in about 30 minutes.) Oh well – not that important! I don’t even remember what I was looking up!    🙂

My neighbor starts up his diesel RV motor which he likes to “warm up” (rattle, rattle, rattle) before leaving on his one or two trips a day, to the gym for exercises or to the super Mercado. He’s generally more of a “homebody” than me!   🙂  And beyond my understanding, he never travels around Costa Rica to see all the beauty and adventure!   🙂

After he roars out the gate it is peace & quiet again and back to reading and thinking about my fortunate life in this little lost corner of the world. Gazing around at my tropical plants and flowers, I realize that my friends to the north now have flowers freezing, trees changing color (which is nice!) but then losing all their leaves while I enjoy the flowers, greenness and unique plants in my year-around garden! Pura vida! Suddenly the bright song of a bird in my strangler fig tree changes my focus and woefully I can’t identify what bird.

By now I’m trying to jot down these random thoughts/activities from my breakfast and morning time on the terrace. Just a tiny sample of a couple of hours for someone “Retired in Costa Rica,” the title of my blog &website with a large collection of photos. Check out the “Gallery” of photos since “a picture is worth a thousand words! ”   🙂   And they show my Costa Rica best of all!  🙂

I thought I might walk to town before the cable guys come between 12 and 5 pm today. But more likely I will just hang out here in the peace & quiet – Now that the diesel has rumbled back into my neighbor’s carport.    🙂

AND . . . uh oh! The cable men are here early – before 12!  Todo en español – difícil! But I now have WiFi again + more megabytes they say + more channels on my TV with some new cheaper plan than what I was paying for before! Go figure!? ¡No entiendo esto!  ¡Pero pura vida!

And now I’m off to type this blog post – different from most – maybe boring – ruminations? – Saturday morning on the terrace!    🙂


“To gaze is to think.”

~Salvador Dali

¡Pura Vida!

Free WiFi in Costa Rica!

One of the things the government is doing with the increased taxes is providing free WiFi all over Costa Rica in most public places: national and city parks, libraries, all government and public buildings and for university students access anywhere for free. The online world is expanding everywhere and more countries like Costa Rica are providing it for everyone. Read this article in Living in Costa Rica Blog:

Free WiFi Country-wide

If I wasn’t so lazy I could save about $30 a month on internet charges, but I really like the convenience of having it in my house!   🙂

¡Pura Vida!

Whats a VPN?

What is a VPN? It stands for Virtual Private Network and the link is to a detailed Wikipedia definition. But the short answer and why I would want one here is to “trick” the internet to thinking I am in the United States instead of Costa Rica when I surf the web, and particularly when I use my digital download subscription to Netflix. The movie producers in Hollywood (not Netflix) won’t let a movie be shown in a country unless it is licensed for that country. Most that I’m interested in are not licensed yet for Costa Rica.

So I have a subscription to My Expat Network which means I can get anything from Netflix that I could get in Tennessee. Funny thing is that I hardly use it because I’m too busy enjoying real life in this neat new country. But I will probably use it more in rainy season and it is good feeling to “be connected.” There are other reasons like security and limiting some marketing efforts over the internet, but Netflix was my main reason to get a VPN.

I get same movie titles available in the states with a VPN internet connection.
Including a lot of junk! But I have more choices this way. 

UPDATE: VPN No Longer Works Here for Me!

Netflix somehow detected I was using one and knocked me down to their fewer titles Costa Rica version. At first I just canceled them, then decided it was still better than paying for TV channels here which I no longer subscribe to. And rarely watch Netflix now, though I like some of their nature documentaries.

And here’s a video someone asked me to add here:

¡Pura Vida!

Aerocasillas Miami Address – “Bien, Más o Menos”

Aerocasillas Office, Alajuela, Costa Rica, 30 miles from where I live

There’s a Costa Rican saying used a lot here to mean that things are “so, so” or “more or less good” as we would say in the states. It is “más o menos” which could be literally translated “more or less.” That is my answer when asked about Aerocasillas mail and shipping through a Miami address.

There are two audiences I am writing this for:

First, If  friend or family in the states, I have now determined that my two Miami addresses should be used if sending important paper mail or a package. A friend in Nashville sent me an important letter a month ago to my local Atenas Post Office Box – it still has not arrived as of today. Sent to the Miami address, I would have received it in a week to 10 business days (so far that has been been my experience with business mail and internet order packages). Now do be aware that the time is to the Aerocasillas office in Alajuela and I may not go get it the day it arrives. Depending on my schedule, it could be a few days or week later before I go pick it up 30 miles away by bus. I have been going 2 or 3 times a month. If you don’t have my Miami addresses (one for mail and one for packages), please email me or check my website or in the future it will be included on my email signature. And I will include it at the bottom of this article. At first I suggested you use my Costa Rica mailing address because there is a cost to me for the Aerocasillas service, but I have decided it is worth the cost for real mail. No advertisements or junk mail please! And I can do just fine without Christmas Cards from my friends in the states, since each day’s arrival of letters in Miami costs me $1.50. They seal one day’s letters in a plastic bag and send it by air to Costa Rica.

Second, If you are a reader considering a move here, then you will want to at least consider the services of Aerocasillas (called Aeropost in the U.S.), the only company I know that delivers internet orders to people all over Latin America within about a week to 10 days (depending on how you have it shipped to Miami). You will quickly see that they promote internet ordering because that is how they make money! I learned about it through the ARCR seminar and from their website. They have an arrangement where packages and mail can be delivered to the ARCR office for you to pick up, but for me the Aerocasillas office in Alajuela is closer and easier for my pick-ups. And there are other locations in Costa Rica you can choose for delivery of your packages/mail that might be closer to where you live.


  1. Postal mail is extremely slow, weeks to months for delivery (see friends’ note above)
  2. Some U.S. Internet Companies won’t ship to a foreign address
  3. It could cost you as much or more to send it the slow way
  4. Speed and convenience are the two main reasons
  1. At no charge they gave me two Miami addresses, a PO Box for mail and magazines, and a street address for packages (many carriers won’t deliver packages to PO Box).
  2. As a real life example, I just ordered a pair or really nice leather sandals (what I live in here) that cost $71 through I used my Miami street address for the “delivery address” on Monday 6 April. 
  3. By Friday 10 April they arrive at my Miami address (Aerocasillas facility).
  4. Usually the next work day it is on a plane to Costa Rica. In this case it arrived in the San Jose Airport in Alajuela, Costa Rica Monday (next work day) night, 13 April. They get it through Customs quickly and pay the tax & fees for me (on my credit card).
  5. Tuesday, 14 April I receive an email informing me my package is ready to pick up at the Alajuela Aerocasillas Office. That’s 8 days from order date!
  6. Wednesday, 15 April, I ride a bus to Alajuela ($1.40 each way), walk to the office and pick up my package and I happen to have another package and two letters. 
  7. I could pay when I pick it up, but it is quicker and easier to let them charge the cost of the package on my credit card on file with them. For a breakdown of the cost for the sandals, see the next section. 
  1. Aerocasillas freight charge: $15.50  (Above the $5.48 charged to Miami)
  2. Aerocasillas Combustible 19% (?): $2.94
  3. Aerocasillas “AeroProtect” (Insurance?): $1.00
  4. Aerocasillas Customs Service: $5.00
  5. CR Customs Duties: $11.44
  6. CR Import Sales Tax: $11.40
  7. CR Sales Tax: $0.65
  8. That’s $24.44 to Aerocasillas & $23.50 to Costa Rica Government
  9. TOTAL: $47.94   (It cost 67% of the cost of sandals shipped to Miami to get them to me in Costa Rica! And that is why cars cost nearly twice as much here! Retailers pay import taxes and shipping too.)
Now do you see why I say it is good, more or less? It is very expensive, BUT, I can order things like these sandals that I could not get here in many cases or if a company ships overseas, it could take more than a month to get here and still cost as much or more depending on a company’s overseas shipping policies. And I would have to deal with Customs myself in some cases. 
In the future I will have had time to shop locally or in San Jose and may find the same or similar product at a higher price but without some of the extra costs and hassle. Someone probably has a sandal like I prefer, I just haven’t found it here yet. Cameras and supplies will be the next big challenge when I’m ready and I will try local first, even going to San Jose. 
So, do I recommend Aerocasillas for someone moving here? Short answer is “Yes” because you can sign up and get the Miami addresses for free, then limit how much you use it, if any. Like VPN, it tricks some companies into thinking you live in the states. And VPN is another article for later!

Charlie Doggett
PO Box 025-331
SJO 170066
Miami, FL 33102-5331
Phone (305) 592-7754

Charlie Doggett
6703 NW 7th St.
SJO 170066
Miami, FL 33126-6007
Phone (305) 592-7754

By the way, today I went to Aerocasillas to pick up my newest photo book Where the Yigüirro Lives, then did some shopping at Walmart, which I do occasionally whether picking up a package or not! Same for PriceSmart (Costco) shopping some. Both are in Alajuela and easier for me to get to than the same stores in San Jose. 

Another Big Step Today

I sold my office furniture, entertainment center and TV today and it was all hauled off in a moving truck. The house is becoming more spacious and life is simpler, except that my internet-only connection with Comcast is not working effectively like it did when I had both TV & Internet – so I have to wait until Monday for a technician to come out. It gives me email, google, and my blogs (all on Google) but no other website. Strange! Tomorrow I pick up my new Asus Mega Laptop (G751) which replaces my desktop that I’ll be selling soon. The transformation to my simpler life in Costa Rica is happening daily and letting go of all that furniture today was another big step.