Calle Nueva won’t be “Country” Much Longer

And as a nature lover, I do not always embrace “progress” that henders nature, but as always, I learn to live with it!  🙂 This old dirt country road called “Calle Nueva” winds over three or four hills through the woods and farms on the western edge of Pueblo Atenas running from the western side of town to the nearby village of Rio Grande at the entrance to Ruta 27, our controlled access highway between San Jose and Jaco Beach. This narrow country dirt road has been considered an emergency exit road in case of a disaster requiring evacuation. Now it is about to become a major street or road to enter or exit Atenas. They first graded and widened it to 9 meters taking a few trees and lots of wild flower with their backhoes, graders and chainsaws. Now they have started at the Rio Grande end widening it to 14 meters and paving it! Working this way! And more than half finished! Already traffic has increased and when all is paved it will stay busy!

Where I enter Calle Nueva, just past Colegio Técnico on Avenida 10, with new black gravel up to the little one lane bridge where it is back to the plain red dirt again.

Of course I am disappointed that I am about to lose my little “shady lane” country road for birding and butterflies along with other nature photography, but even with pavement and more cars it will for a while have more birds and other nature than city streets, just gradually the farms along this road will be turned into housing developments as more foreigners move here in both retirement like me AND now so many younger adults who work on the internet and can live anywhere are choosing to live here! 🙂  It’s all part of our big changing world! At least I’m already living in one of those more desirable places in the world to live! 🙂

Recently graded and widened to 9 meters and soon to 14 meters and paved!

I will continue to walk this road for its nature until there is no more nature. The additional people, traffic and greater speed of vehicles will discourage the birds and other animals in time, but for now it is still a nature path, even when the pavement goes down. And I will continue to document here the birds and butterflies I find through these woods and farms, but for you who live here, be aware than “progress” is coming!  🙂

More photos of the road below from my March 10 sunrise walk . . .

Continue reading “Calle Nueva won’t be “Country” Much Longer”

“And now you know…the rest of the story.”

Only people my age remember Paul Harvey and his feature news stories he called “The Rest of the Story.” And just like then, sometimes there is more to a story than what you first read . . . including my stories and blog posts.

On October 9 I had a post titled Progress? (my second time to use that title I realized later.) And the premise both times was that big business is coming into our quaint little farming town, tearing down family houses to build modern, commercial buildings, ruining the character of our little town. Well . . . I deep down know better than to make assumptions like that when I don’t know all the facts, but trying to be idealistic I did it anyway and was wrong.

WHAT I DID WRONG: I posted my photo of the nice new modern office building between two family houses and declared that the house that had been there probably raised several families and now that family thing is gone and made more difficult for the two houses left on either side of the big new modern office building. Much of that I just implied.

MY HAND WAS CALLED: A few days later I received a friendly but firm correction to my story from a lady whose husband was in the second generation of children to grow up in that house they just tore down to build an office building for the business she and her husband started when they were married. She explained that the house was old and riddled with termites and was going to have to be torn down anyway, plus (as I did say in my story) that whole street is rapidly becoming commercial anyway. She went on to say that if the grandparents were still living they would be very pleased with what their grandchildren decided to do with the old house they had built and keep the property in the family.

After I apologized, she gave another very kind response to my response. But the best way to see is read the comments at the end of the post Progress?

Me and my big mouth! Maybe I will be more careful in the future, at least for awhile! 🙂

¡Pura Vida!


I’ve shared this kind of photo from Atenas before and it continues as one by one a traditional house with front porch, front and back yards (called gardens or terraces here), and all the signs of having raised one or more families over the year – boom! The house is torn down and occasionally modern apartments or more often now a business is built in its place. Since Diacsa is a construction company here, I assume that this will be their offices with what looks like a drive-through and place to park construction equipment behind it?

On either side of this attractive modern office building still stand traditional, spanish-influenced single-family houses that will of course never be the same now. The price of progress? Maybe. Or just the modern world we live in wherever it may be world-wide. I can’t help but remember similar progress during those years in Serekunda, The Gambia and yes, even in Nashville, Tennessee where I for a while lived in a modern row house where old traditional houses used to stand. World-wide!

This new building here is on Calle 3, just two blocks from Central Park and already this old residential street has many businesses and offices of all kinds, so it is likely to continue to become more commercial while our little farming town of what was not long ago around 5,000 people now has more than 8,000 and is becoming a distant suburb of the big cities of Alajuela & San Jose (where some residents work) + a magnet for foreign retirees (like me) with its claim of “The best weather in the world!” (¡El Mejor clima del mundo!).

Even little, natural Costa Rica succumbs to progress and with mixed emotions for some of us. But yes, I’m glad I live in a modern house with all the modern conveniences in a very nice development on the edge of downtown Atenas (because I can still walk to town!). 🙂 But I also cherish being close to nature and away from the big city of San Jose (an hour+ away). And best of all for my retirement lifestyle, living in the center of the country means I can easily travel to nature reserves and national parks all over Costa Rica. Plus my garden and neighborhood still have a lot of nature, birds, butterflies, etc. And it is close enough to town that I walk and do not own a car! Doing my little part in fighting climate change! The best of both worlds for me! 🙂 I love it here, progress or not! 🙂

POSTSCRIPT: See the conversation with the building owner below in the COMMENTS. And how I now see that this “house replacement” building truly is progress as told by one who grew up as a child in that house! I jumped to conclusions on thinking about progress as negative and truly such changes can be very good.

My Atenas Galleries

¡Pura Vida!

Highway West Going 4 Lanes!

You spoiled Americans may say, “So what?” but this is a really big deal here in Costa Rica! For years Ruta 3 was the only route from San Jose to the west coast, a narrow, 2-lane, winding mountain road that went right through downtown Atenas (when travelers got to see this charming little town) and then over another set of mountains & one-lane bridges to Puntarenas and Jaco Beaches.

Ten+ years ago they finished an outdated toll road called Ruta 27 from San Jose to Puntarenas with a side branch to Jaco Beaches, much straighter through the mountains but unfortunately most was still just 2 lanes and all the bridges are 2-lane!  🙂  There are 3rd lanes or “passing lanes” on many of the uphill sections to help get around slow trucks, but that is it! Poor planning for the long-term future! See the operator’s video on Ruta 27.

Now it seems the legislature has approved a coming upgrade to widen Ruta 27 to 4 lanes all the way to Puntarenas and Jaco – a huge improvement for those who drive this busy route when it is finally finished, though they are not even starting until 2021! Read all that I know about it on the “Live in Costa Rica Blog” article. 

And for those fewer people like me who really like the Atlantic Coast or Caribe as we call it here, you probably know that the widening of Ruta 32 from San Jose to Limon (the flat part beyond the big mountain range) was approved a long time ago and is being widened to 4 lanes right now. It is an easier, quicker job after you get through the mountains of Braulio Carrillo because of the flat land between Guapiles & Limon and I assume they will eventually widen it through the mountains too. Both of these widened routes are important not only for retirees and tourists but especially for commercial trucks delivering goods from our two big shipping ports of Limon & Puntarenas to warehouses in San Jose.

In smaller, poorer countries like Costa Rica this kind of “progress” is slow & expensive, but sure as in this case. I don’t want us to become “too big” or “too developed” but one main highway from coast to coast is a good thing for everyone, though you will sure miss seeing a lot when you zoom by!  🙂   And it passes on the outskirts of Atenas just like the old coast to coast train did in a previous century.  🙂     ¡Así es la vida!

¡Pura Vida!

Thanks to the Interstate Highway System, it is now possible to travel across the country from coast to coast without seeing anything.    ~Charles Kuralt


Architects have forever been changing the look of our world, all around the world, including in this little coffee farming town of Atenas, Costa Rica. The other day I snapped this photo as just one example of many modern buildings coming up in Atenas. Some, like this one will, soon sit adjacent a “historic” or “antique” building providing the continued contrast of old and new across Atenas and around the world. My response is to just “go with the flow” and find beauty and joy in everything! ¡Pura Vida!

“You can’t stop the future
You can’t rewind the past
The only way to learn the secret
…is to press play.”
― Jay Asher

For more images of Atenas, see my gallery  Atenas.  Check out other galleries to see how I have adapted to “change” – old age, retirement, loss of family and work and encroachment of the future by embracing nature in this beautiful country dominated by nature.   ¡Pura Vida!  Retired in Costa Rica!

Central Park Atenas Update (Very Slow!)

At Central Park today, one local old man who wanted to impress me with his Ingles, looked at me and said “Very slow!”  To that I replied “Muy despacio!” He went on to say something like “at this rate it will take years instead of months. ”  🙂

They are currently using a small hand mixer of concrete and wheelbarrows to make and pour the cement base to the central circle in and around the kiosk, one square at a time. Yes, there are cement trucks here that could come in and pour the whole floor in one day, after the forms are built of course. Maybe there is something romantic about doing it the old fashion way?


“All I need to make a comedy is a park, a policeman and a pretty girl.”

– Charlie Chaplin

¡Pura Vida!


POSTSCRIPT:  Earthquake!

Yep! Just a little while after I posted this I felt the whole house shake, like a giant stepped on the ground by the house. THEN – the “aftershock” or second shake was much larger and more violent. The neighbor dogs are still barking from it. Nine days ago we had one at 5 on the richter scale. A funny feeling!


Atenas Central Gets Street Signs!

The center of town!
Corner of 0 & 0!

UNBELIEVABLE! Or at least “un-Tico” to have street signs! My goodness! What will they think of next? House numbers?

I have traveled all over Costa Rica and the only place with street signs so far is downtown San Jose that I have noticed. The Tico way to give directions is by using obvious landmarks with a number of meters from it to the next landmark or the destination. For example if you need to get to my house and are driving from Alajuela:

On Ruta 3 drive past La Coope Gasolinera to the first legal left turn or second street after the traffic light. Drive 500 meters to the end of road at Escuela Central and turn left. Go 100 meters to El Pinguino shop and turn right. Then in 100 meters, turn left and go 600 meters to the Roca Verde sign on the right. Inside the gate go 200 meters to the third black gate on left numbered 105. Only some developments like ours have house numbers.

Now read under the second photo the directions to my house from Central Atenas with street signs and it is not much shorter!

Of course that needs to be in Spanish. And if you don’t know, a city block is approximately 100 meters, but “blocks” are not generally used for directions here.

To get to my house from central,
take Calle 3 south to Avenida 8,
left 500 meters to the Roca Verde
sign and gate on the right, then
straight ahead 200 meters to 3rd
black gate on left with number 105.
Now say that in Spanish! 🙂

And I must add that I am glad my bank fees are at least partially going to help the community. The little logo at the bottom of each street sign is for Banco Nacional.

For those who still think I live in the jungle, see what modern progress we are making down here!? And this was a big surprise to everyone! Most did not know the names of the streets, so I figure 4 or 5 years to get used to the street names, then maybe house numbers!

And for anyone who cares, Calles run north-south and Avenidas east-west. East of Calle 0 are odd numbered Calles and west even numbered. North of Avenida 0 are odd numbered and south even numbered. I wonder how many have figured that out yet?  🙂

We’ve actually had these street names for awhile, though the only place I have seen them is on a paper map from a real estate company and on the Google Map. But it is a rare Tico who knows the name of any street in town! And the sign at right, 3rd & 8th is the last street sign before my house. They have signed what is generally called “Central Atenas” or the core of downtown.

The city is hard at work making improvements. In Central Park a children’s playground has been added with swings, slides and climbing things. Can the kids still climb the trees? Also, there are new brighter street lights in park for night events.