Back in July I announced a cheap little paperback book about me being retired in Costa Rica to introduce my nature photography and blog. It was titled Experiencing Nature (link to blog post) and after I received copies of it I was very disappointed in how the photos looked on the cheap or “standard” paper! Never again! I have destroyed the copies that I ordered to give away and created a newer version on premium photo paper and since it costs $20 instead of $8, I will not be giving as many away, 🙂 -but it is a much better book now with a revised title: Retired in Costa Rica, Experiencing Nature for Life and improvements inside. Click that link or the cover image below for a free PREVIEW of all 20 pages!
These photo books are just another creative outlet for me, giving me a record of my experiences here and great gifts for the lodges I visit! 🙂
This week’s death of Nature Poet Mary Oliver (1935-2019), and article about her in Washington Post, plus reviewing her poems led me to her “Journey” which in some ways describes what I was unable to describe in my 2014 “Decision Process” I called it then, of getting away from the depressing world of conservative Middle Tennessee, the clouds of a failed marriage and subsequent loss of family, branches and stones in my path of a vocational “calling” manipulated by power-hungry “rulers” ending unceremoniously first in 1999 and finally by 2002 in unplanned early retirement. In a daze . . .
I’ve always tried to “make lemonade out of lemons” and I turned my retirement into an adventure of nature travel and photography as much as I could afford, including visits to all 54 state parks in Tennessee with a book about that, A Walk in the Woods, along with many other nature/travel books and my growing nature photo gallery. But I was still looking for something else.
Moving from the vibrant life of rowhouse living in downtown Nashville to a suburban “Independent Living Retirement Home” was still not what I was looking for.
It was to commune closer with nature, to travel in natural exotic places that my limited income could not afford, then suddenly it hit me, why not move to one of the nature places in which I love to travel and just live there?
With only 2 family members left and no grandchildren, it was easier for me than some people to make such a life-changing move! And now I see it described in a new way in this poem by Mary Oliver:
“There’s always a story. It’s all stories, really. The sun coming up every day is a story. Everything’s got a story in it. Change the story, change the world.”
― Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky
And today’s story begins as I wake up with that big sky sunrise at the foot of my bed in beautiful Rancho Humo, eat a Tico breakfast of scrambled eggs with beans and rice (Gallo Pinto) and begin a 6 km hike in Palo Verde Park after a 30 minute boat ride to the park entrance. Tired, invigorated, hot and smiling. Today’s story will continue once I’ve sorted the photos 🙂 –another episode of “Retired in Costa Rica.” ¡Pura Vida!
“The Howler Suite” at Banana Azul Hotel I wanted this room last September but not available – very popular! So I now have it reserved for 5 nights this coming September! Planning ahead sometimes pays off! 🙂 Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica
Also on the Caribbean side, across the border in Panama is the popular tourist area of Bocas del Toro. I now have a full week or 7 nights in June at Tranquilo Bay Eco Adventure Lodge:
KAYAKS available at all times for bay & rivers + miles of HIKING TRAILS for more birds! It’s the kind of place with plenty for me to do just on the hotel grounds. Great anticipation! Tranquilo Bay, Bocas del Toro, Panama
And keep reading this blog RETIRED IN COSTA RICA as the adventures just keep getting bigger and better. I will truly never be bored here and never run out of something to do or photograph! I don’t understand why everyone doesn’t retire here! I’m sure having fun! And seldom repeat a place!
Kind of funny: The other day some new students of Spanish at Su Espacio were in class and saw one of my photo books there. One student said “I know him. I read his blog about Costa Rica!” So David enjoyed telling me that I am now famous! 🙂 This blog has only 80 subscribers plus drop-in visitors vary from 50 to 300 a day, so really not that big, but I’m glad that some considering retirement here are reading it plus others and hope it is helpful in your “Costa Rica decision process.”
One of the many reasons I moved to Costa Rica was so I could afford to travel, by traveling locally to innumerable nature places in Costa Rica, year around! And it is now even cheaper than if I owned a car! Because I travel by local bus or occasionally by local airplanes it is cheaper than buying and operating a car – and healthier! For the first half of 2018 I have now booked a different experience monthly for February-May.
Here’s some links to places I will visit the next few months (without specific dates for security): February – OROSI VALLEY & TAPANTI NATIONAL PARK
Birding at chalet as well as in the nearby parks.
Bird Watching My 3rd trip to Corcovado is this time on the eastern side of the large park/reserve compared to my previous trips to SW & NW corners at Carate & Drake Bay. This will compete with my Arenal trip below as the best trip the first 6 months! 🙂 April – MISSION TRIP TO HOGAR DE VIDA, ATENAS
Old friends from First Baptist Church, Nashville, TN are coming to provide service in the local Atenas orphanage Hogar de Vida. I will work and stay with them in the cabins at Hogar and they get one day of tourism away from the home.
May – ARENAL VOLCANO RAINFOREST BIRDING
My Room window and deck will look out at the famous volcano.
If erupting, I will see the red lava at night.
Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica
And I may take a trip or two to other places like the Arenal Hanging Bridges or other places for birds, while avoiding many “touristy” places in this area. The town of La Fortuna nearby has become a junky Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge kind of tourist town like those at Tennessee’s Smoky Mountain Park.
My only other time here was on the 2010 Caravan.com Tour of Costa Rica when we spent one night in a different hotel.
And then there is my photo gallery of all my TRIPSmade thus far in Costa Rica. Lots to see!
And I was having so much fun on my anniversary day of December 24 that I forgot to mention it in the blog post that night or celebrate. You may remember that I had Christmas Eve Dinner Around the Pool with Friends. It was that night three years ago that a taxi brought me and 5 suitcases from San Jose Airport to Atenas (late plane meant arriving after dark) to Hacienda La Jacaranda Apartments where I lived my first 4 months in Atenas Costa Rica. On this anniversary I was too busy to even think about it! 🙂 “The past is prologue!” Maybe I will have a celebration when I’ve been here 5.5 years on my 80th birthday. 🙂
And earlier that same happy day I saw my first King Vulture in the wild and got a photograph! Along with a juvenile King Vulture and other birds and wildlife on what my guides called “Raptor Ridge” on a hill above the Tambor Bay beach resort where I was staying. It was a great day! And the day before I got to release 12 baby Olive Ridley Turtles into the Pacific Ocean, so why would I think about it being my 3-year anniversary of living here? 🙂
Well, a lot has happened in three years and I’m quite at home here now, loving life in a little mountain coffee-farming town, learning to speak Spanish, though very slowly! Trying to have as many Tico friends as gringos and maybe more now!
My passion is finding and photographing some of the over 900 species of birds here along with other nature photography and the thrill of traveling Costa Rica. I have learned to travel as the locals do on buses to anywhere in Costa Rica, though I am a sissy old man who sometimes goes to the far away places on a little local plane, Sansa or Nature Air. Some of my Tico friends say I’ve seen more of their home country than they have and I probably have. I try to go somewhere new every month or two and of course report on these trips in progress on my blog (here) as well as in photo galleries in what I call Charlie Doggett’s COSTA RICA. And I even have a series of photo books on many of the birding lodges and national parks I have visited. I can’t get rid of the desire to create something! It is fun to me! And I do none of it for money (it actually costs me) but as my fun hobby.
I have Pensionado Residencia with the government health plan called CAJA (better than Medicare) and I am settling in for the rest of my life here with paperwork done for my body to be donated to the University of Costa Rica Medical School. I am not active in church but attend a little Bible Church here some, trying to avoid the right-wing Americans that also attend some, most only on the one Sunday a month with English translation. My goal this year is to attend mostly on the Español only Sundays.
I have volunteered service to the Angel Tree project, three schools, my language school, and most recently led an after school club at one high school which I talked about 2 blog posts ago. I am trying to integrate into the community without becoming a catholic or marrying a Tica! 🙂 That is quite feasible.
I am overall healthy for a 77 year old (though walking a lot slower now believe it or not). I get plenty of rest and exercise walking everywhere. One of my best decisions was to not buy a car! Good for my health and budget! I eat well, sleep a lot, and I am very happy in my new home. So with this little summary, I place a marker down at my three-years point of living in Costa Rica. None of us know how long we will live, but I’m expecting many more years of adventures in Costa Rica! ¡Pura Vida!
“I like people that enjoy life, ’cause I do the same.”
Wow! It was hard picking only one from each month! So many favorites! Missed some greats! I tried for a balance of birds, flowers & people – 4 each. Review my year in photos & know it was even better than this! Just a sample of being retired in Charlie Doggett’s COSTA RICA!
January 2017 My garden was a constant joy! Blue Plumbago contrasted against a Heliconia
February 2017 Two nights in San Jose was a fun and different trip for me.
March 2017 The birds in my garden continue to amaze! Lineated Woodpecker
April 2017 The bird sculpture by my former neighbor Anthony Jeroski will always be a special garden memory of him. He died in July in states.
May 2017 One of my guides at Drake Bay, Carlos, with baby boa. Everywhere I go great guides make the trip memorable!
June 2017 My gardners on break at my house, a tradition we have. I love my gardners and my garden!
July 2017 At Rancho Naturalista I finally get a photo of a Sunbittern! This is a rare bird and rare photo that I’m proud of.
August 2017 Butterflies are second only to birds for me and I saw a few this year. Most, like this one, in my garden of course! A Heliconius Hecale Zuleika.
September 2017 This Squirrel Cuckoo was on edge of my terrace for a favorite photo at home or maybe my “Photo of the Year” or at least tied with the Sunbittern. 🙂
October 2017 My high school “after school club” for Conversational English was my most rewarding activity of the year! Fun & hard work!
November 2017 This Triquitraque is one of the smallest and favorite flowers in my garden.
December 2017 Everything about my Christmas trip to Tambor Bay was super good, but this photo of a King Vulture is the big prize! Another rare find & photo!