I continue to be pleased with my “Costa Rica Decision Process” (the original name of this blog) that led me to retire in this charming small town in Central Costa Rica. I love it here and that along with the decision to not own a car in my latter years means walking a few miles every day and absorbing the tranquility of this little coffee farming town. (Driving through is not the same!) I regularly thank God for blessing me in my senior years. And for the tropical paradises nearby that I can visit every month for colorful birds and much more!
A view of Roca Verde just before I begin the descent down a hill to our main entrance.
Above is some of my neighbors in Atenas, Costa Rica
DESCRIBING A DAILY WALK HOME FROM CENTRAL ATENAS
(Sort of like Ernest Hemingway would describe it)
I leave the modern Banco Nacional (the only place I visit with air conditioning), crossing the street between two red taxis as they wait out front for customers, one of two red taxi stands in central Atenas. The other colors of taxis are not legally registered with the government and don’t have taxi stands, you just have to call them. As I step into the shade of mango trees in Central Park, I’m careful not to step on a rotting mango on the sidewalk and try to avoid staring at the teenage couple kissing on a park bench. The next park bench has a couple with small child and though less romantic, seem happy and peaceful in their little rural piece of tranquility. The second sidewalk to the right is where the old men sit and talk all morning and parrots gather in the treetops chattering away, while straight ahead the diagonal sidewalk takes me to the opposite corner of the park from the bank where a little corner “cafeteria,” or “sidewalk cafe” (for westerners), sits on the only corner not occupied by the stately courthouse, the imposing Catholic Church or the park. A great spot to be!
It is fun to stop here for a cup of their organic coffee (made one cup at a time) and a pastry, the best being a Chilean crumb cake or sometimes a couple of little cinnamon rolls. I sit on the sidewalk at a tiny round table, watching the people go by or others doing various things in the park. Today as a serious-faced, well-dressed woman brushes by me on the sidewalk I’m amused at the high-school boys in their school uniforms playing on the kiddie playground equipment in the park, almost as if they wish they were little children again, struggling across the monkey bars and swinging as high as they can in the swings. Yes, even teens sometimes feel like they are getting old. But not a problem for me! I really enjoy being older now and watching this fascinating world unfold around me! To be a teen again would not be nearly as much fun! Pura vida!
The sun seems to be staying behind clouds today, so I leave my sunglasses off as I walk down tree-shaded Calle 3 past a fried chicken restaurant with high school kids filling it, a farmacia and lawyer office I have used and the compound where my young adult friend Jason lives with his mom and uncle. The uncle rents out a small space out front for a tiny Soda or little food stand that used to sell pizza, now Tico food. There are other small businesses along this street, mostly in homes and a little stream follows part of the way to the left where some work indicates the town may continue a cross-street over the stream, meaning a simple bridge. But the big construction in progress now is on up near Colegio Liceo (the college-prep public high school) where they are digging ditches and burying giant concrete pipes for storm sewer drainage to the stream. And the best thing is they are planning to place sidewalks over the buried pipes which will make this little two-block stretch of my way home a lot safer walking. Progress is slow in a small town, but it happens, Poco a poco!
Around the next corner onto Avenida 8 I continue to walk in the street until they add the new sidewalks, while enjoying the activity of many people in their yards and walkers along the road. The back side of the high school is covered with graffiti art that breaks up monotonous concrete block walls and along here I sometimes wave at my seamstress behind her “Clinica Ropa” sign. Opposite the back of the school a large, covered commercial swimming pool is being built where it appears you will need to join the club or whatever to swim there. I question whether a lot of Ticos will spend money for that, but I am sometimes surprised at priorities and this could be one. And some permanent resident expats may also spend money for something like that. There is a public pool with cheap admission but no organized swim teams, lessons, contests, etc. In the meantime it has been fun to watch a handful of workers slowly put the edifice together in what was a cow pasture.
I continue on to the point where I made the above photo this morning and briefly gaze over one of the several hills of Roca Verde as I walk down the steep hill (easier down than up!) to our entrance gate on a volunteer-built sidewalk traversing a low-income neighborhood that used to be known for drug sales but I think has moved beyond that now. It is the smell of gray water coming out into the street gutters that I object to now and sometimes the barking of dogs or late night music at the community center. But that’s life! 🙂
I walk through the Roca Verde gate and wave at the quiet young man maintaining the gate for car traffic security. Roosters crow and chase chickens around the entrance yard and occasionally there is the mooing of cows as I walk past the pasture in front of my house, checking the big trees for birds. After clicking my compound gate open, I walk up the very steep drive to my house on the right. A simple but comfortable little two-bedroom, one-bath house surrounded by trees and flowers, birds and butterflies and lizards; my little tropical paradise I call home as a hummingbird circles the feeder to remind me it needs to be filled again. I thank God for daily reviving me with such visual walking experiences as I settle into a quiet rest-of-the day at home. My idea of retirement! 🙂
WHAT’S THIS DESCRIPTIVE WRITING ABOUT?
And if you are wondering about this descriptive writing I am attempting, it is motivated by one of the books I am currently reading, the first novel written by Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises. I will never be able to write descriptions of my surroundings like Hemingway, but it was fun to try. 🙂 I will probably stick to mostly photo captions in the future on this blog, but I am enjoying reading Hemingway again and will probably read some more of him in between my Agatha Christie mysteries and an occasional serious book and my effort to go back to reading more classics. Books give you a lot more choices than TV or movies! And more quality!
This blog post by a friend of mine (Tina Newton) is one of the best summaries of why so many of us choose to live in Atenas. Yes, she’s a realtor and thus some ulterior motives, but I think it is a heartfelt statement and certainly reflects the way I feel about Atenas. And I’ve not been able to put my feelings about this little town into words as well as Tina just did! (And her better photo of the church than I’ve made yet.) So I thank her and share it here with anyone interested. FYI !
At the entrance to my favorite Supermercado is this little sidewalk cafe for excellent coffee & pastries (Banana Nut Bread my favorite) and the best deal on ice cream in town! Half the price of POPS Ice Cream Shop. That’s my coffee and carrot cake at the first table with my shopping bags. I walk to here and mostly walk home, unless big load/rain, then a taxi Coopeatenas is the farmers’ cooperative super market & farm store out back
And fun, friendly Ticas behind the counter with Santa on the Cash Register! Helados is ice cream. They have sandwiches too! And Gourmet Coffee! Many of their bakery items are from Crema y Nata, my favorite bakery.
And that cash register sign says in literal English translation:
order, cancel, and remove your order here
Of course you know that “cancel” means “pay” and “remove” is like “pick up”
This same sign is in most “fast food” restaurants, called “cafetería” here.
“I wish I could show you the little village where I was born. It’s so lovely there…I used to think it too small to spend a life in, but now I’m not so sure.” ― Mary Kelly
Yep! That’s me! I was born in Warren, Arkansas, a small farming town like Atenas, Costa Rica and never thought I would ever live there again! Now I do sorta – well, here it’s coffee instead of tomato farms and Alajuela Province is a lot different from Arkansas and Costa Rica is another world from the states. But I do live in a small town again! 🙂
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! 🙂
MEDICAL INSURANCE 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.