Standing Out? OR Lost in the crowd?

 Don’t ever be afraid of to standing out. Fear fitting in because you can get lost in the crowd, but standing alone you’ll always find yourself.


These two photos of budding Torch Gingers or Baton del Emperador are each seemingly lost in a crowd of other like plants and yet both of their developing shapes and bright red color make them stand out to me.

Budding Torch Ginger (Baton del Emperador), Atenas, Costa Rica
Continue reading “Standing Out? OR Lost in the crowd?”

El bastón de emperador

Yeah, that’s the Spanish name which I like better than the English name of Torch Ginger – but by either name this morning I noticed that one plant off my terrace had flowers in three stages and I liked that picture of progression. There could actually be an earlier stage with a tighter bud, but not this morning. 🙂

Tropical flowers continue to be a part of the magic of my retiree life in Costa Rica, both in my own gardens surrounding my little rental house and in my travels around the country. Click either above link for more of my flower photos – what a joy to live in paradise! 🙂

“A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it. It just blooms.”

– Zen Shin

¡Pura vida!

Is the Color of Christmas Red?

Last year after Christmas I took the potted Poinsettia I had had inside and planted it in my garden. When I recently asked my gardeners to “thin out” my garden, well . . . they really thinned it out including the removal of my poinsettia which was not doing well anyway.

So today I looked for another poinsettia in town and found only one little plant store that had any and they were expensive, but I got two anyway. They add to the “Christmas Spirit” around my house and I already had in mind putting them immediately in my garden, which I did. Well, the rain seems to have stopped (we might get 1 or 2 more) and the wind has started blowing (think March in the states). The petals or really leaves on the poinsettia are be thrashed by the wind and already look weathered.

Oh well, I meant well and in my thinned out garden there is not much color now, so they have been added to my two other now-blooming red flowers: Red Ginger and Torch Ginger or in Costa Rica El bastón de emperador. So maybe all this red in my gardens is my Christmas color for this year!   🙂


See the Photo Gallery of My Home Gardens for more of my flowers and they’re not all red!   🙂


“What is the colour of Christmas?  Red? 

The red of the toyshops on a dark winter’s afternoon,
Of Father Christmas and the robin’s breast?
Or green?
Green of holly and spruce and mistletoe in the house,
dark shadow of summer in leafless winter?
One might plainly add a romance of white,
fields of frost and snow;
thus white, green, red- reducing the event to the level of a Chianti bottle. 
But many will say that the significant colour is gold,
gold of fire and treasure, of light in the winter dark; and this gets closer, 
For the true colour of Christmas is Black.
Black of winter, black of night, black of frost and of the east wind,
black of dangerous shadows beyond the firelight.

― William Sansom

¡Feliz Navidad!

Torch Ginger or El bastón de emperador . . . . . . . . . . . . . . + Nothing Escaped Nate

Torch Ginger or El bastón de emperador
My Garden, Atenas, Costa Rica

Torch Ginger or El bastón de emperador
As seen from the street in front of my house
Roca Verde, Atenas, Costa Rica

And don’t you love the Spanish name for this flower? El bastón de emperador translates to “The Emperor’s Staff.” This particular one was a gift from my gardener. The first one I got and paid for died because it was in my busy flower bed and did not get enough sun like this gets in the front yard. Note that I have 3 flowers at different stages, bud, small flower and large flower. It is one of my favorite tropical flowers and I have wanted one since I moved here. They are hard to find with most nurseries (viveros) not having any in stock. But my gardener Cristian knows where to find things!  🙂  Like when I wanted the Maraca plant (Shampoo Ginger) none of the nurseries had one, so his partner Alfredo got mine from his uncle’s yard! Wow! They are more than gardners. They are good friends!

And in spite of the horrible weather we have been having, I still have flowers blooming!  🙂

Schools have been closed since Wednesday and most government offices. Everything was closed yesterday (Thursday) the main day it hit us with medium high winds and very heavy rain, closing many more roads including parts of the two main highways to Atenas because of mudslides. The saddest was a mudslide just on the edge of Atenas that killed a little boy and destroyed many houses. He was the only death in Atenas. For all of Costa Rica, Nicaragua & Honduras I heard this morning that 23 were killed and 27 missing. The major causes of death are drowning and buried by mudslides, though some in auto accidents. Here is a locally produced slideshow video of rescue and cleanup efforts.  Or the usual live video from  And the Tico Times Article in English. 

If this is just a “tropical storm,” think how bad it will be as a hurricane, which is what it is becoming tonight (Friday) when it hits Cancun, Mexico and moves on to the U.S. Gulf Coast, possibly New Orleans by Sunday morning. This could be a “biggie!” 
Costa Rica is directly to the left of the word RAIN
In Atenas everyone stayed home yesterday (Thursday) with strong winds and heavy rain all day and all night. Today we are getting a little sunshine and I walked to town. It is interesting that all hills, cliffs, dirt walls have lots of water coming out at the bottom. A hill near my house has so much water coming out that it is literally a little creek pouring down to the street drainage ditch. Government and schools are still closed, but banks and most businesses open and we had the regular Friday morning Feria or Farmer’s Market. So almost back to normal with a few trees down and spotty electrical outages. But me and my house are good on all counts! I can even make this blog post, meaning internet works! That’s a big deal here!    Here are some more  photos and videos of Nate Hitting Costa Rica from Tico Times.

Jungle Flowers at Sarapiquí

See also my photo gallery Flora & Forests   or   go straight to My Garden
Flowers, birds and butterflies! What beautiful expressions of God’s colors I get to enjoy!
And today my gardener planted a new kind of butterfly bush that will bring many more butterflies he promises!
A Nation of Immigrants, an interesting article on how Costa Rica accepts the fact that it is made up totally of immigrants (much like the States) with fewer indigenous people (Indians) than the states. Read how Costa Rica still welcomes immigrants and thrives because of them. And we are regularly listed as one of the top happiest countries in the world! Interesting!

Tortuguero Fruits & Flowers

Just a few of the hundreds of fruits and flowers found in this rainforest:

Large Heliconia growing wild along the river banks, same as in my garden.
Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica

Small Heliconia also growing wild in forest and
here in the lodge garden, similar to my garden!
Cashew Nut is usually a surprise to people when first seen growing!
One nut per flower!

Hooker’s Lips or Hot Lips is another surprising plant.
I can’t find the name of this blue berried plant in the rainforest.
Achiote (bixa orellana) is used for food coloring red and sometimes lips
Robert holds an open pod of the above Achiote flower showing the seeds
It is those red seeds that have the red coloring for food or lips.
A couple of children let him put red dots on their skin to show how it works.

Papaya tree with a very popular fruit
This is same one with the Collared Aracari Toucans I photographed
Tortuguero Village, Costa Rica

Torch Ginger flower
Neat vine I just had to photograph!  🙂

Read more About Tropical Rain Forests on Wikipedia.

Pura Vida!


Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
RESCATE ANIMAL zooave, La Garita, Costa Rica






Collared Aracari Toucan
RESCATE ANIMAL zooave, La Garita, Costa Rica
Emerald Toucanet
RESCATE ANIMAL zooave, La Garita, Costa Rica
Central American Spider Monkey
RESCATE ANIMAL zooave, La Garita, Costa Rica
Great Curassow
RESCATE ANIMAL zooave, La Garita, Costa Rica
Torch Ginger or Etlingera elatior
RESCATE ANIMAL zooave, La Garita, Costa Rica

Well, there is so much more I could share. It was my second time at this little zoo, gardens, and animal rescue association. I really like it and think it a better (and less expensive) place to visit than La Paz for birds and gardens. Now, La Paz has hummingbirds not here and of course the beautiful 5 waterfalls, but it costs twice as much! And Zoo Ave is just 20 minutes from my house.

This was the next to last day for Kevin and I think he likes ZooAve almost as much as I do. Tomorrow will be some simple little local visits and Monday he flies home.


IMPORTANT NOTE: In 2020 this facility has been “rebranded” to eliminate the zoo concept and is now called Rescate Wildlife Rescue Center.

¡Pura Vida!