Rainforest Vistas

Though I have mostly recovered from my cancer radiation treatments, I can tell from the quality of photos from this trip compared to the two other trips to Maquenque that I have not fully recovered in energy or creativity, but maybe these five shots will provide at least a glimpse of being in the rainforest here in Costa Rica.

Only on water or in a rare clearing can you see the sky which is often overcast as here.
Continue reading “Rainforest Vistas”

A Sense of Place

This final post on the Rincón de la Vieja trip shares some scenery and a little more about the hotel and park that I hope provides a “sense of place” concerning this unique national park and adjacent hotel.

Sense of place is the sixth sense, an internal compass and map made by memory and spatial perception together.
~Rebecca Solnit

In the northwestern corner of Costa Rica there are volcanoes and ranches.  Rincón de la Vieja is unique to all the volcano parks in this drier, western part of the country, reminding me of the southwestern U.S. with persons riding horses as common as bikes and wildness depicts the beauty and sense of place. Plus this hotel is a working ranch. Here’s two galleries and brief evaluations of both the hotel and the place.

Hotel Hacienda Guachipelín

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Hacienda Guachipelín is a large, old, ranch-style hotel on more than 2,000 hectors of land with more waterfalls than the park (8) and it is a working farm & ranch where you can actually be “a cowboy for a day” helping real cowhands or just take one of several horseback riding trips. And seasonally watch a rodeo!

All the typical adventure tours are also available like zip lines, white water rafting, tubing, rappelling, canyoneering, biking, ATV, hot springs & mud baths, a Spa, plus an on-property serpentarium, butterfly garden, Mirador (scenic overlook), and more trails than you will likely use!

My room was basic, comfortable and good for my purposes. It was a longer walk to the restaurant than some and if you need to be close, request that when making your reservation. They offered to move me but I need the walks!

The restaurant food is okay good, just not great, with the wait staff service also mediocre except for the separate bar which had great service! In high season or fuller capacity the restaurant is all buffet style and breakfast is buffet even in low season (now). I am not fond of buffets.   🙂   I ate my usual two meals a day here; a big breakfast from the buffet & omelette bar with an early, good dinner from the menu at outdoor Bar (one of above photos). Restaurant didn’t start dinner until 6:30.

The Scenery


Sorry I failed to get photos of horseback-riders!

One or two trips to the park is enough to see most everything there. Had I gone a second time I would have done the 10-K walk to their largest waterfall, Cangreja Waterfall, but didn’t this time. Much of the rest is like a smaller Yellowstone park with lots of thermal activity from the volcano (hot springs, bubbling mud, steam or smoke, and yellow rocks from the sulfur).

There is actually more to see and do on the hotel property than in the park, especially for the adventurer or the bird-watcher. And though I saw birds in both places, you see more on hotel property because it is more open and walking the farm roads is the best way to see and photograph birds. I saw 25-30 species, photographing most and got four new birds, “Lifers,” here:   the Lesser Ground Cuckoo, White-fronted Parrot, Magpie Jay, and Western Wood Pewee. Very good for me! Plus I got two new butterfly species and some new snakes in their serpentarium.

“I like this place and could willingly waste my time in it.”     

– William Shakespeare


I am working on the “Trip Gallery” for this trip at:     2019-October-Hacienda Guachipelín, Rincón de la Vieja, Liberia   and when that is finished, a book!    🙂

¡Pura Vida!

Sunset at . . .

Hacienda Guachipelín

Ocean Vistas Uvita

“Because there’s nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline, no matter how many times it’s sent away.”

 Sarah Kay

The ocean kissing the shore at Uvita, Costa Rica

One of the “Windows” at Playa Ventana, Uvita, Costa Rica

Whale Rock_Panorama1-WEB
“Whale Rock” seen from boat on the ocean side and . . .

. . . Whale Rock seen from my hotel on the land side.

NOTE: We saw most of our whales somewhere near this rock which they seem to like! The name is because of their presence and not its shape. Here every July-October.


Cristal Ballena Hotel seen from boat in front of Whale Rock.

Whale Rock & the hotel are barely out of photo on right side of this photo I made earlier of Uvita and Whale’s Tail Beach or Playa Cola de Ballena from a plane. A truly unique place!

Made Possible by the . . .

The only all water national park in Costa Rica. Flag is because it was Independence Day.

I just keep loving this country more every day!   🙂

And I’m way behind on reporting events and photos from this trip with Tuesday at the hotel experiencing and photographing a moving sloth, 4 crested guans, a flock of toucans and other birds followed by today’s mangrove boat trip on the Rio Sierpe with an unbelievable collection of photos I’m still sorting. Another great day in paradise with a birding guide tomorrow on the hotel property and Friday the Nauyaca Waterfall. Never a dull moment when you are “Retired in Costa Rica!”

¡Pura Vida!

And continued thanks to Cristal Ballena Hotel for making all of these exciting tours possible! A great place to stay when in Uvita!

This trip gallery:  2019-September 13-21–Cristal Ballena, Uvita


My Room at Arenal Observatory

This view from my room is the most memorable part of the lodge room. See More Volcano Shots
Arenal Observatory Lodge, Arenal Volcano National Park, Costa Rica
I had to be laying down on the bed to have the view inside, but outside is “in your face”
Arenal Observatory Lodge, Arenal Volcano National Park, Costa Rica
My one selfie was with the volcano, here on the dining room deck
Arenal Observatory Lodge, Arenal Volcano National Park, Costa Rica
The two side windows looked out on the Restaurant Deck and the lake 
Arenal Observatory Lodge, Arenal Volcano National Park, Costa Rica

This side view was also beautiful and where I caught the sunsets. (link to sunset photos)
 Arenal Observatory Lodge, Arenal Volcano National Park, Costa Rica

Also where other hotel guests assembled before meals & for volcano & lake photos + bird feeders
Arenal Observatory Lodge, Arenal Volcano National Park, Costa Rica

At about 5 pm each day one or two of the La Fortuna Expedition buses brought a crowd
of mainly young adult backpackers for volcano, lake & sunset photos before their group dinner here
and then return to their less expensive lodging after a day of whitewater, rappelling, zip lining, etc.
Arenal Observatory Lodge, Arenal Volcano National Park, Costa Rica
The first two days the maids left towel animals on my bed
Arenal Observatory Lodge, Arenal Volcano National Park, Costa Rica

See My Room Gallery for more photos of the room.
Arenal Observatory Lodge, Arenal Volcano National Park, Costa Rica
AND the bird feeders were also next to my room’s deck!

Great Curassow male at fruit feeder by my room deck   
Arenal Observatory Lodge, Arenal Volcano National Park, Costa Rica

Great Curassow female at fruit feeder by my room deck  
 Arenal Observatory Lodge, Arenal Volcano National Park, Costa Rica

Montezuma Oropendola at fruit feeder by my room deck  
 Arenal Observatory Lodge, Arenal Volcano National Park, Costa Rica


Women elected to 5 of 6 leadership roles in Costa Rica’s new legislature
An online article in Tico Times.

El Copal Nature & Happy Valentines Day!

A Valentine from Nature
Photographed along a road or trail in the
El Copal Area, Costa Rica

Or maybe you prefer an Exotic Wild Flower for Valentines
El Copal Area, Costa Rica

Reventazón River Valley 
El Copal Area, Costa Rica

One of Many Tributaries 
El Copal Area, Costa Rica
My Guide Cristhian Ureña Martinez 
El Copal Area, Costa Rica

More FlowersEl Copal Area, Costa Rica

More Flowers  
El Copal Area, Costa Rica

More Flowers 
El Copal Area, Costa Rica

Mosses and Ferns of the Cloud Forest 
El Copal Area, Costa Rica

A Horse Farm Where We Found Birds 
El Copal Area, Costa Rica

A Horse Farm Where We Found Birds 
El Copal Area, Costa Rica
Nature is the art of God.

¡Pura Vida!

This exact same set of photos in my TRIPS photo gallery:  El Copal Area Scenery

And related is the gallery El Copal BIRDS in this same TRIPS gallery below

Or see all of my Orosi Trip photos in the TRIP Gallery: 2018-February 6-10–Orosi/Tapanti

~ ~ ~ ~ ~


On the bus to Alajuela Monday a Tica mother with little girl about a year to 18 months old sat down in the seat next to me. The little girl kept looking at me and finally reached out and touched my arm and smiled. (Yes I had already said “Hola” and smiled at her, but she was slow responding.)

Later after mother and child got off the bus, an older man in the seat in front of me began playing his harmonica and quietly singing a beautiful, tranquil song in Spanish.  ¡Pura vida!

The greatest self is a peaceful smile, that always sees the world smiling back. 

Bryant H. McGill

Isla del Coco, Costa Rica

This is our island in the Pacific Ocean that is similar to Galápagos Islands of Ecuador without
tourism. It is a national park and research center and many say is more significant scientifically than the Galápagos Islands. (Darwin missed it!) It is also the island that the fictitious dinosaur project was on in the movies of the Jurassic Park. See this brief YouTube video of THE REAL JURASSIC PARK for a 57 second glimpse of the real island. 

The island is 300 miles offshore and you sleep on the yacht and scuba dive around the island in the largest colony of sharks in the world! They let you on the island for brief day trips from the yacht but no nights there. Not a regular tourist spot! It costs 3 to 5 k per person for a minimum number of people on different boats for 7 days and just the shore excursion to the island costs $250 to $500 depending on which boat you are on! Cost includes bus from San Jose airport to Puntarenas dock. 

UNESCO World Heritage Site          I would love to see it, but doubt that will ever happen!

¡Pura Vida!

Las Ruinas de Ujarrás

 Las Ruinas de Ujarrás
This 1580 church ruins is the oldest to be found in Costa Rica near Orosi/Paraiso.
It is now operated as a historic national park of Costa Rica.
Paraíso Canton, Cartago Province, Costa Rica

Yesterday I lined up my taxista from Tuesday, Luis Martinez, and he met me at my B&B this morning at 8:30 and I got quite a tour from someone who has lived his whole life here and all in Spanish language of course! We could have gone all day, but I wanted a more relaxed afternoon and to not spend a fortune on a taxi! So we quit at about 11 AM. 

Beyond this historic old church, Las Ruinas de Ujarrás, the other highlights were two miradors (vistas) Mirador Ujarras & Mirador Orosi which were both spectacular, Casa del Soñador or wood artisan shop in a historic log cabin near Cachi, several churches I had him stop for my photos of, and he added little extras like the oldest street and bridge in Orosi alongside which was his grandmother’s house where he was born! I chose to not see the botanical gardens this time which can take hours. But I have lots of photos to share in a future post and in my online photo gallery when I return home and have better internet connection. 
Then I had a late lunch in a wonderful Italian Restaurant a longer walk from my B&B, but more than worth it and discovered that it is also a hotel (with this great restaurant) and it is where I will stay next time here if not at El Copal Lodge for birding. B&B’s are nice and quaint, but I’ve become spoiled to full-service hotels and lodges! Even in the jungles!
Tomorrow is the adventure of three buses home and who knows what I will see this time? 
¡Pura Vida!

A Country Adventure in My Front Yard – Calle Nueva

A pastoral vista like this sometimes requires a trip far away from a busy town, yet I found this one
maybe 500 meters from my house as the crow flies and maybe twice as far walking the streets to this spot.
Calle Nueva, Atenas Costa Rica


The cow pasture across the street from my house.
A stream runs under that row of trees on opposite side.
On the other side of the stream and to the left is a little known street,
Calle Nueva, Atenas Costa Rica


First I walk into town on Avenida 8 and turn left on Calle 1
making another left turn at next street, Avenida 10 for 2 blocks
where I walk past our technical high school above.
The pavement stops just past the school  and I’m on a gravel road called
Calle Nueva, Atenas Costa Rica


It is so cool to suddenly be in the country! Past Roca Verde it becomes a dirt road going on to Rio Grande village.
Calle Nueva, Atenas Costa Rica


After 200 or 300 meters on a rise you see Roca Verde up ahead, those roofs.
Before I saw this, I saw the pastoral scene photo above, my opening photo.
Calle Nueva, Atenas Costa Rica




Then down that hill to a bridge behind the Roca Verde duplex facing the pasture.
That house is about one block from my house!
But seen here from behind on
Calle Nueva, Atenas Costa Rica


The little stream opposite the cow pasture in front of my house.
Which the above bridge crosses over behind the duplex.
Calle Nueva, Atenas Costa Rica


At the foot of the bridge I snap this shot of the cow pasture in front of my house from the backside.
The duplex and two single family houses are to the right of those shrubs, all facing the cow pasture.
Calle Nueva, Atenas, Costa Rica
It is fun to discover back roads anywhere and especially when they are this close to where you live! Eventually I will walk the entire road to the village of Rio Grande which is at the intersection of our Radial Atenas (Calle 0) and entrance to Ruta 27, the expressway that comes by Atenas. The day I walked this road (New Years Day) there were other walkers and several bicycles, so it is already a known recreational “greenway” if you please!  🙂  In the mountains or hills of Atenas.
I walked the road up past several Roca Verde houses and noticed at least 3 had back pedestrian gates into this greenway and even met a couple who walked out of one that they are renting for 6 weeks. I got as far as where the gravel turned to dirt and turned around because it was also uphill. But next time I will try to go all the way to Rio Grande and maybe get a taxi back. I like my newly discovered “greenway” which I had heard of earlier, but just now exploring for the first time.
It is impossible to overestimate the value of wild mountains 
and mountain temples as places for people to grow in, 
recreation grounds for soul and body. 

–JOHN MUIR, US naturalist, 1838—1914


 See the Photo Gallery Walking Calle nueva


Hotel Grounds & Vistas – Villa Blanca

One of many vistas from Villa Blanca

The main building seen from the chapel. 

sign at entrance gate

Traffic on the road coming up to Villa Blanca. 

One view from outside dining area. White spot is chapel on the campus.

You can come here each morning and milk a cow if you wish!

One of many hiking trails.

Trail exit to a hummingbird garden

One row of cabins. There are a total of 36.


There are nearly always clouds in the cloud forest! 
My trip gallery: 2017 Villa Blanca
My reviews of other Costa Rica Lodges & Hotels  if exploring this fun country. Note that at Drake Bay I stayed at the sister hotel of Villa Blanca, Aguila de Osa – both are Greentique Hotels.

New Luxury Health Retreat in Atenas!

Yoga, Massages, Therapy and Detox are available in addition to
pools, hiking, birds, views, etc.

Expect to eat healthy and enjoy spectacular vistas.

It is known as a Yoga Retreat, maybe the best in Costa Rica, but available as hotel, other retreats, or just to relax if you are willing to pay $221+ per night for luxury rooms in the mountains above Atenas with gardens, walking trails, a natural stream with waterfalls, and many optional activities, some at extra cost. Breakfast is included with all room prices. I just became aware of this and sorry I did not know of it for earlier visitors, though it is fairly new, this year I think.

They are offering us residents a Christmas Dinner with wine and entertainment for just $61 which I might do if I weren’t already scheduled for my jungle adventure at Selva Verde Lodge on the Sarapiqui River! They are likewise offering us a New Years Eve Celebration for $75 including fireworks! Yeah, just about anything you guys in the states have, we can find here, for a price!  🙂

And it is also now another option you have to my free couch-bed or the several Mom & Pop B&Bs or simple hotels in Atenas. Note: We are NOT a tourist town! But a coffee farming town. Yet being in the center of Costa Rica makes it a great place to headquarter or travel out from or just start and stop your visit to Costa Rica here, 45 minutes from the airport or an hour from San Jose.

Or just look at their site’s photo gallery
The Retreat at Atenas