Hints of Africa

I lived for 3 years in The Gambia, West Africa which is undoubtedly a “3rd World” country, so much more primitive and less developed than Costa Rica which some call a “2nd World” or developing nation, but still almost a night-day contrast with The Gambia, though occasionally something reminds me of Africa, usually in rural areas but sometimes even in the cities.

When I go to Alajuela by bus I arrive at a primitive bus station, just a big parking lot! Not in the most desirable part of town! Then my most common first stop is Aeropost to pick up an internet order package, about a 10 to 12 block long walk (I need to count it sometime!). The first 4 blocks or until past the Central Market is what sometimes reminds me of Africa. The broken sidewalks are usually crowded with many people, most poor. They are made more crowded by the occasional vendor like the fruit & vegetable guy in this photo and beggars sitting on the sidewalk asking for money. (None of this in Atenas.) And this area has only cheap merchandise shops, trash in the street, nasty smells of rotting food, milk, or even a dead animal today (probably a rat/mouse) causing me to walk fast the first four blocks to get past the mercado and my reminders of West Africa. Then there is a large department store, bank, nicer businesses, Central Park, Cathedral, restaurants, etc. Another world a block away!

And today I fell again (like I’m getting old or something!). On the way back up the street from Aeropost, just before Central Park and the McDonalds where I ate breakfast, my foot was stopped by a loose brick in the sidewalk while the rest of my body kept going! Crash into the nasty street gutter with abrasions on both hands and knees and immediately a plethora of people helping me get up, a parking lot attendant giving me his chair. I asked him for a band-aid but could not remember the spanish name (la curita) and rare that I did not have one in my billfold, but I didn’t. I just wrapped my bleeding finger in my handkerchief and walked on to McDonalds where I cleaned up in their bathroom and rested with a full breakfast before walking back to the next bus to Atenas. That was today’s adventure and I’m staying home the rest of the day! 🙂  And reminding myself to break a very old habit of walking fast! And life is still good here!

¡Pura Vida!

 

PS — The related posts that are following at the end of each new post are automatically generated by WordPress, I assume based on keywords. I find this interesting and think that most of their suggestions are pretty good.  🙂

A 6 mile Beach Walk

I arrived early yesterday before my room was ready and so I decided to walk to the Caribbean town of Puerto Viejo from the hotel by way of the beach and back. My odometer showed it to be nearly 6 miles round trip, counting a walk around town. The next post will be about the interesting town. But here’s a few shots from the beach walk:

I walked from those blue hills around the bay to this town beach.
Puerto Viejo, Caribe, Costa Rica

The bend in the bay before getting to the town.
Puerto Viejo, Caribe, Costa Rica

I get to cross this stream coming into the bay and
see the one-lane bridge on the road running parallel with beach.
Puerto Viejo, Caribe, Costa Rica

Approaching town there are runners & this abandoned barge.
Puerto Viejo, Caribe, Costa Rica

Near every hotel is this standard sign warning of undertow.
Puerto Viejo, Caribe, Costa Rica

A faster way to get to town?  🙂
Puerto Viejo, Caribe, Costa Rica

Great Kiskadee
One of six species of birds seen along the beach walk.
Puerto Viejo, Caribe, Costa Rica

Semipalmated Plover
For birders, yes, similar to Wilson’s Plover except
this one has orange legs & orange on base of bill (click to enlarge)
Puerto Viejo, Caribe, Costa Rica

Non-breeding Western Sandpiper
Puerto Viejo, Caribe, Costa Rica

Breeding Western Sandpiper
Puerto Viejo, Caribe, Costa Rica

Whimbrel  
 Puerto Viejo, Caribe, Costa Rica

Brown Pelican
Puerto Viejo, Caribe, Costa Rica

Great-tailed Grackle male 
 Puerto Viejo, Caribe, Costa Rica

I was high-energy yesterday and did more than I should probably, but doing very little today to make up for it!  Thus I have a lot of photos still from yesterday to share and may do another post tonight. Every new place is an adventure and full of photo-ops!

A Morning Cup of Coffee & Quiet

In yesterday’s effort to be descriptive, this is the coffee shop mentioned.
That’s my empty cup next to the coffee-maker on my table.
La Cafetería (The Coffee Shop)
Atenas, Costa Rica

And my sidewalk cafe view of Central Park across the street.
Atenas, Costa Rica

Just another quiet Saturday morning in a little coffee-farming town in central Costa Rica.

“Quiet is peace. Tranquility. 
Quiet is turning down the volume knob on life. 
Silence is pushing the off button. Shutting it down. All of it.” 

― Khaled HosseiniThe Kite Runner


My idea of Retired in Costa Rica, THIS BLOG

and 
Charlie Doggett’s Costa Rica, THE PHOTO GALLERY

quiet

Sunrise at Drake Bay

Sunrise from my cabin at Aguila Inn
Drake Bay, Costa Rica
You generally awake early here with 5 am sunrise, birds singing and today howler monkeys! Three of us guests had a 5:30 am two-hour birding walk down the bay to town of Drake Bay, up in the hills, and back to lodge for 8 am breakfast. A good morning, seeing a lot of birds, though my only camera is the cellphone, which means not as many photos. My camera has been in a bag of rice for two days, and still doesn’t work, so it may not be humidity. Just don’t know. 
Relaxing around the lodge the rest of today with maybe a walk through forest. I’m posting this in the morning today, Friday, my last full day here. Tomorrow a relaxed morning here and a 2 pm flight back to San Jose and home by 4!
I highly recommend Aguila de Osa Inn! Relaxing place, fantastic food, great tours and other possible activities.

My TRIPS Photo Gallery on this Drake Bay Trip

About Corcovado National Park (Wikipedia)  and  About Drake Bay (Wikipedia)

empinado o inclinado (Steep!)

The steep hill I walk up every day!
It’s just outside the Roca Verde gate.
At least 45 degrees!
HEART HEALTHY!
Atenas, Costa Rica
Going downhill is easy! Calle Boquerón o Avenida 8
Atenas, Costa Rica

Walk with me through my neighborhood

View from an available lot on top of my hill. You look over Central Valley to northeast, San Jose at left. Your home here?
This is the above lot for your dream home. A large, old-growth tree at entrance.
I can give you the phone number if interested.  🙂  Come be my neighbor!

Looking over my house which is below the orange roof, lower center.
The orange roof is my landlord Jean Luc & Nicole, brown roof is Richard’s.
You can see cow pasture in front of my house, central Atenas beyond that. 
Anthony’s house next door to me. He is a Spanish Class friend from Indiana, a
bachelor artist who has a clay bird I plan to buy and install in my garden after he
has it fired. His house is rented from Richard, is below brown roof, above photo.
Some neighbors can see church steeple at Central Park Atenas. 
A few homes are visible from the street, most are not. 

All have privacy/security gates & I think this the most creative one on this loop. 
All are lushly planted for our tropical weather year around.
It is like walking through a garden to walk through my neighborhood.

Come visit me and you can physically walk with me over this and other hills in Roca Verde. Some of you know that I earlier said I would never live in a rich, gated community like this, but people change their minds! Living in a Tico neighborhood has the closeness and familiarity with the people around you that is not what this old independent, private person is real comfortable with. Plus the closeness of dogs barking, roosters crowing, parties going on, constant music, highway traffic, motorcycles, teenagers, is just more noise than I prefer to put up with all the time. I have some noise here, but nothing like in town or at the apartments where I lived for four months. It is mostly birds singing which I love and the roosters and dogs are further away. 

Several of the large houses in Roca Verde have “casitas” (little houses) for either guests, parents, or to rent which is what I have. Some of the main houses are lived in by “Snowbirds” only in the North American Winter or dry season here. I am fortunate that this particular one was for rent by a year-round resident landlord on the hill above me. He is also one of two developers of Roca Verde. Though barely affordable for me (cheaper than McKendree Village!), this is the only one of this quality I was able to find within walking distance of Central Atenas, one mile. Not having a car was always part of the plan for living here. 
Walking to town most days is my exercise program and now I have several choice walks in my neighborhood for when I don’t go to town. The above loop is just 1.3 miles and of course I did not show all the views and houses. I am so blessed in so many ways at almost every turn of this retirement adventure. I feel so fortunate! Almost everything has worked out positively, even if slower than an impatient American wants it! Just two more main things to finish: a residency card and conversational Spanish. Both are on track for early next year maybe! I’m starting to relax more and be more creative. Life is fun! Pura Vida! Jubilado!

Central Park is the Center of Atenas

Central Park Atenas, a cell phone 3-photo panorama from Gelly’s Jardin Restaurant

This view is from Gelly’s restaurant facing east. Don Tadeo’s Bar & Restaurant faces the park on the opposite side, facing west, a vista place to eat on both sides! The Atenas Catholic Church is to the right, facing the park from the south side looking north and on the north side is Banco Nacional facing south. On the southeast corner is the Courthouse, called Tribunal, and northwest corner the City Hall. On the northeast corner of the park is POP’S Ice Cream Shop while southwest corner has Pizza Olivera.

The Post Office is a half block west of the back side of the church or block and a half from the park. Another block and a half from the park is the Bus Station, Taxi Stand, and Indoor Farmers’ Market open all week. And this doesn’t count all the many little shops, Sodas, a hardware store, two small supermarkets, a dollar store kind of place, good office and school supply store, and more restaurants as the circle widens. Plus the electric company and phone company two blocks off the square, as is my spanish class, the bigger supermarket, etc. 
And realtors don’t understand why I want to stay close to the Central Park? Each realtor has a house they just know I will love, but I have to pay more for it, get a car or spend more on taxis! I’m now 5 or 6 blocks away and that is far enough to! This is the way towns used to be built! I sometimes feel like I’m living back in the 1940’s or 50’s with this town, and likewise when washing dishes by hand, hanging laundry outside in to dry, and walking everywhere! I love my new retro-life! And I love being near the center of Atenas! Think I’ll stay! And if the apartments don’t work out for any reason, I’ll take an apartment or little house near the city center without the view! 

Internet Friends, Church, Funeral Procession, Gringo Brunch and Pura Vida!

Funeral Procession in Atenas, Costa Rica

Another eventful morning! Yesterday I was contacted my a couple from Minnesota who are in Atenas for two weeks as a base for exploring. They came across this blog and asked to get together for coffee or a meal and how to get to the church I reported on last Sunday. So we met for the 8 AM service at Iglesia Biblica Atenas and after the all-Spanish worship walked the 7 blocks or so to Kay’s Gringo Postres, where everyone eating there was a gringo. It was a very nice American-style breakfast buffet with great omelets and all the trimmings plus lots of fruit and even a peach cobbler. Yum, yum!

On the way we picked up a group of Americans from Indiana looking for an American-style breakfast and just took them with us. We are all friends here! And it was fun getting a new friend from my blog meaning someone is reading it!  🙂

Two blocks from Kay’s we passed this small funeral procession, my first here.

First sighting of the Funeral Procession in Atenas January 11, 2015.

There were no noisy sirens, hired cops clearing the way, just a family walking behind the hearse (station wagon) with its lights on and flowers on top. Since it was approaching midday, several walked with umbrellas for protection from the heat. Behind them was maybe 5 or 6 cars following with their lights on, of course moving at a walk pace. Along the street locals stop what they are doing in respect to the deceased like we did in the old days in the states. It was solemn and respectful. Another new cultural experience today.

Tomorrow’s adventure is a trip to San Jose to see my local lawyer. I’m splurging and hiring a driver rather than the uncertainty of when the bus would get me there. Next time will be by bus. Pura vida continues in the happiest place on earth in the town with the best weather on earth! I am truly blessed! And then new friends pop up from my blog today! Wow! Pura Vida!