Monthly Archives: January 2016

Life Lines

life lines 4When you go for a walk along the beach here in Costa Rica you can see all these designs made by tiny sea creatures that travel just below the surface. life lines 5Their bodies leave a visible trail in the wet sand that shows how they have moved. Some of the paths are fairly straight forward and shortlife lines 2Others are rather easy going and they loop and range afarlife lines 1But some are frantic looking and head madly off in all directions with dozens of twists and turns

pretzel linesSome create an almost perfect pattern.

It reminds me of how varied the path through life can be for different people. What kind of design will my life’s path leave? 

Other posts………

Sherlock Holmes- Growing Old Is Not For Cowards

Self Care- What I Think It Is For Me

Team Work

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Filed under Costa Rica, Reflections

Adventure in Santa Cruz Costa Rica

public-bus-costa-rocaWe decided to take the public bus into the city of Santa Cruz yesterday.  Our trip was a bargain. We got a ninety minute ride for just about $2 USD.  The bus was nice and clean although on the way home it was so full we had to stand most of the way. Our drive to Santa Cruz was a good chance to view the scenery of Costa Rica and also to pass through some interesting towns. Dave noticed that every community no matter how small had a soccer pitch with lights. The highway was nicely paved and there was even a separate paved pathway for bikes along some of it.ken-and-dave-santa-cruzMy brother who has traveled a fair bit in Central America couldn’t believe how clean Santa Cruz was compared to cities in Mexico or Guatemala. Santa Cruz had almost no litter or garbage. stop-sign-santa-cruzThere were nice sidewalks everywhere and paved streets and traffic moved in an orderly fashion. A friendly police presence was evident. pizza-hut-santa-cruzHouses were clean and painted and there were many modern businesses. pharmacy-santa-cruzWe went into a pharmacy to buy some toiletries and sunscreen which were selling for cheaper prices than in Tamarindo, the town on the ocean where we are staying. butcher-santa-cruzIf we hadn’t had a ninety minute ride home in a unairconditioned bus ahead of us we definitely would have bought some meat and cheese at this local stand which featured prices that were less than half of what we pay in Tamarindo. recycling-binsThere are these litter disposal units all over Santa Cruz where you can deposit different kinds of garbage in different containers for recycling.  No wonder the city was so clean!img_4281In a small bakery we saw this poster featuring all the unique kinds of houses in Santa Cruz today that were built in different decades. clock-tower-santa-cruzThe main church in Santa Cruz was destroyed in an earthquake in 1950 and this clock tower is all that remains. church-in-santa-cruzWe went inside the new church built to take the place of the one that was destroyed. marylou-in-park-santa-cruzWe spent quite a bit of time in a park in the center of town. dave-and-ken-park-santa-cruzWhile Dave relaxed and Ken looked for a place for us to eat in his Lonely Planet guide-book I went all around the park photographing the various statues to help me learn more about the history of Costa Rica. I will blog about that in a future post. lunch-in-santa-cruzWe found a bright clean little restaurant where we had… arroz con pollo dish complete with rice, beans, chicken, salad and fried plantains. smoothies-santa-cruzWe decided to have smoothies for dessert and went to this stand where the woman cut up a blender full of fresh fruit for each smoothie before mixing it with ice cubes and a little milk. I had mango and banana and it was fantastic!farewell-santa-cruzThen we said farewell to Santa Cruz and made our way to the municipal bus station to catch our ride back to Tamarindo. park in santa cruzIt was nice to see how ordinary Costa Ricans go about their daily lives in Santa Cruz. We only saw a handful of other North American tourists during our visit.  Perhaps one reason there is money for the infrastructure that makes Costa Rica’s cities clean, sanitary and safe is because the country has had no army since 1948. school-in-santa-cruzMoney that would have been spent on the military has been put into health care, education and environmental protection. That’s also probably why there is such a high literacy rate in Costa Rica and life expectancy is the same as in North America. 

Other posts……..

A Walk in New York City

Visiting Tiananmen Square

Sliding on the Sand in Vietnam


Filed under Costa Rica

Howler Monkeys, A Psychedelic Bus And An Uphill Climb in Tamarindo Costa Rica

casa-chameleon  On Tuesday we left our lovely little Casa in Playa Grandecasa-green-village-tamarindo and moved to our new casa in Tamarindo. ken-on-the-trailOn Wednesday morning my brother Ken and I set off on our first walk in our new location.  We have gone for an early morning  walk every day in Costa Rica. This time we decided to ‘head for the hills’ behind our place on the outskirts of town. moon costa ricaThe moon was still visible as we walked through the forest. Suddenly we heard this loud noise.  I wondered if it was a jaguar. Ken wondered if it was a wild pig. Then we spotted a gang of howler monkeys up in the trees. They were making the noise!howler-monkeys-costa-rica  We were stopped a couple more times along the way by more howler monkey choirs. Click on the photo above if you want to hear the howler monkey sounds I recorded. farm-in-costa-ricaThe town of Tamarindo is a bustling, touristy community so it was nice on our walk to see some solitary, quiet local farms. cow-costa-rica

dream-sea-surf-campAfter we walked past the farms we came upon a surfer camp in the middle of the trees. surf-campThere were tents pitched there that resembled gigantic canvas yurts. psychedelic-bus-tamarindo-costa-ricaThis psychedlic bus on the yard looked liked something straight out of the 60s. We guessed someone must be living in it now because it didn’t look like it would be able to drive anywhere.

selfie tamarindoThe road we were following suddenly began to incline sharply and we realized we were now truly heading up into the hills. It was a much steeper climb than we’d thought and we were pretty exhausted by the time we reached the top of the highest hill. top of the hill view tamarindoBut the view down into the valley below made the climb totally worth it. 

view-of-the-beachesFrom the top of the hill we could see the three beaches we had hiked last Sunday far in the distance. walk-down-the-seaThen we began our steep walk down to the ocean.  It was pretty treacherous. Lots of loose gravel and sand. We had to walk slowly and carefully not to slide down. 

going-to-schoolThis Mom on a quad was taking her daughter downhill from one of the farms near the top to meet the school bus at the bottom of the hill. barrioAt the bottom of the hill we found ourselves in a barrio where some of the working class people of Tamarindo live. casa-baliIn sharp contrast just minutes later we passed the entrance to Casa Bali an 18,000 sq. foot luxury villa with eight bedrooms and several pools available for rent to discerning clients. The house comes complete with a personal chef, chauffer and concierge. 

church-tamarindoAs we walked through Tamarindo we saw the beautiful Iglesia de Santa Maria, a Catholic church.  We went inside and I stopped to say a prayer for my family before we continued on our way. 

flowers-on-walkWe arrived back at our casa two and a half hours after we left.  Our morning walks so far in Costa Rica have been about one hour so this was an abnormally long expedition but an interesting and very enjoyable one. 

Other posts……

Inspiration on a Walk Into Sedona

Taking A Cowboy on a Walk

Walking on Angels



Filed under Costa Rica, Nature, New Experiences, Sports

Art in the Airport

 On our flight to Costa Rica we had a layover in the airport in Atlanta for several hours but the time went by quickly as I enjoyed the art on exhibit in every area of the Hartsfield-Jackson terminal.  The purpose of the work displayed is not only to entertain passengers but also to introduce them to the city of Atlanta and the state of Georgia even if they never leave the airport. Here are some of the pieces I saw. corncorde-craig-nuttCorncorde is by artist Craig Nutt. The form was inspired by the jet liners at the airport but the artist said he used a corn cob because corn is such a staple food in the American south and indigenous people were growing it before the arrival of Christopher Columbus. Craig Nutt says two of his favorite traditional southern dishes are cornbread and hominy grits.

atlanta-airport art joe waltersIn RE: E28  artist Jo Walters has created birds, fish and mammals that are native to the forests, mountains and coastal waters of Georgia. jon imabe 20th century icons atlanta airportJoni Mabe’s installation is called Southern Icons.  It features famous people born in Georgia like baseball players Ty Cobb and Jackie Robinson, civil rights leader Martin Luther King, singer Otis Redding and author Mary Flannery O’Connor. sammie-nicely
Out of Many One by Sammie Nicely is a collection of masks made of clay and found objects that remind viewers of the African heritage of many of Georgia’s residents.sunday-may-12-1996-by-michael-ehlbeckThis etching of downtown Atlanta by artist Michael Ehlbeck is called Sunday- May 12, 1996- 4:23 p.m.kudze-frieze-by-dana-cibulskiIn Kudze Frieze by Dana Cibulski the top panel alludes to the location of the artwork in the airport, the soaring, swirling birds are a symbol of aeronautics.  The kudze plant shown in the lower panel was introduced to Georgia from Japan and has run amok devouring forests and creeping onto highways. Because it has spread everywhere it has become a sort of unofficial state symbol even though it is thought of as a menace. common-dance-by-hoang-van-buiThis piece by Hoang Van Bui is shaped like the state of Georgia.  It is called Common Dance and the bamboo plants at one end, are a recognition of the many immigrant families from Asia, including the artist’s, who are an important part of Georgia society. The empty space in the sculpture is a symbol of how many immigrants feel when the first arrive and are still homesick in their new surroundings. 

eye-of-the-wind-by-kirsten-stingleI saw many other art displays in the airport- one by children from Atlanta schools, a puppetry exhibition, and a ceramics show by local artisans and that was only in our wing of the airport. There is enough  artwork in the Atlanta airport to fill a traditional gallery and it is all on view free of charge for passengers. 

Other posts……

Seal River Crossing

Funky Asheville

Cool Stuff Outside the Art Gallery

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Filed under Art, Travel

Beauty on the Beach

beach-hikeLast Sunday we went for a 6.5 mile beach hike.  dave-on-the-beachThe beaches in this part of Costa Rica are quite secluded and all along our way we met only a few Costa Rican families out for an afternoon by the ocean. dave marylou costa rica  beachHiking was hard work, especially on the return trip walking on wet sand that slanted towards the sea. I was getting blisters from my sandals so I just took them off.  It was 91 degrees but there was a nice breeze that made the walk more pleasant. I sang songs, recited poetry and counted the steps between the beach’s 1/4 kilometre markers.  Eventually I decided to distract myself from the length of the trek back home by taking photos of things of beauty that captured my eye on the walk. Here they are!

horn shells costa rica


waves on rocks costa rica


pink shell costa rica


trees against the sky costa rica


shell costa rica


blue bird playa grande costa rica


crab shell costa rica


giant leeches or snails cost rica


whirly shell costa rica


dave costa rica tree beach


shell costa rica 2




Other posts…….

Inspiration in Fiji

The Flowers of Jamaica

Tree Inspiration

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Filed under Costa Rica, Nature

Dave Tries Boogie Boarding in Costa Rica

boogy board three

dave boogy two

dave boogy board 1

boogie board seven

boogie board four

boogie board five


Other posts…..

I Slept With A Champion Last Night

Dave Plays Ball in Arizona

Golfing At An Old Hudson’s Bay Outpost

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Filed under Costa Rica, Sports

House Work in Costa Rica

Half way through our stay at our picturesque apartment at Casa Chameleon in Playa Grande. Time for a clean up day. 

bedroom-casa-chameleonI made the bed.laundry-tub-casa-chameleonDid laundry using our state of the art washing machineclothes-line-casa-chameleon and clothes dryerkitchen-casa-chameleonTook out the garbage and recyling from our tiny kitchendining-room-casa-chameleonRearranged the dining room/porch furniture so we could all fit around the table more comfortably but making sure to leave room for a dog my brother has named Hobolito who seems to have taken a shine to us and loves to nap outside our door and follow us on walksbathroom-casa-chameleonCleaned all the sand out of the shower stallliving-room-casa-chameleon swept the living room floor

porch-casa-chameleonand shook out the hammock on the porch.  

I felt entitled to stretch out in the hammock with a glass of Sangria and my book after all that housework was done!  We love our little casa here in Playa Grande and will miss it when we move to Tamarindo. 

Other posts…….

The House With the Obama Chair

Building a House in Jamaica Step by Step



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Biking the Beach in Costa Rica

bikes on the beach

Friday we decided to rent bikes for the day and explore some of the beaches in the area where we are staying. biking maps costa ricaMy brother was tracking our route on the mapping program on his phone or we would have gotten lost. He navigated us down local roads to the Playa Grande beach nearest us. marylou biking on the beachI had never gone bike riding on a beach before and it was great. We had to stay on the wet, firm sand but the beach was much easier to ride along than the dirt roads which were peppered with potholes and rocks. 

driftwood on playa grandeThe Playa Grande Beach has no buildings along it because at night it is home to nesting turtles whose habitat needs to remain undisturbed. The hotels and houses further inland must shield their lighting and no one is allowed on the beach after sundown in order to protect the turtles. 

ken and dave playa grande beachAfter cycling the length of Playa Grande or The Big Beach we were off to Playa Ventanas or The Window Beach. dave crab on his headThere were many crabs skittering across the sand here and Dave put a crab shell on his Winnipeg Jets hat. 

playa ventas beach costa ricaThen we headed around the corner and through a channel that would have been underwater at high tide to Playa Carbon or the Carbon Beach. black-sand-beachPlaya Carbon is a black sand beach. Black sand is composed of volcanic minerals and lava fragments.  Costa Rica has many active volcanoes. dave at playa carbonDave walked far out onto the lava-like rocks. Playa Carbon reminded me of the black sand beach we had visited in Hawaii. 

dead end bridge costa ricaOnce we found our way back onto the road we drove a little way only to hit a dead-end where a bridge had washed out.  So we decided to head home. house for sale costa ricaUsing my brother’s maps on his phone again we were able to take a different route past many beautiful homes most of them for sale.  

lunch playa grande bike hikeWe stopped for burritos and beer at a little cafe along the way. white-throated-magpie-jay-costa-ricaA trio of White Throated Magpie Jays provided rather raucous background music for our meal. dave on bike costa ricaIt had been a great ride but we were hot and tired and ready for naps when we got home before heading down to the beach for a sunset swim. sunset-costa-rica


Other posts……

A Bike Ride in Toronto

The Driedgers Bike Boblo Island

Biking in Florence



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Filed under Costa Rica, Sports

Costa Rica’s Tasty Termites and A Scorpion Sting Is A Badge of Honor

termite-nestWhat is it?  On one of our first walks in the woods here in Costa Rica I spotted these giant nests in the trees. They looked a bit like wasp nests but I found out they are the homes of termites.  Made from digested wood pulp and termite feces, a nest can weigh 28 kilograms and house 50,000 to a million there are soldier termites who have long snouts that spray chemicals on intruders, worker termites who collect wood from rotting trees and feed the queen termite whose job it is to lay eggs to populate the nest with hordes of baby termites. termite-nestsTermites are apparently quite tasty as well. The indigenous people of Costa Rica considered them a nutritious menu item. Millions of American dollars are being invested in the study of Costa Rican termites because scientists believe the way their digestive systems operate could hold the key to the creation of new bio-fuels.  The termites in Costa Rica are called arboreal termites because they build their nests in trees. 

scorpion-in-a-plastic-bagCheck out this scorpion that bit my brother yesterday morning when he was doing his meditation exercises on our front porch. He felt something crawling on his back, flicked it off and it bit his hand.  We saved it in a plastic bag to show a doctor just in case it was poisonous.

scorpionI quickly searched the internet but found out that the twelve species of scorpions in Costa Rica aren’t deadly, although they can cause some numbness and tingling which my brother experienced.  Murat our host here at the Casa Chameleon says being bit by a scorpion is a badge of honor for a Costa Rican visitor.  I’ve decided it’s a kind of recognition I can live without.

Other posts……

Dragonfly Inspiration at the Winnipeg Folk Festival

You Wouldn’t Believe What You Can See on a Golf Course in Mexico

Creatures I’ve Photographed


Filed under Costa Rica, Nature

Hitting The Bird Watching Jackpot in Costa Rica

bird costa ricaThey were all members of the New Jersey Audubon Society! Yesterday we took our water taxi driver José, up on his offer of a two hour boat ride down the river estuary between Playa Grande and Tamarindo. sand piper costa ricaJosé said he’d take us on the trip for $20 each and since the wildlife tours we’d seen advertised in brochures were around $120 per person we thought it was a pretty good deal even though José doesn’t speak English and his boat needed a paint job. iguana costa ricaJosé showed us pictures of iguanas, crocodiles and howler monkeys as well as local birds to indicate what we’d be seeing on our ride. We agreed to meet José, at 8 o’clock the next morning .

When we arrived at the beach at the appointed time we were surprised to see we’d be sharing our boat with a party of four. But what a serendipitous surprise that turns out to be !

bird watchers costa rica

Our New Jersey birdwatching friends spot a trogan on a hike.

We’d hit the bird watching jackpot! The other two couples are hard core bird watchers, members of the New Jersey Audubon Society. Two of them have state of the art binoculars and bird books. The other two have serious cameras with the longest and biggest lenses you can imagine. grackle costa ricaThey have been studying the birds of Costa Rica for months to prepare for their trip to Central America and are just ending their vacation so by now they know ALL the birds we will see. They tell us Costa Rica has 900 species of birds and so far they have seen 100 lifers in the country. Lifers are birds that a bird watcher is seeing for the first time in their life.
estuary playa grandeSo down the estuary we went and every few minutes our boat mates were excitedly spotting yet another bird, pointing it out so we could see it and try to photograph it. We decided we needed a system, so Dave agreed to take photos while I wrote down the names of all the birds we were seeing. bird costa rica 1Our New Jersey friends were gracious about repeating names of birds and even spelling them for me. They showed us pictures in their bird books of the birds we were spotting along the way, and let us see the amazing photos they took of the birds on their high tech cameras. They even gave Dave tips for taking the bird pictures in this post. We saw………..

heron costa ricaa Hoffman’s Woodpecker, Black-headed Trogon, Mangrove Cuckoo, Yellow Crowned Night Heron, Long Tailed Silky Flycatcher, Orange Fronted Parakeet, Mangrove Yellow Warbler,  Spotted Sandpiper, Black Hawk, Yellow Headed Caracara, Tricolor Heron, Ringed Plover, Great Tailed Grackle, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Wood Stork, Ringed Kingfisher, Brown Pelican, White Ibis, Whimbrel, Boat Billed Heron, doves, osprey, hummingbirds and many more………

crocodile river estuary playa grande costa ricaOf course we also saw the ignanas, crocodiles and howler monkeys José had promised us. 

howler monkey costa rica

Howler monkey napping in a tree.

Cost of a boat ride down the Playa Grande estuary with José, including a bottle of water and a slice of watermelon- $20 USD

selfie-boat-ride-estuary-costa-ricaLesson about the birds of Costa Rica- PRICELESS!

Other posts……..

Architectural Wonders Avian and Human

Alfred Hitchcock – All Those Birds

The Animals of Australia




Filed under Costa Rica, Nature, People