Tag Archives: Costa Rica

Our Last Night in Costa Rica Was Noisy

The music lasted till midnight and started again at 5 in the morning!  hotel liberiaWe stayed at a charming old world hotel in the heart of Liberia our last night in Costa Rica.  We hadn’t realized our visit would be during Liberia’s Fiestas Civicas which takes place every year during the last week of February and the first week of March. Since Liberia is in Guanacaste province where ranching and cattle raising is an important economic activity Liberia celebrates with daily horse parades.  The day we were there the parade featured children.  children's horse paradeHundreds of little kids rode on horses, most with their parents walking alongside them for safety and support.  Many were dressed up in beautiful clothes.  Some looked to be as little as one or two years old. 

child on horse liberiaOur hotel was located right on the city square which was filled with people and vendors and a stage where musicians began entertaining around the dinner hour.  And the music continued till midnight!  Since our hotel wasn’t air conditioned screened windows high up near the ceiling let in a cool breeze but they also let in the music from the square. Needless to say sleep was impossible. Thankfully at midnight the music stopped.  IMG_2495But at 5 am. the music started again. I found out later this parade is called “La Diana”and features drunken people dancing on the street after partying all night. The one upside of the 5 am. parade?  We didn’t need the wake up call we’d arranged for so we could catch a 6 am taxi to the airport. 

Other posts……

Costa Rica Firsts

Earth Day Winnipeg

Visiting Santa Cruz Costa Rica

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Costa Rica Inspiration

iguana costa ricaIt is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change.      Charles Darwin

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Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.      Nathaniel Hawthorne

river costa ricaEventually all things merge into one and a river runs through it. – Norman Maclean

grove of treesWhen you enter a grove peopled with ancient trees….. shutting out the sky with their thickly inter-twined branches, does not………… the stillness of the place………. strike you with the presence of a deity?    Senecabirds' eye costa rica

Some birds are not meant to be caged, that’s all. Their feathers are too bright, their songs too sweet and wild. Stephen Kinghorses costa ricaHorses bring us in contact with the elements of grace, beauty, spirit, and fire. -Sharon Ralls Lemon

clouds costa ricaI’ve looked at clouds from both sides now. – Joni Mitchell (click on the photo to see a video I made of clouds moving across the cloud forest)

rainbow arc costa ricaLife is full of wonders, but you can’t have rainbows without rain.  O.S. Hickman flower bush costa ricaThe earth laughs in flowers.  Ralph Waldo Emerson

IMG_2435Leaf shelter- the tentative crosswise cover which a thousand light ideas give.  Josephine Miles

Other posts…….

Tree Inspiration

Inspiration in Quebec City

Elegant Words

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Sunday Morning Worship With Quakers in Costa Rica

I sit in complete silence for forty-five minutes, as do the ninety people all around me. It’s Sunday morning in Monteverde Costa Rica and I am attending a Quaker meeting. We are comfortably settled on hand crafted wooden benches arranged in a circle. Our spacious timber frame meeting place has a soaring ceiling. The huge windows give us a full view of the trees and  plants of the cloud forest surrounding us. The wind breathes in and out in mighty gusts and rain spatters the glass.

forest costa ricaThat’s probably why Joy is Like the Rain is the first hymn suggested during the singing session prior to our contemplation. People simply call out a song title and we sing. Tis a Gift to Be Simple, Kumbayah, The Prayer of St. Francis, Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah and Everyone Neath Their Vine and Fig Tree. All are familiar tunes I’ve sung many times in my own Mennonite faith community.

After thirty minutes of singing our hymnbooks are collected and the silence begins without announcement or introduction. Some people close their eyes, some read their Bibles, some sit with their hands open palms up in front of them, while other fold their hands and bow their heads.

I begin by praying. It is lovely and peaceful not to feel like I have to hurry through my prayers, but to let my thoughts flow freely as I bring concerns and joys into mind and before God.

IMG_2307And then I try to empty my mind, like I’ve read one should do when you meditate. I try to concentrate on my breath and the wind, the rustling of the leaves, the creaking of the tree branches.

After forty- five minutes the silence ends when a woman gets up to speak. She talks about a Quaker high school in Cuba closed by the government after the revolution.    Now with relations thawing between Cuba and the United States, they’ve been given permission to commence classes again. The woman speaking has friends in the Cuban Quaker community and asks for support and prayer as they get ready to reopen the doors of their school.

A woman with ruddy cheeks, silver earrings and white hair rises next to talk about the strong winds blowing in Monteverde. It has reminded her that the wind is the earth’s breath and that all the air on our planet has been here since creation. We share the air we breathe with every living thing past and present. She suggests that when we feel chaotic or conflicted we just sit and breathe and receive positive energy from all the living things around us. Our very breath connects us to them.

The children have been meeting separately, the older ones return halfway through our time of silence and the younger children fifteen minutes later. Their teachers get up now and explain that the younger children have been learning how to be silent in meaningful ways. They have practiced meditating using a pebble and meditating by drawing pictures of objects in nature. The older children have been talking about how hard it is to voice your opinion when it is different from the opinions of most people around you.

Announcements come next about opportunities to join together in the coming weeks for square dancing, Shakespeare readings, book clubs, coffee houses and listening to activist students share their ideas for improving life in Costa Rica. Things to celebrate about the Quaker school in Monte Verde are listed and the congregation responds by waving their hands in the air instead of clapping.

Then visitors from Quaker meetings around the United States and from as far away as Cambridge, England introduce themselves. We introduce ourselves too.

The meeting ends with everyone shaking hands and blessing each other with a message of peace, a word of welcome or a wish for a good day.

I didn’t expect that attending a Quaker meeting for the very first time would be part of my travels in Costa Rica but I’m very glad it was. There are so many ways people of different faiths and denominations choose to worship and communicate with the Divine. Exploring their infinite variety is enriching both personally and spiritually.

Other posts……

Visiting a Quaker School in Costa Rica

Eight Tone Bells and A Choir Director From Winnipeg

A Tiny Church

Opposite Profound Truths





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Flowers of Costa Rica


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marylou orchid

Other posts…….

Beauty on the Beach

Flower Inspiration

Flowers of Jamaica


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Our Heads in the Clouds

at the top of the world cloud forestWe were in the clouds and above the clouds. in the tram cloud forest After our bridge walk through the cloud forest canopy we took a tram ride even further up into the sky.  riding thet ram cloud forestFirst we were under the clouds, going through the cloudsthen riding through them and finally we emerged up above them.  two hundred year old fern treeOnce again we had an amazing guide, this time named Edwardo whose love of nature and information about the cloud forest added so much to our experience. He pointed out two hundred year old fern trees.  baby vultureHe had us look way down on the mountain side where a pair of baby black vultures had hatched and were waiting to be ready to fly.  

Black Vulture

Black Vulture

Dave had taken a picture of a mature vulture in Dominical so it was interesting to see how different the babies and adults looked. view from the tramEdwardo pointed out the Pacific Ocean way off in the distance.  looking down from the tramWe could look down and see the suspension bridges where we had been walking just hours before. Now we were high above them. white faced coatiAs our tram ride ended Dave spotted this white-nosed coati. tram ride sky walkWhat made me sad on our tram ride was hearing our guide Edwardo say that unless something is done to stop it scientists predict that within twenty years global warming could mean the end of this cloud forest. 

dave and marylou cloud forestIt made me wonder as I have so often on this trip in Costa Rica, whether my grandchildren will have the same opportunity to see all this natural beauty when they are my age? 

Other posts…….

Walking in the Canopy

Walk at Hillside Beach

Walk at Louise Lake

Early Morning Walk in Saskatoon


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MaryLou Changes Her Mind

waterfall viewWe did a 7 km. hike to a beautiful waterfall when we were in San Gerarado de Dota. hike to waterfall san gerardoThe scenery along the way was absolutely wonderful. pioneer monuments

We passed by this monument dedicated to the Costa Rican pioneers who first came to this isolated valley in 1954 to establish homes and farms.  They were coffee plantation workers who dreamed of having a place of their own. trout farmThe hiking trail to the waterfall actually begins at a trout farm.  There are several trout farms in the San Gerardo valley. marylou on waterfall hikeI throughly enjoyed the first part of the hike.  It wasn’t easy by any means. hiking through cavesLots of steep trails, big tree roots, rocks to rappel up with ropes and caves to move through. My brother who likes to make videos as he travels by interviewing his companions had me share my feelings on film.  If you click the photo below you can hear what I said about enjoying this hike. marylou at waterfall
shortly after I gave that interview I changed my mind about the hike not being scary, when we came to this swinging suspension bridge. bridgeThere were no closed sides to it. Some of the slats on the bridge were broken. You hung onto this rope that was torn in some places. I WAS VERY SCARED!!  What if I slipped and fell into the river or onto the rocks below? 
marylou crosses the bridgeMy husband Dave took this close up of my face and you can see how hard I am focusing and concentrating on getting across that bridge without falling. And once I was across I had to handle the terrifying knowledge that I needed to travel back across it on the way home. dave at waterfall

We sat at the waterfall for quite a long time which helped me gather my courage for the trip back. butterfliesThere were all these gorgeous butterflies at the waterfall and Dave took photos of several different kinds.at the waterfallWe met a Dutch couple who were birdwatchers. They taught us the call of the resplendent quetzal and as you read in my blog post yesterday we spotted a quetzal  on our hike back. I walked the bridge very slowly on the return trip but I was proud of myself for conquering my fear. 

I did change my mind about the hike. It was too scary! But I’m still very glad I did it!

Other posts…….

Arizona Hiking Inspiration


Terrified Times Three


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Finding the Elusive Quetzal in Costa Rica

quetzelWe found a quetzal in the wild! Can you believe it? We were on the return journey of a hike to a waterfall here in San Gerardo de Dota, Costa Rica when Dave spotted a brilliantly colored male quetzal in the trees.  For nearly fifteen minutes we had him all to ourselves and Dave clicked photo after photo. quetzal 5There are only 80 quetzal couples left in the cloud forest here and spotting them isn’t guaranteed. Visitors from all over the world come to San Gerardo to observe them in the wild and many leave disappointed without ever seeing one.  As we sat enjoying the waterfall at the end of the first leg of our hike, we chatted with a couple from Holland who taught Dave to imitate the call of the quetzal and as we hiked back home Dave kept whistling it.  And then……… all of a sudden a quetzal flew into a tree in a little clearing. It was a magic moment. 

quetzal 3 costa ricaQuetzals mostly eat the fruit of the wild avocado tree and farmers in San Gerardo are planting more and more of these trees to attract quetzals to this valley and keep them here. There is also a law that no trees in the valley can be cut down. Any new buildings must be erected on land that has already been cleared. quetzal 6There is a real effort to preserve this quetzal habitat. And no wonder. These birds considered sacred by the ancient Mayans and Aztecs bring thousands and thousands of tourists here each year. quetzal 4The males are much more brilliantly colored than the females and during the mating season, which has just begun now in February, they grow these long twin tails that can be up to a meter long to attract females. Males need to be three years old before they can grow a tail.quetzal 7 Once they’ve mated a pair of quetzals use their beaks to enlarge holes in trees made by other birds and animals to make a nest for their two or three blue eggs. Both parents take turns incubating the eggs and bringing food to the babies once they hatch, but many mothers abandon their babies near the end of the nesting period and the father is left alone to care for the fledglings.  After about three weeks the babies are ready to fly on their own. 

quetzel 2After finding this quetzal Dave kept doing his quetzal calls and sure enough a little further down the trail both a male and female appeared in the trees. Unfortunately they didn’t stay long enough to photograph.  But we’d seen three quetzals on just one hike!  We’ve given Dave the nickname ‘quetzal whisperer.’   I think he’s pretty proud of it!

My husband Dave took all the photos in this post. 

Other posts…….

Dave Driedger Wildlife Photographer

The Dawn Chorus

Singing Bamboo


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What A Difference!

house in dominicalWe drove 48 miles and what a difference. One morning we were in Dominical Costa Rica in sweltering heat and by the afternoon we were in San Gerardo de Dota where the owners of the lodge where we are staying lit a fire before supper to warm us up.

fire in san geradoThe difference?  In San Gerardo we are at an elevation of 7000 feet and in Dominical on the beach our elevation was 25ft.river san gerado

Up till now in Costa Rica we’ve slept with the sound of the ocean surf or howler monkeys lulling us to sleep. Here in San Gerardo we hear the running of the Savegre River and in the morning the crowing of the roosters on the farms around us.
hiking in san geradoSan Gerardo de Dota isn’t really a town it is just a string of lodges each a short distance from each other in a deep valley surrounded by the towering Talamanca mountains.landscape san geradoThe landscape is very different from what we have experienced in Costa Rica so far. cloud forestThe San Gerardo area is called a cloud forest area because of the persistent cloud cover particularly at the canopy level. cloud forestBecause of their dampness cloud forests maintain an amazing biodiversity of plant and animal life. San Gerardo is known for its birds. 

lodge san gerado de dotaWe are staying at the El Manantial Mountain Lodge. A rustic beautiful place with simple delicious meals and friendly staff. el manatiel lodgeOur lodge is fairly isolated and nestled in the valley. sunny patio el manatielThere is a lovely sunny patio perfect for card game el manatielour late afternoon card gameshumming birdand for Dave to sit as often as he can to try to catch just the right shot of the many hummingbirds that haunt the porch. He’s got some great photos. 

Other posts……

Howler Monkeys, A Psychedelic Bus and an Uphill Climb in Tamarindo

Adventure in Santa Cruz

Stars, Crocodiles and Flaminco Fusion



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hiking-down-to-the-waterfallIn Uvita we did a hike to a wonderful waterfall. waterfall uvitaWhen we first arrived we were the only ones thereswimming-in-the-fallsSo we quickly shed our clothes and got into the water.costa-rican-familyIt wasn’t long before a large Costa Rican family joined us. practicing-englishThe father was very insistent that his teenage daughter have a conversation with Dave to practice her English. She asked good questions. english-practiceHere Dave is describing the cold and snow of Winnipeg to her. 

hiking-up-the-river-bedAfter swimming for quite a long time we hiked up the river bed to a smaller waterfall and pool. should-he-jumpDave contemplated whether or not he should jump from the high rocks at the sidedave-jumping-into-waterfallThere he goes!

good-landingGood landing!waterfall-spaWhere the water rushed over the rocks there was a little cradle in the stones where you could lie down, put your ears under the water and the spray whirled around you like you were in a hot tub at a spa. waterfall-spa-daveAll the outside noise was blocked out except for the sound of the water. It was blissful!floating at the waterfallFloating in that lovely cool pool in the Costa Rican heatsky-as-i-floatedand staring up at the sky and clouds through the trees was sooooooooo relaxing. hike-to-smaller-poolIt was hard to leave and begin the rocky trek home. 

Other posts…….

Kayaking in Laos

Terrified Times Three

Inspired By Georgia O Keefe

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Everything That Could Go Wrong

Thursday was one of those days that are bound to happen sometimes if you travel a lot. Basically everything that could  go wrong did.

I woke up to discover my computer had died. The heat and humidity in our air-conditionless cabin at Flutterby House had taken its toll.

Somehow before, during, or after our taxi ride to our next rented house in Dominical my brother-in-law lost one of his new Teva sandals.

We were greeted at our new place by unwashed dishes, overflowing garbage bins and linens that had not been changed.

When a cheerful worker named Christina arrived several hours later to clean up she told us that unlike everywhere else we had been in Costa Rica we could not drink the tap water at our new place and we would have to go and buy water at a store. We thought we’d go and get water once we’d rented our car but then we received an email that the car we had rented would not be available till the next morning and…..although our landlord had assured us we were only a few minutes walk away from stores and restaurants we were in fact a long distance away on a very steep and rocky road. This meant quite a trek to get water in blazing hot temperatures. Our walking route ended up involving many detours after we accepted confusing directions from local Costan Ricans eager to help us find a place to shop for water. 
When we got back home from getting water, we had a glass of wine and started making spaghetti for supper but just then……
The power went out! Our landlord didn’t answer our emails or phone calls for help (turns out he was in the skies flying back to the USA) and by the time he did it was too late to send out a maintenance person to solve our problem so……we sat in the dark for many hours hungry and frustrated.
We went to bed in stifling hot rooms (of course the air conditioning wasn’t working nor were the fans and since we were in an out of the way location we weren’t sure about leaving windows open for security reasons). We hoped all the food we had bought and had planned to cook on the stove, wouldn’t spoil in the warm fridge overnight.
When you travel you sometimes have days like that and you just have to make the best of them.
One of the things that saved the day for us was this amazing view out our front window. 
Who can get too upset while you are looking at a view like this?view-front-window-dominecal

Post Script
At 7 am on Friday someone arrived to restore our electricity and bring us enough water for our stay.

By noon the car rental guy had personally delivered our car to our home.

We drove back to our previous lodging where my brother-in-law’s sandal was discovered in the lost and found at the front desk.

After a day in air-conditioned comfort my computer started working again.  

Our landlord contacted us and apologized profusely for our problems and adjusted his rental rate accordingly. 

Sometimes when you travel you have days where all your problems get resolved and you have to be thankful and appreciate them

Other posts……

On the Road

Travel Observations

Travel Alphabet

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