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Sunday, July 14, 2019

Breakfast at the Feria

We decided to have breakfast at Grecia’s feria del agricultor, or farmers’ market. This market is much larger then the one in Atenas, where we used to live. It is open on Friday from 11am to 9pm and on Saturday from 5am to 1:30pm.

The selection of tropical fruits and vegetables is amazing - stand after stand of fresh, in-season produce. Fish, meats, breads and cheeses are also available, in addition to clothing, garden plants, fresh cut tropical flowers, leather products, etc. This is the place to go for your weekly produce shopping and the prices are very reasonable. There are also a number of sodas (mum and pop run eateries) and we had breakfast at one of them.

We each had the same selection. From top going to the right: bread, gallo pinto (rice and beans), plantains, fried egg (that’s Lizano sauce on my egg), and fried queso fresco (fresh white cheese). I smeared the soft cooked plantain on top of my bread. Cost for both dishes was around 6,000 colones, about $10 USD. This is a really tasty meal. 

I have been looking for a leather wallet so we went to the leather worker’s stand. Didn’t find what I wanted but did buy this change purse.

One stand had the biggest, shiniest radishes - they looked like they had been polished - so we bought some.

I also bought this same vender’s own homemade achiote (for some reason named pito - which means “whistle”) and a guanabana fruit. I made a roast chicken using the achiote.

Here’s what the cut guanabana looks like. I use it in smoothies.

If you are visiting Costa Rica, do not miss out on an opportunity to stop at a feria - one of the delights of living here.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Eyes on Costa Rica and Weather Records - June 2019

In June, visits to this blog were received from the following countries:

Visits have now been recorded from over 3870 towns, cities and other places located in 125 countries throughout the world. The most recent country since October last year is Ghana which is identified above and is highlighted on the map below.

On the map, red dots (many of which are buried under other red dots) indicate places from where visits have occurred since September 29, 2016. Dots for visits recorded before that date do not appear.

While the vast majority of visits continue to come from Costa Rica, the United States and Canada, it remains clear that people from many other countries have their eyes on Costa Rica.

In addition to the above, my video on "Landing at Juan Santamaría Airport, Costa Rica" has continued to attract interest not only through this blog where the video was first posted on August 26, 2017 but also directly through YouTube independently of the blog. Since October of last year, the number of times the video has been viewed has risen from over 2590 views to over 4420 views.

With regard to the weather, the following is a summary for the month of June in the area where we live:

Compared to May (the beginning of the rainy season), the temperatures in June were generally unremarkable. However, there was a significant drop in rainfall. In May, the rainfall was over 14 inches (37 centimeters). As indicated above, it dropped to 5.52 inches (14.02 centimeters) in June.

Apparently, the drop in rainfall is not unusual. Although the rainy season begins in May, it will typically be interrupted by a mini-summer or "verano" or "veranilla" with relatively little rainfall. This is then followed by several months where heavy rainfall can be expected until the onset of the next dry season in November or December. We shall see.

By the way, if you look on the Internet for reliable weather forecasts for any given town or city in the Central Valley of Costa Rica, you should understand that the information you likely will get is that coming from a weather station at the  near the city of Alajuela. Given the microclimates in Costa Rica, including those in the Central Valley, the information is often completely unreliable except for places very near to the airport. Grecia is not one of such places. Nor is Atenas where we used to live. Nor too are places such as San Ramon, Palmares, Sarchi, Naranjo, etc. All such places are within about a 1 hour drive from the airport. Type in any one of the place names on a weather channel website and the results you get will likely be those for the airport. The clue that this is so is when all places have the same forecast or that when all places have the same "current conditions".

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Canada Day 2019 in Costa Rica

July 1st is Canada Day or Dominion Day as some people like to call it. It is a federal statutory holiday and celebrates the anniversary of July 1, 1867, the effective date of the Constitution Act.

This year, being Canadians, we received an invitation to a Canada Day celebration, courtesy of the Canadian Club of Costa Rica.

The festivities were held at Café Kivu (formerly Café David) at the highly regarded Zoo Ave (“ave” is Spanish for “bird” not “avenue”) in La Garita. It is not really a zoo but a sanctuary for injured birds and animals, which hopefully can eventually be returned to the wild. It has won awards for the work it is doing. Here is how Café Kivu got its name. The owner is Canadian and he gave a welcoming talk. 

The Chargé d’Affaires from the Canadian Embassy was there. We shared a table with a Canadian couple from Ontario and it turned out they live not far from us. Also met Canadians that I am friends with on Facebook but had never actually met in person. There was live music and prize drawings. The buffet was good, so was the cold beer. We ordered cheesecake with mora on top - excellent. The Costa Rican anthem was played, and then the Canadian anthem. Thanks to Ron Findlay from the Canadian Club for putting this on - and I’m sure there were others too but I don’t have their names.

We had a great time.

Ron Findlay and his hat:

My lunch - breaded fish, vegetables, cucumber salad and plantanos:

Live music - thanks, Frank.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Naranjo Coffee Festival

Today we drove to the town of Naranjobecause they were having a two day coffee fiesta. Naranjo is about 20 km away from our town of Grecia. We thought it would be fun to attend and it was. We lucked out and found a parking spot on the road close by the park attended by a guachiman

The fiesta was held in the park in front of the church. The smell of fresh roasted coffee in the air was wonderful. There were all sorts of booths selling coffee, art, purses, desserts.

We wandered around, sat for a while to listen to the band, then headed home. Here are some photos I took.

What you cannot do in the vicinity of the church: kiss, skateboard, ride your bike, smoke a ciggie and I don’t know what the E means.

Coffee booths:


Art Show:

These are the traditional art works offered for sale. They are 3-D - all those little people are made from rocks.

There are festivals like this one all over Costa Rica and they are fun to attend.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Botanical Orchid Garden Visit

On Friday morning, we drove to the Botanical Orchid Garden in La Garita  This is a really nice garden complex to visit, especially if one is interested in orchids as I am. But it offers more then just orchids - there are aviaries for rescued birds, beautiful grounds, a gift shop, a large pond with ducks, a playground for kids, easy walking trails, well marked trees, bushes and plants so you can learn about the different species and a very nice restaurant.

This is the off season in Costa Rica and a great time to visit beaches, resorts and attractions. Prices can be low and crowds are minimal. We usually go out and about in the mornings because there is always the possibility of rain in the afternoons. Also we usually go during the week as weekend traffic can be quite heavy. We had the orchid garden to ourselves.

Everything is well marked so you can just wander around at will. There are several large orchid greenhouses and one has explanatory signs so you can learn how orchids are cultivated - from dust mote size seed to adult plant. Seeing how all the different species are planted and being grown is useful to me so I can compare how my own collection is doing. The small greenhouse behind the gift shop sells orchids - I resisted because I have enough of them.

After doing our tour, we went to the restaurant for a cold drink and a dessert. We each had mora bebidos - mora being a type of blackberry grown here and bebido (or refresco or natural), meaning a cold fruit drink made with milk or water. There were several postres (desserts) on offer and we both chose the lemon pie which was a tangy lemon filling on top of a type of graham cracker crust.

The Botanical Orchid Garden would be a good place to take your visitors. We enjoyed it and it’s an easy and close drive from our house in Grecia.

Scarlet macaws. Two types of macaws reside in Costa Rica - the scarlet on the Pacific Coast and the great green on the Caribbean Coast. Sadly, both species are considered endangered. I have seen the scarlet macaws flying wild and it is a beautiful sight. These aviaries were large enough that these birds could have a short fly around.

This sweet lady cockatoo has been in the gardens since the 1980’s. She seemed to like attention.

Orchids, orchids everywhere. This is just one of several greenhouses.

I think (but correct me if I am wrong) that this is the national flower of Costa Rica - the Guarianthe skinneri orchid, or Guaria morada.

Vanda orchid collection. I have three vandas that have yet to flower. They were very young and small when I bought them so hopefully they will flower one day.

One color of vanda flower:

Friendly ducks at the pond. They followed us around for a bit. There is also another smaller pond with koi fish and turtles.

Etlingera elatior or torch ginger.

The enormous Samanea saman tree. I believe the name has now been changed to Albizia saman. The wood makes attractive cabinets and furniture.

Large bamboo stand.

Looking out from inside the restaurant.

Lemon pie and mora batido. Mine was made with water and Lance’s with milk.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Eyes on Costa Rica and Weather Records - May, 2019

During May, visits to this blog were received from the following countries:


The following is a summary of weather for the month in the area where we live:

During May, the rainy season (aka "green" season) arrived with a vengeance. There were 21 days with measurable rain totaling over 14 inches (37 centimetres). In contrast, there was only one day with measurable rain in the preceding four months - and a very small amount at that - about 0.01 inches (0.025 centimeters).

A few days were marked by socked in clouds and daylong drizzle. Although significantly milder than up North, this was reminiscent of the weather during winters in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, Canada and the Pacific Northwest in the USA. Other rainy days were more typical of the green season. They began with clear or broken cloudy skies in the mornings followed by thunder, lightning and rain in the afternoons.

Also typical of the green season and its accompanying cloudiness, daytime high temperatures in May tended to be a bit lower than previous months and overnight low temperatures tended to be a bit higher. 

Saturday, June 1, 2019

2011 - The Year We Moved to Costa Rica - A Retrospective in Photos

Yesterday - May 31, 2019 - marks the 8th year we have lived in Costa Rica. On May 31, 2011, we flew from San Francisco, to Dallas, to Juan Santamaria Airport in Costa Rica. I can still remember how I felt as we landed - we’re really here! And we’ve never looked back. It’s been a great adventure - so many new things to learn, experiences, new friends, the great beauty of this country - I could go on and on.

So our journey actually began in Cloverdale, Surrey, British Columbia, Canada - a client of Lance’s had visited here and told us we had to visit also because it was such an incredible country. Lance started investigating on line and one thing led to another - we decided to move to Costa Rica. I have documented our journey on this blog since the beginning so I won’t go into all of it again.

But I decided to put together a montage of photos from 2011, and you can see them at here at the bottom of this post. It starts with some final visits with family and friends in British Columbia, getting rid of/selling most of our stuff (Lance’s huge oak desk is shown heading out the door), then moves on to our early morning loading of luggage into our friend Jon Churchill’s car en route to the train station in Vancouver. Jon thought we were crazy but was a great help. We boarded the Amtrak’s Cascade train to Seattle, overnighted there, then caught the fabled Amtrak Starlight Express to San Francisco and then Los Angeles. We got off in San Francisco and spent two nights there ... it’s one of my favourite cities. 

Then on to Dallas, and Costa Rica. We spent a week in San José, the capital city of Costa Rica, to meet with our immigration lawyer. We had previously sent our cat Genny ahead of us using World Pet Travel. Then we moved to Atenas and the rest is history.

Click on this link Costa Rica to view the photos.