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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas in Atenas, Costa Rica

This will be our second Christmas in Costa Rica and in Atenas. I find the holiday season here a whole lot less hectic than it seemed to be in Canada, even though we had cut back a lot on all the shopping madness during the last few years we lived there.

This year in Atenas, we were fortunate to be asked to participate in a cookie exchange put on by our neighbours Rose Mary and Tony. We came home with nine dozen different kinds of cookies and I never thought we would be able to use them all. Guess what ... they were all gone within two weeks and it wasn't because we gave any away as gifts.

The cookie exchange table.

My contribution was Nanaimo bars, originally created in the lovely city of Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada. I'm making more tomorrow to give as Christmas gifts to our taxi drivers.

This coming weekend, the Festival of Lights happens in Atenas with the parade on Saturday starting around 6:00 pm. Just go to the park and you will see it. There will be venders in the park selling food,  and, my favorite, light sticks!

Also, Music Atenas is putting on concerts:

This year, we hung lights from our hedge and I also made luminaries from paper bags - so easy. Buy largish size paper bags from your local mercado, add some sand/soil from your garden in the bottom of the bags, roll the tops of the bags down about two times, place tea lights in the sand and light them. Instant and cheap decorations that look good! You can also cut some small designs in the sides of the bags and, instead of using tea lights, small LED lights could be strung through the bags. Of course, this would not work in rainy climates.

Here is a picture of my luminaries:

Monday, December 10, 2012

Painting in Costa Rica

"Simbolico de Atenas"
 2012 Diana Miskell 
Atenas, Costa Rica, is the perfect place for me to be because I paint and specialize in portraits of horses and cattle. Atenas is surrounded by fields of cattle and horses and, what with all the topes (horse parades) and oxcart parades, I have no end of images to capture.

Camara de Turismo y Comercio de Atenas (Chamber of Tourism & Commerce in Atenas), Marietta Arce, publisher of  "Atenas Today", and Parrot Eyes Maps Costa Rica are producing a new 2012 map of Atenas.

An image for the front cover of the map was required and local artists were asked to submit an image that was emblematic of Atenas. These images were voted on and the image with the most votes was the one that would be used on the front of the new map.

I submitted my painting, "Simbolico de Atenas", because to me the oxen, oxcarts and their boyeros symbolize Atenas more than anything else. The old oxcart trail (camino del carretas) ran through Atenas and trains of oxcarts carrying coffee beans travelled down highway 3 to Puntarenas on the Pacific Coast.

I am pleased to say my painting was chosen for the cover of the new 2012 Atenas map. It is acrylic on canvas board, 18x24 inches. Other horse and cattle art that I have created can be seen on my art website at

Barney the Neighbourhood Cat Comes Home

Rose Mary and Tony picked up Barney at the vet's office last Wednesday. They worried that he might run away as soon as the cage door was opened but he was fine and settled down to a bowl of food.

He came down the hill to visit us the same day and has shown up regularly since. He was sleeping on a patio chair this morning so perhaps he stayed overnight. Yesterday, he and and our cat Genny were lying on the grass looking very content and enjoying the sun and breezes - they reminded me of cows in the meadow chewing their cuds.

Cost for neutering Barney: 14,000 colones or about $28 CAD and that included worm pills.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Barney the Cat Update

Barney - Pre-Nutcracker
I've written previously about Barney the Cat and our attempts to get him to the vet and neutered.

Well, it's probably happening right now as I write this! Neighbors Rose Mary and Tony, co-caretakers of Barney along with us, phoned me earlier today to say Barney was at the vet. They used a cat trap to get him - a wise decision after the way he broke out of our airline approved cat carrier.

Apparently, he was plenty mad - and became even angrier when his cage was set down on the floor at the vet's and a puppy gamboled up to the cage to have a sniff. He comes home tomorrow and I'll tell you how he reacts when let out of the cage.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Orchid Show, Grecia

Today we went with friends Diane and John to the D├ęcima Exposicion de Orquideas - Grecia (Tenth Orchid Show - Grecia) held in the Centro de la Cultura de Grecia. The building is easy to find - near the church and park. Only 1000 colones each to get in. It runs from November 30 through to December 2 so you still have time to go tomorrow.

As usual with orchid shows, it was amazing. Beautiful displays of so many orchid species, all flowering. How the exhibitors manage to have their orchids flowering in time for a show is a mystery to me. We wandered around with me drooling. I had to leave my orchid collection behind in Vancouver so I can't resist starting another one here. There are more than 1,400 types of wild orchids growing throughout the rain forests of Costa Rica so we've moved to the right place.

Fortunately, orchids were for sale and I purchased a flowering sized miltonia for the incredible price of 4,000 colones (about $8 CAD/USD). I paid around $25 CAD/USD for a similar miltonia in Vancouver - actually, Lance paid as it was a gift from him to me.

On the way out, I saw a familiar face - that of Jennifer who writes the great blog "A New Life in Costa Rica". Jenn was at the orchid show with her family and friends. We have never met but I've been reading about their move to, and life now, in Costa Rica since before we moved here ourselves. I felt like I already knew them - I certainly recognized them.

It was so wonderful finally meeting Jenn, her daughter and her husband in person. She is just as friendly and outgoing as her posts indicate she must be. 

For lunch, we went to Cafe Delicias, near the park. I ordered a ham and cheese croissant and a lemonade - very good. The others chowed down on a chicken pita, turkey croissant and a green salad that had way, way more stuff in it and with it than just green lettuce.

Oh yes, before lunch Diane and I went into one of the Ropa Americana stores after sending the menfolk to go sit in the park. For 6,000 colones ($12 CAD) I scored three all cotton shirts. Go to the Ropa Americana stores if you want to experience Costa Rica - they are fun, crowded, noisy and you will learn patience and get to practice your Spanish a bit too. By the way, if your better half thinks that spending more than 5 minutes in a clothing store is inexcusable, then you should invite them to stay home.

All in all, this was a five star day! Here are some photos taken today:

This is not an orchid from the show. It is one of mine and finally flowered. It originally had two flowers but something ate one of them. It is labeled "Guarianthe Aurantiaca".

Orchids from the orchid show.

This is my second most scary bridge in Costa Rica so far - it's on a short cut road from Grecia to Atenas.

Scary, but saves about 15 to 20 minutes travel time from Grecia to Atenas and one toll booth.

Three rivers converging into one under the bridge.

Geez, you can see the roaring river through the wood on the bridge.