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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Christmas in Costa Rica

I bought a bag of flour in Atenas last week and just today noticed that it has a picture of Santa and one of his reindeer on the bag, as well as Feliz Navidad.

Christmas comes early in Costa Rica!


Saturday, October 26, 2013

We're Invited .....

.... to the wedding of Jorge and Fabiola next month. What an honor to be invited into the Atenas Tico community this way. Jorge has been one of our regular taxi drivers since we moved to Atenas a little over two years ago.

Looking forward to this event very much.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

First Annual Atenas Art Show

Come and support your local artists! The First Annual Atenas Art Show will be held on Saturday, November 16, 2013, from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm at El Ricón de Nana, Atenas. El Ricón de Nana is situated near Pharmacia Central, 100 meters south and 50 meters east of the Tribunales de Justicia, Atenas.

I will be there with some of my cattle and horse art. I will also have for sale the Atenas tourist map which features on the front one of my paintings of a Costa Rican ox.

There will be many wonderful handmade items to purchase such as recycled/upcycled items, handmade candles, windchimes, tee shirts, home decor items, Christmas cards, mobiles and much more.

In addition, you can try fabulous ice cream concoctions and lunch specials made by "Nana" (Cecilla).

So mark this day on your calendars and come on out and support Atenas' artists.


Saturday, October 19, 2013

Eyes on Costa Rica - Update

This follows my blog entry on June 10, 2013. At that time, more than 60 countries from where people were visiting this blog were identified. The number has now risen to over 80. The newest countries or quasi-countries include Belize, Bermuda, Curaçao, Martinique, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Peru, Armenia, Bulgaria, Ireland, Serbia, Hong Kong, Iraq, South Korea, the Maldives, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka and Tunisia.

In addition, there has been at least one visit from the U.S. Army Post Office (APO) for the Armed Forces Europe, and more from “ - - - ” (no identified place, no identified region, and no identified country).

The mystery of who or what “ - - - ” might be has now been partly solved. In Internet jargon, they are “anonymous proxies” flying or trying to fly under the radar. On the globe which appears in the sidebar of this blog, they are indicated by the red dot which appears at Latitude 0°, Longitude 0° (about 350 miles southeast off the coast of Ghana in the Gulf of Guinea).

Costa Rica is obviously in the eyes of the world.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Fiesta de las Culturas

Today we went to the Atenas Day of Cultures event in our central park. This was organized jointly by the Municipality of Atenas and CATUCA (Cámara de Turismo y Comerciode Atenas) to celebrate the International Day of Cultures.

There was live music and dancing, lots of booths selling different kinds of foods, beautiful hand made belts, jewelry, embroidered linens, Christmas ornaments, orchids, and lots more. We headed right to the Salvadorian pupusa stand for our first snacks.

Pupusas are a traditional Salvadoran food - thick, handmade corn tortillas with fillings usually consisting of quesillo (a soft cheese found throughout Central America), ground pork meat and refried beans and then topped with curtido (lightly fermented cabbage slaw) and a tomato salsa. I could eat one of these every day.

We then moved on to a Tico stand selling strawberries and grapes on a stick and dipped in chocolate. Grapes and chocolate go very well together. Then it was a drink of cas (a fruit, also known as sour guava). To take home, I bought cheese biscuits from a Tico stand, organic dill pickles with garlic from an expat lady, Irish scones made by our very own Marietta Arce (Atenas Today), and two tamales. Someone was selling arroz con leche (rice with milk). Not sure if it this is a type of dessert or a savory. I am proud to say I walked right past the orchid stand and did not stop to buy one.

We ran into lots of friends. The weather was perfect and so was this day. I made a small video of two groups playing music. The first video features a marimba, handcrafted by the man playing it. He named it "Mi Leidy" for his wife whose name was Leidy. She passed away recently. The other video is of three young people playing bluegrass music. The videos are below the photographs.

The pupusa in all it's glory


The lovely lady in the middle is 92 year old Yoshii Sasak. She did all the paintings shown hanging up and wanted all proceeds of sales to go to the Hogar de Vidi, Atenas' home for abandoned/abused children.


The little kid in the plaid shirt could not stop dancing to the music. He was really serious about it.


Marimba band. The fellow on the left side of the tent in the tropical shirt is our local, and very good, jazz musician.


Thursday, October 10, 2013

No Banditos At Our House

These two dogs have chosen to guard our gate tonight. They live somewhere in our area - we heard their owner call one of them once. Dogs in Costa Rica are often allowed to roam loose. On my walks into Atenas, I come upon all manner of pups lolling about in the sun, or going to visit their friends. I recognize lots of them now. They all look well fed. Not a bad life for a doggy.

Yes, there is a somewhat different cultural viewpoint on animals here from what we are used to in North America but we can't bring our prejudices with us when moving to a new country. Besides, we live in a farming community and everyone knows where their meat comes from. There are, thankfully, many volunteer groups and individuals who do care for the abused and abandoned animals here. I always think of how many animals languish in British Columbia shelters waiting for homes and the same is true across Canada. People there still are not neutering and spaying their pets. There is much abuse of animals all around the world.

It exists in the horse racing industry and the horse show world. I suspect it also festers in dog and cat shows, some zoos, circuses. Think about the dairy industry, the poultry, egg, and pork factories - anywhere where humans can exert their power over creatures that have no means to fight back and where consumers think a cut up chicken was created from a plastic covered styrofoam package in a grocery cooler.

So, these two having a nice snooze outside our gate and warning us of any intruders seems okay to me. They'll go home eventually - we hope!



Thursday, October 3, 2013

Stanhopea Orchid

A few months ago, I bought several orchids from a lady who was disposing of her collection. I was told one of them flowered from the bottom, rather then the top. None of the orchids had tags but I recognized a couple, an oncidium for example.

I researched orchids that bloom from the bottom and discovered I had a Stanhopea, a new orchid for me. This species needs lots of water, moving air and bright light but not sun, which can burn the thin leaves. Obviously, this type of orchid cannot flower in a pot, and this one is in a wire hanging basket. The potting material is very loose, consisting of what looks like coco husk fiber and rolled up pieces of periole base from a palm tree frond.

I made some more of the palm base rolls (cut into thin pieces, soaked in water, then shaped into a loose roll) and topped up the basket. We hung the basket under the eaves where it gets good morning light. I fertilize all my orchids with Ever Green organic foliar nutrient that can be sprayed on leaves and potting material. Ever Green Fungicida Multiefecto is also a good multi-effect fungicide.

Not long ago, I noticed my Stanhopea had an inflorescence ("flower stem") coming out the bottom of the basket. Since this orchid was not in bloom when I acquired it, and there are approximately 65 species of Stanhopea, 5 natural hybrids, and dozens of man-made hybrids, it was exciting wondering what kind I had.

We watched the daily development of the flowers and recorded them. Yesterday, we woke up to the amazing display of the fully opened flowers and the incredible scent, which was almost overpowering. It drifted into the house all day, a sort of spicy vanilla odor. Stanhopea flowers only last a few days, and today we noticed a slight change from yesterday's robust display, with less scent.

September 30, 2013

The good news is that Stanhopea will consistently produce inflorescences all year if it is healthy and happy, so we have many more spectacular displays to look forward to.

October 2, 2013
October 2, 2013 - the first day the flowers are open.


October 2, 2013 - showing how the inflorescence emerges from the bottom of the basket.