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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Another New Year - 2016

Our friends and next door neighbors, Sharon and Gordon (guardians of Wonder Dog Diogi) took us out for dinner tonight. We went to Mar y Tierra (sea and land) which is a short drive from where we live.

Gordon and Sharon

We have eaten here before and the food is excellent. Sharon had the seafood cream soup, which I can vouch for. I opted for the garlicky seafood dish, and was happy to discover clams, shrimp and calamari nestled amongst the rice. Lance ordered shrimp pasta, with more then enough to bring home for leftovers tomorrow. I believe Gordon ordered a shrimp dish also.

They make excellent frozen Margaritas:

This is the dish I ordered.

Thank you so much, Sharon and Gordon - what a wonderful send off to the old year and a welcome to the new year.

Happy New Year, everyone!


Sunday, December 27, 2015

December 25, 2015

Our Christmas dinner this year was hosted by our friends John and Diane at their lovely home.

Their Christmas tree
Appetizers pre-dinner.
Guinness! I love dark beer.
Uninvited guest

Dinner was so good. Diane and John roasted a chicken - all of us are of one mind regarding turkey ... we don't really like it. We had all the usual holiday dinner accompaniments - cranberry sauce, gravy, broccoli, scalloped potatoes, tamales (normal for us but maybe not for you) and Diane made a really good cheesecake for dessert.


View from Pica Flora

Thank you so much - our Canadian friends Diane, John, and Diane's dad Jim ... for including us in your Christmas celebrations.


Friday, December 18, 2015

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like (a Tropical) Christmas

Christmas Day will be here soon. Our small "tree" is made of driftwood from the Jaco beaches, arranged in the shape of a pine tree and lit with sparkle lights. It sits in one of our windows so people on the road can see it. I also hung some lights on our hedge and a bit of ornamentation on our fence.


Another sure sign of Christmas in Costa Rica is the appearance of Rompope (although I think I have seen it on the stores shelves at other times of the year).

Notice it contains 4% alcohol and 100% milk .... I guess we are getting 104% of Rompope.

Rompope is an eggnog-like drink made with milk, eggs and vanilla flavoring. It is a traditional drink in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Belize and Puebla Mexico.

There are many recipes on the internet if you want to try making your own rompope. Cheers!


Sunday, December 6, 2015

Hospital San Rafael

On Friday, December 4, 2015, we boarded the 0630 Atenas bus to Alajeula for early morning appointments at our Seguro Social assigned hospital, Hospital San Rafael. Forty five minutes later, we were at the bus depot in Alajuela where we got a red cab to take us to the hospital. It's a short ride and cost about 1,000 colones, not including a tip (around $2.54 CAD).

My neighbor and friend Rose Mary told me there is a free hospital bus at the station - it runs back and forth. We didn't try it this time but will next trip.

Hospital San Rafael is very modern. It opened in 2004.

Looking from parking lot to emergency entrance and regular entrance is next on the right.


My doctor at our assigned clinic in Barrio Jesus gave me a referral to the mammagraphy clinic at this hospital. I received the referral in February of this year and the appointment was set for December 4th. Not a long wait at all. In Canada, I had to book a year in advance to get a mammogram. I had registered at San Rafael when I took in my referral.

My appointment was for 0800 and we got there early. I handed over my paperwork - which included a questionnaire in Spanish and previous Canadian mammogram results which I had translated into Spanish. We were sent through a door and down a hallway where there were chairs to sit on. It wasn't long before I was called down the hall to a room with the "squishing machine". The mammografia equipment was as modern as anything I had seen before and the technician was very nice.

We figured out my level of Spanglish and we were able to communicate well enough. After all, when you've had one mammogram there isn't much more to learn about what to do.

Back to the waiting room. Meanwhile, some more women had arrived - one woman pointed at her breast and we all said "si"!! Poor Lance. Not long to wait before I got the all clear that we could leave. Results will be sent to our doctor at the Barrio Jesus clinic and, if anything needs to be discussed before our next four month appointment, they will call me.

Lance also had a referral (to see an ear doctor). There are people on each floor of the hospital who help direct patients and we were told to go to the third floor. The third floor looks down into a light filled atrium on the second floor. We found the lineup we needed to be in but realized too late that Lance was entitled to stand in the "preferential" lineup because he is over 65 and seniors in Costa Rica are treated very well. We'll know next time to look for the marker for this special line.

As an aside, there are "preferential" lineups all over this country - in banks, in the medical clinics, when you are boarding a bus, etc. If you are disabled, pregnant, "mature", carrying a baby in your arms .... that's where you go.

The wait was not that long in any case and Lance is now registered at Hospital San Rafael and has his specialist appointment in June of 2016. Not a long wait at all for an appointment with a specialist.

There was a bake sale outside the hospital entrance and I bought a small bag of pastries stuffed with something sweet to eat on the bus ride back to Atenas and we were back to our town before noon. Stopped to pick up a few groceries, then taxi home. All done!

Thanks to our friends, Diane and John Reid .... I had gone with them twice before to San Rafael when Diane had appointments and they showed me the ropes. That made a big difference with our confidence in doing this visit on our own. If you find yourself in this position, reach out to your expat friends who have come here before you. Every time you accomplish something like this, in a foreign country and with limited language skills, you have come a long way and should feel very proud!


Sunday, November 29, 2015

How I Get My Painting Supplies

When we lived in Cloverdale, British Columbia, I bought all my art supplies from Opus. They carry top of the line artist's paints and associated products.

When we moved to Costa Rica, I wondered if I would be able to find any art supplies, let alone the quality that I wanted.

Enter "Art Depot" - they have just about everything I need. They have a store and also an online shopping service. I always place my order online because we don't live where their store is. I check my order on the computer to see if it is ready for shipping, then phone them with a credit card number. They put my order on a bus to Atenas and I pick it up at the San Jose/Alajuela bus station here in Atenas.

This is so much easier for me (because we don't have a car) and the shipping charge is reasonable.

Shipping Label


The paints that I ordered
I always need gesso.


Splurged on some drawing paper.


Saturday, November 14, 2015

Soda Anita

Yesterday morning, we decided to go into Atenas and have breakfast at Anita's. This is a soda in the centro market place of our town, right across from where the red taxis park, and it's all under cover. Here you will find several butcher shops, vegetable and fruit stands, places to buy boots, shoes, purses and bags, jewelry, get a battery for your watch or have your broken glasses welded together (Lance did this) and lots more.

I consider this market to be the heart of Atenas, along with the Catholic church and the park. It is located right beside the local bus station where the old Bluebird buses ((which were manufactured in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada - of all places) travel back and forth from all the outlying towns and communities. It's also close to the other bus station where the more modern buses travel between San Jose and Alajuela.

The courtyard of this market has recently been updated, with new benches to sit on, landscaping and a big bird feeder.

A soda in Costa Rica is a small family run place serving "typico" or typical Costa Rican food. There won't be menus but there may be a chalkboard with the daily offerings. The food will be cheap, fast, tasty, filling and authentic - the best deals around in my opinion. You sit at a counter on a stool and the lovely ladies in the small cooking space will have your meal ready in no time.

At Soda Anita, we were welcomed by a really nice Tico who spoke some English (or Spanglish as he called it) and we speak some Spanish (Spanglish) so it was all quite easy to order. He told us what they had for desayuno (breakfast) and I ordered a canelone with cheese, corn tortillas and black coffee. Lance ordered a chicken canelone, corn tortillas and gallo pinto (black beans and rice), plus black coffee.

New to me is the "canelone" ... it looked like a rolled omelet but the word "canelone" threw me off because I kept thinking of the more familiar dish "cannelloni" - pasta stuffed with a filling and covered with a sauce. Well, this item is actually the same pasta stuffed with meat and rice or whatever you select and then rolled in an omelet. I think the Spanish name is canelones de carne envueltos en huevo.

Both our choices were delicious and the coffee was hot and strong. Next time I may add some potatoes or bacon. It really was nice to sit there in this open sided Tico market, watching everyone go about their morning business - waiting for buses, shopping, having something to eat before heading for work. Atenas is a small town but it's bustling. A smile at one of our cooks earned me an even bigger smile back. We have always been made to feel welcome in Costa Rica.

Also on Anita's menu board are casados. "Casado" means "marriage" and this dish is a marriage of rice, beans, salad (cabbage based), a meat of your choice, plantains, cheese, potatoes and whatever the chefs decide should be included. This choice will keep you going from morning to night.

Final cost for both of our breakfasts: 4,500 colones (about $11.00 CAD or $10.00 USD). So not only did we have a filling breakfast, we also mingled with the locals, practiced our Spanish, and immersed ourselves even more in this culture. Soda Anita opens quite early in the morning and serves breakfast and lunch.

Afterwards, we wandered down to the park and sat for a while on the benches around the new well facilities. Then we walked over to El Canario, a Tico grocery store I frequent. This is where I have learned a lot of Spanish words for different meat selections and I always get a big smile from the butchers and they don't mind correcting my Spanish. Picked up what we wanted to get and then Rodrigo drove us home in his taxi. He has his annual Christmas display set up on the back shelf of his taxi, complete with lights. We always know when Rodrigo is in the taxi lineup because he plays Latin music nice and loud in his taxi.


Sunday, November 1, 2015

I'll Probably Regret it Tomorrow .....

This morning, I decided to walk to Maxi Pali (grocery store) and back. Normally I take a return taxi because I'll have bags of groceries. Today I just wanted to use the ATM and pick up a couple of items so figured I could walk back home.

Maxi Pali is 2.6 km from our house and it's downhill all the way. That means, of course, that it is 2.6 km back to our house and uphill all the way so I knew what I was getting into.

Donned my beautiful backpack, a present from my friend and neighbor, Sharon, and away I went.

This is all hand embroidered.

It was a beautiful morning - sunny and with a breeze blowing. I don't know how long the walk took me. I don't go very fast because the sidewalks are uneven. Lots of people were out and about.

Used the ATM and bought the few items I wanted, including a cold bottle of water for the trek back. My backpack was perfect for this ... it held all that I bought and it was comfortable to wear. About a third of the way home, I was starting to feel the uphill strain. Stopped to rest a couple of times in the shade. The sun this close to the equator can feel very hot even if the ambient temperature is quite comfortable. I hate wearing hats but never go out without sunglasses.

Coming my way was a gentleman I have met and seen many times in Atenas, so I guess he was on his way there from his home. We talked about the weather and, as usual, he had things to sell. Today he had bottles of miel (honey) but they were too big for what we need. Instead I bought a bag of jocotes. The bag even included a smaller bag of salt.


The jocote is a flowering plant in the cashew family. It's widely cultivated in tropical regions throughout the world. The fruits are eaten ripe, with or without the skin. They can be dipped in salt, vinegar or lime juice - hence the little bag of included salt.

One time I was sitting in the Atenas medical clinic and this same gentleman walked by and patted me on the head! What made me feel so good about today's encounter was the fact I was able to understand a lot of what he was saying and respond in kind. I can now hear separate words, know what they mean, and have my answer almost immediately .... at least today. This doesn't happen all the time. When we first moved here, it was just long strings of sounds and, believe me, this still happens.

I find the hardest part of my walk back home is the last push on the last hill. Finally made it and headed right to the shower for a welcome cold water cool down.

I took an Aleve ..... just in case!


Friday, October 30, 2015

Tropical Evening

Here we are having dinner outside at the tail end of the green (or rainy) season. The rain is pouring down. Most of the day was sunny. But at just before 5:30 pm, it is pitch dark.

Dinner is a bowl of red bean soup with vegetables. I cooked the dried beans in the slow cooker a few days ago. Bags of dried beans are a great value. You can add all kinds of spices to make them taste how you want.

I added fresh cauliflower to our bean soup, along with toast and cheese on the side. The rain is easing off now, but the temperature is still cool.


Sunday, October 25, 2015

What Are "The Tropics"?

In Costa Rica, we are said to be living in the “tropics”. Maybe yes, maybe no. But, conditions in the “tropics” are not what many people imagine or, in some cases, would like to believe because we are here and they are not. Critics try to remind us of how hot and uncomfortable it must be, and they are sadly wrong.

Although we live near the equator (9 degrees north), our location is at an altitude (~ 2750 feet / 840 m.) where conditions are quite different from the combined heat and humidity which can be encountered at lower altitudes (beaches on both coasts for example). I have tried to say it on various occasions - we have not needed either air conditioning or heating to feel comfortable. And we come from the great white north (Canada) which many outside Canada falsely imagine to be a desolate snowy landscape year round.

Where we live in Costa Rica, and throughout the year, daytime temperatures are rarely stifling hot and humid as in the eastern U.S. and Canada during the summer. Overnight low temperatures are cool and sometimes require a sweater or jacket if you get up in the early morning. Extreme high dry heat as in the southwestern U.S. is unheard of.

The only caution is not to obliviously march around outdoors in the direct rays of the sun in Costa Rica. Carry an umbrella or wear a big hat not only to occasionally block the rain but also to block the sun (which is much more frequent than the rain). Don't forget your sunglasses and sun block.

The above is quite different from the conditions that you may encounter at touristy ports and resorts on the Pacific and Caribbean coasts in Costa Rica. If you are not acclimatized, and if air conditioning is not provided, then you may suffer dearly. You will be in what you have always imagined to be the “tropics”.

Atenas, higher elevation

At one of the Pacific beaches.


Saturday, October 17, 2015

Twizzlers and Art Supplies

This has been a bounteous week for us. Our friends Tom and Lee returned from a trip to the U.S.A. and brought us a package of Twizzlers and a new mouse for Lance's computer. We can't find Twizzlers here so they are always a treat.

As you can see, their bag of Twizzlers is almost empty:

Next, my friend Rosa from Vancouver Island, B.C., arrived yesterday for her first visit to Costa Rica. Her friend Shannon was with her. We met today at Antaño's for coffee and Rosa brought me new art supplies. She bought them for me at Dick Blick's in Portland, Oregon. I emailed her my order then paid her back via PayPal. The Golden brand of acrylic paints, very high end artist's quality, is simply not available here. I've been unable to find decent hanging wire either so all of these supplies are most welcome.

Rosa is a glass artist (Fantabulous Glass) and you can view her beautiful work here.

And .... Rosa also brought three packages of Twizzlers! What timing - just when we were down to our last few.

"Muling" is a common way of getting products from Canada and the U.S.A. that are unavailable here.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Saturday Morning in Atenas

I was long overdue for a haircut so drove into Atenas bright and early this morning. On my way to Banco de Costa Rica to use the ATM, I met Carlos - one of our taxi drivers. Hugs of course and he said he hadn't seen me for a while. I think I explained adequately in Spanish that I had the use of a vehicle for a week and would see him soon.

We've been house and cat sitting since last week - eight cats - and the subject of another post for another day.

Walked past the strawberry truck and the lady there recognized me and we said our hellos. Today I decided to try Ingrid's Hair Design because they were open. Ingrid's is on the same street as the correos (post office) and quite close to it. A very nice shop and I was welcomed in by Ingrid Quesada (phone 8622-2619).

There were a couple of ladies ahead of me but I didn't have long to wait before being called into another room. There my hair was shampooed and conditioned with some great smelling products. Hair is washed and rinsed with cold water here and it feels so good, especially if one has been walking around in the tropical sun.

I had a good time just being there - five women speaking rapid Spanish and laughing and enjoying each other's company. I have a bit of Spanish and Ingrid has a bit of English and between us she gave me the perfect cut for my hair, which is wavy and thick. She didn't try to straighten it. She left it at chin length, thinned it out a bit and coaxed the waves into shape in no time. It's a cut I can easily handle, perfect for the beach or the pool.

Final price: 6,000 colones (about $15.00 Canadian). Ingrid also has a selection of bags and jewelry for sale.

Walking back to the car, I stopped to buy three pints of strawberries from the berry lady (1,000 colones - a steal). Time to head home but first a quick stop at the Coope grocery where I met several people that I know. Atenas is a place where you can make friends easily, slow down your life and just enjoy it.


Friday, October 2, 2015

Cat Sitting

Renown dog sitters (us) will now be cat sitting - eight of them.

Okay - Inky, Hoops (aka Hoopy), Harry .... um, ah .... Webster, Harvest, Billy .... let me think ... oh yes, Marcus, and Ali (aka Uncle Al).

Who goes out and who stays in, who has the run of the house? Who eats what and where? Who cuddles? Who attacks? Who sleeps where?

Written test tomorrow.


Monday, September 28, 2015

Feria Verde

This past Saturday, a group of about thirty Atenas folks went to the Feria Verde (green market), a weekly organic outdoor market in the Aranjuez area of San José.

Many thanks to Tony for organizing the trip, which included our own air conditioned bus with an affable driver. Everyone met at the central park in front of the Catholic church in Atenas and we left at 0830. The weather was perfect.

On the way to San Jose via ruta 27, and we returned the same way. You can see myself and Lance in the driver's rearview mirror!
Approaching one of the toll booths.

It took a while for the driver to locate the feria, which turned out to be located in what might have once been a quarry. He dropped us off as close as he could, and told us where to meet the bus at noon.

It was a long way down .... lots and lots of winding steps, some with handrails, some without.

About half way down the stairs.

Well, this is one interesting market. The atmosphere is early 1970's. There were lots of organic fruits and vegetables for sale, plus breads, chocolate, cheeses, smoked fish, condiments, munchies such as kale chips, live plants, seeds, coffee and so on. There were booths selling delicious smelling food. I can see having breakfast or lunch here. You can also buy leather goods, clothing, carvings, whistles and drums and a myriad of other goods.

Several vendors were beating drums and blowing whistles. One fellow also had bells wrapped around one leg to accompany his drum beating.

Some feria instructions, apparently. Something about dogs and grocery bags.
Coffee stand.
An art drawing class.

We bought a maduro chipotle cheese from Quesos El Chupulun Los Angeles de San Ramon .... it is excellent. I can't find a web site for them.

Two condiments went into our basket from Deli Artesana - a jar of pesto and a jar of delicia enchilada. Really, really good products. The delicia enchilada is spicy and would be wonderful spread on bread or crackers.

We bought two bars of chocolate from CariBeans, one called Thai Coco Curry and the other Heat Wave - Chile Cayena. CariBean is the first bean-to-bar chocolate company on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. We shared the Heat Wave bar this morning .... half a bar is enough at one time because the chocolate flavor is so wonderfully intense. Totally different from chowing down on a commercial chocolate bar. Looking forward to trying the Thai Coco Curry tomorrow. If you get a chance, definitely buy these bars.

We have learned to bring along a small cooler with an ice pack when we go on outings like this, so in went the cheese and chocolate bars.

We were finished at the feria long before the twelve noon bus pickup time so we and our friends Diane and John decided to taxi into San José, close to where our restaurant was, and poke around Chinatown.

Lance walking all the many steps up to the top road, carrying our little cooler.
Stopped for a pause on the stairs. This is a typical Tico neighborhood. Don't be fooled by the outside of the houses ... the interiors could be really nice.
River running behind the houses.

We flagged down a taxi and were soon in the Chinatown area. Lance and John decided to sensibly sit on a bench and wait for Diane and myself to do our shopping. I had a list of Asian products I wanted to buy. Some of the stores we had been to in the past have closed but we did find one still open under a Chinese restaurant. No signs - you would never know it was there - it's located down an indoor alley way and sort of behind construction fences. Anyway, I managed to get several kinds of frozen dim sum wraps, frozen dumplings, hoisin sauce and fermented black bean sauce.

The frozen items pretty much filled out our little cooler and, even then, we had to leave one item out but it froze again okay in our home refrigerator freezer.

Time for lunch! The group was going to the Tin Jo restaurant but Lance and I were craving dim sum so we opted to eat at Don Wang, which is right next door to Tin Jo and has a dim sum menu. Also, they open at 1130 and Tin Jo opens at noon.

Diane and John joined us at Don Wang for half an hour. The icy cold beers were very welcome! Meanwhile, I filled out the dim sum order sheet. I can highly recommend the dim sum at this restaurant. Since we arrived early, we had the place to ourselves. Service was fast and our dim sum selections were excellent. At noon, Diane and John left to join our group next door.

About half way through our lunch, a storm came in. Lots of lightning and thunder and sweeping floods of rain. Don Wang has a koi pool in the restaurant with a skylight overhead. The skylight leaked and lots of rain blew in. They had someone there to clean everything up. It was so nice to sit there, eating dim sum, listening to the rain beating on the tin roof. The day before, there was intense flooding not far from this restaurant.

Rain falling outside Don Wang Restaurant.

Then it was time to leave - still raining outside. We went next door to Tin Jo where our original group was just finishing up their appetizers. Rather then sit there for another hour watching others eat, we decided to take a separate bus home to Atenas. Taxi to the Coca Cola station, and our bus was ready to leave in about twenty minutes.

We had a great day.


Thursday, September 24, 2015


I have a number of orchids blooming right now. They are the species phalaenopsis, also known as phals or moth orchid. Very easy to look after. They bloom regularly without a lot of fussing. In our climate, they live outside all year as do all my orchids. This is the orchid most commonly seen in stores and garden shops and given as gifts.

In contrast, I think I have just lost my miltonopsis to a virus and and the two vandas I bought at an orchid show about two years ago are just recovering from what I think was a virus. I drenched them with a fungicide and that seems to have halted the fungus progression. I hope so because they were a splurge money wise.

I obtained a lot of my phals by pilfering them from neighbors. When I see an abused orchid, I just confiscate it from them! Vista Atenas Orchid Rescue ....

Here are a few photos of my phals currently in bloom.


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Dog Sitting

We recently completed a three month dog and housing sitting assignment for our neighbors. Their house is right next door to ours so we were able to keep an eye on our house and, quite often, Lance went down there to work and to make sure everything was okay.

Here is the lovely dog we cared for. Her name is Diogi and she is a border collie ... very smart, very affectionate and lots of fun.

Every night, she slept under our bed or on her bed next to ours. We spoiled her lots. Since we are early risers (up and about around 4:00 am), she became used to an early breakfast. I cooked for her (potatoes, rice, all kinds of different vegetables, and some protein) plus she had her kibble too for a good nutritious mix of food.

We have our breakfast around 7:00 am which consists of soft boiled eggs and toast and/or tortillas. It wasn't long before Diogi was also having a soft boiled egg. Lance is the egg cooker and Diogi always hung around the kitchen waiting patiently for her portion.

Diogi's toys .... she adores squeaky toys and has them in all shapes and sizes. We'd throw them for her and off she would run to retrieve them. Except now and then they would fly down one of the steep hillsides and into the bougainvillea bushes. Here is a video of Lance trying to retrieve one for her.


Our neighbors have a pool and I made full use of it.


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Costa Rica Bomberos and "Thriller"

On Wednesday, September 4, 2015, more than fifteen San José bomberos (firefighters) gathered in the capital city to perform a flashmob dance of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" in front of the Jade Museum.

I think they did a great job.

You can see them here.


Thursday, August 20, 2015

Breakfast in San José

Yesterday morning, we took the Atenas bus to San José because we wanted to have breakfast there and do a bit of shopping.

Got off at the Coca Cola bus station (used to be a Coca Cola bottling facility, then became a bus station but the name still is used and you need to know this if you want your taxi driver to get you to the right place when time to go home).

Walked up to the pedestrian mall (Avenida Centro), which runs eight blocks from calle 6 to calle 9. This is the financial district ... and is the vibrant heart of San José, I think. So much activity, lots of people around. Some stores were closed, some were open because of the early hour. We wanted to find a bank and ATM's and lo and behold, we quickly found a Banco de Costa Rica.

Coming from a small farming community like Atenas, we are used to our BCR having only three ATM's and I think about eight tellers not necessarily all open at the same time. Even the ATM's don't aways work at the same time.

This San José BCR had two floors and lots of people to help us out. It was also very, very busy ... you get your ticket from the kiosk ... for us it was one transaction which I am used to ... but it was so fast to get to my assigned teller .. you have to pay attention to the voice and video recordings on where you need to line up and it is in Spanish. It also opened at 8:30 am whereas our Atenas bank doesn't open until 9:00 am.

Our banking done, we strolled on up the avenue, as the song goes. We found a shoe store and Lance bought himself some shoes. Next we went looking for a place to have breakfast and decided on the Gran Hotel, situated on the Plaza de La Cultura and across from the Teatro Nacional (National Theater). This hotel has been declared an historical and architectual monument by the government. They have an outdoor patio but we ate inside. As usual, it was a beautiful day and the tropical breezes were blowing in through open doors and windows.

We each ordered the bacon omelet which had strips of bacon inside and smothered in fresh tomatoes on top. A large bowl of Costa Rican mixed fruit was also included. For drinks, I had a mixed fruit bebida (drink) and Lance ordered a mora bebida (mora is "blackberry"). Excellent service.

Teatro Nacional

We enjoyed our morning in the city and must do it more often. It's just an hour away by bus from Atenas.

Pigeons bathing in the hotel patio fountain.



Saturday, August 15, 2015

Breakfast and Dia de las Madres

We decided to go out for breakfast this morning and headed to La Garita, Alajuela - a nice area where many of the viveros (garden shops) are located and not too far away from Atenas.

There are lots of restaurants along this stretch of highway three and we stopped at Restaurante La Casona del Mais, a typical Tico restaurant. We chose to sit at the back where we could look out onto the tropical hillside. The restaurant is open sided for the most part. Tables are wooden with benches. It's a busy place with lively music.

Today is Mother's Day (Dia de las Madres) in Costa Rica and the restaurant was busy - perhaps lots of mums were being taken out for breakfast.

For our desayuno (breakfast) we both ordered the same thing - pinto con huevos y jamon (gallo pinto with an egg and slices of ham, plus corn tortillas). Gallo pinto (spotted rooster) is a traditional Costa Rican dish - black beans and rice with seasonings and cilantro. It's so filling and I can never finish what's on my plate. There is no rooster in this dish! We also each ordered a bebida (fresh fruit drink with milk). I had zanahoria con naranja (carrot with orange) and Lance ordered a mora (berry).

Driving back to Atenas is always interesting. The road is very twisty and goes up and down. Lots of shift work with the vehicle. Stopped at Coopeatenas in Atenas to pick up a few groceries. We normally shop here or at El Canario for our groceries.

A sweet young lady at the entrance to Coopeatenas was handing out red roses for Mother's Day and she gave me one and said Happy Mother's Day in Spanish. I shamelessly took it (even though we have no children). It was wrapped with fern and tiny daisies.

Here is a short video I made of our day: