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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Eyes on Costa Rica - Update/January 31, 2016

Since my last blog entry on this topic, visits to my blog have continued from near and far. Recently, a threshold count of over 20,000 visits was reached. As shown with the panel appended to the map below, the 20,000th visit came early in the morning (our time) on January 24, 2016 from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

As I have previously indicated with respect to an earlier one of these maps, the red dots show the approximate location of individual places from where visits have occurred. The number of places now exceeds 2700. However, when the locations are close to each other, one location can be masked out by others. Apparently, the resolution is about 40 km x 40 km (25 miles x 25 miles)

When several visits are recorded from the same place, I have no way of telling whether all the visits are from the same person. For example, the panel for the UAE shows 10 visits from Dubai. Over time, this could be 10 visits from the same person, 1 visit from each of 10 different people, or anywhere in between.

The dot sitting in the middle of the ocean and highlighted in yellow just below the horn of Africa, is the location on the map where visits from "unidentified" locations are recorded. This includes visits from “Anonymous Proxies”, “Satellite Providers”, “Unknown Countries”, "U.S. Armed Forces Europe", "U.S. Armed Forces Pacific", etc. - all recorded on the map on top of one another. Not unsurprisingly, the map location is 0° longitude, 0° latitude in the middle of nowhere.

Visits from two new countries/quasi countries have emerged since my last blog entry on this topic. The total is now 107. The latest are Macedonia and Guadelupe, the latter of which is an island overseas region of France in the Caribbean.


Sunday, January 24, 2016

Reason Number Gazillion

That would be "Reason Number Gazillion Why I Like Costa Rica So Much".

This morning I decided to walk from our house to Maxi Pali (a grocery store), a distance of roughly two kilometers and thankfully all downhill. I needed to buy a few items, the weather was superb for walking (cool with breezes), and I would benefit from the exercise.

I walked down to ruta 3 (the old oxcart road to the pacific coast, now paved of course) and turned right. I had put about 300 meters under my shoes when one of our red Atenas taxis drove past and beeped. This is not unusual, because we use the taxis all the time and know many of the drivers. I waved and walked on.

This taxi stopped ahead of me and I realized he was waiting for me. The driver was Carlos Luis Hidalgo, a lovely gentleman with beautiful manners. One time I met him and his wife in a store and he interrupted his shopping time to drive me home - he offered, I had not asked.

He indicated I should sit in the front passenger seat and the reason became clear when he stopped further up the road to pick up the passengers who had called him. Carlos dropped me off in front of Maxi Pali and indicated I should call him when I was ready to go home. He wouldn't accept any money - told me to put my purse away.

I called Carlos for my trip home - his telephone number is 60-90-81-24. On the way home, we discussed the weather - how cold it has been at night recently, the beautiful blue sky today, and I learned the word for arrow (from the road markings) - "flecha" - and the words for reverse are "marcha atras" (there should be an accent over the "a" but I can't get the Spanish keyboard to come up). "Reverse" came up when he was backing up to our gate.

These are just simple daily occurrences but demonstrate the richness of life here in our little town of Atenas.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Museo National de Costa Rica

Recently we rode the Atenas bus to San Jose to visit the National Museum of Costa Rica. We had not been here before and decided we wanted to see the exhibit entitled Mega Fauna - Fossils of Costa Rica. This exhibit runs from December 3, 2015, to April, 2016.


The museum is located between Central and Second Avenues, west from the Plaza of Democracy, which is also where the main entrance is. Hours are from 8:30am to 4:30pm, closed on Mondays. Admission is 1,500 colones for nationals, and free for children under 12, students, and those over age 65 with cedulas (us!). Foreigners will pay $8.00.

Sphere display outside museum.

What a lovely surprise this museum is. We should have been to see it long before now. It is located in the Bellavista Fortress, built in 1917, and originally a military barracks. Bullet holes from the 1948 civil war can still be seen.

Bullet holes.


After checking in at the front desk and stowing bags, etc., in lockers, you enter into a butterfly garden. I always find these fun and so interesting.

Butterfly on my arm.

Follow the winding ramp up several levels to the rest of the museum. I won't go into all the details, but you will learn about Costa Rican history, pre-Columbian history, see the recreation of a typical colonial home and so on. We ended up spending several hours wandering around. On our visit, an outdoor lunch buffet had been set up. I don't know the cost as we ran out of time and skipped lunch.

Very large teeth!

The various patterned tiled floors caught my attention ...
.... and kind of made me woozy.
Display of Costa Rican spheres.

Old wooden oxcart, part of a trapiche display (sugar cane mill).
The liquid sugar cane was poured into these moulds to make dulce (sweet sugar).

View of San José

Another view of San José.

Some beautiful buildings across from the museum.


Saturday, January 9, 2016


My fellow Canadian friend, Diane, has lived in our town of Atenas, Costa Rica, for over eight years. She can find anything, anywhere. She knows all the shops in Alajuela and Atenas and probably many other places ... the ropas, where to buy fabric and sewing supplies, shoes, the garden shops where I can get my orchid supplies. This gal is a font of information and has the eyes of an eagle.

Which brings me to goats (not eagles). Here is one of my latest paintings of a goat:

31.5"x31.5", acrylic on gallery wrapped canvas.

You can see my artwork here.

Intrepid Diane leading me to the goats.

Diane knows I like goats (and cows, and horses, and chickens, dogs and cats and anything else on four legs). She found a source of goats near where she lives. So off we went to find them again and take pictures. We found them after a walk up a side road.


Sunday, January 3, 2016

Weather Review - 2015

Here is a temperature chart and a rainfall chart which illustrate weather conditions over the course of the last year in the Atenas region of Costa Rica. More particularly, and except for a brief period in early October, they illustrate the conditions where we normally live in a neighborhood called Vista Atenas which is a short distance west of the town of Atenas. For the brief period in October, we were house and cat sitting at the home of friends in a neighborhood called Las Cumbres – a short distance east of the town. The significance of east v. west is revealed by the temperature chart.

As the crow flies, the Las Cumbres location is about 3.7 miles (6 km) from our Vista Atenas location. But, the elevation is about 560 feet (170 m) lower. In Costa Rica, lower altitudes are generally reflected by higher daytime high temperatures and that is borne out by the temperature spike circled in red on the above chart.

As I think I have said before, Costa Rica is a country of microclimates. A few miles one way or the other and a few hundred feet up or down can make a significant difference. If you choose to live in Costa Rica for any length of time, then you should carefully choose the location. Where we live in Vista Atenas, the year 'round daytime highs and overnight lows are comfortable. Neither heating nor air conditioning is required. On rare occasions, heat and humidity can combine to produce a marginally uncomfortable "feels like" temperature. In 2015, that may have happened three or four times.


Costa Rica has two seasons: a wet or “green” season and a dry season. In our area, the dry season normally extends from about mid November of one year to late April or early May of the next. The above chart shows virtually no rain until late April and, excluding an exceptional one day deluge, almost no rain in December. However, in 2015, the wet season was drier than normal. Total rainfall was about 10 inches less than 2014. If the December deluge never happened, then the shortfall would be almost 13 inches less. It must be el niño at work – or maybe even climate change.