Turning Into Ticos

21 Feb 2015
Turning Into Ticos: Pura Vida

BOOK: Night Circus by E Morgenstern: I love this book! It is an incredible chance for words to shape images and color. I would love for Ang Lee to make it into a movie.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: It is perfect when the people you are with all think they are equally beautiful, fun, funny and brilliant. No one has to compete because everyone is amenable to sharing the top rung of the ladder.

SONG: Something's Coming from West Side Story (for traveler's there is always an issue of where will there be a toilet when you need it?)

We are here at Lia's apartment in Playa Guiones.

The kitchen and main space

Screen Porch

Just at the top of the stairs...head to the pool or dinner


We will be here until Wed and are sharing time with Paige and John (my sister and her husband). Stacy (Lia's friend from 5th grade) is coming in tonight. We are eating incredible food,

We had to walk across the street to Burgers and Beers


Fishburger (no bun/served on a salad. Fries are the fat golden brown things on the side

Burger with Bun and unimaginably good fries


swimming in the ocean, reading, taking naps. It is hot during the day…so we stay in the shade near or in our pool at the Kaya Sol. We walk and swim in the mornings. Watching the sun set with the entire township is an activity. Everyone is gorgeous and healthy looking – especially in the golden light of sunset. If you don't get my drift, I really love it here. It is a lovely respite after being robbed of all our earthly shit. It is a perfect place to bring our trip to an end…AND we have several days to do it over and over…it is only Saturday.



Back to Basics

17 Feb 2015
Getting Back to Basics – real basics!

BOOK: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern ( I need to verify that author) It is a really interesting story and not your usual read. I am intrigued by it and got to read a lot since I did not sleep at all last night.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: And did you really “need” that? Oh, yes, you did! Well shit!

SONG: Highway to Hell by Chris Rhea; What A Difference A Day Makes

Well, the highway did bring us to a little piece of almost-hell. And I do realize it is all relative. Our hope as we started out yesterday, was to leave Palo Verde, pass thru Bagaces and get gas, go on into Liberia and get the sim cards for our iPads, and finally make a couple of calls and assure reservations up further in this northwestern part of Costa Rica. We would have a couple of days before going to meet up with Lia and figured this would just round up the wilderness part of our journey before lazing on the beach until time to go home. The tires were looking slicker and slicker and being finished with the car before all 4 of them went flat at one time, was looking ever more optimal

We arrived in Liberia, a small city with a hint of a “bustle” to it. One main street and a bunch of stores, some restaurants and a lot of ice cream stands that we did not notice on our first drive thru. (we made several drive-thrus and drive-arounds.) We found a parking space on a side street, just around the corner from the sim card place. We locked it up and got into the store. Not 10 minutes into the “getting” of the sim cards, Peter realized his wallet was still in the car. He jumped up and ran back to the car. Being just a short distance away, he comes back in in short order, breathless, and says “Well, wherever we go we will be traveling light! Someone stole all of our bags.” Fortunately, his black wallet had fallen out of his pocket into an equally black slot and had not been noticed by the theives. The three relatively large and expensive bags that have grown to be part of our lives over many trips, were GONE! They had left us the walking sticks, the dirty clothes (we had just washed the clothes the night before so there was nothing to speak of in it) and a couple bags of groceries that really were not exciting, obviously.

Hands on Hips, Not Good!



The phases of grief started to run through each of us. We went to the police station and filed a report for the homeowner’s insurance claim we hope will cover the losses and began to ponder what of importance was gone. Our iStuff was with us, but no chargers; our passports and credit cards were too. None of our medications were. Arghhhhh! We went out in search of a hotel so we could stay overnight and get something beside the one outfit we still have on today, before leaving. We found the Hotel Liberia. With the assistance of a few angels we got a room. I sat down and had a nice “summarizing,” eye-washing cry. It is good to cry as it makes for “fresh eyes” at some point.

Before supper we went out for toothbrushes and decided the search for new clothes needed to wait til morning. Supper in the hotel’s restaurant was blissfully quiet. The noises outside the room were insignificant. I was tightly wound and did not sleep, but sleep will come eventually. Today we had great breakfast and the search for clothes begins. We were also told we will have to relocate since we only wedged into a late cancellation last night. She is putting us into a nearby hotel and so we will pack up our tiny bag to go. We just moved without comment…there is so little comment that can be made at this point.

3:30pm – same day. We have clothes. We can charge the electronics. We know when the bus will leave to get us out of here tomorrow and all that is left will be returning the car before we go to see Lia. No more wilderness for a while. It is a jungle here anyway and there are no monkeys…just lots of cars and pavement and very hot sun. I am feeling the pull to the sea!



Happy Valentine’s Day – a day late

BOOK: Finished Jerusalem Inception. It was better than I originally gave it credit for. It was accurate in its depiction of the processes and people that preceded the Six Day War. I think there is a sequel that was also made into a movie, but I am not sure. About 2.5 stars out of 5.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: If your body is asking you to slow down, do just that. If you are already going slow, just go a little slower.

SONG: Come Softly To Me by the Feetwoods – 1959 – Alteration of the initial lyrics might go: Come softly, darlin’ Hear what I say And if you don’t The birds will all fly away.

Why worry about dry wrinkly skin when everything around you is dry and wrinkly?

We spent the day out on the wetlands again. So romantic! Without exaggeration, the wind gusts were about 45 mile an hour. Standing on the bridge was a challenge. Even my short curly hair was blown straight. But it is most certainly a deterrent to mosquitoes.

So here we are together just photographing it up over the several days we are in PaloVerde. Staying in the dorms is cheaper than all other options and we are the only ones staying here other than the guys who work to maintain the preserve. And Bibi cooks well. We have snacks for lunch and we have 2 fans in our room for the really hot part of the day. Early morning and sunset at the lagune which is drying up fast. Birds still hanging around before migrating North. Capuchins, Howlers and Pizotes are too numerous to count. Oh it is really a piece of heaven. I do wish the car tires had a bit more tread – they look more and more like racing slicks with each passing day.

Que Lindo!

There have been 2 wildfires and the smoke creates a soft overcast that makes the sunset really beautiful…especially if you don’t realize why it looks so muted.



Sting like a bee, fly like a bird.


We also took the need to be more stealth-like to heart and here you can see Peter’s best efforts as we try to sneak up on some Roseate Spoonbills.


And then you can see the inherent effectiveness of our stealth. We will get back to some more serious practice on that. In this instance, we just sort of caused the flight of every bird group except for some ducks that just really did not care what we were doing. They kept their little bills pointed into the wind no matter what came along.

See altered lyrics for Song for the Day










FInally I came upon these guys who’s ponderings seemed obvious. Just thought I would share. And if you see it otherwise, let me know. Marvin here has been trying to give some thought to a point Fred has made during dinner…


And I just can't seem to stay focused with this damned piece of salad stuck in my teeth.


Incidental Observations

13 Feb 2015

Incidental events and observations

BOOK: Jerusalem Inception: I think I saw this as a movie, but it is still new in the reading – I am at the age when many things that are old are brand new!. A readable Mossad/Israel suspense story centered on pre-6day war events. Not all that high on the list of good or best reads.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: There is a time for being quiet in every day. If you don't recognize that and honor it, there will be fights or rancor or tension…most likely fights.

SONG: Give me One More Night, Phil Collins

Peter and I have an agreement that booking a room in a strange place should only be done for 2 nights, unless it is such a good deal and so highly recommended that you know you should just jump in for the duration. In places where travel and tourism is high, however, this can be risky and may result in staying in really crappy places if they cannot Give Me One More Night…get it? We have been able to luck out twice and have been so glad to get the hell out, once, that I still hum the refrain as we move along the road to the Next Place.

As a traveler, meeting new people along the way or being at home discussing travel plans with other people, always think about the person who is asking you for information about places to stay before you offer your own information or enthusiastic accolades. Know what they are accustomed to and don't recommend your favorite places randomly. Get hints about cost and comfort levels of the people you are talking to if you want your friendships to continue. While we require so many more amenities than we did when we started traveling together, we are hardly a benchmark for travel guidance for most of our friends, family and peer groups. We are in this place right now, however, that is everything we could have wanted (with a few little glitch-y parts). Peter has had his every wish granted in photographing wild life. And the wild life is the real thing. The animals have not been lured in by snacks. They have been left undisturbed for the most part, and feel comfortable crossing paths and rough roads with only slight hesitation when a big human gets out of a car. The car itself seems to be a distraction for them, but the human – well s/he is pure threat! Moving quietly is still necessary for the human if getting closer to the wildlife is his/her goal, but stealth movement is not a cultural behavior we have developed. We are a colorful lot, but not so much elusive in the movement mode.

This is our mad face. Get out of our way!!!

We will look away so you can leave with some dignity!!!


As we drove into the biological reserve, a family of about 20 Capuchin monkeys was swinging through the trees over our car, headed for a water tank that has been placed on the land to help them through the dry time. There is no other effort to interfere in their life patterns other than observation and photography. Students stay here to do research, but the dorm room beds are rented out to travelers when they are not otherwise occupied.


OK guys we can go. Bad guy left!


Palo Verde 2 Biological Reserve

There are actually two educational preserve areas here in Palo Verde. The first one along this rough, but not 4WD, road is upscale by contrast to the one we are in. It appears to have more $$ moving into and through it. The first night we were here in our “low rent” location, the only students at this place, were getting ready to leave after completing studies about crocodile nesting patterns. They had been assigned to the 'other' one, but arrived to an overflow booking error and were placed here. They agreed that it was the quieter and more mellow option. We knew we were home. We were signed in for our 2 nights, but decided to try for at least a few more. We had a hunch it was a great fit.


Aerobics in the swamp...left foot...


and right foot...all together!

The dorm bed accommodations are my only real complaint. The mattresses are like sleeping on white bread – not the bakery kind of white bread, but the kind you can wad into a hard ball and use as a dangerous projectile in a food fight – or any fight for that matter when you want to do some mild body injury. Mine has matted down to a pancake depth and it is not so comfortable, having conformed to the 1' wide slats separated by variable open spaces. There is less compaction at the open areas between the slats. There is no reinflation that happens while you are out of the bed – no restoration of loft to make you think that getting back into it might start out more comfortably after a hike.


Ahhhh! Not!

The food is plentiful. Actually the portions are great for people who work hard, but a bit much for mild exertion required for photography in the early morning and late afternoon. Bibi is our cook and she is all about the abundance. She does also serve white bread – not the bakery type. Being on time for meals (6:30am and pm) is essential. The cut of 'meat', if it is on the menu, is not optimal, so chewing is a formal, calorie reducing activity. Lia continues to post photos on FB of her glorious meals in Nicosa – veggies of all variety, cooked to optimal beauty and presentation. We are headed there soon and that is a big draw for me. Our rent is already paid there. We will not have to take the car. There is likely to be one more stop before we take the car back and get our transportation to her home for our last week in Costa Rica.

And incidentally, Peter is teaching me a lot about my camera – and no bodily injury or harsh words have resulted.


I have been wearing my Ebola t-shirt and no one has run from me or tried to force me into a little tented area…or even asked me about it.

Tractors are parked in the “parking area” at our lodge and it is a sign of honor – not an indication of poverty, lack of education, Type 2 Diabetes, excessive gun ownership and extreme bigotry. No single wides are however present on the property. Sheets are not an article of clothing.



My 2 Liberia’s

6 Feb 2015

CURRENT BOOK: Have not picked one yet. CONTAGION was my read at home, but not a vacation read by any means

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Running is not my sport – it never has been and it never will be, but I can sprint like a Mighty Girl with a big bag, if it is required, just to keep from missing a plane connection. “On your left!!” “Clear the way! Old lady with stick coming thorugh!!!” “Get out of the way you sonofabitch!”

SONG: Fly Me To The Moon? Come Fly With Me? (feel free to make suggestions)


Expedia won't give me the flights I am looking for. I keep going back to “change destination” since I am sure that the appearance of LIBERIA in the list of airports is a mistaken cyber memory on the part of my computer. How it knows I went to Liberia, I am not sure, but I did not make the reservation for my original trip to West Africa and so the memory is, of course, an error. I am frustrated over and over and the alternate airports I am listing for our trip to Costa Rica that keep coming up with NO travel dates that can be assigned to us, no matter how I rearrange the dates.

So I call Lia and ask her, “What is the name of that airport near where you stay in Costa Rica? I can't seem to get any dates for the ones I am putting in.”

“Liberia. It's just a short ride to Nicosa from there.”

My notorious geographic challenge arises yet again – and so I think I will address that first.

Physiological program error (brain defect): It is not a new problem. Finding my way out of that paper bag has been a difficult task all my life. Without Siri I need to factor in an hour onto any drive time in a direction unfamiliar to me. That includes large parts of San Antonio and I have lived and worked there for about 30 years. The time I factor in will account for being lost at least that amount of time. Peter and I were asked once if the real reason we took such long trips was because we spent so much time being lost. For the most part Peter is just as bad as I am. Some of our biggest fights have been in the car on the way somewhere. Maps have to be in direct alignment with the direction in which we are driving. If you remind me, I will tell you the story about “Just pretend your a little car!” That was a really big fight..

Sign warning us of a tree in the road. We get it!

Ethnocentricity: USAtians (could also be United Statians) – (while we are 'americans', so are South Americans and Central Americans. We are North Americans so I will differentiate us with my own word USAtians which are similar to Croatians or Ukrainianians or Haitians…you get my drift. Anyway, we are, as a culture, notorious for not being aware of any geographic location other than the general location of own entire country. Within our own country, rarely do you find one of us who can say precisely where another state might be unless we have had to go there many times. And then it is possible we might not be able to relate it to a location with its surrounding states. Some probably know in general, N,S,E or W. For me this reality recognition comes only on a cloudless day and it needs to be early morning or late afternoon. I locate myself in relation to the sun but this only allows only for East and West. North and south still elude me personally. Clouds wreck it all and seeing the north star at night is just stupid because, who will know where you are when daylight comes?

Geography is part of our supposed “history” curriculum in school. I even remember taking History and Geography as a single course each year in high school. It would appear that I must have been absent on the day the Geography lesson occurred each semester. I continue to have to look up every country I am going to to locate it in relation to my “current location.” And some I have been to more than once. My most flagrant moment – which I have shared with very few, ever, was when I arrived for work in NJ. I was driving down through New York. I had lived in NY for about 2 years and still did not have a clear image of that state, but I did not need that information because I was rarely allowed out. I was in the convent at the time. So, back to the point, I arrived in Atlantic City, NJ. I commented out loud to my companion that it was interesting that I could smell the sea. “It might be because we are 2 blocks away from it” he replied. Fortunately I did not say aloud what I was simultaneously thinking. “I did not know that NJ was next to the sea!” My greatest fortune (among a few others,) is that I do not say aloud every single thing I am thinking. I know that will come as a surprise to some of you who believe that I have something to say about everything. Self-limitation is not my strong suit

So apparently there are many more like me in this ethnocentric sense of placement. In working with international teams, it has been pointed out to me that we are pretty much all alike in this. The USAtians, that is. We seem to feel that if it is not pertinent to our immediate “need-to know” function, we sure as hell don't need to know where it is.

So it is in this context that I will address “My 2 Liberia's.” I am, as I write this, en route to Non Ebola Liberia which I will refer to as NEL from now on to differentiate it from EL (Ebola Liberia).

EL (Ebola Liberia)


And if that is not pretty damned politically incorrect, I would be very surprised, but at least I know where each one is on the map. I am on my way to the vacation one to meet up with Peter.

We have not taken this kind of vacation for a long time. It is our 2d trip to Costa Rica – the last one being in 1994. It is by the standards of the Puritans and their cohort, a trip that is frivolous and purposeless. There of course the possibility that you may have moved yourself into a Be Here Now cult that counts relaxation and restoration as a very purposed and mindful activity. Lucky you! Peter, from the time I first met him in Tortola, (yes I really had to look it up!) has taught me all I know about this latter concept – purposeless and frivolous time out. I am eternally grateful to him. He is the yin to my yang. I am the purpose-driven sort. It is not amazing that I “do” things. The reality is that I am hard wired to DO things. The world has a place for people like me. I have had to work hard and learn about BEING. Whew! It has been exhausting. And now I am off to DO some non-doing stuff. I once studied some philosophy too. Being and Nothingness had its own following in the 70's.

When we were in Costa Rica in 1994, we were really impressed that everyone we met, regardless of age, had some “meaningful” thing they were doing. We were just hanging around in between bus trips and jungles and beaches. Even Peter began to feel the weight of 'nothingness.' We finally started making shit up. First we said we were doing 'a study.' That was a sinker, because people would ask what it was. People everywhere in Costa Rica at that time, were collecting animal and plant samples, developing eco-friendly resources and guiding communities to self-sustaining projects. We were researching what those things meant. We found that what we could say, rather quickly, was that we were working on a project and just as quickly ask them if they wanted to go for a beer. In either case, distraction was in our favor. The beer would be something they rarely took time for or could afford. In the walk to the cantina, we could distract them to some other subject – mostly their own story which they did not get much chance to tell and were happy to do so for us. The intrepid ambassadors of “feel good” were on! And everyone got a beer out of it.

Being back in that country, at this point, we will hit the single part of the country that we did not visit in that 2 month trip back then. We will take 2 weeks in the NW part of the country's interior and then head to the coast to see Lia for the last week. I feel sand in my toes as I speak. I smell Deet wafting up my nostrils and am longing for room temperature beer. Three weeks of the 'good life' are in view. In the meantime, even tho it is an “international flight” there are no free meals and not even peanuts. I have gummi bears in my bag, but some chips and salsa would be nice.

When we return, I will have a week of lag time and am already packing for the EL (Ebola Liberia.) I will be going back to West Africa to work with MSF (Doctors Without Borders) again – doing some form of work in Ebola. Peter will be keeping KPE alive and manning the work in Pipe Creek. I will keep you posted if you care to join me. For the next few posts, depending of course on location and WiFi access, you will find y thoughts coming from NEL and hopefully you can remember where it is.