Traveling Nancy

Traveling around the world as far as I can go.

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On to Pérez Zeledón – Feb 14

This morning I took a selfie of Dunia and me to send to Vilma.

Vilma and I are communicating via WhatsApp almost every day.

Today was our last day with Dunia and Ruben.  We had a slight snack and tea because we knew we would be stopping for breakfast on the way to Pérez Zeldón.

I have had a wonderful time with them.  Dunia gave lollipops to Barbara and me for Valentine’s Day so we took another selfie.

Ruben also took a final photo for us.

Vilma took a photo of Barbara, Ruben and me.

We road in a much bigger bus today,  There was plenty of room for all 15 of us (9 Ticos and 6 Oregonians).  Dunia was not able to go with us because it would have been hard on her leg to sit for that long. Of course we started out with a prayer.  The singing continued with the Ticos singing many songs of prayers and friendship.  We also sang several songs for them.  There was much laughter and fun happening on the bus.  One of the songs we sang was “We Shall Overcome.”  I was surprised by how emotional I felt singing that song.  We sure need to overcome what is happening in the world today and for us, especially in the U.S..

We stopped at a bay for a picnic breakfast. that the hosts prepared for us.

After more traveling, we stopped walk over a bridge to see Crocodiles.

I saw this waterfowl but am not sure what kind it is.

In the field across form the crocodiles there were a couple of people picking melons.

Lee told me that these pods are from an Carua tree.  They use the pods to sooth glands or sore throats.

The time had passed quickly with knitting and conversation with Ann. I though the six hours in the bus was going to feel like a very, very long time but before I knew it, we were at our destination.

At first when we stopped, I thought it was just another rest stop but the Ticos from Pérez Zeledón were there to greet us.  We were at Dominical Beach.  We said goodbye to the Ticos from Tilarán with hugs and kisses and greeted out new hosts. We are now in the province of San José.

I met my host, Emilia.  I also met Elise who is a lovely French woman who is also staying at Emilia’s home.  Elise is here to find volunteer work in Costa Rica.

The Ticos were preparing a delicious lunch for us.

And we received a gift of chocolate.

The Oregonians from Sun River already knew some of the Ticos from Pérez Zeledon and it was so much fun to see their joy as they greeted each other. I was sure this was going to be a very fun group.

Emilia drove Elise and I to her home.  Abraham (the son of a friend of Emilia) also road with us.  He and I sat in the back seat and we talked.  He was practicing his English. Emilia dropped Abraham off in town.

As we approached Emilia’s home, Elsie said we would be going into the woods.  We drove up a dirt road and were surrounded by forests. When we arrived at the house, I had a great surprise.  We were in the middle of the forest in an absolutely beautiful home.  My photos hardly do it justice.

Here is the kitchen…

… and living room…

… and dining area in the kitchen.

Emilia asked me if I wanted coconut water and I said that plain water would be fine.  I had no idea that she meant straight from the coconut.

Here are Emilia and Elise with  Elise’s  coconut…… and Elise and I enjoying ours.

We took our drinks upstairs to enjoy them on the upstair’s outdoor area.

I was still feeling amazement about where I was going to be staying for the next 5 nights. This is my bedroom.

… and the door to outside from my bedroom…

… and the outside deck…

… and the huge plant in front of the deck…

Emilia showed me how to get the coconut meat from the side of the coconut to eat it.  When I was younger, I did not enjoy coconut water or raw coconut, but I did enjoy it today.

Well the day was not over.  We left for the welcoming party which was at the home of Carlos Gonzalez.  We stopped on the way for Emilia to buy fruit for our breakfast.  Our conversations in the car going between Spanish and French and English were quite interesting.  Now I have put two translation sites on my phone.  Elise knows some Spanish but I am trying my best to have direct conversations with both of them.

I have been having some thoughts about language.  I really wish I knew how to understand and speak Spanish.  DuoLingo helped a bit but I have never been good at languages.  Sometimes I just feel ignorant.  Over the last 12 days, our Spanish speaking Oregonians (Lee, Ann, Janice and Barbara) have been doing quite a bit of translating.  Daniel and Gabriel were helpful to me in Liberia yet I did great with Vilma and Sergio using my phone. Actually Vilma and I are communicating through WhatsApp every day and I use the translating site. for that.  Barbara did a fantastic job of translating when we were alone with Dunia or her husband, Ruben.  And because she was with me, I received much more information from Dunia and Ruben than I would have alone.  It was a lot of work for her to be translating all of the time and I really appreciated that.  Yet, I realized that I really enjoy the intimate work the Ticos and I do having one on one conversations using the website translator and I feel closer to the people.  So what is best is a dilemma.

Emilia stopped at the store for fruit for our breakfast on the way to the store.

When we arrived at the welcome party, Sue told me that the party had been happening for a long time.  I was sorry that we were late although my afternoon with Elise at Emilia’s was wonderful.

At the party the had a big welcome sign for us.

Many of us were singing together.

We were served another wonderful meal. Just as we were about to eat, Emilia received a phone call and walked away from the table.  It turns out that she had parked the car in front of somebody’s gate. When Elise was telling me about it, I thought somebody had broken her gate.  But it turns out that the police called her to move her car.  If I understood correctly, they did not tow her car away or ticket her car.  The actually called her on the phone to get her to move.

Back at Emilia’s house I started to do this blog post.  Emilia was showing photographs for Elise and preparing food for our breakfast.

I learned that Emilia and Elise had prepared Cacao either earlier today or in the days before today.  It is straight cacao so without any sweetener.  This is one block of it but there were several of these….

… that Emilia stored in the refrigerator.  It will be interesting to see what she makes with them.

I am off to bed because I have to awake at 6:00.  We have a busy day tomorrow and Iam looking forward to another adventure.

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Centro de Rescate Las Pumasa and Farewell Party

Today was a sleep-in day.  I needed it.  It is one of our “free” days and we made plans last night with Dunia, Ruben,and Marija to go to Centro de Rescate Las Pumas.

Ruben came over to make breakfast. He told us that he had taken Dunia to the bus in Tilarán she had told us that her eye hurt.  Barbara looked at it and thought saw a scratch.  Barbara put some eye drops in Dunia’s eye and we all thought she should see the doctor.

We had a lively conversation and Guri (Marija’s mom) joined us for a bit.

This was a very relaxing morning.  Ruben will pick-up Dunia from the bus station and said he would bring lunch for us.  Barbara and I tried to insist that we would take everybody out for lunch, but he would not accept.

We really enjoyed spending time just relaxing today.  Ruben brought home chalupa for lunch.  Then this afternoon Ruben drove us to Centro de Rescate Las Pumas.   Marija came with us.  Guri and Gary came in another car.  Usually I am very bothered by seeing animals in cages but all of these animals have been rescued.  Each large cage has a plaque that says from where the animal was rescued and, for some, a mostly a sad story of what had happened to each of them.   They do their best to release any of these animals that are able to be returned to nature.

I took photos mostly by sticking my camera lens into the holes in the cages.  Two of the photos are of a monkeys that was actually outside of the cage and is wild.

Dunia returned from the homeopathic doctor in San José and we were happy to learn that he eye is fine.  She has drops and it is relieved that nothing is wrongWe continued having a relaxed afternoon.

The warmth and hospitality of the Ticos is wonderful.  They go out of their way to make us feel welcome and to assure that we enjoy ourselves.   Barbara and I both received gifts from Dunia and Ruben.  I sure will enjoy the desk set of  notes and eating m candy.  She clearly wants the best for us and I will treasure the prayer beads she gave to Barbara and me.

Watching the children dance at our farewell party tonight was a delight. There were many girls and one boy. They were twirling  and spinning which brought a big smile to my face.  I loved the way they made eye contact as they danced. Because of the lighting in the room, it was very difficult take  photos but that didn’t stop me from trying.


Of course we needed a group shot.  Ruben took this for me.

I have again been blessed.  Barbara is a wonderful house mate.  I  had another fabulous host family.  I am staying in contact with Vilma almost every day via WhatsApp and hope to stay in contact with Dunia, both Rubens, and Marija also.

I am looking forward to meeting the Ticos of Perez Zeledon.


Mistico Park and Los Heroes Center: Feb 12th

Dunia decided to stay home and rest today.  So Ruben drove us to the church at about 7:00 this morning.  It was lucky that he said we had 5 more minutes before we left because I almost forgot that my camera battery was still on the charger.

We met everybody else at the church in Tilarán.  The first place we stopped was the Arenal Dam. Omar had been very instrumental with the construction of this dam.  It took 5 years to build and was completed in 1979.  Omar gave us a lot of information about the construction of the  dam and I tried to take notes but it was easier to use the internet for the following information. Lake Arenal was enlarged to 3 times its original size to form a basin for the hydroelectric project that now produces 70% of Costa Rica’s electricity with an area of 85.5km (33 sq. miles). Water depth generally varies between 100 and 200 feet.  Omar did explain that the lake was like a swamp and they had to use a Columbian company to help clear the swamp and put in a firm base. They make use of a well that is 60 meters deep to release water under the well and prevent too much water pressure on the dam.

We were on the road over the dam and it was too difficult to get a photo of the dam so I found this one on the web.

Next we drove to Mistico Park.  Jonquin had to negotiate to get our tickets because the park messed up our reservation.  He was successful getting a time for the six of us but our Ticos hosts except, for Judith, were not able to go with us. We only had about an hour to explore the tropical rain forest.  The first thing we passed was a bee hotel which we found interesting because of what we learned during our tour at the National College in Liberia.

There were many hanging bridges that were fun to cross.  We searched fo animals and birds and I took many photos of what I found interesting as we explored the park.

I wondered if this was called “bird of paradise.”

Barbara caught a shot of the hummingbird as we were entering the park.

I really liked the tree roots.

This is just one view of the rainforest.

Another flower…

I asked somebody to take this photo of Barbara and I because I loved this tree trunk.

Then Barbara noticed the bee hive in the trunk.  This entry is made out of honey.  Fascinating.

We crossed many, many hanging bridges.  Sometimes we had to wait our turn because there were people already on the bridge and they regulate how many can go at one time.


On disappointment was that because of our time restriction, we did not get to go to the waterfall.

I took a photo of Susan, Janice, and Anne after they walked through the tunnel.

Then Barbara and I took photos of each other.

I continued taking photos of things I loved stopping to see.


At one point we passed a group of people who were looking through a telescope.  When I asked to take a peak so I could see where to focus my camera, the guide told me it was a private tour.  Barbara heard them say that they had seen an eagle.  Bummer for us.

But we did come upon a Bobo Chizo.  Barbara and I each photographed it.

Barbara got a better photo showing the color of the tail.

Just one more flower.

Mistico Park was certainly beautiful but it was disappointing to have such a short time there.  I could have stayed for hours and if we were on our own, Barbara and I would have taken a private tour because the guides are better at finding wildlife and telling us about what we see.

We had lunch in the restaurant.  I ordered garlic pescado.  Wow.  It was delicious but i don’t think I have every had that much garlic at once.  I had to ask Lee for 3 of her Altoid Mints so I didn’t blow everybody away with the smell of garlic.

Our next adventure was at the Touristic Center los Heroes. Los Heroes is a place which has evolved from a cow stable into a replica of a quaint Swiss village.

These flowers were beautiful.

It is hard to see any details of the bird on the roof, but I can’t resist taking photos of birds.

The Los Heroes property has its own train station located behind the hotel. In the 1980’s the visionary owner imported the materials from Switzerland to build the two mile long railroad which we had the opportunity to experience.

There were only 2 open cars.  I had fun taking photos.

Shortly after the ride began, I noticed that we were going to go through a tunnel.

Although the volcano was clouded over, there were views of Lake Arenal.

I really liked this bridge which I later learned was built before the tracks were installed.

This photo shows the tracks first going under the bridge.

Then we curved around and went over the bridge.

At one point Victor, the conductor, had to switch the track.

Then he drove the engine around …..

…and attached it to the back of the train….

…and we were off again.   I decided to step onto the outside platform for better views.  I lent Barbara one of my hankies and we both wore them to keep from smelling the fumes.

I guess the train knows how to stay on the tracks because Victor was very busy on his cell phone.

We rode for several minutes like this.

This railroad brought us up the hillside to the rondorama revolving restaurant!

We learned about the construction of the railroad and the Maleku people and posed for photos with the statue.

I believe that I heard that the material in this section of the open wall  was from a very old volcano on the bottom and a more recent one since then.

They served us desserts, tea, and coffee in the revolving restaurant.  I am eating so much – way too much – on this trip.

Several of us tried to play this instrument.  I was not very successful but others were.

We had another group photo taken.

This is a view of the bridge from the top.

We headed back down in our little train.  I stood outside for almost the whole ride.  I love the cap that Victor put on his head.

We thought it was time to go back to our houses but first they took us to a beautiful property on the lake where some people have begun to construct a restaurant.

There was a 300 to 400 year old Banyan tree on the property.

Several of us wanted to go hug this tree and we asked Omar to take our photo in front of it.


There were more beautiful flowers.

Some of the people left to board the van.  I was so glad we had stayed long enough to see the sun set.


It seemed like a long ride back to Tilaran.  Ruben and Marija picked us up from in front of the church and drove us back to Cañas.  Duñia had made another delicious dinner and surprisingly enough, we were both very hungry. It was fun having dinner with everybody.

Tomorrow is another day when I don’t have to get up early so I guess staying up until after 1:00 AM to finish this post  is not to bad.

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Ecolic Park and Llanos de Cortés Waterfall Sep 11

What a morning at Dunia’s home.  When I woke up, Duñnia asked me to put my blog onto her computer.  We were waiting for the computer to boot-up and she asked me how I was feeling.  I typed onto my phone in the translating site that I was doing well and would be doing better after an hour because the sciatica hurts the most when I am sleeping and for the first hour after I wake up.  She immediately took me into her bed room and insisted that I lie down so she could give me a massage.  She rubbed something onto my leg and back.  After that she took me to her massage chair, told me to sit there, took my phone away, turned on the massager, and told me to relax.  Then she sat on her bed and was studying English on Duolingo.  I don’t know how long I was there because I fell asleep.  Next she took be back to the bed and placed magnets on my body and in my hands and I laid there while she made breakfast.  Then she send Barbara to slowly take off the magnets and I we had breakfast.  I was absolutely stunned. Dunia is an amazing, kind, and caring person.

We quickly ate breakfast and walked a few blocks int Cañas to meet our mini-bus.  Our first stop was in Bagaces.  Bagaces is one of the oldest settlements in early Spanish conquest in the 1540s, where natives lived by a creek. It became an important town after 1601 when the “Mule Trail” was established communicating Cartago, the capital of the province, with Guatemala, the capital of the Captaincy General. Bagaces was a necessary night stop and later acquired fame because of its dry bisquist (Biscocho) and cheese (Queso Bagaces), an important supply for the long ride. It was first mentioned as a canton in a decree dated December 7, 1848.

Bagaces takes its name from a renowned Indian tribal elder, Chief Bagatzi, who was ruler of the area when the Spanish arrived in the 16th century.  There is a statue of him in the Eolic park.

 Bagaces is perhaps best known as the home of the headquarters for the Area de Conservacion Tempisque.  It is one of the country’s most active and dedicated conservation organizations. This group is responsible for administrative oversight of the nearby Palo Verde National Park, as well as the Lomas de Barbudal Biological Reserve.  The ACT works tirelessly to ensure that the land is maintained and protected, and that the thousands of species that inhabit the parks can be enjoyed by future generations.

  This is sign near their recycling bins.
We spent some time waling around the park and relaxing.
Then we walked to place that is both a home and a museum.  This is the sign in the front of the house which is actually in the middle of businesses.
The sign means, The window of the Cholo (what women are called in Guanacasta) where flavor and culture come together.

For 26 years Maria de los Angeles Jiminez Martinez.  She is the most famous storyteller and reciter of retahilas or traditional rhyming verses, in all of Guanacaste: Marielos Jiménez, known as “La Chola.” And she, in turn, is a living harbor of thousands of stories, old-fashioned words, coal irons, and puffy, handmade tortillas – “because if it doesn’t puff up, it’s not a tortilla.”

María de los Ángeles Jiménez Martínez is a strong, stocky figure with an apron and permanently affixed hat, whom everyone in the village knows as  Marielos Jimenez, “La Chola de Bagaces” because that’s how she signs off when telling her stories. “A chola is a hardworking woman. People say, ‘Look at that chola! My lord!’

In the entry there are many, many posters and stories hung from the wall.  Many of the posters have  Guanacastecan names to force people to remember them. One of the women showed me this ancient instrument that is depicted in one of the poster.

I photographed this sign as we entered the home.
Barbara translated most of the words for me.
In this house
  • We are a family
  • We believe in God
  • We say I’m sorry
  • We make mistakes
  • We forgive
  • We give second chance
  • We hug each other
  • We enjoy ourselves
  • We danceWe laugh,
  • We love each other
  • Here always the friends, the friends of our friends…

What wonderful statements about how to live together.

The home is filled with authentic replicas of the past and posters that honor the people of Bagaces.  There are pre-Columbian figures unearthed from the ground, recipes on pieces of wood here and there. I only took a couple of photos.

What a great coffee dripper and cup holder.

We took a group photo.

María recited one of her poems for us.  Even though I could not understand the words, I could feel the energy in her poem.

Duñia wanted to take a photo of Barbara and I in the kitchen.


It was obvious that Maria had actually been cooking in the kitchen.

We had a buffet lunch in q local restaurant.  I am definitely eating way too much food.

We rode in the mini-bus to Llanos de Cortés Waterfall.  We walked down the stone staircase and I discovered that I could find my camera.  I couldn’t imagine that I had left it in the restaurant but Lee, the bus driver, and I were going to drive back there.  I wet my long sleeved shirt in the pond to keep cool and trudged back up the staircase.  Whew – It was in the mini-bus on the back seat where I had been sitting.  What a relief.  As soon as I found it, I remembered taking it off my arm to put on some sunblock.

Barbara had seen white monkeys when I was gone.  Sorry I missed that.  I did see an Iguana where we were sitting.

The water level is low this time of the year.  We went wadding (Barbara went swimming) in the  gentle pond and I took a few photos.

It was wonderful to get cool in the water.

The Tico women rested under the tree.

I realized that Duñia had not come down with us.  The leg she had in a brace from her hurting it in Mexico when she was visiting her daughter would not allow her to walk down the stone staircase to the water.  I felt badly for her because it must have been very, very hot waiting for us for so long.

We left the waterfall area and went home.  It was very nice to get back to Duñia’s home early.  Barbara and I relaxed on the back outdoor area. It was a treat to see birds in the yard and we both attempted to photograph them. The first two photos are  are of small birds called that were  in a tree that was a not very close to us.  There were many of the flitting through the trees.

This bird was larger and came much closer to us. 

Duñia made a delicious dinner of cannelloni the wonderful pico de gallo (tomato, onion, cilantro, lemon and salt) salad .  With the help of Barbara’s interpreting, we had very a interesting conversation with Dunia and Ruben about Costa Rica.  We learned a lot.

It is only 10:20 tonight but I have to get up at 6:00 tomorrow morning so I can be ready to leave by 7:00.

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Mirador Solania – Feb 10

We actually slept in a bit today because last night Dunia told us that we would eat breakfast at 9:00, brush our teeth, and meet people at 11:00.  On my way outside to the courtyard, I saw Dunia doing the wash.

I went out to the garden with Barbara.  I noticed that unlike apples, the mangos hang down from a long stem.  I thought that was interesting.

We had cheese empanadas and fruit for breakfast.

Barbara helped me ask Dunia why there were pop cans hanging in the garden.

She said that they put honey on top of the cans to attract pollinators like bees.  With Barbara’s help translating we had very interesting conversations with Dunia over breakfast.  Barbara is very fluent and a wonderful interpreter.

Dunia’s son, Ruben, drove us to Tilarán.  We stopped at the grocery story to “Top Off” my sim card because I couldn’t figure out hot to access the hot spot on my iPad.  It was not possible because the system was down.

Ruben dropped us off at Naibe’s house where Lee and Susan are staying.  Naibe showed us her arts and crafts work.  Aside from the needle point and paintings made from wool, she uses plastic bags to make flowers and other items and even uses  old newspapers to weave items.

The mini bus picked us all up and off we went.  We passed a cemetery on the way which the Ticos call the “Last Walk.”

Something I forgot to mention before is that before we start on our way in the mini-busses or vans, somebody usually says a prayer.  In Liberia it was Rigo.  This morning it was Dunia.

I received a Whatsapp message from Vilma this morning asking me to send a photo to her.  How sweet.

The destination today was Mirador Solania.  I could not find any information about this place. It is up on a hill with views of the valleys around. The first thing I did was to take a panorama.

Then I asked Barbara to take a photo of me to send to Vilma.

We sat underneath a covered area.  Lee introduced each of the members of our Portland group and then each of the Ticos introduced them selves.  Both Lee and Barbara translated.  I took photos of each person.  I realized that it would make it much easier for me to learn names in Tilarán than it was in Liberia.

In this first collage from  left to right from top to bottom their names are: Naibe, Elsie, Joaquin, Judith, Maria and Isabel.

And these are: Carmen, Omar, Antonia, Estaban, and Dunia.

I am so impressed by these people. Each of these people told us something about themselves. In addition to the the work they do for Partners of the Americas,  they are involved in so many social services – forming an organization for migrant children; forming a national organization which assists elders who have been abandoned by their families, volunteering in schools, etc.

They served beef and vegetable soup with rice for lunch.  The watermelon drink was very refreshing.  After lunch we realized that we were staying up there until sunset.  The played music and some of us danced.

Then we sat and talked with each other.  Dunia, Barbara, and Anne found a comfortable place to rest.

At one point, Lee had a great idea for us to take a walk along the road. Although it was very sunny, the wind kept us cool. We had less than one hour to walk because Joaquin said they would take us to a coffee farm in less than 30 minutes.  I took a couple of photos along our stroll.

Then most of us piled into the mini-bus.  The coffee plants were not in bloom at this time of the year.

I was telling Joaquin about visiting coffee plantations in Ethiopia and he told me the story of an Ethiopian man discovering coffee beans when his goats ate a plant.  I wanted to verify what he said so I looked it up on the web and found this Ethiopian Legend

There, legend says the  goat  herder Kaldi first discovered  the potential of these beloved beans. The story goes that that Kaldi discovered coffeeafter he noticed that after eating the berries from a certain tree, his goats became so energetic that they did not want to sleep at night.

When we got back to the shelter, they served dessert to us.  Barbara and I shared a plate of  the boiled bananas with cream.

We each only took one bite. This was not my favorite treat. I enjoyed another glass of the watermelon drink.

Joaquin sang for us and I took a video but it didn’t work.  Bummer.

It was Joaquin’s birthday so they also served cake to those who wanted it.

As we waited for the sunset (the reason we were stayed so long at this place) I took a few more photos.


I love the way this photo actually brings back the feeling of the wind blowing.

The views in the distance had an ethereal feeling.

Joaquin took a photo of the whole group.  We had to take it several times because the lighting wasn’t good.


Finally it was sunset time.

Of course, the clouds are the one of the best parts of a sunset.

We were driven back to Tilarán and Dunia’s husband, Ruben, met the mini bus.  He took me back to the supermarket and Barbara lent me 1000 colones so I could add data to my phone.

We stopped at another grocer where Dunia purchased cebollina which is actually chives.  I had to photograph it because I could hardly believe the size of it.  So I laid it on the pan to show the size.

Dunia made a rice dish with chicken for dinner and we ate outside.  I love this place.

After dinner Barbara shared the video of her Mom’s memorial that she created.  It was a tribute to her Mom and brought tears to my eyes.

Well it is midnight and I ready for bed.

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Last morning in Liberia; Off to Cañas and Tilarán

Sergia gave me another present this morning.  It is a water container made from jicaro from the calabash tree.  This is the tree we saw a couple of days ago and also what Sergio used to fashion the clay post he made with his student.

i started out with my 22 inch suitcase and my backpack.  With all of the gifts I have received, I am now also using my duffel bag to transport my belongings.

While we were eating breakfast, we heard a loud speaker from outside.  Sergio pressed a button to open the garage door and said, “huevos,” and called me to come outside.  There was a man in a truck selling eggs.

Sergio cut up honeydew melon for me to take on the bus and share with my friends.

Vilma and I had our last morning photo taken…

… and we were off to the bus.  I was so surprised when we arrived at the church to find that Vilma and several other women from Liberia were going to ride with us in the mini bus.  Others came to say goodbye.  It was pretty amazing to see them get all of the gear and our bodies into the mini-bus.

Barbara and I were dropped off in Cañas where our host, Dunia Garcia, lives.  She and her husband, Ruben, picked us up in town and drove us to their very lovely home.

This is my spacious bedroom with a window out to the garden.

Ruben took us on a tour of Dunia’s garden…

and green house area.

This is a papaya tree that is only 5 months old and will mature in 2 years.

This very large mango tree is 20 years old.

We sat and relaxed in the beautiful patio.  Even though the temperature in Cañas is just as hot as in Liberia, there is a constant breeze and we are very comfortable.

We were joined by their son, Ruben, and his girlfriend Marija.  They met when they were studying in high school in India.  Guri, Marija’s mom, and her husband, Gary also joined us.  It was such a wonderful place for us to sit and enjoy the lunch that was served.

This early afternoon I had time to work on the posting before we leave to join the other 4 Oregonians and their hosts for our welcoming party in Tilarán.

We  didn’t have to be at dinner until 7:30 but we left at 4:30  because Dunia and Ruben wanted to take us to see views of Lake Arenal and Arenal Volcano. On the way we passed several wind farms.  They dot the landscape.  Although we have windmills in Oregon, we were so close to these.  Besides I always take photos when I travel.

Before we left the house, Ruben had told us that it would be ‘Frio’ were we were going. Barbara looked up the temperature which said about 72 degrees Fahrenheit.  We didn’t think that was cold but the constant wind did feel cold in my sleeveless shirt.  I thought I had my long sleeved shirt in my backpack, but i had forgotten it.  Well I wasn’t going to freeze but I will make sure it is in my pack when we get home tonight.

We were lucky to have a view of Arenal volcano without clouds covering the peak. I think Barbara’s photo was better than mine.  She sent it to me to use.

Arenal Volcano is an active andesitic stratovolcano in the province of Alajuela. The Arenal volcano measures at least 1,633 metres high. It is conically shaped with a crater 140 meters in diameter.

Just as we were taking our photographs, Dunia’s family parked their car near Ruben’s.  Of course we took a photograph of the whole family.

We still had time before dinner so Ruben offered to drive us around the lake. 

Lake Arenal is a lake which is situated in the northern highlands of Costa Rica. It is currently the largest lake in Costa Rica at 85-square-kilometers. Its depth varies between 30 and 60 meters seasonally. Lake Arenal was tripled in size with the construction of the Arenal dam 1979, which exists at the eastern end of the lake. This hydroelectric project is hugely important to Costa Rica, initially generating 70% of the country’s electricity, now closer to 17%, and was also a driving force behind Costa Rica’s green energy policy

The town of Arenal was relocated to higher ground when the lake was expanded in 1979.  The old towns of Arenal and Tronadora now lie abandoned at the bottom of the lake, with the new town of Arenal existing to the northeast on the lake.

We passed a horse grazing in the field above the lake.

When we got back into the car, Barbara thought she might be missing her purse.  Neither of us could remember if she had taken it off of the table at Dunia’s home.  Dunia left a cell phone message for her son asking him to look for it. Barbara was actually pretty calm.

We went to the restaurant.  Ann and Joyce were already there with their host.  Ann lent me her cover-up because I was feeling chilled.  “Chilled!”  It actually felt better than the scorching heat in Liberia.

Many of the Ticos from Tilarán arrived.  The were all so friendly and warm.  The Chinese dinner was very good.  I took photos but I didn’t like the posed pictures.  I will try to get more candid photos this week and also learn their names.

I think we are going to have a great time here in Cañas and Tilarán.

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National University – Liberia Campus: Feb 8th

After breakfast this morning Sergio drove Vilma, Daniel, and I to the National University (Liberia Campus).  Daniel had to do something like registering for the next term.  Vilma and I were scheduled to go on a tour with the rest of our group.  We were told to wear closed-toe shoes with socks so I followed directions.

These are our tour leaders.

There are 12000 students at this campus and the offer 7 different programs.  We were given more facts about the University.

He showed us some posters on the poles along the walkway.  I photographed this poster of the national bird of Costa Rica, a clay colored thrush.

Then we started at the bee hives.  The  bees raised her do not sting people. do not sting people.  This is one of the bee hotels.  The bees that live in this section are the ones who are pollinators.

Our group was very interested in the information.

There is what he called a police bee that goes in and out of this hole.

He explained about how they only take the honey out of the top floor of the wooden hives.  It reminded me of one of the lessons in the wonderful movie Honeyland and the man who was instructing us said that he had seen it.

He opened one of the hives for us.

He said that if you move the hive too far away the bees will become confused about where it is.  So if you move a hive very far, you have to do it at night when the bees are all asleep so they can use their natural GPS to find their way back.

We took a walk through the woods.  There are 74 species of birds on this campus because there is much good food in the trees but we didn’t see any.  Randy told me he saw this hawk.  I wish I had seen it.

I wish I could remember all of the information about the plants but, alas, I don’t. One thing I remember is about these vine like trees that come up from the ground and grow more trees.  I didn’t get a photo but I remember seeing these in Ecuador. I will post the photos I took and see if anything comes back to my mind.


Below is a 3 year old specimen of a tree that grows very, very slowly.

I believe that this plant supports ants. They live near the spikes that you can see the the following 2 photos. 

Randy spotted some cool moths on a tree trunk.

This small oval thing is called Guacimo.  Vilma helped me remember.  It is used to cure diarrhea and helps somehow with diabetes.  i think the slang for it is a plug.

There were many of the all over the ground.    They break them open and make a tea out of the seeds.

We walked through young forest areas and those that are over 100 years old.

This is a mango tree but it is very old and does not produce mangos anymore.

This fruit is eaten by birds.

Another cool moth.  It looks like it is beaded.

The following two photos are of a plant that has seeds you can eat.  But these are not ready.   It has to grow bigger and turn brown before it falls off of the tree.  Then you can eat the seeds.

I think he said that this tree produces photosynthesis in the trunk.  if I heard him correctly, the bark falls off and exposes the trunk to sunlight.

These seeds are eaten by animals.

I think this is a Lagarto but I am not sure.  The growths on it were not spiky and could be broken off.


When we got home from our morning excursion, we had lunch.  Gabriel made sea bass ceviche for me.  It was absolutely delicious. I took a photo of Gabriel today.

Today I did the dishes before Vilma had a chance to do them.  Yay.

Then I worked on the  morning portion of this blog post.  At some point this week Vilma took a photo of me in the spot that I usually sit in the house.  It is my typical position so I thought I would post it.

While I have a bit of time, I am going to post some photos that I took off of Susan’s phone because I think they are interesting.  At Betty’s house, she is staying in the granddaughter’s room.  She took these photos of the walls in the room that had been decorated by Betty’s granddaughter.  Although we don’t know the story behind these, I want to post them on my blog.

Now I have an hour to relax before going to our farewell party with the Ticos from Liberia.

Sergio took a photo of Vilma and me before we left for the party.

The party was being held in a very large courtyard at Alicia’s home.  She has a beautiful garden behind her casa.

When we arrived, I took the opportunity to get the photo of Lee and Adele that I missed taking last night.

The entertainment began when a group of Tico women who were dressed in beautiful, traditional Costa Rican skirts with flowers in their hair demonstrated a few dances.  .

Her basket has candy in it and they served the candy to us.

We took photos with them.

We each were given the opportunity to try on one of the beautiful skirts.


We had the opportunity to try out a few traditional dances with them.

A marimba band arrived.

We were all dancing together.  I was dancing so much that I didn’t have much time to take photos.  Sergio took this photo of me dancing with Sylvia.  I know there are many other photos of us dancing, but I don’t have them yet.

At some point the photographers that were ar the party are going to send the photos to me so I can share them with the rest of our Portland group.

Here is a photo f the women dressed in white

Throughout the evening we had snacks and tea or coffee.  They also served a delicious dinner to us.

I took a photo of Vilma and Sergio.

I had fun trying to play the marimba even though i had totally forgotten the piece I knew.

We all had so much fun at this fabulous farewell party.  They gave each of us a gift.  I received a wooden box, a wooden pen, and a key chain.  There was even a full moon and Randy send the photo he took to me.

When we got home, Sergio and Vilma gave me another present.  I received a key chain with my initial and very pretty blue t-shirt that says Costa Rica on it.

This Partners of Americas intercultural exchange has so far been very rewarding.  The Liberian group carefully planned  interesting/fun activities for us.  The warmth and hospitality of the Liberian people fills my heart.  The best part of all has been getting to know Vilma, Sergio, Daniel and Gabriel.  They took wonderful care of me, not only making sure I had everything I needed but also sharing themselves with me. We sure joked and laughed a lot with each other.  Daniel and Gabriel were helpful with translating for me.  Vilma, Sergio and I made good use of English to Spanish and Spanish to English websites.  I will hold their warmth and  laughter in my heart.  Tomorrow morning we will  continue our adventure in Tilarán.  I am excited that Barbara and I will be staying in the home of a classmate of Vilma’s when she was young.

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Iguanas in Filadelfia, Lunch, Ice-cream, and Dinner

Today was listed as a free morning.   I found out that meant that our hosts would plan to take us someplace.  Yesterday I realized that Susan’s host, Betty, may not have been arranging to go someplace with her so Lee (our coordinator) asked Vilma if she could come with us.  Vilma’s, Sergio’s, and Daniel’s plan was to first go to the playa and then to see Iguanas.

When I got up, I realized that I had a bit of a sunburn from yesterday.  So I said, “No mas sol.”  What I meant was that I would have to stay in the shade at the beach.  I knew that Vilma would also be doing that.  My hosts are so very considerate of my needs and I don’t think Vilma actually wanted to be at the beach.  They changed the plans.

After eating the fantastic omelet that Sergio made for breakfast, we picked up Susan from Betty’s home. Vilma tried to get our selfie but her arm wasn’t long enough so Sergio took a photo of Sue, Vilma, and me in the car.

It took almost an hour to drive to our destination.  First we stopped at a wooden church that was over 100 years old.  It was closed today so I just took a photo from outside.

Sergio stopped to show me a Jicaro tree.  These Jicaro look small but they can get as big as coconuts.  I read on the web that a very tough, smooth wooden shell encloses a mass of seeds and stickiness not unlike what you’d find inside a pumpkin. When green they are really hard to crack open, and the stuff inside smells like a haunted middle-school locker-room. (by which I mean, it is not a pleasant smell) Once they are mature and dry the shell cracks smartly–and the insides smell like a brewery.  The shells are not only used as practical containers, but are a popular canvas for artists who carve them into special drinking cups, and other decorative objects.  Sometimes they are used to make maracas. The seeds of the Jicaro are, in fact, used widely in a local drink.

Sergio was explaining about the use of the jicaro to me.  Sergio teaches his students in his classroom to make bowls similar to the jicama bowls out of clay.  He shared some of photos of his class with me.


They bake the clay in the oven.

Sergio is so dedicated to his students and giving them experiences to enhance their learning.

Next we went to visit an Iguana park in Filadelfia.  The 8000 inhabitants must be quite proud of their indigenous heritage. We visited a very impressive plaza with lot of very friendly people occupying most of the benches in the park. This little town is not on the main road and it is very rarely visited by tourists. The plaza was not built or maintained having tourists in mind.  The park – plaza is in great shape because it is loved and needed by the community.

We walked around the plaza watching iguanas and taking photos.  There is no fence around the plaza and it is very interesting that the Iguanas do not leave.  There are Mango trees all around the plaza and the Iguanas are happy there.

We sat on some benches and enjoyed eating mangos and pineapple that Vilma brought for us.

We tossed the skin of the mangos and pineapple to the Iguana and watched them eat it.  The pineapple was much more difficult for them to eat.  Of course, I think the mangos were the easiest.

On the way home we stopped at a cantaloupe farm but they would not let us go inside.  Sergio stopped on the side of the road for some fruit.  At home Sergio and Vilma made a delicious lunch for Susan and me.  There was potatoes, meat, chicken, cabbage and the wonderful tomato/cilantro/onion mix.


After lunch we rested until it was time to go.  The schedule said ‘coffee” but in fact we drove quite a ways out of town where we could buy souvenirs.  I did not purchase anything.  Then we were offered desserts and coffee. But we noticed that they had ice-cream (helado).  That was delicious.

The six of us Cultural Ambassadors from Oregon chapter of Partners of Americas decided to take our hosts and Tico support group out for dinner tonight.  Twenty-two of us had dinner at Sabor Porteño.  I had Mediterranean fish that was absolutely fantastic.  Rigo, our bus driver surprised all of us with gifts. We all had a wonderful time.  Here are some of the photos I took tonight.

Sergio, Vilma and Nancy


Ann and Sylvia


Nancy and Alondra


Betty and Susan


Betty’s daughter and granddaughter




Janice and Alicia


Ana, Barbara, and Ana’s Mom





I missed a photo of Lee and her host so I will have to get that tomorrow.

After we finished dinner, Sergio was taking Lucy and Randy home.  But instead we stopped for them to buy something at a store and we headed to Sylvia’s house for a party. and dancing.  I had no idea we were going to do that.  When we arrived, Sylvia told us that we were not going to have the party because Ann was going to bed.  I went into the house to ask Ann to come out to the party.  Sylvia, Randy, Ann, and a friend of Sylvia’s daughter did a very small bit  of dancing.  Sergio was very, very tired so he and Vilma went home.  Randy said he would take me back to their house later.

Vilma took a photo of me dancing.

Ann, because she speaks and understands Spanish, could understand the conversations.  I enjoyed sitting with everybody and listening to the lively conversation.  I was nervous about waking Vilma when I got home so Randy and Lucy took me home.

The hospitality of the people who are putting together all of our experiences and hosting us is so wonderful.  I am so enjoying Vilma and Sergio.  I love to hear their laughter.

It is 12:30 am and we are meeting our group for our last day in Liberia at 8:00 am so off to bed.


Playa Hermosa / Condovac la Costa: Feb 6

This morning at breakfast, Vilma told me that we were not driving to the church. Instead Lucy would be coming to get us.  As we waited for them Sergio took a photo of Vilma and me.

When Lucy arrived, her husband, Randy, was driving and Marielos was also in the car.  We drove to Playa Hermosa.  Everybody else had been taking there in the van.  They needed room in the van for some of the extra people who wanted to come with us  When we arrived at the beach, I took a photo of Randy and Lucy.

It was a beautiful beach and many of us immediately went into the water.

Barbara actually went swimming for a long way down the beach.  She came back with a fish she had found. She was carrying it in a styrofoam lid to show it to all of us.  Then she released it back into the water.

We think it actually had died before she put it into the styrofoam.  Daniel looked up the name for me.  We think it was a Sphoeroides.

Barbara saw some Urracas in the trees but they had flown away.  We walked around the beach until we found another one.

I looked down the shore and saw a black ship with two masts.  I decided to walk down the shore to see it.  I really needed the exercise.  Ann and Janice decided to take a walk with me.

When we reached an estuary, we turned around.  On the way back we met up with Susan, Lee, and Barbara who had also decided to take a walk.  I chose to turn around and walk further with them.  I really felt like I needed some exercise.  This time we crossed the estuary.

I saw oyster catchers so I took photographs.

I did get a photo of the black boat.

On the way back we saw a Caracara.

I love the cropped version.

There were also frigates flying in the sky.  I couldn’t get a photo so I took this one from the web.

By the time we finished our walk, it was time to drive to a restaurant for lunch.  It was really hot outside and I was looking forward to getting out of the sun.

The fish I had for lunch was very tasty.  It was served with salad, rice, and beans.  I was very tired from the heat and actually fell asleep for a bit after eating.  We were scheduled to go back to the playa to swim some more.  Randy came up to me and told me that the people in his car wanted to go to a different place after lunch so, of course, I went with them.

We drove to a place called Condovac la Costa – Club and Hotel. Marielos is a member of this club.  What a surprise.  Instead of going back to the hot beach where I could either sit in the shade or be in the sun when I went into the water, I was at the amazing place where the whirlpool was in the shade.  I soaked in the whirlpool, swam in the pool, took photos, and had photos taken of us.


Lucy and me.

Marielos and me

Randy and Lucy

This photo hardly captures the beauty of the views of the beach below us.

Another treat today was to see monkeys (la monas).

We stayed long enough to see the sunset.

Then we drove to el Coco (a resort town).  The town was very crowded with tourists but Randy found a parking place.  We were planning to have pizza but decided on Peruvian food instead.  To communicate I sometimes used the google translate and but other times Randy made it easy and translated for me.

This was an amazingly privileged afternoon and evening for me.  It could not have been better.  I hardly have words to say how much I enjoyed everything about it.  It was wonderful to spend time with Vilma, Marielos, Lucy, and Randy.


Guayacán – Feb 5

This morning I took a photo of the outside sitting area/garden in the back of the house.  It was a lovely place to sit.

Vilma took another selfie of us.

After breakfast Sergio again drove Vilma and I to the church to meet our group.  Today’s activity was to go to the Recreational and Ecological Center El Guayacán.  We passed wind farms on the way.  Guayacán center was born in the entrepreneurial mind Don Marcos when he had the vision of requesting a concession from the Government to take advantage of the sources of hot and cold waters that are born in his farm.  He obtained the permission and 6 hectares were dedicated to the development of tourism and the remaining 106 hectares are kept for cattle. Its thermal waters are rich in minerals transported underground from the Miravalles Volcano.

The Government of Costa Rica expects the country will generate more than 99% of its energy from renewable resources in 2019. raising and fattening.

Ecological Center El Guayacán  is certainly a beautiful place.

There are many thermal pools available for soaking.  The sign above all of the pools said, “No Sumergirise.”

That means, “Do not submerge.”  We learned about the problem of submerging your head from Lee (the group leader)yesterday and  I did some research  about the issues last night.

There is an amoeba called Naegleria fowleri which is “commonly found in warm freshwater (e.g. lakes, rivers, and hot springs) and soil, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and “usually infects people when contaminated water enters the body through the nose. Once the ameba enters the nose, it travels to the brain where it causes primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), which is usually fatal,. the CDC says.

A 15-year-old  died in Costa Rica of amebic meningitis after contracting the rare infection at a hot spring.  The infection is exceedingly rare. In the United States, “hundreds of millions of visits to swimming venues occur each year … result in 0-8 infections per year,” according to the CDC.

The case of the 15 year old marked the second such case ever recorded in Costa Rica, according to the Health Ministry. The first instance, in 2014,  resulted in the death of an 11-year-old U.S. citizen.

You cannot get infected from swallowing water containing Naegleria, nor by person-to-person contact. The CDC says the risk of infection is “very low” even when swimming in water containing Naegleria fowleri. 

We followed the rules and did not submerge our heads under the water.  We actually didn’t get the water anywhere near our faces.

Soaking in the pools and walking around this area was wonderful  I took several photos of us in and around the pools.


We tried several different pools.  Then we decided to walk up to a platform which was surrounding a tree.  We crossed a suspension bridge to get there.

The tree that the platform surrounds has the same name as the area (Guayacán) and if you hug the tree, you will get energy.

There was a snake on the tree.  I had to get a photo of it so I went closer.  That seemed to make the Ticos very nervous.

It was sure a skinny, long snake.

Vilma told Daniel, Gabriel (Daniel’s older brother) and Sergio about the snake.  They were pretty sure it was poisonous but then they decided that it was a parrot snake (Lora snake) which is not poisonous so I  guess I was safe.  I wasn’t bitten so it doesn’t matter what kind of snake it was.

Then we decided to walk up higher to get better views of the volcanoes.

Rincón de la Vieja, Miravalles and Tenorio are only a few of the volcanoes that dot the Guanacaste landscape and provide the province with unique attractions.

This is Barbara with what I think is Miravalles…

… and me

We ate lunch in the restaurant and then relaxed for a couple of hours. There are many beautiful plants.

When I was walking around I spotted an insect that looked like a leaf.  Then I realized that it was actually an ant that was carrying the leaf.  This afternoon Daniel told me that they are very strong and can carry 20 times their weight and can even take down trees.

It was relaxing to just sit around by the pools this afternoon (which is usually not my style at all).

We came across this cow.  A few people wanted their photos taken with the cow.

I slept in the van almost all the way back to Liberia.  Vilma and I took a taxi to get home because Sergio had gone to the school where he worked to clean-up to get ready for next week and to bake with the children.  He called Vilma from the school on Facetime so I was able to watch them making a kind of bread and meet some children.  I think they were a couple of the younger siblings of the students and one of the Moms..  Daniel told me that the school where he teaches is in a very low income area about 45 minutes from home.  He often volunteers extra time.  Most of the supplies for the school have to be donated.

Gabriel brought home vegetable and meat soup that he made for the family for whom he cooks as his job. He told me the names of the vegetables that were in the soup.  Vilma and I ate it  for dinner.  Sergio and Gabriel went to a meeting so they did not eat with us and Daniel ate later.  I took Gabriel’s photo but I was not able to import it.  We also had a cheese that is similar to ricotta with dinner.  

These are the bread rings that Sergio brought home.

I feel very lucky to be staying with the Sotela Castro family.  They make me feel very, very welcome and I am enjoying their company.