A Costa Rica retrospective

crossposted from: Humanitarian Left

from Humanitarian Left, 12 July, 2014

I've been back in the USA for about a month now. I discussed how that came to be in Early morning, Cahuita, my last diary from Costa Rica, one of a series documenting our journey originally posted at Daily Kos.

Previous episodes in this series include:

Adios Gringolandia

Pura Vida

I used to have kidneys - then I took the road to Tamarindo

Kossacks in Paradise – Mike and Alice Olson of Nosara


Life in the Irie Zone

Life is hard, even in Cahuita

Life in the Jungle

Early morning, Cahuita

This is my latest Photoshop painting. Inspired by our journey, it's called, Tucano.


There are many things I miss about Costa Rica. Being there was like a dream...especially living in the jungle. Every day was a new parade of fauna and flora: trippy creatures, trippy sounds, trippy visuals, a trippy life.


My favorite billboard ever, in the capitol, San Jose. Translated to English, it reads: “Without asking anything in return, simply help others for the love of humanity.” Alejandro Jodorowsky

I'd love to know the story behind this billboard. All I know is that it's near a university.


We loved Costa Rica, except when we didn't. It was hard at times. Familiar surroundings, feeling at ease, knowing what's going on around you, understanding the culture you're in, knowing what people are saying to you (or about you) - it's easy to take these things for granted when you're at home.

Making a home in a foreign land is perhaps easier said than done. I mean many people do it. Mike and Alice Olson, for example. We came close to doing it ourselves. I was right on the verge of plunking down in Cahuita for the duration. In the end it was the high cost of living and the unsatisfying health care realities that did in our dream of a Costa Rican home. But we will certainly miss it.

My favorite Toucan, the Keel-Billed. Fauvist paintings on wings. They're the trippiest things.


Baby Iguanas are a brilliant jade green. Toward the end of May, they were suddenly everywhere. I kept finding them in my kitchen.


A Long-tailed Tyrant (nothing like our short-tailed tyrants).


A Scarlet Tanager, I believe (I think there are several variations).


A Blue Grey Tanager.


A Montezuma Oropendola, a large bird that produces a strange, haunting warble.


We'd been warned, after announcing our plans to move to CR, that the cost of living had skyrocketed there, that cheap living was no longer the reality. We hoped what we'd heard about the health care (that it was cheap, universal and world class) would make up for the not so cheap living. Alice Olson, our dear friend and fellow kossack, tried to warn us about that as well – but by then the die was cast, our tickets were bought and paid for, so we crossed our fingers, knocked on wood, hoped against hope and took to the sky. At least we got a nice, long look at Costa Rica. I was there for 4 months, Daniel for 5.

At one point we lived very near a cannabis plantation. I could step outside and smell the most wonderful fragrance of ripening colitas. It was refreshing and invigorating. Note to self: try to always live as near to a cannabis plantation as possible.

Yep, we're going to miss Costa Rica in a big way.

Knee deep in the Caribbean, Playa Negra, Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica.


Our friends and fellow kossacks, Mike and Alice Olson of Costa Rica. They were so good to us down there. They were right about everything too.


But, while we didn't find a home, we had an extraordinary time. Any disappointment we might feel is more than made up for by the adventure we had and the friends we made.

Daniels favorite spot at the hostel.


Beautiful Playa Chiquita.


Daniel in his natural habitat, a Photoshop painting from photo.


Other than the friends I made there, what I miss most are the photo ops. Rarely did a day go by when I didn't take a series of photos. All I had to do was step outside and there would be something begging to be photographed - be it a monkey, a bird, a bug or a reptile.


My one sighting of a kinkajou.


I still mourn missed opportunities like the day a surprisingly beautiful sloth crawled out into the road right in front of me and I'd left my camera at home, or the time I missed my first poison dart frog for the same reason or the fact that I never could photograph a blue morpho butterfly. I saw any number of them but never saw one light – and they move really fast. They are a beautiful electric blue and they fly in a flittering, chaotic, all-directions-at-once manner that defied my marginal photographic stalking skills. For all their every-which-wayness they cover a lot of ground. Their speed is surprising. Never caught one on film (or in pixels rather). I tried but never caught one. I also never caught a hummingbird in flight. I only got the ones who sat for me.


Though I did get one in the act of taking off. I like the effect of the sun coming through her tail feathers.


I caught a Fiery-billed Aracari in the same manner.





I was ready for my second spotting of a poison dart frog.


One of my favorite lizard pictures.


And then there were the people.



Mmm, street food.


Alice Olson at Guiones.


At dinner with Mike and Alice Olsom.


Artist, Nathan Miller at the Nosara art fair that Alice Olson took us to see.


Dreadlock Rasta, Puerto Viejo.


Farmer's market, Puerto Viejo.


Cool boots.




And on that note – 'ta luego, muchachos!

Viva Costa Rica!

Pura vida!





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