The realities of daily photo sharing…A reminder of the USA in Alajuela Costa Rica…

Much of the produce at the Central Market in Atenas appears to be imported when it’s perfectly shaped and mostly clean. At the feria, the Friday Atenas Farmer’s Market, the produce seems to have been “just picked” with excess leaves and insects still on them. That’s the produce we prefer to buy.

“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

The gnarly trunk of a tree in the yard.

In a perfect world, we ‘d have new and exciting photos for each day’s post. But, in the “real” world that’s simply not possible for us. If we only posted once a week or once a month, it would be easy. 

Our commitment and desire to post daily make this type of objective ridiculous. We’d have to be out sightseeing every day to accomplish such a feat. And like many others, we embrace a pleasant day to day life, it just happens to be in different countries every few months or more frequently during specific periods.

Produce shop in the Central Market.

When locals encourage us to see “this and that” in their country, we smile and say we look forward to seeing many of their homeland’s unique features. We often say, “We are enjoying “living” in your country and relishing its customs, culture, and way of life, although it doesn’t necessarily mean we go sightseeing all the time.

As you live in your homeland, do you go sightseeing all the time…or ever, for that matter? I can’t recall the last time we went sightseeing in Minnesota where collectively we both spent most of our lives (Tom a native; me a transplant in my early 20’s). 

Various meats are hanging in the refrigerated window. In many countries, we’ve seen meat hanging in the window without any type of refrigeration.

Sure, a Minnesotan might take out-of-state visitors to see the Mall of America or Minnehaha Falls. But, once the visitors are gone, it’s back to the usual activities of everyday life.

For us, there are specific sites we’re anxious to see while taking photos to share—some much more than others. But, more so, it’s the serendipitous situations we encounter along the way that provide us with the most excitement and intrigue; the people, the wildlife, and jaw-dropping scenery and vegetation.

 There are a few butcher shops located in the Central Market.

A few days ago, having the rental car, we’d considered driving to the beach. However, with stormy days predicted for each of the five days we had the car, it made no sense to go for four hours (round trip) to get to a beach. 

How many photos of white sand beaches have been posted here over these past five years? Most likely well into the hundreds. Spending more time living in beach towns than anywhere else in the world, one sandy beach photo is not unlike another to our readers.

Costa Rica is getting ready for Christmas.

Don’t get me wrong, and we love beach scenes. But, I also love living near a beach or on an oceanfront property as we have on many occasions, comparable to our time in Bali (four months total) living on the coast in a gorgeous villa such as here in Atenas.

Although Atenas doesn’t have ocean views we’re totally content with the lush views of the Central Valley, the rapidly changing weather conditions, the birds, the sounds of barnyard animals and the easy lifestyle.

In the center of “downtown” Atenas, another farmers-type market is open during the week and Saturdays. Again, there are shops, restaurants, and plenty of produce. We walked through the entire mart but didn’t purchase a thing.

Besides living in a gorgeous home with every possible needed or desired amenity, it is exceedingly comfortable to stay in on the days we don’t have transportation nor a desire to get out. But, isn’t that like all of us? 

Of course, we all know people who are constantly on the go, planning every moment of their day and evening when they’re not working or engaged in obligatory tasks. I often wonder if those people are running from quiet time and their headspace. But I could be wrong.

A discount store in the Atenas village.

We find those quiet times enriching, refueling us for our next out-and-about adventure, sightseeing tour, or drive to the countryside. For us, it’s about balancing our lives with that which we love to do at any given time, whether it’s a lazy afternoon rest on the veranda, a conversation laden hour in the pool, a tour of a popular venue, or watching another episode of Mad Men in the evening.

It all matters.  With so much on the horizon, we’re finding the slow lazy lifestyle in Costa Rica rather appealing. Two months from today, we’ll be boarding the Celebrity Infinity for yet another 30-night cruise which will be the beginning of a year of considerable excitement and photo ops.

As we entered the PriceSmart store, it reminded us of shopping in Costco in our old lives.

Please bear with us as we present the photos we have on hand at any given moment. Many will consist of the continuation of tours we’ve done while here which we may have already presented in part, yet to be posted thus far. They may be out of any particular order and may not match the story of the day. Plus, some days the “Sightings from the Veranda” are limited.  We make every effort to find something new and different, but that’s not always possible.

Yesterday, we drove to the town of Alajuela to find the PriceSmart store (there are six in Costa Rica), surprisingly owned by Costco. We didn’t realize we’d have to purchase a membership to shop, but we didn’t hesitate to spend the US $35 (CRC 20,133.46) when we saw how many items we wanted to buy.

Wow!  Christmas decorations were already on display in PriceSmart.

Although most Spanish labels and all pricing were in Costa Rica colones, we managed pretty well.  Mostly, we were able to find cuts of meat and cheeses we hadn’t been able to find in Atenas. We spent US $395 (CRC 227,226) with enough protein to last several weeks. Luckily, the freezer is large enough to accommodate all of our purchases.

Most of all, it felt especially fun for us to be in basically what appeared to be a Costco store, here in Costa Rica.  The Kirkland marked packages of items brought back memories of our Costco store in Eden Prairie Minnesota where we often shopped. It was pretty enjoyable.

Goodness folks!  It’s still only September!

We scurried about when we returned to the villa bringing in all the items, many that didn’t fit into our yellow Costco bag or our Africa bag we carry with us throughout the world.  I put everything away while Tom hauled it in from the car. Isabel was still cleaning the house, so we hurried and put the perishables away, allowing her space to finish her work.

Tonight, we’re making one of our favorite meals, unwich (bread-less Subway-type) sandwiches, with a side of coleslaw and cooked vegetables. We haven’t had these since we made them at Richard’s home in Henderson Nevada in July. He enjoyed them as much as we always have. Also, Pricesmart had the gluten/sugar-free Boarshead meats and Provolone cheese, something we’d never find in Atenas.

Today, at noon we’ll head to the cafe at Supermercado Coopeatenas to return the car, grab a few items inside the market and return by taxi. No doubt it will be another good day.

May your day be good as well!

Photo from one year ago today, September 23, 2016:

Sunset reddened clouds are reflecting in our pool in Sumbersari Bali.  For more photos, please click here.

Gentle musings on a quiet day…A walk along the steep road in the neighborhood…

Each home in our gated community has exquisite and well-maintained landscaping befitting the rainforest surroundings. We don’t always live in such desirable surroundings, as seen in our photos in Thailand one year ago.

“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

Our friend Louise, whom we met in Kauai, Hawaii, identified this bird as a Hoffmann’s Woodpecker. Thanks, Louise, we appreciate the information. I took this photo while sitting on the sofa on the veranda while working on a post. I knew if I stood, it would fly away, so I stayed put. 

This morning by 5:00 am, we were both up and out of bed, ready to start our day. With no daylight savings in Costa Rica, it was already light, and we could hear the cows mooing, the roosters crowing and endless varieties of birds singing their usual tunes. It’s a great way to start the day.

Costa Rica is all about lush greenery and other bright colors.

Oh, I don’t mean to imply everything is perfect in Costa Rica. Like any country we encounter in our world travels, each has its problems; poverty, crime, environmental issues, and more. 

But, sitting atop this hill, partway up a mountain in this dreamy property, it’s easy to let the realities of everyday life waft away. Yet, oddly, the responsibilities and tasks we’ve been undertaking since our arrival have grounded us as they have throughout this past almost five years. 

We had to walk up some seriously steep hills to take today’s photos, quickly as vertical as they are, in Campanario, Madeira, where we lived for almost three months in 2014.

In a good way, it’s been helpful we haven’t had access to a car which has kept us on point and determined to complete all the financial tasks and “paperwork” we’ve had before us. 

By the time we pick up the more permanent rental car in San Jose on the 28th, we’ll be prepared to change our focus on exploring and enjoying ourselves more freely, especially knowing we can come and go at a moment’s notice.

Many of the homes in the gated community are also gated for an added layer of security, as is the case of our villa. The main gate is operated by a guard 24 hours a day.

We never wanted our lives to feel as if we’re living in some dream or fantasy. Instead, it’s the harsh realities we discover in each country coupled with those of everyday life that we all experience, including rare illness and discomfort, that allow us those special moments, that unique sighting, and that perfect photo that makes this life feel “real” and purposeful.

Embarking on this life is not unlike falling in love. In the beginning, the adrenalin is flowing, the hearts are beating, and the enthusiasm is difficult to harness. Now, like after being in love for a while, we’ve settled into a gentle acceptance and appreciation that far surpasses that initial sense of obsession and heart-pounding passion.

Although not seen in this photo, there are dozens of butterflies fluttering nearby wherever there are flowers. 

We no longer think about how “brave” we are (we were) to tackle this lifestyle. Instead, we now think of making logical and practical decisions that ultimately will enhance our experiences.

Oh, don’t get me wrong…we haven’t lost a morsel of our enthusiasm and excitement for living in the moment nor in imagining the next.  But, it’s become like that magical moment when the in-love couple is in a crowd, each engaged with others to suddenly look up when their eyes lock in a knowing embrace that only time and memories can understand. We do that with each other and with our lives.

We notice various types of “clay” roofs on the homes in the gated neighborhood, including this less rounded style.

This early morning when I found myself peering over the veranda railing mesmerized by the sights and sounds of the vast Alajuela Valley that stretches much further than the eye can see, a wave of wonderfulness washed over me.

A profound awareness flooded my mind as I was reminded that we don’t have to live close to the sea in our world travels.  Contentment and total fulfillment may be found inland as long as we’re surrounded by nature.

This appears to be an older type of roof material, more rounded with natural clay.

Perhaps, that’s why when we select a home for a two or three-month stay, 90% of the time, we choose houses, not apartments or condos. At the first light of day, the views we embrace become imprinted in our hearts and minds as the purpose and powerful meaning we glean from our world travels.

Today, as always, we continue, our eyes peeled to the canopy of this rain- forest-lush country, our ears peaked to the slightest new sounds, and our hearts filled with the wonders of it all. We’re grateful. Eternally grateful.

Thank you for sharing it with us!

Photo from one year ago today, August 18, 2016:

The unique shell on the left is US $722, THB 25,000, with the shell on the right at US $808, THB 28,000.  They’d fit in the palm of one’s hand.  Interesting to see.  For the last of the seashell photos, please click here.