Colorful Costa Rica depicted in a village church… Check out what we made for dinner!

The church’s attendant encouraged us to reach high above a window to capture this beautiful scene in the yard at Iglesia de Catholica Zarcero.

“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

We smelled smoke to discover this fire not far from us, as shown from the veranda.

It’s Thursday morning in Atenas, Costa Rica. The sun is shining but based on the mountains’ cloud perimeter, it won’t be for long. The birds sing in their usual manner, a cacophony of varying sounds from a high-pitched chirp to a low roar.

Tom continuously checks out every nook and cranny to ensure we don’t miss a thing.
What appears to be smoke to the right in the photo are clouds. Unfortunately, it rained the entire time we visited Iglesia Catolica de Zarcero and the topiary garden.

One of many cows (or bulls) moos loudly throughout the day. They are doing so with gusto this morning. Now that the day has dawned, only an occasional rooster’s crow permeates the air. Only a few hours ago, their sounds dominated the plethora of sounds.

We’ve seen many churches in our travels, but we’re always intrigued with yet another, as was the case in seeing Iglesia Catolica de Zarcero in Zarcero, Costa Rica.
The hummingbird feeder we’ve kept fully supplied with homemade sugar water is surrounded by a half dozen of these tiny fluttering creatures aggressively taking turns for a beak full of the syrupy liquid.
Beautiful fresco in the church’s ceiling.
They chirp during this process, either from sheer happiness or with a sense of determination in keeping the others away. They don’t seem to like sharing, with only two in a pair ever sipping simultaneously. Yet, we can’t seem to keep our eyes off of them during the many hours we spend each day outdoors.
Although it was raining with a heavy cloud cover, the light reflected in this shot.

Tonight’s dinner is already made when yesterday I worked tirelessly to create a new item, a knockoff and revised (by me) recipe for Costco’s Low Carb Chicken Bake. If you’d like the recipe, please email me or comment here.  Here’s a photo of the finished product after baking. It was amazing!

Oh, my. These low-carb almond flour, coconut flour, and ground flaxseed pastries stuffed with a creamy, cheesy chicken and bacon filling were “to die for!” See me for the recipe.
We froze enough for dinner for the night we return from Nicaragua in about five and a half weeks.  We like planning for such occasions. It’s not as if we can call for carry-out or pop into our favorite restaurant for dinner.
Churches in various countries offer their unique design commensurate with the local culture.
Speaking of restaurants, today we’re going to lunch with our neighbor Charlie who lives down the steep road about four houses. We met at an Atenas group on Facebook. It will be fun to visit with a neighbor and try one of Atenas’ local restaurants at long last. 
Few of the pillars and design consisted of solid wood, but the plan was rich and appealing.

I doubt there will be anything I can eat when so much of the local foods include sugar, starch, and grains. But, it’s the get-together holding the significance, not the food, although I will try to find something suitable.

We can easily imagine the workers, decades ago, giving this structure their attention to detail and love.
Tomorrow, in the morning, we plan to go to the Friday Atenas Farmers Market to pick up more veggies to last through next week. Afterward, we’re off on the road again, taking advantage of having the rental car and hoping (weather providing) to head to the beach.
A side chapel/altar within the walls of the church.
Since we’ll be gone in the early morning, tomorrow’s post will be available approximately eight hours later than usual unless I get ambitious tonight and prepare it to post it before we take off. We shall see.
More fresh flowers at the base of this crucifix.
Fresh flowers.
On a rare occasion, my desire for a leisurely day supersedes my determination to have each day’s post become available at a predictable time. It’s never a case of becoming tired of doing it. That hasn’t happened. Nor will it ever happen based on what I can ascertain thus far. There’s still so much to share going forward.
Representation of Jesus after His death.
Have a stress-free and easy day!    
Photo from one year ago today, September 21, 2016:
In Bali, the main pipe for the water heater broke on the roof, pouring water into the house. None of our belongings were damaged, although the owner’s digital equipment was destroyed, including a flat-screen TV. For more details, please click here.

A long and harrowing drive on a sightseeing outing on a rainy day…The photos are well worth it!

I walked through the archways in the topiary garden at Senor Scissorhands Topiary Garden in the small town of Zarcero.

“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

Today must be weed wacker day. Ulysses is getting the gas ready to do the massive lawn by hand with a weed wacker instead of a lawnmower. Unfortunately, it seems to take two days to complete the monumental task when it usually rains in the afternoons when he stops during the storm.

Yesterday morning we dashed out the door early, hoping to get to our planned destination in the town of Zarcero before the storms started. Unfortunately, the drive proved to be much longer than the listed 71 minutes of “Maps.”

Upon entering the grounds of Parque Francisco Alvarado from the parking lot behind the church, the topiary art began. 

About Zarcero: “Zarcero is the capital city of the canton of Zarcero in Alajuela province in Costa Rica. It is also the name of the distrito (district) that includes the city. The district of Zarcero covers an area of 12.01 km and has a population of 4,277.

The city lies at an elevation of 1,736 meters above sea level in the Cordillera Central (Central Mountain Range) of Costa Rica, 50 kilometers northwest of the provincial capital city of Alajuela and 27 kilometers southeast of Ciudad QuesadaZarcero, known for its brisk mountain climate, lies in a dairy and agricultural area also noted for the local enterprises that practice organic farming. Distinctive jams, cheese, and other dairy products are among the items produced.”

No sooner than exiting the car, it began to rain.  I was determined to take photos regardless of the weather. While Tom waited in the church, I scoured the grounds taking the photos. I was soaked when done but didn’t care.  It was worth it.

Driving through the hills and mountains in Costa Rica is challenging. The roads are some the steepest and most winding we’ve seen in our travels since the mountains of Tuscany Italy four years ago.

The church and topiary gardens are located in the center of the town.

Once it starts raining, the steep roads become slippery and dangerous, a breeding ground for many fatal crashes, including vehicles going off the roadway where there are no guard rails into the massive ravines below. 

Is this a dinosaur?

As I’ve mentioned many times in past posts, Tom is a good driver, and generally, I have no fear as we maneuver through rough terrain. However, there were a few times yesterday on the return drive we both expressed concern when the slippery steep road suddenly loomed before us, turn after turn, bend after bend.

Sure, it was disappointing it was raining, but it didn’t deter our enthusiasm for this unique venue.

At specific points, we both said we’d never seen anything like it. Once we were down to a lower elevation, we both sighed with relief, although the rain pelted the windshield with surprising force.  The wipers could not keep up.

Upon commencing the drive to our destination, which included numerous road changes and turns, we suddenly found ourselves at a standstill in traffic about halfway through. Other passengers were getting out of their vehicles to see the cause of the long delay.

A topiary duck.

A guy in a truck in front of us even got out to purchase a beverage at a nearby restaurant returning to his vehicle, a bottle of Coke in hand, to continue the wait. Tom’s not the most patient driver in traffic, but he stayed calm while waiting until we began moving again about 30 minutes later.

Could this be Topiary Gumby?

We drove through another city, Naranjo, described as follows: “The town of Naranjo, settled in 1830, was originally known as “Los Naranjos” (the Orange Groves) due to the abundance of orange trees in the surrounding area. Although the name has been shortened and several orange trees lessened, this city of 35,000 has remained an important agricultural hub for Costa Rica.”

While in Naranjo, we parked and walked about, taking photos of another church under construction. Photos will be posted as this story continues over the next few days.

The beautiful church, Iglesia Catolica de Zarcero, is the church located on the ground with the topiary garden.

Upon finally arriving in Zarcero, we were both in awe. The historic church, the topiary grounds, and the lovely woman sweeping the floors in the church who directed us to the best advantages for photos all impressed us.

It was challenging to determine precisely which animal(s) this may have been, but it was interesting nonetheless.

It’s during times like this when our mouths are agape with beauty and creativity before us, whether manufactured or made by nature, that the very purpose of our travels lies before us. Rain or shine, we weren’t going to miss a thing.

These archways were most fascinating, especially when considering how much work goes into the upkeep.

The camera and I were soaked after taking photos outdoors during the downpour, but I didn’t care. Of course, I looked like a drowned rat, but still, it didn’t matter to me. The only issue was the cool temperature in the town hovering in the high 50F’s (10C’s), making me shiver once we were back in the car.

Aside from trips to San Jose, the capital city, this was the worst traffic we’d seen in Costa Riva thus far when we were stuck in traffic for over 30 minutes due to road construction which continued for about 10 km. We saw two ambulances stuck in this mess with the lights flashing.

But then, when we passed some rapids on the return drive, I was hanging out the window of the car, getting soaked once again while taking photos. Unfortunately, there are no shoulders on the roads in Costa Rica in most areas, and the two-lane roads make it difficult to slow down for photos when there’s often a car behind us. Nevertheless, we do the best we can.

On the return drive, when the rain had stopped, and the sun came back out, we had “safari luck” and didn’t get delayed in the construction traffic when the vehicles traveling in the opposite direction were standing still to let us pass.

We’ll be back over the next few days with more photos from yesterday’s road trip. We can’t stop smiling over the beautiful day!

May you have a memorable day!

Photo from one year ago today,  20, 2016:

In Negara Bali, this guy on a motorbike had an attached basket carrying live chickens for sale at the markets. For more details, please click here.