More photos…The museum at Puente Ferrocarril Rio Grande Atenas… Another power outage…

Juan Ramon showed us a railroad calendar. As Tom went though the pages, month by month, he was excited to find this page with the Great Northern Railway (photo from 1964). In the background is the Mississippi River, the Hennepin Ave Bridge and behind it, the Great Northern Railroad Bridge.

“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

In this photo, taken yesterday before the big storm, the mountains almost appear as a tidal wave.  Freaky.

Yesterday afternoon, about 30 minutes prior to our plan to walk down the steep road to a neighbor’s home who’d generously offered to take us with her to the restaurant where the rock and roll fiesta was being held from 4:00 to 7:00 pm, a downpour occurred of such magnitude that we decided not to go. 

The rain didn’t let up for hours.

Juan and his family in this old photo.

Not wanting to inconvenience her by asking her to come get us in the downpour, coupled with our lack of interest in getting soaked and the consideration that many others may have decided to stay home anyway, made staying in an easy decision.

Juan Ramon photo as he became in charge of managing the historic depot.

Moments after we notified the kindly neighbor that we wouldn’t be coming, the power went out during a close flash of lightning. This was around 3:00 pm. Unfortunately,  shortly before the power outage, I’d been using my laptop to watch a Netflix movie without using the power supply. 

The depot in the early 1900’s.

Subsequently, my battery was partially drained, leaving me with only a few hours of use remaining should the power not come back on. Again, I reminded myself of the recent hurricanes in the US and the thousands that continue to be without power, including thousands whose homes were uninhabitable due to the devastation from the storms. A short-term outage here in Costa Rica is nothing, comparatively.

The walls in this area were covered in old railroad photos.

My phone’s battery was half drained as well. Tom’s laptop was fully charged so if we were stuck in the dark all evening, we could use his laptop to watch a movie as opposed to sitting in the dark. There are only a few candles in the villa. All of our books are on our phones on Kindle apps.

Train arriving at the station in late 1800’s or early 1900’s.

I knew my laptop wouldn’t make it through one entire movie so I used our portable hard drive, plugged it into my laptop and downloaded several shows and movies. This way I could transfer them to Tom’s laptop where we could watch them there if need be.

In 1926, a tragic derailment resulted in the death of 14 passengers and crew.

At this point, Tom decided to take a nap, a rare occurrence for him. He laid down on the comfy bed and in minutes, was sound asleep. I wandered about the house, looking for something to read.

Many photos of the 1926 derailments lined the walls of the museum.

Although some vacation/holiday homes have somewhat of a “library” along with puzzles and games,  this particular property had only one paperback book, a military-type thriller in the desk drawer. I picked it up and began reading.

Axel and wheels of an old cart as shown in above old photo. Not all items in the museum were related to the railroad.

I hadn’t read a paper book in years. Even in our old lives, years ago I began reading books online, long before it was popular to do so. I loved the technology and simplicity of always having my “book” with me wherever I might be. Now, due to weight and space restrictions, neither of us ever carries a paper book.

The museum was a hodgepodge of antique items, including these tools and handmade masks.

The book kept me busy for the half hour Tom dozed. He awoke with a start asking if the power had returned. With not much to do and with it still pouring rain, we walked around the house, staring out in the sheer wonder of how it can rain so much day after day. Thank goodness for the usually sunny mornings.

By 4:30, we decided we may as well make dinner since it’s usually dark by 6:00 pm, hopefully only opening the refrigerator a few times until the power came back on. We busied ourselves in the kitchen.  Luckily, I’d already done most of the prep for the meal earlier in the day. 

When planning to go out to the music fest we figured it would be best to have a meal ready to cook in the event the food at the restaurant wasn’t suitable for my way of eating. 

Railroad switch locks.

We had Asian burger patties ready to cook (luckily the range runs on propane gas); a salad made and ready for dressing; vegetables to throw into a pot of water on the stove.  Dinner would be easy to prepare without electricity.

As for keeping the refrigerated food cold, Tom had been saving ice in the bottom bin of the freezer in a large plastic bag. He had enough ice to keep the refrigerated products cold overnight, if necessary.  If the power didn’t come back on the next day, we could begin eating everything in the freezer. We had a plan. 

Old seats from a passenger train.

By 5:15 we were seated at the dining room table with our plates of food in front of us, while we watched an episode of Master Chef. If the power didn’t come back on overnight, we had it covered.

Just about the time we’d finished our meal and the show ended, the lights flashed when the power came back on. We looked at each other, smiled and jumped up starting to clear the table. As always, Tom washed the dishes while I busied myself with other cleanup tasks.

Tom wrote in the guestbook as he often does as we travel the world.

By the time darkness fell, we made our way to the screening room, selecting a few shows on Netflix to watch until bedtime. Sure, we were disappointed not to go out with our neighbor but we do have other social plans on the horizon.

As for today’s photos, enjoy these museum treasures that Juan Ramon excitedly shared with us as we toured through the dusty old museum on the grounds of the railway depot. He was delightful and we appreciated every moment he spent with us.

Soon, Tom will watch the Minnesota Vikings game on the app on his laptop with the HDMI cord plugged into the huge flat screen TV while I prepare tonight’s meal. It’s a typical Sunday in the life of retirees.

Gee…I just might get back into that paper book!

Photo from one year ago today, September 17, 2016:

What a lovely family in their colorful holiday clothing as they walk to a local shrine with their offerings. Gede, our house man in Bali, stopped by for a visit with his wife and two daughters.  hey have since added a son to their family after we left almost a year ago.  For more details please click here.

Part 2… A journey to yesteryear in Costa Rica… A railroad depot and freight house… Puente Ferrocarril Rio Grande Atenas… Culture and history…

No, thanks. We had no interest in walking on this bridge at Puente Ferrocarril Rio Grande Atenas.

“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

Inca Doves can mate for life and typically spend considerable time preening one another during the mating season. Tom took this great photo from the veranda.

After we toured the locomotive and the museum (photos coming soon) with Juan Ramon, he enthusiastically encouraged us to make the walk down the railroad tracks to the abandoned bridge at the end of the tracks.

A railroad high stand switch was used to switch the train from one track to another.

It has been raining every day for these past weeks since we arrived, and the ground was muddy and slippery in spots. Luckily, we were both wearing our water shoes which we could easily wash with the garden hose when we returned to the villa.

Several houses line the railroad tracks.

With the issue of ruining our shoes out of the way, I contemplated whether this long walk over rough terrain would work for me. At the same time, I continue to recuperate after all these months, having yet to restore my previous level of fitness and stamina. 

There was no road accessible by car to reach the houses along the railroad track.

Hesitating to go at all and realizing how long Tom and Juan Ramon would be gone, I decided “what the heck,” and I began the trek along with them. At a few points, as shown in a photo in yesterday’s post, they stopped to wait for me. 

Although difficult to see in these photos, the river runs under the bridge.

Tom stuck close to me at other points, holding my hand as we navigated the more difficult spots. The trek was much further than anticipated, although some TripAdvisor reviewers mentioned it in their comments. I knew that the more walks we do like this, the stronger I’ll become.

Walking on the bridge didn’t appeal to us.

Finally, after stopping from time to time to take photos, we made it to the bridge. Oddly, Juan Ramon and I communicated a little while I explained that our world travels in my choppy Spanish. He asked me to name some of the countries we’ve visited and seemed most intrigued with those in Africa, as is often the case.

We didn’t see any reason to walk on the old rickety bridge, so we went as far as we could without doing so.

He told me about his family and his years of working on the railroad.  He was particularly fascinated with Tom’s 42½  years spent working for Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. He kept this in mind as we toured the property and museum, knowing Tom was a highly experienced railroad man.

At a few points, we could see the Rio Grande River.

Moving on to more current events of today, we finally reached out to make social contacts in Atenas. A few weeks ago, I joined an Atenas ex-pat group on Facebook, spending a few minutes each day lurking without commenting.

Although the ground was pretty level as we walked toward the bridge, walking was precarious at times. It has been raining daily, and some spots on the dirt path were slippery and muddy. At many points, we had to walk in the center of the track. 

Yesterday afternoon, I stuck my neck out and wrote the following post on Facebook:
“Hello, we’re world travelers staying in Atenas for almost four months in Roca Verde. We’d love to meet some of you. Any suggestions on where and when we could hang out and have an opportunity to make some friends would be appreciated. On October 31st, it will be five years since we sold everything we own and started this journey. We don’t own a home, have an apartment or condo anywhere, or have storage anywhere. We’d love to hear about your travel experiences and more about Atenas. Please message me or click my email on our blog at”

A least half of the way, we walked on the gravel on the tracks when the dirt path ended. The railroad ties were a combination of wood, concrete, and steel.

We’d heard ex-pats in Costa Rica were as friendly as the locals. After receiving 12 comments following my post, we already have plans for tonight to go with a neighbor living in our gated community of Roca Verda to an event in town, a rock and roll festival, and a barbecue at a local restaurant. Next week on Wednesday, we’ll attend a luncheon, mainly a women’s group, but the men come along and sit at a separate table.

At 3:30 today, we’ll walk down the steep road to Barb’s home and ride with her to the event. We’ll explain we’ll arrange a taxi to take us home so she doesn’t have to give a thought as to when we’d like to go or stay. Easy peasy. 

This house on stilts along the tracks appeared to be occupied.

Then, we received a few email messages for more plans for next week when we’ll have a car again. How fun is this! Tom and I both shook our heads, wondering why we hadn’t done this sooner.  After all, we’ve already been here for over six weeks.

We have no doubt we’ll have a good time as we often do with other retirees, many of us who’ve stepped outside the box to live a different life from what they knew living in their native country. It’s always interesting to hear “why” others have chosen this path.

We’ll be back tomorrow with the story of what we discovered when spending the late afternoon and evening with ex-pats from several countries. Of course, we’ll be taking photos to share here.

Have a fabulous Saturday! 

Photo from one year ago today, September 16, 2016:

Locals fishing along the shore in Sumbersari Bali as seen from our villa’s veranda, one year ago today.  For more photos, please click here.

Part 1… A journey to yesteryear in Costa Rica… A railroad depot and freight house… Puente Ferrocarril Rio Grande Atenas… Culture and history…

The blue locomotive at the train depot, Puente Ferrocarril Rio Grande Atenas, with a dual cab.

“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

This morning’s view of the veranda at 5:30 am.

Tom and I frequently accommodate each other’s interests when we decide on where we’ll go sightseeing. Sometimes, it’s botanical gardens which I particularly love, and at other times, it’s a military museum.

Tom was walking toward the depot and museum.

Undoubtedly we are stereotypical for our genders with many of our interests besides our mutual passion for wildlife; for me, the flowers and quaint shops; for him, military tanks and railroad history and memorabilia.

Signage at the depot.

Over these past years of world travel, we’ve found we can easily cross over to each other’s interests with little hesitation. I no longer roll my eyes when he stops to read every word on historical signs posted at various locations. He’ll freely pause to show me an unusual flower.

Juan Ramon’s home is located across the tracks. 

We share endless interests in wildlife and nature, which have proven to be in abundance in many countries. Based on our transportation limitations and mountainous location in Costa Rica, birds have proven to be of our most significant interest as we spend hours each day watching and listening for varied species. 

Dog at the train depot, Puente Ferrocarril Rio Grande Atenas.

As shown in our many bird photos, Costa Rica doesn’t disappoint its colorful and varied wildlife and vegetation. Both of us are thoroughly enjoying each day, including the bird sounds and songs, including the nearly constant crowing of roosters.

Locomotive drive wheels on display at the depot.

As for sightseeing, we continue to get out several times every other week when we have the five-day car rental, which is upcoming again on Monday. In the interim, we’ll continue to share photos and stories from our recent sightseeing expeditions and outings when we last had the car.

Control stands inside the locomotive cab.

We’d read about Puente Ferrocarril Rio Grande Atenas at the TripAdvisor site with many rave reviews. Those less interested in railroad history wrote some wishy-washy reviews. In contrast, others reveled in the fascinating history and museum, leaving us smiling hours after exploring several areas of this exciting spot.

Engine compartment.

We parked the car and walked the short distance to the depot.  There were only a few visitors on-site who may have been from some news agency when we noted they had sophisticated camera equipment set up and were taking photos. Shortly after we arrived, they left. 

The opposite side of the engine compartment.

Moments later, Juan Ramon came out of a single-story house located on the property to greet us, warmly shaking our hands.  He spoke no English, but somehow we were able was able to understand he’d been managing the property for the past 10 years since the trains stopped running and he moved his family into the tiny house.

Inside the cab of the locomotive.

A warm and friendly man, Juan Ramon couldn’t have been more thrilled to share the treasures of the location, including allowing us to tour the blue locomotive (Tom gave me a shove to get me up the metal ladder while I hung on tightly on the grab-irons), the roadbed/right-of-way to the railroad bridge and considerable time in the museum.

In railroad jargon, an overly zealous train enthusiast is often referred to as a “former,” implying they “foam at the mouth” when around anything railroad, whether its modern-day train and railroad equipment or memorabilia. 

The opposite side of the locomotive cab.

Tom’s no foamer.  He’s more interested in the local history and culture of the railroad in the country we’re visiting at any given time than in railroad equipment itself. Based on the extent of photo ops at train stations and depots, I’ve learned to find it all rather interesting as well.

Tomorrow, we’ll share photos from the long hike to the railroad bridge, a hike we’d hesitated to embark upon when some reviewers mentioned how far it was from the depot and the rigor of the walk along the tracks, now overgrown with vegetation (as shown in the photo below) when unused over the past 10 years. 

Tom and Juan Ramon were waiting for me to catch up on the long hike.

But, our wonderful and thoughtful host, Juan Ramon, who lives at the depot and oversees its operation and visitors, insisted on walking the long distance to the bridge with us. Although there’s no fee to visit the facility, we left Juan Ramon a generous tip for the time he spent with us, especially when the facility wasn’t opened to the public that day. 

Please check back for more with many photos from the adjoining museum, there again, presented to us by our generous host, Juan Ramon.

Photo from one year ago today, September 15, 2016:

This duck seemed perfectly content in our pool in Bali until realizing it could be tricky getting out, so she swam to the steps as shown and walked out. Animals are amazing!  For more photos, please click here.