Monday, February 29, 2016

The Monster That Ate My Front Yard

The Monster That Ate My Front Yard 2

The local electric company has been doing some ominous work in the street in front of our house. It's a condominium (although it doesn't look like one) so no requirement to contact us individually. Mrs. C called me at work Friday afternoon - we have no water service! This complicated bit of machinery cut through the water main that serves our house and some of our neighbors. (Chez nous is at the left of the top picture).

The crew found a way to bypass the problem by early evening, cheerfully telling us "you're off your water meter. Use as much as you want!" They also tore up most of the roots of the tree in the top picture so that will have to be pulled out. And, um, they didn't cover that hole very securely.

Worse things can happen around here. We get violent thunderstorms, ice and heavy wet snow that topple large trees,  bashing in people's roofs and crushing cars. Always look on the bright side of life.                 

 The Monster That Ate My Front Yard 1

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Back In The Lou

Forest Park 2016-02-27 1

We've been home for a week, actually, but I had a lot of Costa Rica material to use and the week at work was horrid. No new local material so I had to get myself back on the street. Not an idea in my head, I drove to Forest Park and decided to walk around the Grand Lagoon and Art Hill. There were things to see.

When I'm out with the big DSLR and white lens, sometimes people call out to me, "hey, mister, take my picture!" Always happy to oblige. These young people were beautiful.                    

Saturday, February 27, 2016


Horizontes del Mar 1

Time to leave la hermosa Costa Rica. We hope to return but the future is unknown. We depart with a few final shots of Horizontes del Mar where we stay.

The pool overlooks the ocean, refreshed by concrete fish. Mrs. C takes a final dip and then relaxes with a piña colada. Her shirt has a quotation from Gertrude Stein: you can either buy clothes or buy pictures. That's right up to a point. Even better if you can make pictures.

Oh, and I was going to get back to my friends blogs, right? Well, our friendly electric company was digging up about everything in front of our house yesterday and cut our water service. One thing led to another... 

Horizontes del Mar 2

Horizontes del Mar 3

Friday, February 26, 2016


Tamarindo 2016-02-18 1

I need to mine the vein of Costa Rica material a bit more until I can shoot some new local stuff (this weekend, I hope). Sharkey's is a popular bar and informal restaurant about 100 meters back from the beach in central Tamarindo. Not at all busy at lunch but it is packed with young people at night. The drinking age there is 18 and the place is set up to be funky/irreverent. They sure have a lot of different tequilas on offer. The burgers were pretty good.

Apologies to all my friends and colleagues whose blogs have lacked my attention for a couple of weeks. We came back last weekend and I walked into one of those weeks from hell at work. And besides (excuses, excuses) Madeleine was over last night and spent a long time sitting on my lap, watching opera clips on YouTube with me. She was fascinated, particularly by Alla Bella Despinetta from Cosi Fan Tutte. At some point she started waving her arms, mimicking the conductor. She's two and a half and "opera" is part of her vocabulary. That's my girl.

Anyway, what's coming up is merely the week from purgatory. I hope to get back on track.                 

Tamarindo 2016-02-18 3

Tamarindo 2016-02-18 4

Thursday, February 25, 2016

To The Table

Chef Jujo 7

The products of Chef Jujo's art: tuna tataki on raw veggie spaghetti in orange reduction; bufala mozzarella and sun dried tomatoes with rosemary vinagrette; and preparation of spring rolls.

If you find yourself in Guanacaste and have access to a kitchen you gotta call this guy.                         

Chef Jujo 9

Chef Jujo 10

Chef Jujo 8

Chef Jujo 11

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Jujo Molina, Private Chef

Chef Jujo 2

We never thought we'd do something like this. There are a dozen or more units at the condominium we stay at in Tamarindo. Many of us gather around the pool at sunset. A group of friendly Canadians (well, they all are) told us they had engaged a private chef to prepare dinner twice during their stay. We doubted we could afford such a thing but when they mentioned the price, Mrs. C got in touch with Chef Jujo Molina of Salvia Fresca (fresh sage).

He does catering and private cooking and was willing to do it for just the two of us. The price was equal or less than dinner for two at a fine Costa Rican restaurant. The servings were so large you easily get two meal's worth, halving the effective cost. 

Jujo (a contraction of Julian and something) brings a case of ingredients. Everything is ultra fresh and prepared from scratch on the spot. He cleans up and stores the leftovers. You can look at the astounding menu we had here

The chef is from northern Spain and has worked in fine restaurants in that country, France, Italy and, I believe, Argentina. He married a Costa Rican woman. They have a young daughter and he wanted a more stable life than the restaurant work allows. He is developing this business in Guanacaste Province and has a growing reputation.

What a delight. Tomorrow we'll have some of what arrived on our plates. Check his site at                       

Chef Jujo 4

Chef Jujo 5

Chef Jujo 6

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Other Locals

2016-20-18 Tamarindo Estuary Boar Ride 9

Any readers out there, at least Americans, remember Marlin Perkins' Wild Kingdom television show ages ago? Perkins was director of the St. Louis Zoo way back when and had this show about amazing animals around the world. You sort of walk into that when you get out of town in Costa Rica.

While boating on the estuary we came across a group of five iguanas along the shore. I had never seen more than one at a time. Do they have packs or family groups? What with movement of the boat and the underbrush this was the best shot I could get.

The second one was technically difficult with the back lighting. If you look carefully, though, you can see at least three monkeys, all napping in the afternoon heat. (Mad dogs and American tourists go out in the midday sun.) Easy to see the one main face but just to the right of the mouth there is an ear, the head facing left and face concealed. There is a baby all stretched out vertically on the lower right whose fur is a lighter brown.

The bottom two photos are of an identical boat to ours on the estuary and the entrance to the boatmen's cooperative.

I've been really bad about getting back to my colleagues' blogs. It's a week from hell at work to punish me for going away and I have to get pictures of Chef Jujo edited. He's the most interesting person we met down there and I promised him I'd do it.                                

2016-20-18 Tamarindo Estuary Boat Ride 9

2016-02018 Tamarindo Estuary Boar Ride 3

2016-02018 Tamarindo Estuary Boar Ride 1

Monday, February 22, 2016

Tropical Water Birds

2016-20-18 Tamarindo Estuary Boar Ride 7
There is a large estuary between Playa Tamarindo and sparsely developed Playa Grande, the next one north, where a species of sea turtle comes to lay their eggs. We took a boat ride on the inlet. I am no nature photographer but I'll pop the shutter button at anything that passes in front of the lens. Here we have snowy egrets, tri-color herons and a couple of tweeters whose names I don't remember. The guide's English skills and my Spanish were equivalent. He explained about all of them but not all the info stuck. For all I knew the frumious Bandersnatch was around the next bend.  

There was yet more to see.                 

2016-20-18 Tamarindo Estuary Boar Ride 5

2016-20-18 Tamarindo Estuary Boar Ride 6

2016-02018 Tamarindo Estuary Boar Ride 2

2016-20-18 Tamarindo Estuary Boar Ride 4

2016-20-18 Tamarindo Estuary Boar Ride 8

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Blind Guitarist

2016-02-16 Rl Viejo Wetlands 17

So the señorita mentioned yesterday takes us down to an actual or replica old Tico home (who knows which), where another woman is making snacks at an outdoor oven, based on corn, sugar and milk. Tasty, but we just had a big lunch. 

The hit, though, was this blind guitarist, who had a beautiful lyric tenor voice. He sang traditional Costa Rican songs. The guide asked me if I had any requests. Now, I don't know any Latin American songs from anywhere between Mexico and Argentina. La Bamba seemed out of the question. I tried my best to croon the opening lines of Mi Buenos Aires Querido. No luck. But this guy was good.

Home now. Lots of catching up to do.           
2016-02-16 Rl Viejo Wetlands 18

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Please Like My Tour!

2016-02-16 Rl Viejo Wetlands 14

After the boat ride on the Tempisque we had a yummy Tico lunch at the main house of El Viejo Wetlands. The third and last item on the schedule was what was billed as a cultural and tasting tour focused on old-time Costa Rica. This lovely young señorita met us outside the restaurant and tied a bandanna around our necks, telling us that we were now going to be cowboys and that we were going to a party. Gimme a break. The closest thing I've ever come to riding down the range is maybe the 8th Avenue subway in NYC.

It was actually kind of interesting for me. The first and second pictures are of an old-fashioned sugar cane press. An ox or two rotated a bar attached to a pair of cylinders that  slowly crushed the stalks. You can see the guide catching the fresh-squeezed juice in the second image. My father spent most of his career  in commercial sugar, the middleman between refiners and industrial users. He sold Pepsi-Cola all its sugar back in the day. This would have interested him.

The bottom image is of the neighboring sugar cane fields. There was one more bit after this, more about which tomorrow. 

Home late tonight. No more stumbling in my bad Spanish.                   

2016-02-16 Rl Viejo Wetlands 15

2016-02-16 Rl Viejo Wetlands 13 (sugar cane)

Friday, February 19, 2016

I Am The Very Model Of A Modern Major General

2016-02-16 Rl Viejo Wetlands 12

I have loose associations, as the psychologists say, thoughts that don't directly relate to the stimulus. That's a good thing for being creative if you don't reach the point that they bring in the psychiatrists. 

That Gilbert & Sullivan number was the first thing I thought of when I finished editing these pictures. Adult male iguanas do have a certain haughty bearing and pomposity, clearly the most important and learned creatures in the neighborhood. This guy looks like he could calculate the square of the hypotenuse. 

Shot on the Tempisque River in El Viejo Wetlands.                      

2016-02-16 Rl Viejo Wetlands 10

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Bite Me

2016-02-16 Rl Viejo Wetlands 7

So quoth Bart Simpson. When our son was a kid he used to like to say that when he wanted to be a little bit in our faces but not over the line. 

We went to this place called El Viejo Wetlands. Guanacaste Province, here in the northwest of Costa Rica, is a dustbowl at this time of wet season - dry season cycle. However, there is a river, the Tempisque, that gets wider and wider as it flows towards the Pacific, becoming more of a brackish estuary than a river. El Viejo (the old man) is a huge sugar cane plantation irrigated by its waters. You can drive out to the middle of nowhere (thank heaven for Google Maps and international cellular service!) to see the old plantation house, have lunch and take a boat ride on the Tempisque with a naturalist.

The place is crawling with crocodiles, the salt-water badass cousins of the alligators so common in the US around the Gulf coast and throughout Florida. Our guide and the boatman thought this was a safe distance, but I want to tell you, I was using a long telephoto.

More critters to see around there and some other odd things to do. More to come.                 
2016-02-16 Rl Viejo Wetlands 9

2016-02-16 Rl Viejo Wetlands 6

2016-02-16 Rl Viejo Wetlands 8

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Danza de Fierro

2016-02-16 Fire Dance 7
Back at Latitude Blue last night for our third annual visit. As before, the food is good, the people are nice and the fire dance show is spectacular. (It always is. Here are some of the photos from 2014 and 2015.) These are some of the new shots. I have a hundred more I could edit but it's getting very late.                     

2016-02-16 Fire Dance 1

2016-02-16 Fire Dance 4

2016-02-16 Fire Dance 3

2016-02-16 Fire Dance 6

2016-02-16 Fire Dance 2

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Do We REALLY Need Another Sunset Photo?

Playa Langosta 2016-02-15 1

Yes, of course we do. Thank you, birdies.


Da Cops. Fuerza Publica literally translates as public force. Of course, the nuances vary from language to language, but still, it's a little scary. The design is way better in Costa Rica but, still, it reminds me of this cop billboard in Tibet. No misunderstanding the meaning of that one.

Bottom, Costa Rican tech. Who leaves those coax connections out in the weather? Who still uses coax?

Fuerza Publica

Costa Rican Tech

Monday, February 15, 2016

Are We Having Fun Yet?

Playa Langosta 2016-02-14 1


Playa Langosta, late Sunday afternoon. Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas any more.               

Playa Langosta 2016-02-14 2

Playa Langosta 2016-02-14 3

Playa Langosta 2016-02-14 5

Playa Langosta 2016-02-14 6