Friday, January 31, 2014

God Bless You

God Bless You

Graffiti can be awful, an insult, a desecration. See, for example, Nathalie's recent post about some sad destruction in Avignon

But it can also be innocent and charming. I did not see any American or European style tagging in Costa Rica (although I bet there is some in San Jose). These pictures are from the inner walls of the castle where the music school is located. Not just Billy Loves Erika but rather a bold declaration: Billy Says, I Love You Erika. The top one isn't even romantic. It says simply God Bless You. Go find that in London or New York. Banksy doesn't write such things. Another reason to love Costa Rica.

OH, BY  THE WAY, THIS IS STL DPB'S 2,500TH POST. Am I nuts or what?                          

Billy Says

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Pura Vida

Pura Vida

You could say that pura vida is the national motto of Costa Rica. It has a simple literal translation - pure life - but the levels of meaning are much deeper than that. It expresses an attitude toward living in a complete, happy and content way. The words describe how we should treat one another.

This young man was a member of a crew setting up at the farmers market. (He didn't just fall off the plantain truck.)  Our guide asked him for me if I could take some pictures. He thought the idea was terribly funny. Pura vida.                        

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Fruit & Veg


There is an outdoor farmers market in Liberia. It seems to get going about mid-afternoon and run into the evening. There was every kind of edible tropical plant, plus eggs, queso fresco, breads and I don't know what.

It's all very inexpensive - to us. The pineapples above were about US$ 2 each. Limes had strange skins that would put off American shoppers, although we never saw one like these in a cocktail. I'm less certain about the next two. Maybe casava root, followed by red potatoes and a kind of squash, or maybe something else altogether. The lush fruit at the bottom is mango.

Might Be Casava

I Forget What


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Hard, Hard Work

Hauling Sand From The Tempisque River 2

Costa Ricans used to build their houses from wood. Now the tropical hardwoods are protected so they have to use cement. Commercial cement is too expensive for many people there. Since the main ingredient of cement is a certain kind of sand, the Ticos have found an ingenious but backbreaking alternative.

On our way to Liberia, our guide, Esteban, took us down some side roads near the town of Filadelphia (no cheesesteaks in this one) along the Tempisque River. The river bottom has the perfect kind of fine sand for cement. Local men take ox carts down to the river, shovel the sand into the carts and shovel it out at designated yards along the dirt road. Then it is sold to make cement. There is no danger of theft. The community watches out for itself.

Dealing with the oxen is an ordeal. Once a pair is trained together it is almost impossible to replace one. Once they have worked on the right or left side, they will never switch to the other. And, as you can see, they are not always cooperative.

I took my pictures but felt like a bit of a voyeur with my soft American rear sitting in an air conditioned SUV.

Oh, and the Tempisque has crocodiles. Here's a picture of one I took downstream two years ago.                

Hauling Sand From The Tempisque River 1

Hauling Sand From The Tempisque River 3

Monday, January 27, 2014

A Last Visit With The Music Students

Liberia Music Students 9

Some final shots of the music students. The first one got the most views of the set on Flickr (where there are several more - link in the right sidebar). We needed to have an ensemble shot, too.

The school is sponsored by the Ministry of Culture and Youth.  If you read some Spanish (you can machine translate, of course) and care to look, there is information about Costa Rica's national music education program here. Pretty cool.

While I was shooting, one of the young violinists started playing the Ode to Joy. I began to sing along in the original German: Freude, schöner Götterfunken . . .  She gave me the most puzzled look and then, as I persisted in my low-quality baritone, the biggest smile. That's why I love to travel.      

Liberia Music Students 7

Liberia Music Students 17

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Music Students 2

Liberia Music Students 16

A commenter yesterday mentioned that the students looked so serious. Well, not completely. Besides, it is not possible tor a trombone to be serious, ever.

I think Blogger must be messing with its photo algorithm again. All my blog pictures are linked to originals on Flickr, where the color looks a lot better. You can click any of these photos to go to the Flickr version if you care to.

Really sorry I haven't made any comments while we've been away. We get up a little late, diddle through breakfast, go do something, come back to the condo, I edit pictures and edit pictures and edit pictures. We go out to dinner and come home full and sleepy. Cold St. Louis should get me going again.

Liberia Music Students 13

Liberia Music Students 12

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Music Students In Liberia

Liberia Music Students 2

Liberia is the provincial capital of Guanacaste, Costa Rica. The international airport is there. The center of town has an old fort that is currently being used a a music school for the equivalent of junior high and high school students.

I asked our guide if the students would let me take some pictures. All of them were delighted to get in front of the lens. Some lovely candid portraits were the result. 

There are many more to edit. I have some kind of Tico tummy bug and spent most of yesterday in bed, now sleeping, now editing. Hope to get more done on the plane today.

Liberia Music Students 5

Liberia Music Students 10\\

Friday, January 24, 2014

Cast And Crew

Crew on Marina del Rey 3

This place is a photographer's paradise. (I learned how to say photographer in Spanish yesterday; fotógrafo.) These are more images of the crew and passengers of the Marlin del Rey on Wednesday afternoon. Capitán Leo is second from left at the top and at the helm in the second picture. In the last picture, Carolyn enjoys conditions she would not find back home.
We had a wonderful experience yesterday on a historic and architectural tour of Liberia, the provincial capital. I cannot say too many good things about 3 Monkies, the tour company we have always used here. The highlight was something we would never have found ourselves. There is an old fort that became a jail that became abandoned that will one day be the provincial museum of Guanacaste. (¿Cuándo? ¿Quién sabe? Esto es Costa Rica.) For now it is a music school tor teens. Several of them let me take their pictures. Their faces and their art were heartbreakingly beautiful. As we were leaving, I heard one young violinist playing Carlos Gardel's Por Una Cabeza. It almost brought tears to my eyes. Pix as soon as I can edit them. There were so many.       

Leo, El Capitan

Passengers on Marina del Rey 3

Passengers on Marina del Rey 4

Passengers on Marina del Rey 2

Crew on Marina del Rey 2

Crew on Marina del Rey 1

Carolyn At Sea 1

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Sailing, Sailing, Over The Bounding Main

Marlin del Rey 1

for many a stormy wind shall blow e're Jack comes home again.

Or 6 o'clock, whichever comes first.

The afternoon sail is a nearly obligatory activity in Tamarindo. We took the Marlin del Rey this year, a large catamaran. It takes you out around a point northwest of town to a cove where you can swim or snorkel. There is an open bar (boy, those Canadians can knock back the brewskis) and a buffet lunch. On the way back you can sun yourself or watch for whales. We saw some. Bad pictures to follow.

A word of advice for those with northern European genes, like, say, an Irish-Polish blend. Wear sunscreen whose SPF number is about the same as the population of New York City. I didn't get badly burned but felt miserable last night. Is there such a thing as sun poisoning? I should have worn a burnoose.

The last two photos are particularly for my friend Olivier. There were many interesting characters on board. We'll see some of them tomorrow.                  

Marlin del Rey 2

Marlin del Rey 3

Marlin del Rey 4

Marlin del Rey 5

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Dragonfly, Gecko, Mini Golf

Gecko In A Lantern 1

We had dinner Monday night at Dragonfly, one of Tamarindo's best restaurants. Excellent food, nice people, and, away from the center of town, reasonable prices. However, there were interesting things off the menu.

Just beside where we were sitting was a row of red Chinese lanterns, hung from the ceiling over a long table. A party of 20 was seated there. Carolyn pointed up at two of the lanterns - there were geckos crawling around inside them. Heaven knows how they got there, as the only opening points down. One of them was right at the bottom, looking like it was about to make its escape.

What does one do in such circumstances? Lean over to the diner under the lantern, tap her on the shoulder, and say excuse me, please, but I think there's a gecko about to fall down the back of your dress? What would Emily Post advise?

The other curiosity was a very new, utterly empty miniature golf course next to the restaurant. It was blazing with light. An attendant was on duty. Not a customer on the course. Looked like the mini golf of the spirit world.

Afternoon to sunset boat ride today on a big catamaran. Lunch and open bar included in the price. They call it the booze cruise. Stand by the rail at your own risk.           

Gecko In A Lantern 2

Deserted Mini Golf

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

That Road Trip

Playa Junquillal 1

Our intention was to see several of the less visited beaches to the south of Tamarindo.  We made it as far as Playa Junquillal, the nearest. Although not that far away, the road access is worse, there is little population and the area has a remote feel.

The sea turtles we call leatherbacks lay their eggs here, as with Playa Grande just north of Tamarindo. It is an endangered species and their eggs are always at risk. The local children find them in the open beach and bring them to this area where the eggs are protected and nurtured. It's a a labor of love.                              

Playa Junquillal 2

Playa Junquillal 3

Playa Junquillal 4

Playa Junquillal 5

Monday, January 20, 2014

Fire Dance

Fire Dancers At Nibbana 1

One of our favorite restaurants in Tamarindo is Nibbana. Very good food, reasonably priced and a nightly show of fire dancers. We saw them at dinner last year but didn't know about the show. I wasn't properly prepared. Saturday night I took the 5D Mark III cranked up to ISO 6400 and a 50 mm f 1.4 prime lens. Ready.

I did indeed do nothing yesterday, or something approaching it. Laid around in bed most of the morning editing pictures. Looked at the ocean. Drove into town to get mahi mahi Cubano sandwiches from Addy's. Carolyn and I split a can of beer with them in the heat of our patio, after which I fell asleep. Woke up, tried to study the manual for the wildly complicated flash for my little Olympus EM-5. Got nowhere. Walked down to the beach for sunset but rather too late. Edited some more pictures. Went out to dinner at the much-hyped Pangas restaurant and was quite disappointed. Back to the condo, edited a few more pictures, wrote this, went to bed.

Enough idleness. Road trip today.         

Fire Dancers At Nibbana 5 square

Fire Dancers At Nibbana 2

Fire Dancers At Nibbana 4

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Better Than Friday's Picture

Sunset At Langosta 2014-01-18 1

Now that's better. Here we are in Costa Rica, watching sunset on our first evening at Playa Langosta.

Then perfectly prepared seafood at Nibbana on Tamarindo Beach with the nightly fire dancers, more about which soon. We're going to try to do nothing today. It's a huge challenge. If successful, it may be a personal first.         

Sunset At Langosta 2014-01-18 2

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Live Your Adventure

Live Your Adventure

Sign found at an American Airlines gate in St. Louis yesterday afternoon. Phone cam shot. You wouldn't do your adventure in a coma, would you? I suppose you could do it in the wheelchair parked there if you were determined.

Just more meaningless corporate baloney. In Miami last night. On our way to Costa Rica this morning.          

Friday, January 17, 2014

All Within Reach

St Louis Is

That's the lame slogan of the organization that tries to attract business and tourists here. We're right in the middle of the country and the area isn't too big. Get it?

But no, the opposite is on our minds. We just got a bit more snow. Time to relax the grasp and let go.  We'll spend tonight in Miami. Tomorrow on to Tamarindo, Costa Rica.

There may not be a post tomorrow unless I find something fascinating at the St. Louis or Miami airports. Tropical pix on Sunday for sure.


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Thursday Arch Series

Arch 2014-01-11 3

The Arch benefited from all the standing water, too. This part of the street is closed to traffic for the extensive renovations that are starting in the area and the wind was quiet. Nothing to disturb the surface.

Comments will be back. We were packing last night for the next adventure.