Street Crossing Signs

Usually when I think about a street crossing sign I think of something bland looking, possibly with a stick figure crossing slowly or a hand to indicate not to cross.

I love the signs in Costa Rica. They are in color and the pedestrian is walking at a very fast pace. Makes it more fun to me. (Like we are seeing more and more in the states, there is an auditory signal to walk that sounds like a bird tweeting.)


There are a number of parrots in Nicaragua and Costa Rica and if you hear a discordant harsh noise it may be one or more parrots. The ones we have seen were always up in trees or flying. When we were in Fortuna we saw flocks of 20-30 flying but the owner said that in a few weeks there would be thousands in a flock! Didn’t get good pictures, in fact we never got really good pics of parrots in the wild but we did get these on a day trip on Ometepe in Nicaragua. They are probably Olive Throated Parrots and were about 30 feet up in the air.

I never knew how much noise a parrot makes; I don’t think I could stand to be around “thousands”!


English Lessons Given to Elementary Students in Atirra

The workers at Finca Soley give English lessons to the 6 or 7 students (one boy and the rest are girls) between ages 7-12 who attend the local school that is walking distance from Finca Soley. This is a one room school with one teacher.

I watched the class last week and interacted with a few of the students. I was extremely impressed with the woman from Finca Soley, Dora, who conducted the class. Without any background in teaching, she designed a one hour class that had the children up and moving, listening, repeating, and copying some English words. Since children are usually very kinesthetic, this is a perfect way to teach.

They took turns throwing a ball around the circle and saying their name (complete sentences) or saying what they liked to do using verbs they had studied. Later they talked about the different feelings like happy, sad, etc. and copied the words from the board and colored the faces on their papers. The hour ended with a refresher on body parts and that favorite song, “Head, Shoulder, Knees, and Toes” going faster and faster each time. They loved it!

Great job Dora!

Here is a short video of Dan and Caro working with the kids. They walk around until she stops the music and then they have to find what she says. (Note, Caro is German and she taught them “table” for “desk” but she was going to correct that at the next class.)

On a side note, students in public schools in Costa Rica wear uniforms and the ones in private schools don’t! Just the opposite of many schools in the USA.

Decimal Points vs Commas

I thought numbers were universally written so the first time I saw my Spanish teacher put a number on the board with a comma to separate thousands from hundreds, I thought it was an error. But I way WRONG!!!

In Costa Rica and other countries, the decimal point is used instead of the comma and the comma is used instead of the decimal point. So one thousand twenty two dollars and fifteen cents is written


Here is a picture of a package of laundry soap; see that it contains 5,5 pounds of soap.

Apparently this is common in some other countries as well.

And speaking of how we measure, well we were kind of doing that anyway, I got a kick out of one of the German student’s stunned facial expression at the Finca when she asked me what “lb” meant as a measure. I knew it was “pound” but had forgotten the origin.

According to, Lb is an abbreviation of the Latin word libra. The primary meaning of libra was balance or scales (as in the astrological sign), but it also stood for the ancient Roman unit of measure libra pondo, meaning “a pound by weight.” We got the word “pound” in English from the pondo part of the libra pondo but our abbreviation comes from the libra.

And while we are on the subject of strange abbreviations, “Ounce” is related to the Latin uncia, the name for both the Roman ounce and inch units of measurement. The word came into English from Anglo-Norman French, where it was unce or ounce, but the abbreviation was borrowed from Medieval Italian, where the word was onza. These days the Italian word is oncia, and the area once covered by the Roman Empire has long since switched to the metric system.

More than you ever wanted to know about any of this I’m sure but tuck it away in the back of your mind for next time you need to fill some dead air at a party or dinner.

Courtyards in Nicaragua

Courtyards are a necessity in Nicaragua (and should be elsewhere as well). The air in the courtyard flows into the rooms which surround it and help to keep the temperatures tolerable.

All of the courtyards that we saw were full of lots of plants and sometimes a fountain or pool. They were very pleasant to see and to sit in. My only question about this practice is that it means that the majority of all land is covered by impervious cover (concrete, asphalt, buildings, etc.) so I’m not sure how much of an issue rainwater runoff is.

Here are just a few of the many ones we saw. In the pictures we took from the bell tower, you can see that almost the only plants you see come from the courtyards.

Mona The Marmoset, RIP

I’m really saddened to report that Mona the Marmoset died in less than a day after she appeared to be ill. On Saturday I spent much of the day keeping an eye on her as she spent a lot of time running around the sitting area in the den of the main house. It was not uncommon for her to come into the house and she would climb on the bookshelves and up the casing of the door or just run around the floor. In retrospect she might have been a little less active than normal but not much. I sat and used our laptop and watched her from time to time.

Sunday, unbeknownst to me, she took a quick turn downhill and died. I had missed her for a couple of days and found out this morning (Wednesday) that she had died and been buried at the farm.

Her age was estimated to be 12 years and if you remember my prior post, that is the life expectancy of this breed. In spite of the fact that there are still 13 horses, 5 dogs, 2-3 cats, untold number of chickens/roosters, and a 3 year old and a 4 year old, the farm is quieter without her shrill calls andit has lost a bit of its character as well. It was fun to watch her run around and do back flips in her cage or run across the rafters of the covered patio. I’m surprisingly saddened and touched by her passing.

The top picture is one Dan captured of her one day looking at the computer. Here are some of my other favorites. And here is a video of her running around in her cage. Listen closely for her shrill voice.

San Isidro de el General, Costa Rica

Quiet day. We went for a walk, I worked on my Spanish, read a little and now am on the computer. It rained hard for a couple of hours.

We are staying at an Airbnb house up on a ridge. The valleys on either side are beautiful!

Bramas in the field.
Those fields on the mountain at center right background are probably 70 degrees. Incredibly steep and not uncommon here.


Great Books to Read

I think that most of us are readers so I thought I’d give a shout out about some books that I loved and ask for more suggestions from you. Not everyone is going to love the same book/type of book but I’m looking for a list of really well written books. I also read some light mysteries and romance but they are more escapism than something to really savor. So send your comments with one or more books, author, genre, and what you liked about it.

And if you don’t already know about it, you can get a daily suggestion of ebooks, many of them free, all of them low prices from There is no cost to sign up and you choose your genres when you do register. Books come from Amazon.

  • The Wiregrass Pam Webber A coming of age story
  • Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet: A Novel Jamie Ford Heartfelt story about relationships
  • The Lion is In: A Novel-Delia Ephron, Fiction, Great story although it starts off slowly…keep with it; you will be glad you did.
  • Alex & Me: How a Scientist and a Parrot Discovered a Hidden World of Animal Intelligence–and Formed a Deep Bond in the Process Irene Pepperberg This is a true story and the title says it all. Much more interesting that I expected it to be!
  • Before the Fall-Noah Hawley Fiction/Mystery Well developed characters, plot twists
  • The Color of Heaven (The Color of Heaven Series Book 1) Julianne MacLean Fiction that you want to be true. Very comforting story about loss.
  • Summers at Blue Lake Jill Althouse-Wood Fiction, Coming of age story…I can never get enough of these.
  • The House on Olive Street Robyn Carr Women’s Fiction, 3 women come together after the death of their fourth friend.
  • We Never Asked for Wings: A Novel Vanessa Diffenbaugh Great character development of a teenage boy.
  • The Language of Flowers: A Novel Vanessa Diffenbaugh Again great character development in this fictional book. A woman who is the product of the foster care system discovers how she can help others.
  • The Secret Life of Bees Sue Monk Kidd Fiction A young woman discovers the truth to the past.
  • The Memory Keeper’s Daughter:A Novel-Kim Edwards Great story.
  • Kindred Octavia Butler Fictional novel about a black woman who goes back and forth between the present and times of slavery
  • Americanah Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Life and love for a Nigerian couple
  • The Gardens of Kyoto: A Novel Kate Walbert A woman coming of age in the shadow of WWII 

And if you want to be notified of new posts, send me an email ( and I will set you up and you will get an email with login information.