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.)

Parrots

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

1.022,15

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 theweek.com, 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.

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.

Vendors

Vendor walking along moving traffic selling bubble making machine.

People do a lot of things to earn money in Costa Rica. For example, it is not uncommon for someone to board a public bus and hawk food. I don’t think they pay and they don’t stay on long. They must sell things or they wouldn’t keep doing it.

Vendor between lanes of traffic selling a variety of things, probably cell phone accessories.

Another curious thing was vendors (and beggars) standing between lanes of traffic selling everything from food to cell phone chargers, toys, sun glasses, etc. The main bridge in and out of San Jose was under construction for a number of months and we had the “pleasure” of experiencing the delays caused by a reduced number of traffic lanes (aka sitting in traffic barely moving…kind of like it is in Austin now). Above are a couple of pictures we took from the taxi at vendors.

San Gerardo de Rivas, Costa Rica

Looking down the valley. The white areas on the hillside, middle left, are actually greenhouses. I could not see a road up to them. That’s a lot of work if true.

This is a day to explore and find some waterfalls near San Gerardo de Rivas. We hope to do a little hiking and catch some nice scenery.

So we head further into the mountains from San Isidro and I asked directions several times to be sure. “Donde esta la cataratas de San Gerardo. I received directions in words and pointing, so onward we go.

The road is deteriorating. Now it is two concrete strips for the tires and now it is rougher and steeper and the concrete is not always there. We park and walk up the road. My final directions include “Uno kilometer.”

 

Trail head to Cerro Chirripo, at 12,533′, the highest point in Costa Rica. Need a permit to climb and there is a lodge partway to stay at since the climb takes so long.

The walk is beautiful.

Cows on a very steep hillside. Notice horizontal “paths” for the cows to walk up and down the hillside. These are normal size cows, so notice how high up they really are.

We end up at Cloudbridge Nature Reserve where we discover that these are different waterfalls. It turned out that the waterfalls I thought I had directions for was San Gerardo de Doty, three hours away.

Meditation maze in the forest

Cloudbridge Nature Reserve is a 1540 acre reserve where they have planted over 50,000 trees for reforestation. In 2016 and 2017 a jaguar was spotted. Costa Rica has a very strong conservation ethic and hunting is prohibited to preserve species. For more info on their reforestation project.

Mark a diagonal from lower left to upper right and most of that area has been reforested.

The walk in to the smaller waterfalls is quite easy. The higher one is a bit of a trek up a very steep trail and was well worth it.

On the way out, I suddenly came upon a garden in the forest, just a couple of minutes walk from the entrance.

Garden in the woods.

On the way back into San Gerardo, we stopped at recycling bins and to take in the view.

Umbrellas are useful in the tropics and are more comfortable than rain gear.

The upper part of San Gerardo snakes its way up valley with the river.

Peering over a huge boulder at the houses below.

What a great day!

San Isidro de el General, Costa Rica

We rented a car to check out the Pacific side of the mountains and take a day trip to the coast.

Today is a 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. I don’t mind that at all.

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.