Textured tiles are cues for the visually impaired

Sidewalks in Latin America generally fall into one of a few categories:

  • New or excellent condition with/without tactile cues for the visually impaired like above
  • Very good condition with decorative tiles/design
  • Very poor, uneven, drop offs, steps, obstacles, deteriorating

I don’t have pictures of the poor ones although I could get them in a heartbeat but I have seen many that had decorative designs. It is a pleasure to see that someone took the time/expense/creativity to install a decorative (usually tile or brick) sidewalk. Here are just a few examples:

Medications and Pharmacies

Typical pharmacy in Latin America. A few are twice this size and rarely much larger.

In all of the countries that we have been in so far (Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, Colombia, and Ecuador), the pharmacies are similar. They are usually much smaller than a 7-11 store in the USA; often you just walk a step or two from the sidewalk to a counter. They tend to have medicines in a series of deep drawers behind the counter. The staff doesn’t wear any type of name tag or badge so I don’t know if they are “pharmacists” or not. They do tend to be pretty knowledgeable and able to recommend products for colds, coughs, bug bites, etc.

In Panama, Ecuador, and I think Costa Rica and Nicaragua as well, they are called farmacias but in Colombia they are usually called drogerias.

I know in Nicaragua, I could buy generic Xanax and Ambien with no problem, and no prescription. In fact, the generic Xanax was on the top shelf of the glass counter. No limits on how much I could buy either. And very cheap, under $0.30 each if  I remember correctly.

When I talked to the doctor who came to see Dan when he was under the weather in Popayan, he said that the only things that require a prescription in Colombia are antibiotics. I am glad that they require a prescription but it is amazing that you can buy anything else any time you want.

The farmacias tend to have a small selection of supplements, dental items, personal care items, etc. It will be interesting to see the differences in the future countries.

Blister pack of acetomenophen

You don’t generally see items in bulk. They are usually sold by a blister pack sheet, even something as common as acetaminophen is sold by a sheet of about 10 or 12 tablets. Selection is much smaller and options different from the US. For example, if you want a cream to stop itching from mosquito bites, you can’t get a benadryl type cream. And what you can get in one country you may not be able to get in another.

I take a large dose of Vitamin D3 every day so I like to get 5,000 unit gel caps but you are lucky if you can find 2,000 units caps and if you do, they are expensive where as in the US they are pretty cheap.

Earning a Living in Central and South America

Jewelry and food are very common items sold on the streets.

Earning a living in Latin  America can be very tough. Work is hard and long hours and pay very low. Retirement payments are extremely low, as low as $50 per month in Ecuador.

Many people earn their living by selling things. On streets, in the plazas, boarding buses briefly, and walking between lanes of traffic. You can buy almost anything from shoe laces and plain shoe inserts (I am not talking the Dr. Scholl gel inserts, I’m talking plain inserts like you take out of your shoes if you put in the Dr. Scholl inserts), sun glasses, all kinds of fresh or cooked foods, toys, corn kernels for pigeons, bubble blowers, shoe shines, candy or cigarettes, and the list is endless.

Compliments of AlpacaMall

In Ecuador I saw a man with no shoes because his feet were clubbed or deformed, walking on his knees, selling the Andean ponchos. I didn’t take a picture of him but here is the type of poncho I mean.

I saw another man who sat on a skateboard and went up and down between lanes of traffic selling something. Brave soul.

We generally don’t buy from the vendors because we don’t know how the food is handled but lots of people do buy there. I guess prices are good and they are convenient. Below are pictures from Colombia and Ecuador but you could find similar pictures in any of the countries we have been in so far and I suspect most of the ones we plan to visit in the future.

To the left of the red car is vendor sitting on a skate board.

Pura Vida and Driving in Costa Rica

I learned to drive in New Jersey and thought I knew what aggressive driving was. No way!

We rented cars twice and within an hour of driving, I knew that Costa Ricans forget about their national saying “Pura Vida” when they get in their cars. “Pura Vida” refers to the relaxed, easy going lifestyle here.

Many don’t believe in the posted speeds

Once in their cars, many are in a hurry: speeding, tailgating and passing, AND the passing is done on curves, no-pass zones, in the fog…anywhere they think there is enough room to get by. The only plus is that often the vehicle being passed is going v…e…r…y slow.

Narrow Bridge
One Way Ahead

Oh, and many roads are narrow, with steep gutters, sharp curves, and lots of one lane bridges on country roads.

This one has been here for many decades
Depending on where you are, roads can be rough

Leave lots of time to get to your destination and let your travel days be very flexible days.

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.


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.