¡Pura Vida! Costa Rica: First Stop – Atenas

In early spring a friend and I were talking in general about places to retire and that led to a decision to visit Costa Rica, which is often listed as one of the top 10 places to retire! Who knew? We started our journey in late June and finished in early July – the 7th to be exact. The two weeks went by quickly, as is usual with vacations. There is much to see and experience in this small, beautiful country.

I write this post in retrospect, and rarely are the explanations and descriptions of the events – people, places, sights, and sounds – as enjoyable as the actual moments. I’ll give it my best shot. First and foremost, we met some wonderful, kind, and generous people in Costa Rica – from the airbnb hosts to taxi drivers to people walking along the road. I am honored to call friends – Belle, Babs, Dennis, Jorge, Danny, and Patricia – people that I met on this trip.

During the two weeks we traveled to 4 destinations in Costa Rica: Atenas, La Fortuna, Tamarindo, and Alajuela. Most of what I’ll “tell” you about these places is captured in my photos. First stop, Atenas and Belle’s Cute French Cottage! We spent our first full day relaxing and enjoying the beautiful surroundings at Belle’s place, including visits from Maya, a black and white miniature Schnauzer.

While in Atenas and the surrounding area we found and ate some amazing food! From left to right, top to bottom: a mixed plate with green banana, yucca, picante, black bean sauce, fish, chicken, pork, BBQ; empañada margarita; quesadilla con queso; and The. Best. Ceviche. Ever!
Food Atenas collage

On Monday, June 25th we took a bus from Atenas to San Jose and opted for a free walking tour to explore the city. From architecture to street art to the central market, San Jose is a large city with lots to see, hear, and do!
San Jose collage

On Tuesday, we toured a small family-owned and operated organic farm, El Toledo, which primarily grows coffee, but several years ago, the family began experimenting with crop diversity. And now, they grow other crops, too: ginger, stevia, corn, bananas, and more. Our host Gabriele explained the process of growing and roasting coffee. El Toledo Farm collage

Wednesday was our last full day in Atenas and we enjoyed the day to the fullest. We hired a young man we met through Gabriele to drive us (approximately 2 hours one-way) to Manuel Antonio National Park. What a spectacular day it was! He made the trip special by stopping along the way so that we could see different sites and views – a crocodile natural habitat and the beach towns of Jaco and Quepos – before arriving at the park. We walked through the park and along the beach before having a late lunch (where we tasted the best ceviche)!
Manuel Antonio collage

We remain grateful to Belle, our airbnb host who welcomed us to Costa Rica and made us feel right at home in Atenas.

On to La Fortuna…


Spring flowers

It’s late March in Ohio, and the last few weeks have been a mix of spring- and winter-like temperatures. Two weeks ago, morning temperature were in the mid to high teens; nine days later temperatures rose to the mid 70s! This week promises continued warm weather with temperatures in the mid 60s; needless to say, spring flowers are blooming.



In Memoriam


Me & Mickey – Nov. 24, 2016

What is courage? Is it having the strength to face fear or pain? Is it the ability to do something difficult? Or is it having the mental and physical strength to persevere through and even withstand months of suffering? I’ll tell you that courage is all of these things.

Mickey was diagnosed in January 2016. She underwent surgery followed by weeks of chemotherapy which ravaged her body. By the second or third day of treatment, she was sick and fatigued; before long she began losing her hair; yet, she remained hopeful and optimistic. More surgery, more chemotherapy, more nausea and vomiting, more fatigue, but still she fought; still she hoped – we all did.

But there would be many more trips to the hospital and emergency room, more scans, more blockages, more tubes, more medications. More cancer.  

I’m certain that my sister’s path was clear to her long before it was clear to the rest of us. Or perhaps long before we wanted to admit or accept the path.  She didn’t want to plan the rest of her life around infusions of chemotherapy and the side effects that would inevitably come.  Mickey knew that it was time to stop pushing; the price of doing so far outweighed the value.

So with the skilled and compassionate palliative team at Riverside, we had the difficult conversation about her wishes to define the final days. She wanted to see her children and grandchildren; she wanted to say good-bye to family; and she wanted relief from months of nausea, pain, and weakness.  

These past few weeks were, without doubt, among the most painful and agonizing, but yet, in a way, also some of the most privileged days we spent with her.

So, what is courage?  Mickey was courage. She faced fear and pain; endured the most difficult situations and had the mental and physical strength to persevere through surgeries, chemotherapies, agonizing pain, constant nausea and vomiting, N tubes and G tubes, poking and prodding. Mickey was courage.

Where Do We Go From Here?

We must rise up and reunite! #NotMyPresident

Pantsuit Power

I wore my pantsuit to school on Tuesday. Attached to one lapel was my “I  ❤  Voting” sticker; to the other, a VOTE button. I wore my late grandmother’s “beads” around my neck. She always told me that she “was born too early.” A strong, feisty dame, my Gram was, and she would have loved Hillary. I have no doubt she would have voted for her. So, my vote for Hillary was in honor of my grandmother and each of her strong daughters – including my incredible mother.

I was giddy with anticipation all day.

Once home, I changed into my pajamas, made dinner – tacos, symbolically – and settled in to watch the returns. When Wolf Blitzer announced the first wave of Hillary states, I clapped and cheered, a bit misty eyed.


Nervously, I kept watching, kept hoping, kept waiting for the cities to come in – kept…

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Day 14: Last Full Day

Spent most of the day at the beach walking and looking for shells and sea glass. Although I didn’t find much of either, I did see flowers, sea creatures, dogs, turtles, a rainbow, and wild boar!

Last Day collage 1

Just amazing! Hawaiians have a long tradition of respecting the land, its people and all living things. This Hawaiian proverb says it beautifully:

“He ali‘i nō ka ‘āina, ke kauwā wale ke kanaka”
(The land is the chief; the people merely servants.)

Mahalo, Maui!