Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Surfboards in dappled light

(OK, I know this write-up is a presumptuous stretch.) Monet portrayed the beauty he found in the play of light on the front of the Rouen Cathedral and stacks of hay in the fields. For Van Gogh, a vase with sunflowers sufficed as a vehicle for his artistic expression. For Andy Warhol, a Campbell's Tomato Soup can became an artistic masterpiece. We find art in what we see.

If Monet, Van Gogh or Warhol had lived in Tamarindo, I think that they may have been inspired to paint the dappled light highlighting the patterns on rows of surfboards, such as the scene depicted in this photo.

I took this photo of a few of the rental surfboards available at the Witch's Rock Surf Camp in Tamarindo. It reminds me of a ski lodge, except it is for surfers.

Monday, September 29, 2008


This is just one of the waterfalls in Rincon de la Vieja National Park. Rincon de la Vieja ecompasses an ecologically diverse and traditional area. It makes sense that there would be a lot of waterfalls in the park because it rises from coastal plains to volanic mountains, with cloud forests and lush vegetation in the higher altitudes. Those conditions have created 32 rivers cascading down the volcanic terrain.

Rincon de la Vieja has many hiking trails, and I have shown photos from some of those trails in the past. The photos can be accessed through the index of this blog site. The trails lead past lush vegetation, bubbling steam pots and volcanic geothermal activity, and waterfalls such as this one. Tour guides will pick up visitors in Tamarindo to drive them to the park and lead them on the hikes, for those who prefer to be accompanied by a guide.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


This is a caiman sunning himself on a log. They are more common but much smaller than crocodiles, such as the one I showed yesterday. Caiman are about 2.5 meters (8 feet) in length.
Caiman are not considered aggressive nor are they a threat to people, as they are not large enough to attack most mammals. Some locals will even swim near them. Nevertheless, I get all the swimming I need in the swimming pool at our condo or ocean in Tamarindo/Langosta, and I am not tempted to swim in any river or pond with a caiman.
I took this photo in Tortuguero National Park, which is on the northern Caribbean coast on the opposite side of Costa Rica from Tamarindo. I will post more photos from that tropical jungle in the future.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


This is a full-body shot of a crocodile. I previously posted a
close up photo of a crocodile's head. This is the American crocodile, which can reach 7 meters (21.5 feet) in length.

Crocodiles are commonly and safely viewed in Costa Rica from wildlife viewing excursions. Tour operators will pick up visitors at condos or hotels in Tamarindo/Langosta and take them out to Palo Verde National Park to view wildlife from boats like the jungle cruise at Disneyland.

There are crocodiles up river in the Tamarindo estuary, but not on the beach. There is a small hotel with an excellent restaurant in Tamarindo, appropriately named Laguna del Cocodrilo, that has a lagoon with a crocodile. I will show photos of it in the future.

Tomorrow I will show a photo of a caiman so that you can compare a crocodile with a caiman.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Horses on the beach

These horses (and their owner) know what to do on a warm, sunny day: relax in the shade. The Guanacaste region has a ranching tradition, and there are plenty of opportunities for horseback riding in the area. It is hard to top a horseback ride on the beach. This photo was taken at Playa Brasilito, a small town about 10 minutes north of Tamarindo, near Playa Flamingo.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Tamarindo Heights entrance in daytime

This is just part of the masonry and statuary at the entrance to the Tamarindo Heights development. There is a large water feature as well.

I think that real estate developers like to put in elaborate entrances to their developments to create an impressive first impression of beauty and stability. That is particularly important for new developments because customers are often buying their property before the community amenities have been built. Customers may have more trust that the roads, recreational facilities, and other amenities will be built if they see that the developer had the assets to build a grand entrance.

In the Pacific coast area of Costa Rica, it is especially important for condo and home buyers to be assured of the completion of the projects under development because most developments sell many of their units in the pre-construction phase, and most buyers are foreign and the terms usually require much more of the sales price to be paid before completion of the projects.

Unlike the USA, where the earnest money deposit will be relatively small and the bulk of the purchase price is paid at closing, in Costa Rica a purchaser of a new condo may pay 1/3 when the contract is signed, 1/3 when the roof is installed, and 1/3 at closing. Buyers share the risk that the developers will finish the project, which is why pre-construction prices are usually less than when the project is finished. In essence, the buyers are also providing some of the financing to the developers, so it is important for buyers to know that they are dealing with reputable developers.

Title insurance from US title companies is available, and realtors affiliated with US real estate companies are common. There has been an explosion of real estate development along the northwest Pacific coast area, due in large part to the expansion of international flights direct to Liberia starting at the beginning of this decade.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Tamarindo Heights entrance at night

This is the entrance to the Tamarindo Heights development. The Garden Plaza shopping center, which I have shown in
a previous post, is at the entrance to the Tamarindo Heights development. According to its website, the Tamarindo Heights development includes new home sites in a master-planned community, with a resort hotel and spa planned.
The development is at the entrance to Tamarindo, with a hillside location that provides nice views of the Tamarindo estuary and Playa Grande stretching out to Cabo Velas at the north end of Tamarindo Bay. Tomorrow I will show a daytime photo of the entrance, which has a Balinese architectural theme. There seems to be a trend of Balinese architecture in Tamarindo, perhaps to emphasize its tropical locale.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Roseate spoonbill in flight

Here is a roseate spoonbill in flight. The pink color of its wings shows better here than in yesterday's photo of a flock of them perched in a tree. The rounded spatula-shaped bill is also evident in this photo.

The birds use their flat, rounded bills to swing from side to side in shallow water to stir up the little animals that they eat. Their wingspan reaches 1.3 m. (4.2 ft) and they are 80 cm (30 in.) in height.

Their scientific name is ajaia ajaia, and they are known locally as either espatula rosada or garza rosada, which translate as pink spatula or pink heron, respectively.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Roseate spoonbills

Here is a flock of roseate spoonbills, perched on a tree in Palo Verde National Park. I think it is rather curious that they are all faced in the same direction.

Roseate spoonbills are part of the heron and egret family. They have two distinctive features that makes them easy to spot.: (1) pink coloration, which will be more apparent in a photo I will post tomorrow of a roseate spoonbill in flight, and (2) a rounded, "spatulate" bill rather than a pointed beak.

They are most commonly found in the Gulf of Nicoya. River excursions in Palo Verde Nat'l Park, easily arranged from Tamarindo, are a perfect way to see them, as the park includes the Tempisque River near where it flows into the Gulf of Nicoya. The population of roseate spooonbills in the southeastern US was nearly hunted to extinction 100 years ago because their pink feathers were popular for making fans.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Surfboard shop sign

What could be better than using a surfboard as a sign to let customers know that this is a shop where you can rent a surfboard or get your "dings" repaired.

I guess this is similar to the practice of medieval shopkeepers in Europe who would hang metal signs outside their shops with shapes to show the type of shop it is because customers in those days could not read signs. Costa Rica has a literacy rate that matches the USA or Europe, so obviously this sign is intended as touristy kitsch.

There are other stores in Tamarindo that have signs made from surfboards. Tamarindo is a surfing town, after all. Although there are no places in Tamarindo to repair a car, and no gas stations in town (or the next closest town), there are plenty of places to rent or repair a surfboard.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Come here before Starbucks does

Costa Rica is the source of outstanding coffee, one of its traditional export crops. Tamarindo has some excellent coffee shops, and not a single Starbucks.

This coffee shop on Tamarindo's main street is one of the shops in the Diria Resort complex. It also has delicious pastries, and you can buy ground bags of coffee or coffee beans to take home.

My mother-in-law is a Starbucks addict. When she visited our Langosta condo, we went to the convenience market a block away and bought a bag of ground Costa Rican coffee. She brewed it at the condo and pronounced it the best coffee she had ever had. We bring Costa Rican coffee back for family and friends in the USA when we go back and forth to Costa Rica.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Langosta Beach

This photo of Playa Langosta illustrates the unspoiled beaches of Costa Rica. As the photo above shows, the beach is broad, gently sloping, clean, and uncrowded despite the fact that it is so close to Tamarindo, the most developed beach resort town in Costa Rica's northwest Pacific region.

We love to walk from our condo for miles along Langosta beach. It is a short walk to Tamarindo on the north or to the Hacienda Pinilla portion of Langosta Beach to the south, which is shown in this photo. The first 50 meters of all beaches in Costa Rica are public property, so it is possible to walk without trespassing or encountering private property.

Langosta is a certified Blue Flag beach, which means that it passes the higest international standards for cleanliness and water quality. It is also popular with surfers.

One year ago there was a problem with some septic systems some spots in Tamarindo, although the main part of the beach passed standards. Environmental authorities conducted rigorous testing, including shutting down restaurants if their septic systems were not working properly. The enforcement measures worked and the water quality quickly improved.

The current isssue of the local paper has an article about the latest round of water quality testing and Tamarindo has been tested as safe. Costa Rica takes its environmental quality very seriously because eco-tourism is the country's number one industry.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Living Fences

Below is a closer view of the above scene, which shows the one of the common "living fences" of Costa Rica.
Costa Rican farmers and ranchers often use what they call "living fences." They plant trees where they want fences, wait a year or two, then string barbed wire between the trees. It is economical, as it saves the cost and labor of installing and maintaining fence posts. It also helps the environment, as living fences cause more trees to be planted and maintained. It provides habitat for birds and insects. And it is more attractive that fence posts, don't you agree?
As I have mentioned previously, Costa Rica has the goal of being the world's first carbon-neutral nation by 2021. Living fences are just one of the many practices to help work towards that goal.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Carolina's Restaurant

Above is a display of part of the wine selection that greets diners upon entering Carolina's Restaurant. As suggested by the wine display, Carolina's is an outstanding gourmet restaurant. Below are photos of the interior and front entrance. Carolina's also has a cigar bar.

Most of the restaurants in Tamarindo are open air, but Carolina's is enclosed and air conditioned. Our friend Sharon (who operates Phoenix Daily Photo) is a gourmet cook and real authority on food and wine. Sharon was so impressed with Carolina's that she asked for the recipe for their curried manto soup in order to send it to Bon Apetit Magazine for publication.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Kahiki Restaurant

One of the advantages that distinguishes Tamarindo from other beach resorts is that it has many excellent restaurants. This is the Kahiki restaurant, which features food from the Pacific Rim, from Thailand to Hawaii.

A guest who rented our condo recently wrote that she and her daughter during their week in Tamarindo/Langosta went on a "Search for the Perfect Mojito." They pronounced Kahiki the winner.

Like most restaurants in Tamarindo, it is open air, as shown in the photo below.

Its website, which includes photos of the restaurant, the menu and photos of some of their dishes, can be accessed by clicking here.

It has appetizers such as Kona Mountain black bean humus, Thai shrimp spring rolls with pineapple dipping sauce, and entrees such as filet mignon marinated in chipolte house rub, fresh seafood, and in a deviation from the Pacific Rim theme, Mediterranean chicken breast with couscous and sauteed spinach.

Taking a vacation or having a condo or second home at a beach resort in a developing country can often mean limited options for fine dining. Small towns may lack gourmet restaurants, and large resorts may cause guests to feel confined to the dining options at the resort. As I mentioned in an earlier post, my wife is a "foodie," and we love Tamarindo because of the variety of dining options available in its approximately 50 restaurants.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Sunset No. 7, with runner

People love to run along the beach, so why not at sunset? And can there be a better location for running than Tamarindo Beach at sunset? It is broad, gently sloped, not crowded, and the boats in the bay bob up and down with the waves while silhouetted against the crimson sky. Pelicans occasionally dive into the surf for fish.

And for those who are there not to exercise but simply to enjoy the view, well, I am sure that they do not mind having their view of the sunset interrupted by the form of a physically fit runner moving across their field of vision.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Roads in Costa Rica

Visitors to our condo often ask about the condition of roads in Costa Rica. A lot of people have heard stories about road conditions, so I have decided to post this photo to answer some of those questions.

Above is a photo of the road leading to Tamarindo. This is the secondary road, about 16 km (10 miles) from Tamarindo. The primary road that leads from Liberia to the turnoff to Tamarindo is even wider than the one shown in this photo. Both roads that together lead from the international airport west of Liberia to Tamarindo were repaved in early 2007, and the trip can be made in a little under an hour.

Costa Rica has made it a huge priority in recent years to improve the roads. In a poll of tourists taken in the first quarter of 2008, the results gave a rating of 2.97, or the equivalent of "good" for the condition of the roads. This is a huge improvement over 2006, when the poll results were 1.75, or "poor" for the condition of the roads.

During 2008, the national government has improved the surface of 907 km. (564 miles) of roads. That is an impressive undertaking in a country that is the size of West Virginia or Switzerland.

In Guanacaste, the northwest province of the country, the ability of the government to improve the roads has been enhanced by the recent construction of a local asphalt plant. Road improvements are also assisted by a joint program between local governments in the region and the German Technical Cooperation Agency, with financing provided by the German Reconstruction and Promotion Bank.

I previously posted a photo of the main street in Tamarindo to show the condition of the street in town, which was repaved in early 2008. I am delighted to be able to report that last week one of the local papers had an article that the road from Tamarindo to Langosta and the entire loop road in Langosta will be paved in November of this year.
For people who have not been to Tamarindo, it is hard to communicate what big and welcome news this is. In addition to smoothing the drive all the way for those of us who have condos or houses in Playa Langosta, which is the nicest residential area of Tamarindo, it also means that both of the two major intersections in the heart of town will now be paved for the first time. Until now, the main street that runs along the beach was paved into the center of town, but the pavement stopped there, and the main intersecting road and the road that loops through Playa Langosta was not yet paved.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Art gallery 2

Here are two photos of the inside of a Tamarindo art gallery that specializes in paintings, ceramics and wood objects, such as boxes and framed mirrors, that evoke the design elements, colors and textures of the Andes.
The gallery is called Arte de Origen. Here is a link to the website for the gallery. They evidently have one gallery in Tamarindo and another in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Below is the front of the gallery. It is located in the Plaza Conchal shopping center, which is in the center of Tamarindo.
We have purchased a large painting from this gallery for our condo in Langosta. We have also bought several of their painted boxes with Andean designs in bold colors, which make popular gifts for people back home in the USA.
The owner is from Argentina, and there are other Argentines in Tamarindo. In the future I will post photos of a tango-themed restaurant that has tango shows on Saturday nights, and there is an exercise and dance studio in Tamarindo that offers tango lessons.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Art Gallery 1

This is an art gallery in Tamarindo. Although Tamarindo is known as a beach and surfing resort, the arts have established a beachhead here. This is the gallery of Susan Adams, a native of Texas. Below are examples of two of her paintings. Here is a link to her website.
She paints bold, colorful tropical flowers, birds, portraits, beach and ocean scenes, tropical forests, and even European city scenes. She has painted murals at hotels, and some of her work is available as prints in addition to original oil and acrylic paintings.

She has decided to change the concept of her gallery and reopen in new space as an artists' co-op. In the meantime, she will sell her paintings out of her house until she opens her new gallery in time for the heart of the tourist season beginning in the December holiday season.

The painting at the left reflects the ranching tradition of the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica.
Susan and her husband, Jesse, recently organized an art fair for Tamarindo. Jesse provided the entertainment with his guitar playing, including an original composition called Road to Tamarindo. On Sunday, I will show you a photo of the real road to Tamarindo.
Susan's husband, Jesse, is the son of a U.S. Navy officer, like my father, and we both lived in Coronado, California as elementary school children in the late 1950's. That was before the bridge from San Diego was built, and Coronado was a quiet town, accented by the famous Victorian Hotel Del Coronado. One of my childhood memories is my mother taking my brother and me to the hotel beach to watch Marilyn Monroe and Tony Curtis in the filming of Some Like It Hot.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


This is a three-toed sloth. You will probably have to click to enlarge the photo to see him well. They are common in Costa Rica, but can be difficult to see because they usually stay high up in trees in the thick brush, hidden by lots of leaves.

Adding to the challenge in spotting them is that they spend about 18 hours a day sleeping, and even when they move, they move very slowly. On the ground, they typically travel at 1.5 meters (about 5 feet) per minute, although a female responding to the call of her baby has been clocked at three times that speed, or 4.5 meters or 14 feet per minute.

The reason that sloths are so, well, slothful, is that their diet consists of leaves that lack nutritional value and are difficult to digest, so they simply don't have much energy. More than half of their body weight of 4 kg (9 lbs.)consists of their stomach, which has multiple compartments to try to break down and digest the leaves that they eat. It can take their stomachs a month to complete the digestive process.

There is also a two-toed sloth, but it is less common and much more difficult to see. It is nocturnal, whereas the three-toed sloth is active, if you can use that word with sloths, both day and night.

The fur of sloths often appears to have a green coloration. That color is not their fur, but is algae growing in their fur. Their fur provides a mini-ecosystem for insects and algae, and the green coloration helps provide them camouflage in the trees.

Jaguars and eagles are their natural predators, and they are especially vulnerable when they are on the ground.

They spend long periods of time in the same tree. Studies have tracked that they change trees, going from branch to overhanging branch, about once every two days. They come to the ground about once per week for about a half hour. During that time they urinate, dig a small hole, and defecate. Why they put themselves at risk for such purposes is a mystery.

The mystery on why they come down for the above purpose is made more puzzling by the fact that female sloths even give birth while hanging in a tree. They are so lazy that they can miss their annual mating season because it may take longer than a year for a female and male to find each other because they spend the year hanging out (literally) in separate trees.

They are so lazy that some mother sloths whose babies lose their grip and fall to the ground may not even muster the energy to climb out of the tree to go retrieve their baby! I can't imagine another mammal whose laziness is stronger than the instinct to mate or to care for one's young.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Raccoon and girl

About 5 or 6 raccoons gather each evening at dinner time in the open-air lobby of the Capitan Suizo Hotel. The hotel puts out some food for them in dog dishes. The raccoons lounge around in the lobby and on the lobby balcony in a way similar to house cats lounging around the house.

As shown in this photo, they groom themselves and they do not mind people being very close to them. This girl is a tourist from France who was staying at the hotel with her family, all of whom enjoyed visiting with the raccoons in the lobby.

The Capitan Suizo Hotel has somewhat of a zoo-hotel theme, as it also has howler monkeys on its grounds. It is sometimes amusing to see the double-take of tourists who walk through the lobby and are surprised to see the raccoons.

Costa Rica has two species of raccoons, northern raccoons and crab-eating raccoons. This is a northern raccoon. They are a little more grayish in color than the crab-eating raccoons, which have a little more brownish coloration in their fur.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


This raccoon looks like a bandit who is about to say "stick em up." I used to think of raccoons as animals you would expect to see in the north woods of the USA and Canada, but they are quite at home in the tropics as well.

Raccoons are nocturnal. When walking to dinner from our condo in Langosta, we often see raccoons walking along the side of the road on their way to dinner. They usually walk along in a solitary fashion or in a small group of a mother and her young. They like to eat frogs and crabs, and they use their very nimble fingers to forage through shallow water to pick out their food.

Tomorrow, I will show a photo from the place where the raccoons gather for dinner, and you will be surprised at who else gathers there to watch the raccoons. I will tease you with a hint: it is a much larger mammal.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Workers in Church

These are the final pictures in my series on the new St. Mary's Church, and I would be remiss if we did not recognize the workers whose efforts have created such a masterpiece.

Costa Rica possesses a very skilled construction workforce because of the huge amount of construction that has occurred in recent years, particularly in the northwest Pacific coast region of Guanacaste. Some of those contructions projects are large.

Tamarindo has many new condominium buildings that have been built or are under construction. The beach just south of town is the site of a new J.W. Marriott Resort that is nearing completion. There is a Four Seasons Resort up the coast in the Gulf of Papagayo, and other major hotels are under construction or in the planning stages in the area. A new terminal is scheduled for construction next year at the international airport in Liberia, and a huge marina development project is scheduled for Playa Flamingo, just north of Tamarindo (more about that later).

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Altar of St. Mary's Church

Above is the wall behind the altar at the front of the new St. Mary's Church. The mosaic tiles are granite.

To the left is the plaque that commemorates the dedication of the church on January 5, 2008, the third anniversary of the passing of Mary Barnyak, the wife of Frank Barnyak, in whose honor Frank Barnyak and Frank and Donna Galluzzo donated the funds to build the church. The plaque also notes the donation of 50% of the land for the church by Enriqueta Lopez.
I am pleased to be able to report that $25,000 has been raised to help pay for the $39,000 mortgage that was obtained to pay for the other half of the land. The committee that is raising funds to pay off the mortgage is chaired by Vinicio Hidalgo, who is the manager of the Capitan Suizo Hotel. Anyone who would like more information or to donate to support the church can reach him at vinicio@ice.co.cr.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Local Church

Before St Mary's Church in Tamarindo was built this year, the above church in Villareal was the closest church. Tamarindo is a resort town inhabited primarily by international residents. Villareal is about 8 km (5 miles) inland and is a typical small town inhabited by Costa Ricans, many of whom work in Tamarindo.
Above is a photo of the interior. It is typical for a small town and functional. A comparison of this church to the granite and marble of the photos I have posted during the past few days shows how special the new church in Tamarindo is. I hope that the local "Ticos" will visit and enjoy the new St. Mary's Church in Tamarindo, while still supporting their local churches.
The photo above shows the setting for the church in Villareal. As is typical for Costa Rican towns, the church is located on the town square, and the town square is a football (or soccer in the USA) field. The Guanacaste region of Costa Rica has a ranching tradition, and as you can see in this photo, there is an old cattle corral and chute right on the town square, with the church in the background.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Front facade of St. Mary's Church

Above is the front facade of the new St. Mary's Church, made from granite blocks.
The architectural style or shape of the front facade looks to me to be more Italian in style than the Spanish style that is more commonly seen in Costa Rica and throughout Latin America. There is no tower. The shape of the facade reminds me of churches such as the Church of San Lorenzo in Florence or the church in San Gimignano in Tuscany, not Spanish churches.
The marble panel of Saint Gabriel above the front door weighs more than 4 metric tons (4.5 tons).

Below are close-up photos of the two statues mounted on the front facade.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Mosaics in St. Mary's Church

This is a mosaic in an alcove in the rear of the new St Mary's Church. It is life size. I encourage you to click on the photo to enlarge the image and examine the subtle shading of the tiles, particularly in the soft folds of the blue cape.

Below is a mosaic of Christ, also in an alcove at the back of the church.

The mosaics in the church are not made from glass, but are granite tiles.
The walls and floors are granite and the front facade is made of granite blocks.

Tomorrow I will show photos of the outside facade.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Pieta, up close and personal

Here are two views of a Pieta that are possible in Tamarindo, but not in the Vatican. It is possible to get very close to the statue in Tamarindo. The architect, Mario A. Masis Segura, should be complimented. The black granite alcove walls behind he Pieta are a striking backdrop to the white marble of the Pieta.

In contrast to grand Latin American metropolises such as Buenos Aires or Mexico City, Tamarindo
is an unlikely place to be home to a marble Pieta. Tamarindo is a delightful beach resort that a few years ago was merely a fishing village and surfing town. Imagine, a marble Pieta in a community that does not yet have or need a traffic light!

This Pieta is not the only marble statue in St. Mary's Church. I will post some additional photos of the church and its art in upcoming posts.

Hopefully the community and visitors will support the church financially to pay off the mortgage, the final step needed in the efforts of a couple of American residents of Tamarindo who gave the money and shepherded the effort to build a remarkable church.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Michelangelo in Tamarindo?

This marble statue is at the side of the altar of the new St. Mary's Church in Tamarindo. It is a full-size copy of Michelangelo's Pieta. Michelangelo created the Pieta in 1499, just three years before another Italian, Christopher Columbus, was the first European to set foot in Costa Rica.

This is the only marble copy of the Pieta throughout all of the Spanish-speaking countries of Latin America. (There is one in Brazil.)

The original Pieta (Italian for pity) is in St. Peter's in the Vatican, of course. Visitors cannot get close to the original, as it is protected by a glass shield because it was attacked and damaged once. (In addition to seeing it at the Vatican, do any American readers remember, like me, seeing it on display at the Vatican Pavilion at the 1964 New York World's Fair?)

In contrast to the Vatican and the New York World's Fair, this Pieta in Tamarindo allows a very intimate contemplation of the scene of Mary holding Christ after the cruxifiction. I will show some close-up details of the statue tomorrow.

Above is a photo of the worker and one of the organizers of the church as they removed the protective covering on the statue so that I could take my photo to share it with you. This photo also provides a perspective on the size of the statue.

Monday, September 1, 2008

My idea for Tamarindo's Sister City: Laguna Beach, California

The first-of-the-month Daily Photo Theme Day is to show the Sister City for each community, except for cities that do not have one, in which case the Daily Photo bloggers can recommend one. My recommendation for a sister city for Tamarindo is Laguna Beach, California, shown above.

Here are the reasons for my recommendation. My criteria were to find a community that shares many of Tamarindo's features, such as places that are:

  • A beach resort
  • Known for excellent surfing
  • Great restaurants
  • Upscale, but still a little "funky"
  • Cosmopolitan
  • Not too large a town
  • Natural beauty of its location
Laguna Beach fills all of the above criteria. It is a beach resort in Orange County, California, 80 km (50 mi.) south of Los Angeles, between Newport Beach and San Juan Capistrano. It has excellent surfing and picturesque coves and beaches. It has superb restaurants and quaint shops. It is known as an arts community, as it has many art galleries and each summer is the site of several major art exhibitions and the Pageant of the Masters.

I mentioned that I felt that to be a sister city to Tamarindo a resort town should have a funky side. After all, Tamarindo is in the process of transitioning from a modest fishing and surfing town into an international resort.

The Laguna Beach area also has remnants from an earlier day. Just north of town is Crystal Cove. Many years ago farm workers and others built little beach cottages from scrap lumber and were allowed to live there even after the State acquired the land. At the end of the 1990's, they lost an 18-year legal battle by the State of California to evict them from their houses. The State Park Service has renovated and makes available for rent, at very reasonable prices, some of the cottages that remain on the beach, which can be seen in my photo below.

Laguna Beach has a much greater reputation for the arts, but the arts are also present in Tamarindo, as I will show and explain and in some photos and posts during the coming days and weeks. (In fact, tomorrow I will show you an extraordinary and famous masterpiece of art that can be seen in Tamarindo in a way unique to all of the Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America.)

Laguna Beach's Pageant of the Masters is hard to explain. It is a nightly show in an outdoor amphitheater that seats more than 2,000 people, and on several stages models (who are community volunteers) recreate famous works of art. For example, every year the finale is to have 13 people sitting at a table dressed exactly like Leonardo da Vinci's painting of the Last Supper, with the table, background, costumes and makeup exactly like the painting. They show a different work of art (paintings and sculpture) every 90 seconds, accompanied by a live orchestra.

I know Laguna Beach well, as my parents lived nearby before they passed away a few years ago. My wife and I spend time there each summer. Laguna Beach would be a splendid "sister city" for Tamarindo. I should add a qualification, however. Tamarindo is not incorporated as its own town. It is governed by the city government of Santa Cruz, which is about 20 minutes away.

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