Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Surfboards in dappled light
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
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
Saturday, September 27, 2008
close up photo of a crocodile's head. This is the American crocodile, which can reach 7 meters (21.5 feet) in length.
Friday, September 26, 2008
Horses on the beach
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Tamarindo Heights entrance in daytime
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
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.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Roseate spoonbill in flight
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 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
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
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
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
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
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
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
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
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.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Art gallery 2
Friday, September 12, 2008
Art Gallery 1
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.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
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
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
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
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.
Saturday, September 6, 2008
Friday, September 5, 2008
Front facade of St. Mary's Church
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Mosaics in St. Mary's Church
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
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 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
- A beach resort
- Known for excellent surfing
- Great restaurants
- Upscale, but still a little "funky"
- Not too large a town
- Natural beauty of its location
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.