Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Eve Party

Here is the set up for the annual New Year's Eve party at the Tamarindo Diria Resort. All of the hotel guests are seated at tables around the large swimming pool, followed by a concert at an amphitheater that is next to the pool.

In past years, the concerts have featured the band "Las Tortugas," which is a Costa Rican rock band that plays the music of the Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin, Pink Floyd, and other rock bands. They are outstanding, and my friends in the USA enjoy listening to the CD of their music.

The band's lead guitarist and vocalist is Abraham Valenzuela, whose "day job" is being an internationally acclaimed architect. He has designed some of the luxury homes in the area, including a stunning Moroccan-themed estate on the beach at Playa Langosta. He is also the architect for the condo buildings of our two condo's in the area, one in Playa Langosta and one on the grounds of the Diria Resort. In these days of lots of people playing out their rock star fantasies by computer, it is heartwarming to see someone who has been able to get up on the stage and lead a rock band in real life.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Diria Resort restaurant

This photo shows the restaurant at the Tamarindo Diria Resort, which is the largest resort in Tamarindo.

It addition to seating under the roof, the large shade tree in the center of the photo provides shade for tables that are located right next to the beach. The beach is visible under the tree in the right center of the photo.
In addition to excellent food, this restaurant provides a great location for dinners planned to include the time of sunset. The sun sets directly over the ocean, adjacent to this unsurpassed beachfront location.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Lunch at Papagayo golf course

After a week or so of Christmas-related postings, I have decided to show another photo from the Four Seasons Papagayo Resort. This is a photo from a lunch at the Caracol Restaurant at the golf club. A bit of the golf course and the Gulf of Papagayo is visible in the distance.

As I mentioned previously, visitors are not permitted in the Four Seasons hotel without a reservation. On our first visit, my wife (shown here) and I were able to convince the guard at the gate to let us in for lunch at the golf club, but we were not allowed to see the actual hotel because we had not called ahead at least 24 hours in advance. But seeing the impeccable grounds of the peninsula and the golf club, and lunch at Caracol, was well worth the visit.

Caracol offers casual lunch fare, and in the evening it features a steakhouse menue for dinner.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Costa Rican Seal

This is a close up of the top of the altar canopy of the Church of Our Lady of the Angels, which I showed from a distance in previous posts. You will note that on the wall behind the angel is the seal of the country of Costa Rica. You will note that the seal identifies the country as being located in Central America and shows green vegetation, high mountains, both oceans, and an old Spanish sailing ship.

Christopher Columbus visited Costa Rica, but it was largely overlooked by the early Spanish colonial rulers because it did not have gold. It was given the name "Costa Rica," which means rich coast, by Spanish explorers who saw the gold of the local population, but the Spaniards mistakenly assumed at first that the source of the gold was local. When they learned that the gold came from far away, the Spanish lost interest.

The first permanent settlement in Costa Rica was on its Pacific Coast, which I find to be a curious in view of the fact the Spanish exploration came from the Atlantic/Caribbean side of the country.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Cathedral dome interior

Here is a view towards the dome of the Our Lady of the Angels cathedral. This photo shows the beauriful ceiling made from local hardwoods, particularly mahogany. This also shows the light and warm atmosphere of the church, despite the dark woods, due to the many windows.

I find the wood ceiling unusal for a cathedral, but it is not surprising for Costa Rica, as one would expect that they would use the building materials that are common in the country. Costa Rica has lots of wood. Stone and marble are rare.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Candle plant

This plant is popularly known as a Christmas candle plant because it blooms like this only around Christmas time, and of course it resembles a yellow candle. This plant can grow as tall as 10 meters (30 ft.). Its scientific name is senna alata. It grows naturally in Asia and Africa as well as tropical areas of the western hemisphere. Any frost, however, kills the plant, so it is no wonder that it does well in Costa Rica.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Cathedral altar canopy

For Christmas Day, I thought I would show the setting of the holiest object from the most important church in Costa Rica. The Christmas decorations are also visible in this photo.

This is the canopy above the altar of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. The La Negrita statuette that I previously posted is located in the lower center of this photo. The placement of the statue is obviously a place of great reverence and prominence, which is fitting because the reason the cathedral was built on this spot was due to the reappearance of the statute on this spot even after it was removed, nearly 500 years ago.

Experiences such as the La Negrita statue in Costa Rica and the rather similar origin of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City were undoubtedly beneficial in popularizing the Roman Catholic faith among the indigenous population, as such stories gave them indicators of faith that they could relate to more than the Bible stories from a strange land and distant time.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Cathedral interior

This is the interior of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. In Spanish, it is called Basilica de Nuestra Senora de los Angeles.

The interior is made of local hardwoods, which to me adds a very warm feeling to the cathedral. When I walked into the church for first time, I was surprised to see all the wood. My mind's eye was conditioned to see stone or plaster, based on traditional cathedral decor. I don't recall seeing so much wood in natural colors inside a church, except for the heavy use of wood in Norwegian stave churches. Those churches are very dark, whereas this church is very light despite its use of dark wood in the interior.

This view includes the altar, and the elaborate shrine above the altar that houses the La Negrita statue that I showed in my post
on Octover 12.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels

This is a front and side view of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels in Cartago, the most important church in Costa Rica. I previously posted a series of photos of the church beginning on October 12, with a photo of the front facade.

My previous photos of the church did not show the interior except for the La Negrita statue that is displayed in a shrine that is part of the altar piece. The miraculous return of the La Negrita statue to this spot where the statue was discovered by a peasant girl in 1635 caused a church to be built on this spot. I will show several photos of the beautiful, unique interior during the next several days.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Tico family patriarch

This is the patriarch of the Tico family at whose house we enjoyed some refreshments during a raft float trip on the Penas Blancas River in central Costa Rica. He was in his 90's. His brother, also in his 90's, also helped to host our group of approximately 30 American tourists. Several generations of his family were active in serving the group, with the women, not surprising, being the most active in hosting and serving guests.

He had a charming, warm, friendly family. We were pleased that rather than just floating past his farm, we could walk around and see how a typical local farming family lived, and could also help the family through the fees that the river trip operators paid to provide the rest stop at the farm.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Tico house is ready for Christmas

Here is the interior of the living space under the house of a local Costa Rican family shown in yesterday's photo. You will notice that they have a Christmas tree and other Christmas decorations.

The house was plain and was isolated, situated along the banks of a river in a rural area. The farm had a herd of cattle, chickens, a few pigs, and a dog. The family was delightful, as you will hopefully appreciate through a photo tomorrow.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Tico house on Penas Blancas RIver

After showing photos of the luxurious Four Seasons, I thought I would show a very different side of Costa Rica. This is a local Tico house along the banks of the Penas Blancas River in central Costa Rica. It is near the Arenal Volcano area.

The nearby river is used for raft trips for viewing wildlife by tourists visiting the Arenal Volcano area. To break up the river float trips, some tour operators have organized a little excursion for tourists to get out of the rafts for a little while, to have a refreshment at this farm house, and to be able to walk around this simple farmstead.

You will notice that the house is built on stilts, with the ground floor a shaded area under the house. This also provides protection from flooding if the river overflows its banks.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Langosta from the air

This photo shows Langosta from the air. The south end of Tamarindo beach is at the foreground at the bottom, then around San Francisco point begins Langosta beach. The mouth of the Langosta estuary is visible in the center of the photo.

This photo shows how it is possible to walk along the beach from Langosta, miles to the south, or around the point to Tamarindo.

As I mentioned yesterday, I took these aerial photos three years ago. Today the view from the air would be different. There are several seven-story condo buildings in the wooded area at the north side of Tamarindo. They are set back from the ocean several hundred meters, but there is one condo building under construction near the point. It will forever change the skyline of the area.

As I mentioned a few days ago, the President of Costa Rica not quite a year ago imposed height and density restrictions on new construction near the beaches in the Guanacaste province of northwest Costa Rica. In the future, there will not be hotels or condos constructed right on the beach. The height limits are graduated from 3 stories to 5 stories to 8 stories depending upon how far from the beach the property is located. About half of each property must be left with vegetation rather than buildings and parking lots.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Tamarindo from the air

This is a photo of Tamarindo from the air. Tamarindo beach and town are in the foreground, and Langosta beach is at the top right of the photo.

I took this photo on my first visit to Tamarindo about three years ago. That is the only time that I have flown directly to Tamarindo (on a commuter flight from San Jose). Thus, this was my only opportunity to take a photo of the area from a plane. (I have flown to the international airport in Liberia on all of my subsequent trips.) Today, there would be more condo buildings visible in a comparable photo because of the building boom of recent years.

I hope this photo gives a perspective on the broad, crescent shaped beach at Tamarindo and the location of Tamarindo and Langosta. People who are interested in renting our condo directly on the ocean at Langosta Beach will sometimes ask if it is possible to walk to the center of Tamarindo from Langosta. As this photo shows, it is a pleasant walk and a very comfortable distance, walking along either the road or along the beach.

I apologize for the angle of the photo, but I was in a small plane and the plane was banking to land at Tamarindo airport at the time.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Playa Grande from the air

This is a photo of Playa Grande from the air. Because I posted some aerial photos of Papagayo during the last couple of days, I figure I should post some aerial photos of Tamarindo during the next couple of days.

To give you a frame of reference, the airplane from which this photo was taken is over Tamarindo at about the time this photo was taken. Playa Grande and Cabo Velas, shown in this photo, form the northern half of the crescent shaped bay and beach at Tamarindo.

The beach at Playa Grande and the ocean are part of the Las Baulas National Marine Park. It is the primary nesting site of the endangered leatherback turtles. During the fall and early months of the year, it is possible to take escorted visits to the beach at night with park rangers, in small groups, to watch the turtles as they come ashore to lay their eggs.

There is a major controversy regarding the boundaries on land of the Las Baulas National Marine Park. Some conservation groups are withholding donations to wildlife preservation projects unless the federal government expropriates some land, largely owned by North Americans, to prevent homes, condos and hotels from being built next to the beach.

The conservation groups assert that the lights from nearby buildings inhibit the tortoises from laying their eggs on the beach. They also argue that people bought land nearby when they knew or should have known that the land was located within the National Park.

The landowners assert their rights as property owners and demand just compensation, which the government cannot afford. They also argue that the main threat to the turtles is not the houses near the beach, but hazards at sea from fishermen. I don't know the background of how the land in the area was sold. I do think the turtles' nesting beaches should be preserved, but I don't know how to balance that with the rights of property owners.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Four Seasons Papagayo from the air

Our airliner flew right over the Papagayo peninsula on one of our flights to Liberia from the USA. In this photo, you can see the golf course in the wide part of the peninsula and the hotel complex at the narrow neck of the peninsula.

If you click and enlarge the photo, you should be able to see the hotel lobby and spa that are located in the semi-circular building. The swimming pool is right behind the lobby building, and hotel rooms are in the long buildings that run parallel to the beach. The hotel bungalow units and private villa residences are sprinkled on the hillsides.

This photo shows how the hotel has access to small beaches on both the ocean (left) and gulf (right) sides of the peninsula. It also shows that the beaches do not extend around the peninsula, but are small beaches in coves of the otherwise rocky coast.

My feelings about Papagayo as an experience for tourists is that it provides a beautiful environment, luxurious amenities, superb service, but is somewhat isolated from the real Costa Rica. It is its own private world. If a visitor is interested in a destination resort and wants outstanding facilities for golf, tennis, spa, swimming, lounging, dining, etc., it is perfect. But as a destination resort, it is like a little of Hawaii transplanted to Costa Rica.

If guests do not want to limit themselves to the pristine but somewhat artificial world of the Papagayo peninsula, there are wonderful opportunities to enjoy some of the real Costa Rica outside the gates of the peninsula. There are opportunities to take local excursions to view wildlife, waterfalls, zip lines, sailing, hiking, and many of the other activities that so many people enjoy. I have seen howler monkeys and iguanas right along the road within the Papagayo resort, so some of the real Costa Rica is present at the resort.

In sum, the Papagayo resort offers a choice of either isolated luxury, or a very comfortable base from which to explore the wonder of one of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet within a short drive of the resort's gates, or a combination of both experiences.

For visitors who are interested in second homes and vacation condos in Costa Rica, I will share a few thoughts as well. Again, different people have different tastes. Some people like the master-planned communities such as Papagayo or Hacienda Pinilla because everything is under the control of the developer, all the landscaping is the coordinated, etc.

My wife and I decided that we would prefer to have our condos in Tamarindo and Langosta, however, because we wanted to be in a town where we could walk to any of 50 restaurants, walk along the beach for miles, and feel part of a community that has some diversity, even if it is mostly international rather than local residents. My wife and I felt that if we had our condos in a master-planned community, we would tend not to leave the development and would feel limited to and grow tired of resort restaurants. My wife is a "foodie" and we would much rather have a wide choice of different restaurants to walk to in the evening.

Both of our condos are in buildings that have gated entrances and 24 hour security, so that reason to select a master-planned community was mitigated. We feel quite safe walking around Tamarindo and Langosta.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Gulf of Papagayo aerial photo

This is an aerial view of the mouth of the Gulf of Papagayo and the end of the Papagayo peninsula.

The Four Seasons Papagayo Resort complex occupies the entire peninsula on the far side of this photo. The golf course sprawls across the higher ground on the right side of the peninsula. The hotel is located at the narrowest and lowest point of the peninsula in the center. By straddling the narrow neck of the peninsula, the hotel takes advantage of its location by having nearby small beaches on both the ocean side and the gulf side and having views in both directions.

Tomorrow I will post an aerial photo looking directly down on the resort and give my comments on the tourist experience at Papagayo. Today, I will share some of my thoughts about the economic effects of the Papagayo project.

The Four Seasons Papagayo was an investment of major significance for Costa Rica. It has spawned other tourist investments. You can see an example of that in the foreground of this photo, as hotel, resort and housing developments have been constructed at various other places along the coast. Other international hotel chains have been attracted to the area undoubtedly in part by the presence, success and prestige of the Four Seasons.

For example, there is a brand new J.W. Marriott very close to Tamarindo. Hilton has this year located two hotels in the area, one an ocean resort and an airport hotel at Liberia. Other major international hotels, such as Hyatt, Ritz-Carlton, RIU, and others are under construction or in various stages of development in the region, although the economic downturn has placed $1.4 billion of development projects on hold, according to an article in the local newspaper last week.

There is a challenge for Costa Rica to control development and to ensure that development is compatible with the national commitment to environmental preservation. Last spring someone complained that a new hotel built by a Spanish-owned company in the Papagayo area was polluting the ocean water. The government authorities came in and did testing and found that the construction company did not hook up one of the sewer lines to the sewage treatment plant. The government shut down the hotel right in the middle of the high tourist season, causing hundreds of tourists to be relocated to other hotels. The tourists commented to the newspaper that they did not mind being relocated because they agreed that the hotel should not reopen until the problem was fixed, which it was very quickly.

In Tamarindo, the government has injected dye into the sewer systems for every hotel and restaurant to identify any threats to water quality to make sure that each sewage or septic system is working properly.

The President of Costa Rica, Nobel Peace Prize winner Oscar Arias, has imposed development controls to curtail the height and density of buildings on the country's northwest Pacific coast.

I apologize for the quality of today's photo, but I took this photo through the window of an airliner as we were flying in to the international airport in Liberia. (I recommend a window seat on the left side of the plane for the best view on the approach to the airport.)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Four Seasons lobby bar

This is a bar in the lobby of the Four Seasons Papagayo. The main part of the lobby is upstairs. The staircase down to the pool level and this bar is partly hidden behind the gold mosaic wall that you see behind the bar in this photo. The lobby overlooks the area leading to the pool and the two beaches, one on each side of the peninsula.

You can be sure that the service at the Four Seasons will be outstanding. This bar even featured a hotel employee who was sitting off the to the side at a little cigar stand to hand roll cigars for guests. I don't smoke cigars and because as a non-hotel guest we were required to be accompanied by a hotel employee who escorted us on our visit, I did not make inquiry of the cigar roller regarding the types or cost of cigars that he was custom rolling for guests.

I have not eaten at the restaurant at the Four Seasons hotel, although I have had lunch twice at the restaurant at the gof club. I will show one or two photos of the view while eating at that restaurant in another week or two. Tomorrow I will show the first of two aerial photos of the Papagayo peninsula.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Tamarindo Diria pool

This is one of the swimming pools at the Tamarindo Diria Resort. It is the largest pool in Tamarindo, 10,000 square feet (929 square meters) in size. It has sloping, beach style sides so you can wade right into the pool. There is a swim-up snack bar so you can eat or drink in the shade without leaving the pool. There are also islands, bridges, statues, fountains and secluded areas.

I am showing this pool today (and the photo below) as a comparison to the Four Seasons pool shown yesterday. Access to the above pool is limited to hotel guests and the residents and guests of the condo buildings that are part of the Diria Resort. (The building where my wife and I have a condo is barely visible at the left edge of the above photo.) This pool can be enjoyed at a fraction of the price of the Four Seasons. The pool above is located at a resort in the middle of Tamarindo, which has been described by Forbes Magazine as Costa Rica's most popular beach town. The Four Seasons pool shown yesterday is located at a resort that is within a private, secluded peninsula.

I have never seen the above pool crowded, as most Diria hotel guests seem to spend more time at the other resort pool and the many lounge chairs under the palm trees by the beach. Here is a photo of the beach-side pool.

Whether one prefers the experience of a destination resort such as the Four Seasons Papagayo or resort in Tamarindo such as the Diria is a matter of personal preference, and affordabilty (one can stay at a resort or condo in Tamarindo or Langosta for a fraction of the price of the Four Seasons).

Friday, December 12, 2008

Four Seasons Papagayo pool

This is one of the swimming pools at the Four Seasons Papagayo Resort. The bungalows on the hillside are some of the hotel suites, although there are conventional hotel rooms, if you can call the Four Seasons conventional, overlooking the pool as well.

Rooms at the Four Seasons are very expensive. I tried a few dates on the hotel's website during the winter and spring tourist season and the cheapest room rate I could find was $895 USD per night, although there are packages where you can get the fifth night free. During the summer I could find a $675 rate, and during the off season in the fall it costs only $485 per night. Of course the suites are even more and villas or private residences can cost several thousand per night.

The local newspapers in Costa Rica will occasionally carry items about Hollywood celebrities who vacation at the Four Seasons Papagayo. They obviously enjoy the privacy that such a facility offers. On my flight last summer from the nearby international airport in Liberia to the U.S. on our plane was one of the all-time great NBA basketball stars with his entire family returning from spending a vacation at the Four Seasons for the second year in a row. (Although he was gracious and posed for photos with other travelers, I prefer not to name him out of respect for his privacy.)

The investor group that owns this hotel includes Bill Gates and Middle Eastern oil money. The investment to develop this private world on the Papagayo peninsula was considerable, so it should be no surprise that the owners are those with access to huge amounts of capital to invest.

Tomorrow I will show the pool at a resort in Tamarindo for contrast, and then the day after tomorrow I will return to the Four Seasons to show the hotel lobby bar, and will thereafter show some aerial photos of the Papagayo peninsula.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Tamarindo beach

Here is a view of the sand and beach in the middle of Tamarindo beach. Tamarindo has a classic, broad, gently sloping, crescent shaped beach, lined with palm trees, and warm ocean waters. Those ingredients make it exactly what a tropical beach should be, in my opinion.

Yesterday I showed one of the two beaches at the Four Seasons Papagayo Resort up the coast from Tamarindo. I have posted this photo today in part so that you will be able to make your own comparison of the beaches.

Incidentally, peaking up above the trees in the center of this photo is the new condo building that is part of the Diria Resort complex in the middle of Tamarindo beach. My wife and I have a condo in that building as well as a condo right on the ocean in the Playa Langosta residential part of Tamarindo.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Beach at Four Seasons Papagayo

This is one of the two beaches at the Four Seasons Resort at Papagayo. As I mentioned recently, the experience at the Four Seasons is different than public beaches in Costa Rica (although technically all beaches, including this one, in Costa Rica are public).

At the Four Seasons, the beach is two secluded coves. This one faces the ocean and a second one faces the Gulf of Papagayo. This beach provides privacy and Four Seasons service. This beach offers a chance for guests to enjoy the ocean in a scenic spot where they will enounter no one else but other guests of the Four Seasons and hotel staff. There will be no locals there. There are no street vendors, nor nearby shops or restaurants except for the hotel.

The Four Seasons beaches are protected from waves, which makes swimming easy, but they lack the surf of the beach in Tamarindo. In Tamarindo we have a long, broad beach, and my wife and I like to walk for miles along the beach. That is not possible at Papagayo.

I mentioned that all beaches in Costa Rica are public. I guess that means that if people came near the Four Seasons beach by boat they could swim ashore and lounge on the beach. There is no way to reach this beach by land except through the guard house that controls access to the entire Papagayo peninsula. Even after getting past that guard house, there is a drive of 7 km (more than 4 miles) along a private road, paved entirely with bricks, until one reaches the entrance to the hotel. Visitors are not allowed on the hotel grounds unless you have made a reservation 24 hours in advance. The hotel will then have a staff person meet the visitor and escort them on a little guided tour, after which it is time to leave.

After showing the beach at Tamarindo for comparison tomorrow, the following day I will show you one of the swimming pools at the Four Seasons.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Golf course and Gulf of Papagayo

This is another view of the golf course that is part of the Four Seasons Papagayo resort complex. This view shows the Gulf of Papagayo and the mainland across the gulf. This golf course was designed by Arnold Palmer. Papagayo exudes high class all the way down to its grass.

There are pros and cons to the Four Seasons Papagayo Resort, in my view. The scenery is beautiful, with hilly terrain and small offshore islands such as what is shown in today's and yesterday's photos. The drawback that comes with such scenery, however, is that it does not have the broad, long sandy beaches with perfect waves for surfing, such as what we have in Tamarindo. That will be apparent in the future photos that I will post, as I will show the secluded, private beaches at the Four Seasons Papagayo.

I will present some of the other pros and cons in the days and weeks ahead.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Papagayo golf course

This is a view of the golf course at Papagayo, which is about 45 minutes north of Tamarindo. The Papagayo peninsula is a master-planned community with a Four Seasons Resort and housing.

The golf course hugs both sides of the spine of the Papagayo peninsula, so it provides views in all directions, out to the ocean and to the the Gulf of Papagayo. This is a view to the ocean side of the peninsula. Tomorrow I will post a photo of the golf course and a view to the Gulf of Papagayo.

It is necessary to make reservations not merely to play golf, but even to drive onto the Papagayo peninsula. Reservations to play golf or to have lunch at the restaurant at the golf course do not entitle a person to visit the hotel, however. A separate reservation must be made even to see the Four Seasons Hotel lobby. I will post more information about Papagayo in the days and weeks ahead, including some more photos of the golf course, the hotel, and even a few aerial photos taken when our plane flew over the Gulf of Papagayo.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Hacienda Pinilla golf course

Here is another photo of the golf course at Hacienda Pinilla, just south of Tamarindo. The Hacienda Pinilla Golf Course has received an award from the Audubon Society for being a wildlife preserve as well as a golf course and for being constructed in a manner that is harmonious with nature and wildlife.

The golf course architect for this 7,300 yard, par 72 golf course is Mike Young, who the Hacienda Pinilla website states has designed many golf courses in the southeastern United States. There are other golf courses in the area new Tamarindo, including the Reserva Conchal course a few minutes north of Tamarindo.

The Hacienda Pinilla development is a 4,500 acre master planned community just south of Tamarindo. The new J.W. Marriott Guanacaste Resort just opened, after being under construction for two years. It includes a 310 room hotel, four restaurants, a spa, and other facilities. J.W. Marriott hotels are the top-of-the-line hotels in the Marriott hotel chain. The new hotel is the seventh J.W. Marriott Hotel in Latin America.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Hacienda Pinilla golf course

This is one of holes at the Hacienda Pinilla golf course. It is a 7,300 yard, par 72 course designed by Mike Young. As shown in this photo, it is an oceanside course.

Hacienda Pinilla is a 4,500 acre master-planned development located immediately to the south of the Playa Langosta area of Tamarindo. We like to walk along the beach from Langosta to the Hacienda Pinilla portion of Langosta beach, and I took this photo of the golf course during one of those walks along the beach.

Hacienda Pinilla has a website that features photos of the property. They have two hotels, including a brand new J.W. Marriott Guanacaste Resort, golf, horseback riding, and of course homes and condos for sale.

Yesterday's photo of the fisherman on a bicycle was taken further south down the beach from the golf course shown today.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Fisherman's bicycle portage

I was at the beach not long ago and noticed a fisherman who had finished his fishing and was heading home, riding his bicycle along the beach. He came to the mouth of a nearby estuary, picked up his bicycle and fishing gear and portaged across, as shown above and below.

He must have planned his day to know that he would be done fishing at low tide, as he could portage across the estuary mouth without difficulty.
Do you think this man woke up in the morning and his wife asked him, "What are you going to do today, go fishing or go for a bicycle ride?" and he responded, "Why do I have to choose; I can do both." I doubt it. It appeared to me that he had done this portage many times before and he was not riding the bicycle for recreation, but merely as a way to get back and forth to his fishing in the ocean more quickly.

The above photos were taken at the south end of the Hacienda Pinilla portion of Langosta Beach, just south of where the new J.W. Marriott Guanacaste Resort is located.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Snowy egret

Here is a snowy egret on the banks of a local river. There are 58 species in the egret and heron family, and 15 of them are found in Costa Rica.

It is possible to distinguish between snowy egrets and cattle egrets, which are also white, because snowy egrets have black legs and beaks, whereas cattle egrets have yellow or orange beaks and legs. Also, cattle egrets, which I have posted in the past, often flock in large numbers and often accompany cattle to eat bugs in the fields. Snowy egrets are usually seen along river banks stalking fish.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Are walking roots nocturnal?

This is a photo of "walking roots" at night. I had never thought about the silly question of whether walking root trees do their walking at night or during the day. Back on June 25, I posted the lower photo below of walking roots during the day. It is impossible, of course, to determine if the trees are walking during the day or the night, or both. They would have to be running trees rather than walking trees to notice.

The top photo above was taken on the grounds of the Capitan Suizo Resort, located on the beach in Tamarindo. That explains why there is a spotlight on the tree. The lower photo was taken on the grounds of the Cala Luna Resort in the Playa Langosta area of Tamarindo.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Flower ball

I considered posting this flower yesterday for the Theme Day of circles and spheres because the flower is shaped like a ball. I am sorry that I do not know the name of the flower but I could not find it in my books on Costa Rica plants. It looks like an agapantha, but I do not think that it is. Perhaps a reader will be able to help out and let us know.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Dec. Theme Day: Round

For today's Daily Photo Monthly Theme Day of "round" or "sphere," I am showing the wheel of a traditional Costa Rican ox cart. Traditional Costa Rican ox carts are brightly hand painted, and families take pride in the artistry of their ox cart designs.

It is still possible to see ox carts in use in rural areas. The ox cart in this photo is on display at the Garden Plaza shopping center in Tamarindo, which I have shown in earlier posts. The second photo shows the rest of the ox cart to place the photo of the wheel into context.

Click here to view thumbnails for all participants
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