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Showing posts from January, 2022

A Pilgrim in Cartago

   Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Los Angeles (Our Lady of the Angels) Every year on August 2nd, it is estimated that a million to two million pilgrims converge on Cartago to celebrate the fiesta of La Negrita (Black Madonna). On the eve of the feast day, pilgrims walk from other parts of the country to the Basilica (in what is called a romería) to give thanks or petition for favors . La Negrita is the patron saint of Costa Rica and adored by devotees for her healing power. Main Altar It is said that a peasant girl found a statue in the woods of a female figure with a dark complexion and carrying a child. She took it home with her but when she woke up the next day, it was gone. She found it on the rock where she had first discovered it. She brought it back home only for the statue to return to the rock. She told the priest about her experience with the statue and he took it from her and locked it up but the next day it was back on the rock. When several earthquakes destroyed the constru

Iguanas, Palm Trees and Sunsets in Jaco

Sunset over the Pacific Ocean This is why people congregate to watch a sunset.  Jaco Beach Tuning in the blue mind. Waking up to this, palm trees, blue skies, and vitamin sea.    ⬇️⬇️⬇️ Iguana One of the staff members at the hotel told me that there are bigger iguanas in the garden. This is the biggest one I saw. Needless to say, I didn’t stroll in the garden after sunset. At the town plaza, the iconic “I ❤️ Jaco” and Pura Vida signs welcome visitors. The tourism slogan of Costa Rica Jaco’s restaurants and shops are clustered along the main highway. You can easily walk from the hotels on the beach to the commercial center of Jaco where you can rent a surfboard, buy souvenirs, arrange sightseeing tours or grab a bite to eat. Where to stay: Best Western Jaco Beach This was the first time I stayed at an all inclusive resort. I liked the fact that I could get three meals a day, enjoy free drinks (yes, cocktails are included) and have a snack at the beachside bar. I was so f

Crocodile Spotting in Tarcoles

  Tarcoles River  On my way to Jaco, we passed by the small town of Tarcoles where crocodiles bask lazily on the banks of the river. There were quite a few of them that I lost count. Tarcoles River is surrounded by a lush forest and borders Carara National Park. A hurricane left a lot of fallen trees in the river.  If you like crocodile teeth, you can buy one for $12.00. A vendor was trying to sell me a corded necklace with a crocodile tooth for $10.00. Watermelon is grown in the manicured field in the background. I wonder if the crocodiles find their way there sometimes. Before leaving the town of Tarcoles, we watched monkeys hanging out in the surrounding trees. Talk about monkeying around! How to get there: I took Tico Shuttle from Escazu to Jaco and we stopped at Tarcoles to see the crocodiles from Crocodile Bridge. Tarcoles is on the way to Jaco. My driver was careful and drove safely at all times. He wore a mask as I did. I had the van to myself as a solo passenger. I highly reco

Panamá, Vive por Más

Panamá City Skyline Panama is a country of contrasts. Modern skyscrapers form the backdrop to 16th century ruins. Bustling traffic stands still beside a calm coastline that provides aqua therapy on the most stressful days, like before Mother’s Day. The people are friendly and always greet you with “Buenas”, the seafood is fresh and served in generous portions, and the highways and streets are clean. How about the music? I feel I could dance to that beat all night long. Si, Señor! Panamá Viejo Panama Viejo is the first permanent European settlement site on the Pacific coast. Pedro Arias de Avila and his companions settled here in 1519. The town flourished through the years and had its own Cathedral, Archbishop’s house, convents, a hospital and well drawn up streets. Fires, an earthquake and finally the attack of Welsh pirate, Henry Morgan, in 1671 razed Panama Viejo to oblivion. It was not rebuilt and was abandoned after a new city was established a short distance away in what is now, C

Where to go in 2022

Ruins of Jesuit Church, Casco Viejo, Panamá We’re still not out of the woods with this pandemic as the Omicron variant rages around the world. To this end, travel books, magazines and newspapers have published their annual lists of places to go in 2022 with cautious optimism. Fodor’s and Frommer’s have both decided to only include domestic destinations in the US for practical as well as health and safety reasons. Panama, Belize, Mexico and Singapore seem to be popular choices, appearing on several lists. Let’s hope we have a healthier world so we can freely explore once again. Afar Magazine Best Places to Travel in 2022 Condé Nast Traveler 22 Places to go in 2022 Fodor’s Go List Frommer’s Best Places to Go in the United States in 2022

My Amazing Ride - 2021

Pismo Beach Pier, California Traveling during the pandemic was  quite different from my previous last minute trips with no hotel reservations and lots of taken for granted expectations. There are health disclosures to fill, vaccination cards to show immigration, covid tests to take, and in some cases, travel insurance and confirmed paid hotel reservations to show the border police. Thankfully the airports were quiet at the beginning of my European trip in June but by the time I got home in July from Paris, travelers were back in droves that it took me close to three hours to get to my gate. The same was true in December when I returned from Costa Rica. LAX was full of Christmas travelers, it was hard to find any seat at the gates let alone, breathing space. Enough whining! After all, I visited 7 countries in 2021 plus the Arctic Circle, Interior Alaska and Las Vegas and had reunions with my close friends in Michigan, Amsterdam and Vienna. It was an amazing year of travel! April. After