Thursday, March 29, 2012

I Heart Bicycles

Lately, I've been widening my interest in photographic subjects. I'm still interested in general landscape and doors and windows. I am collecting, yes collecting photographs (thanks to Ginnie for this concept) of different subjects. Currently I'm in the process of building my album on street lamps. However, I found that I have enough bicycle shots to show you, to merit a post on my series, I HEART.
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What about you? What are you fascinated in capturing lately?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

San Jose

We arrived in the capital city of San Jose mid day. That was some long drive from Monteverde. Upon completing check-in, we only dumped our luggage inside the room and headed out to see a little bit of San Jose. I knew there wasn't enough time to arrange for a proper tour. Not that a proper tour was what we were thinking of doing at that time. All we wanted was to see a little bit of the city.

While preparing for this trip, very little research was made on the time in San Jose and for good reason. We were not spending much time here. Like this last day for instance, all we have is a half a day to roam.

We hailed a cab outside the hotel, the same hotel that we stayed in on our arrival in the country. We asked the driver to take us to see the National Theater. He told us just beside the National Theater is Avenida Central, 8 blocks of vehicle-free, pedestrian-only thoroughfare lined with shops and restaurants and hotels on both sides of the street.

It seemed that we'd be able to fill the few hours in this vicinity. We have some shopping to do after all. But first we went to look at the National Theater, timely too since the rain has started to pour by this time.


From wikipedia: The National Theatre of Costa Rica (Spanish: Teatro Nacional de Costa Rica) is the national theatre of Costa Rica. It is located in the central section of San José, Costa Rica. Construction began in 1891, and it opened to the public on 21 October 1897 with a performance of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Faust.

The National Theatre stood as a cultural asset of the country during a time when coffee exports were a source of its success. It presents high quality performances, with artistic criteria being very high.

The building is considered the finest historic building in the capital, and it is known for its exquisite interior which includes its lavish furnishings.

Very grey sky.


Our tickets.


Very ornate.





We did our shopping after visiting the theater. We also stopped for a bite in one of the stores along Avenida Central.


We penciled a stop at the cathedral. I was really eager to see it. I was surprised to see it. The facade is atypical of Catholic churches I've seen before.
Metropolitan Cathedral of San Jose

Here's what wiki has to say about the Metropolitan Cathedral.

The Metropolitan Cathedral of San José Spanish: Catedral Metropolitana is a cathedral in San José, Costa Rica, located on Calle Central and Avenues 2 and 4. The original cathedral was built in 1802 but was destroyed by an earthquake. It was replaced in 1871 by a design by Eusebio Rodríguez in a style which combines Greek Orthodox, Neo classical and Baroque styles with its Doric pilasters and neo-classical pediment with steeples at the side at the front of the building.[1] Inside, the cathedral has a notably fine colonial style tiled floor and stainless windows depicting biblical scenes. A vaulted ceiling spans the length of the nave with two fluted columns supporting it. At the main altar is are statues of cherubs and a wooden figure of Christ. In the background is a half-cupola in the wall containing a mural of Jesus and the Holy Father.[1] To the left of the altar is the Chapel of the Holy Sacrament, adorned with wooded quadrants and floral motifs.


Main altar


This is one of the three naves. The blue-white-red decorating the columns is the Costa Rican flag. Inside the church. The separation of church and state is definitely not applied in this country.


Beautiful tile flooring.


I cannot remember the name of the park that sits across from the cathedral. We hardly paid any attention to it.

Across from the park is this imposing building. On it's facade are many many parrots, they make wonderful sound mixed with the traffic noise.

This is the end of my Costa Rica vacation. We left San Jose aboard a plane that took us to Miami at 7 am the next morning.

This vacation has shown me that if the people are taught to respect and conserve nature, and if they are given other sources of livelihood (other than illegal logging or poaching), they would be able to proudly conserve and protect their natural resources.

Even though I have been estranged from my birth country the Philippines, I hope that she will find Costa Rica a good role model in conservation efforts. I believe that the Philippines has one of the best natural resources in the world, beaches, jungles, rivers and lakes, mountains and volcanoes, and people speak good English and are warm and friendly. What we just need is to own up to our country, make it our responsibility, individual responsibility to care for its resources. Show the tourists that we respect our country, that we follow the rules and they will follow our examples.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Through My Hotel Room Window

I truly am satisfied at the hotels that the travel company put us in throughout our stay in Costa Rica. In Monteverde, Fonda Vela is especially wonderful. The atmosphere lends itself to total relaxation..... that is after a day of hiking and ziplining.

While I would have loved to roam around the grounds of this 35-acre farm, the weather wasn't cooperative. If it's not raining, it's very misty. No chance to see the "spectacular views" of the Gulf of Nicoya from the hotel's 1,400 meter (4,200 foot) elevation.

However, the hotel rooms' design of having floor-to-ceiling windows was the perfect spot for nature watching. Fonda Vela is home to some 60 species of migratory birds and over 200 species of nonmigratory birds. While this is very impressive to know, what made us gasp in amazement was watching owls hunt at night. Just in front of our room is the garden with a lights. Moths were crowding around the light and the owl swoops in over and over again. That was a OMG moment, that was not captured by camera. Well that's not true, we tried to capture the act of hunting, but it was far too dark outside, we were inside thru a glass window, and our shutter wasn't as fast as the owl. Believe me, I've had a time of my life nature watching here in Costa Rica.

Throughout our stay in Fonda Vela, whenever we are in the room, we look out at the garden.

I watched these birds frolicking outside.

Anyone in the know and can identify this handsome bird?

The same bird flew into the guava tree that was on the left side of the garden.

And flew out with a guava. Can you believe it, I captured it, though not really a pretty capture.

Also in Fonda Vela I got acquainted with another native, the agouti. It's a rodent. Read more about it here. Every morning we see them running about in the garden, going about their business.

It's a cutie.

It too eats guava. He's a fussy eater. He spits out the seeds.

All these images are captured from our room, through the glass windows.

On our last day, as we were walking back to our room from breakfast - the restaurant is a few yards away - we passed by an agouti. Perfect timing to videotape.

Let me remind you again how the hotel looks like.


And here's the only plate of breakfast food that I was able to photograph. It's my last breakfast at Fonda Vela.


Soon after breakfast we were picked up by Interbus. My heart was heavy leaving this mountain paradise, verdant and full of life. Sad that not only was I leaving Monteverde, but this would be my penultimate day here in this wonderful country.

The drive was long and bumpy and very slow. There was even a road closure in town where the detour delayed us more.

However, despite the travel conditions, the views were spectacular.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

An Afternoon With Tina Turner and Mariah Carey

So d'ya like my title? Let me explain why it's titled as such.

Do you remember this post? This was after our wine tasting session where we thought a cup of coffee would help. We went to chill at the benches by the Sonoma City Hall.

It was at this time when my hubby and I were chatting and soaking up the sun when three guys walked in from my right. Two of them walked past us (path was behind the bench) while the one went to see the pond up close. Then he yelled to his friends to come back and see what he discovered. He said, "Guys come see Tina Turner!" His words.

I was closer to him so I got up and told no one in particular but loud enough for everyone to hear that I would love to see Tina Turner.

When I got near, I saw the Tina Turner he's talking about. And I agree.

You like the 'do?

This is Mariah Carey, I named her.





That afternoon of shooting not only yielded ducks named Tina Turner and Mariah Carey. Here are some of things captured by my lens.






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I love houses with porch, especially wrap around porch.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Butterfly Kisses

Rain stayed with us through the morning and without sight of it abating, we went to see if we could also complete the other two activities that were part of our adventure package - the hummingbird garden and the butterfly habitat.

We tackled the hummingbird garden first. However, we found out its a roofless garden (go figure, kidding)and we have no shade against the pounding rain. While the hummingbirds were aplenty despite the downpour, I wasn't completely confident that I could take the chance of ruining my camera by shooting under the rain. I kept a close watch at the birds but allowing my companions to take a shot at them.

We didn't take too long there, it was a futile stop anyway.

Returning to the visitor center to see if we could get an earlier time for the butterfly habitat and also to keep dry for a bit. They have schedules for tours, but the way the day was turning it seemed that there weren't anyone else waiting to take the butterfly habitat tour, except the four of us. And so we got started with the tour.

There were four of us, and they gave us two guides. Very generous don't you think?
The butterfly habitat was in this enclosure that had temperature control. We were warned that the conditions inside were going to be extremely warm and humid. We experienced none of that, largely because of the rain I presume which cooled the temperature inside. It turned out to be a really pleasant condition.

The guides expertly explained everything one wants to know about butterflies, which included but not limited to its life cycle. Of course, very little got retained beneath my soggy hair.
The chrysalis.




Caught in the act.



The proper way to hold a butterfly without injuring or harming its wings.

A plateful of butterflies.

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Here is a little video: