Tuesday, February 28, 2017

. . . and its inhabitants

I don't remember the Mardi Gras floats and their riders being this creepy in years past. Sure, this is just one and most of the others were more tame. But at the same time, those that were less ghoulish were less interesting. Sort of dumbed down. Less glitz. less sex, less crazy. Morning in America?          

Monday, February 27, 2017

What's Wrong With This Town?

On the surface we seem to be an ordinary Midwestern city. You know, sort of rehabbed, sort of derelict urban center. Sprawling suburbs. Museums and shopping centers. People of every kind. So what's with these parade floats? Maybe the dark side of America, floats designed by Steve Bannon.                  

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Silly Season

Went out to shoot the Mardi Gras parade yesterday. The weather wasn't as cold as was forecast. The skies were clear and there was a big crowd. This year's theme was movies. The top one is some slasher movie, the bottom obviously Ghostbusters. 

The usual assortment of strange people marched with the floats and swarmed down the sidewalk. We'll go with this for a bit.           

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Marcel! Quel plaisir de vous rencontrer!

It was packed at the St. Louis Art Museum last night. There was the opening of an annual one-weekend presentation, Art In Bloom, where master flower arrangers are invited to create designs reflecting works throughout the galleries. The current special exhibition, Degas, Impressionism, and the Paris Millinery Trade, continued its run. A bar was set up in the central hall and entertainers were scattered about. 

So here was this mime, dressed in a traditional Marcel Marceau outfit. You find this look in movies and magazines, but I'd never seen someone doing the job actually dressed like this before.

There was one of those wheel-of-fortune spinning things set up with the Parisian theme of the main show. Each section had a picture of something about the city and its culture with an accompanying question. A correct answer got a little prize. We aced it (bien sûr). Virginia, there is a lapel pin with the French flag on its way to you. 

Our big Mardi Gras parade is today, a don't miss for shooters. It's turning much colder overnight but your faithful photographer will tough it out.         

Friday, February 24, 2017

Dog Patrol

You wouldn't think all those fierce canines would require a motorcycle police escort. I think these officers and their bikes were there just for show. They lead the way in any significant parade in town. And they help get loiterers out of the street.        

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Thursday Arch Series

While trudging the long distance back to my car from the Soulard dog parade I happened upon this visual combination. I think the sign and post are new. The fleur-de-lys reflects French origin of our city.           

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

King Of The Beasts And Batdog

Pets and people in the dog parade. I'd like to see a psychological analysis of this event. Is it just spontaneous fun or do the pooch costumes say something about the makeup of the owners? Maybe some of both. We haven't had a dog in forty years so I can only speculate.


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Return Of Gratuitous Cuteness

As seen here for many years, we have a pretty big Mardi Gras for a temperate climate city. It's all commercial and for-profit now but, as I have often noted, St. Louis likes an excuse to drink in public. The big parade is on Saturday. Bacchus will be in attendance. So will I.

However, the Sunday before has the annual dog parade. It gets really silly. The event was terribly crowded this year with the exceptionally warm weather.  These two could have been the parade marshals for visitors from Lilliput.    

Monday, February 20, 2017

Madeleine Monday

We haven't had the moppet on for a while, what with travel, too much work and all. She is exactly three and a half today so it's a good time. Last Friday the family had some business to do downtown. My day wasn't so bad so we met for lunch.

This child is growing fast. My daughter has a group of friends with girls and they share clothing. Ms. M is almost unable to wear things from the two next older ones. She gets this ecstatic glow when provided with her favorite substance in the world, hot chocolate (which we have to blow on until she considers it cool enough to drink). Preferably with marshmallows but whipped cream will do.

And her language skills keep getting better. When I am sitting, she loves to try to climb on me and sit on my shoulders, which she is not allowed to do. So she keeps trying. She was hard at it the other evening. I grabbed her and pulled her back, telling her "not gonna happen." "Gonna happen," she shot back. I looked her in the eye and slowly told her "not gonna happen!" "Gonna happen," she insisted. So I asked her which she liked better, bugging me or hot chocolate. "Bug" was her firm reply.          

Sunday, February 19, 2017

How To Return To Costa Rican Sunsets

We could always play the lottery. Or not, and count our pennies. No high voltage electric lines in your view in Langosta.

And the churches here don't have stone lattice-work sides to let the breeze through. 

We'll have a Madeleine Monday tomorrow. And the pre-Mardi Gras dog parade is this afternoon, always worth trolling for images. It's freakishly warm, with a forecast of 74F/23C today, in mid-February. Should be a big turnout.              

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Time To Move On

All good things must come to an end. (And, if you think about it, bad things, too. It's helpful to have at least a bit of a Buddhist attitude.) Time to wrap up the images from another trip to enchanting Costa Rica, with many thanks to our hosts, Dave and Julie. We hope we can go back next year. I'd really like to bring our daughter and granddaughter Madeleine (who will be back here on Monday). I can imagine her delight while observing the critters in the tide pools.

I don't have a single frame of new local material. Better get back out on the streets of St. Louis today and see what's going on.                

Friday, February 17, 2017


What to do with your life: fly all the way to Tamarindo bloody Costa Rica, sit in Sharky's bar and watch a hockey game between the Montreal Canadiens and Edmonton Oilers. Works for me.

No surprise, but there are a lot of Canadians in Tamarindo at this time  of year. The majority of people staying at the condo complex were from the Maritimes, Edmonton or Calgary. (There was one family from Wasilla, Alaska - you know, the town where a former vice presidential candidate ostensibly lives).  We were the southernmost people there. When we were returning to the airport Sunday we got stuck behind a long procession of identical Hundai SUVs, all flying the Quebec flag.

Sharky's is an odd little place. We went there for lunch a bit before noon and the alcohol was already flowing freely. Once again, pura vida.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Wish You Were Here

And me, too. It's been an awful week back at work. I'm looking for a way to ease out of my career of more than 40 years. Not that I'd hang out on a beach or learn to surf (that's a laughable idea). But I'm reminded of an old, bad joke - Question: Why do you keep banging your head against the wall? Answer: because it feels so good when I stop. There's none of that going on in Costa Rica. Pura vida, y'all.          

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Tropical Moose Racing

Pictures on the wall of a motorcycle repair shop right on the beach in Tamarindo. Go figure.       

Tuesday, February 14, 2017


A tiny crab, not more than 4 inches/10 cm across, scuttling across Playa Langosta. Mrs. C found a bunch more on one of the lava rock formations jutting out of the water. They were wet and slippery, and I have a poor sense of balance (from creaky knees and trifocals?) so I decided to take her word for it.

Those are three tiny snails in front of the crab. I don't think it was interested in them as a snack. The crab found its way into a hole in the sand moments later. The bottom picture is a broad view of the area.              

Monday, February 13, 2017

Ocean Gate

Perhaps a piece of beach art. It invites us to use our imagination. Found on Playa Langosta.

Sunday, February 12, 2017


Langosta Sunset

Sunset at Playa Langosta. I hope this little movie is viewable. Don't know a thing about video editing and I've been wrestling with getting this done and uploaded.

Leaving Costa Rica today. Back to reality, which looks pretty heavy this week. Lacking any other material, I may have some more from here in the coming days.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

La Luna, El Cocinero Y El Capitan

Almost time to go home. We went to dinner last night at the restaurant of a boutique hotel just down the road, Capitan Suizo. Our old friend, Jujo Molina, has become executive chef. He offers a tasting menu on Friday nights at a very reasonable price.

A just-barely-not-full moon was rising over the palm trees as Jujo and his staff served us culinary delights. There was a saxophone player making sure our blood pressure stayed low. It's going to be hard to leave tomorrow.    

Sorry no post yesterday. I shot some video of the sunset Thursday evening but I don't know a thing about editing them movin' pitchers and it took me hours to figure out the basics of iMovie. Then it took three hours to upload the clip to Blogger, and then it didn't work. It may show up here yet.  

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Playa Grande

Playa Grande - Big Beach - is across the estuary from Tamarindo. Despite its proximity it is not easy to reach. You have to go quite a bit inland and then circle back toward the shore, maybe a half hour drive. Much of the area is a national park because leatherback sea turtles use it as a mass nesting area. So not much development and no crowds. Surfers' paradise, Central American style.

As you can see, almost everybody has fun, even the iguana who hangs out by the taco stand.   

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Angry Birds

At least that's how the first one strikes me. A snowy egret, I think, with a bad attitude. Mean claws, too.

We took a two hour boat ride on the estuary between Tamarindo and Playa Grande with a local guide, Gerardo Santana, who knows his stuff. Almost all of the waterway is undeveloped and wildlife is left to itself but for a few small tourist boats. At one point we went up a small side channel, pulled up to the shore and walked through the forest looking for howler monkeys.

The bird taking off is a great blue heron. My traveling companion and family naturalist tells me that the third is a yellow banded black heron. Not sure about that - the beaks are so different.

Oh, and not a good idea to take a swim here.           

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

We Watch (Part Of) The Stupid Bowl

Long-time readers of this blog know that Mrs. C and I dislike American football. It's all about gratuitous violence, brain damage, life-long disabilities, and most of all money, as crass as greed can get. (Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?) Back in the U.S., we always go out to dinner for our own private Stupid Bowl party. If the restaurant is open you get the best table and service. But we're in Costa Rica.

I thought it might be fun to go to one of the big beachfront bar-restaurants here to photograph the scene. It was interesting if unsurprising. We had never seen a Super Bowl half time show so we stayed for that. Now I don't know Lady Gaga from Lady Macbeth but it was kind of sort of mildly fun. Then we returned to our condo. The best part was the moon through the palm trees.