Dispatches from the OLLI Costa Rica Trip – March 11

Wednesday March 11
Today our  merry band of OLLI travelers headed to Del Bosque, an eco tourism farm. The road was unpaved, rutted and tortuous but our excellent driver Roger did a wonderful job!
We were greeted by Don Antonio, the owner. He comes from a long line of farmers, starting with his Great Grandfather, Don Carmelino but only recently decided to enter the eco-farm business. Only one product is sold commercially- pigs.

Luis led us on a tour of the farm, which has an area of approximately 2,471 acres. Only 49,200 sq feet are being used for trails, gardens, cultivated areas, reforestation etc.
We were introduced to a number of endangered species, one of which was white tailed deer! We told Luis we would be happy to export some from North Carolina.

Later we saw two oxen walking in circles to power the sugar cane mill. Then Reggie and Don took the place of the oxen with Phyllis ably I cracking the whip. Vamanos! Of course we sampled the liquid products of their labor – or at least some made earlier.
We toured the medicinal plant garden where Luis was very informative about the uses of the various plants. We saw the pig operation with one boar, 20 sows and multiple piglets
A delicious lunch rounded off our tour – beans, rice, pork, salad, enchilada and lemonade.
From the road,
OLLI Members Don & Jo Adams

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Greetings from Costa Rica: Action-Packed!

More news from the OLLI study trip to Costa Rica!

Costa Rica crossing bridgeToday was a real action day. Our morning activity was a demonstration but not until we had negotiated a long suspension bridge over a foaming river. Not for the faint-hearted!

During our coffee demonstration we learned about the process from cacao pod to drinking and solid chocolate – all produced in a forest setting with no automation. We sampled at each stage –  so good. We will be very fussy about our chocolate purchases from now on!Costa Rica coffee demo

After lunch we suited up for our rafting adventure on the Sarapiqui River. Our excellent guides pointed out wildlife on the river even as we negotiated treacherous rapids!

We rounded off our day with a cooking demonstration with OLLI members dicing and  chopping vegetables for the dish which included freshly made corn tortillas.

Costa Rica cooking

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Dispatches from the OLLI Trip to Costa Rica!

March 6
Early start bumpy road through Braulio Carrillo National Park en route to the Caribbean low lands crossing the continental divide on the way.Costa Rica croc

At our breakfast stop for mixed beans & rice we saw sloths and a poisonous blue footed frog.
Cruised down the river and across a lagoon to Evergreen Lodge in the Tortuguero region.
From our boat we saw a crocodile basking on the bank and several snowy egrets with their bright yellow fish lure feet! Also some blue herons. As North Carolinians we felt quite at home – except for the croc of course!

Welcome drink of local fruit juice on the dock. Found our cabins. Lunch in the aptly named Monkey Restaurant. White Faced monkeys cavorted and  posed for us outside in the trees  just outside.Costa Rica monkey

After lunch we took to the water again as that is the only way to get around in Tortuguero and visited the Green Turtle Research Station and explored the lively little town of Tortuguero.

March 7 Tortuguero national park
It’s raining in the rain forest but still beautiful! our early morning wake up call was the howler monkeys! More of a bellow than a howl. I was expecting a high pitched scream. Coffee from the monkey restaurant followed by buffet breakfast with made-to- 
order tropical fruit smoothies- delicious!
Costa Rica group
On our morning boat cruise along the local rivers and canals we saw howler monkeys, bats, green backed heron, great blue herons, small blue herons, toucans, green iguana, a caiman and a Jesus Christ lizard, so-called because of its propensity to walk on water!

Costa Rica Lizard

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The OLLI @ Raleigh Paddling Group Adventures


Seven OLLI paddle group members answered the call “let’s paddle”, and we spent last week on a Road Scholar trip in Puerto Rico where we kayaked on the ocean and through the mangrove trees, and we snorkeled, hiked, toured, and had a wonderful time.  We plan to get started again paddling locally in April or May, and we invite you to join us.  Just send an email to the organizer, Fay Krapf at faykrapf@gmail.com


Fay Krapf




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Another Perk of OLLI Membership: Trailblazers

The heron  at Falls Lake (1)


Picture a lovely blue sky on a warm spring day, a greenway trail winding through the trees with the hint of flowers beginning to bloom, and a group of OLLI members enjoying the walk and each other’s company. Then again, picture the same group bundled up against the cold with long underwear, winter coats, and scarves keeping each of them warm, walking along the Neuse River on a cold day in January, watching the flow of the water with herons perched proudly on rocks in the river. This is Trailblazers, our walking group on the greenways in Wake County.  All of it is an opportunity to get fresh air and exercise, meet new friends or enjoy the company of those you already know, and maybe walk a new greenway or visit a new part of town. The group was formed several years ago and walks on Friday mornings unless it is a holiday or the Wake County schools are delayed or closed due to inclement weather.

No sign up needed, no fees involved, just come when you can. All OLLI members are welcome. You can get your name added to the email list through the OLLI office to receive information about where we are walking this week. Get out your walking shoes and come join Trailblazers. We would love to see you!

Submitted by Janet Hiser, Member of Trailblazers Coordinating Committee

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A Walk in the Park

tim hoyt

A Fantasy park.  One should be built in every mind.  You start in the immense room where all your life’s stuff is stored.   Whenever you have time to leap into your imagination, you rush through this wondrous room, nodding at props all around you, in dusty bins, on shelves that might have been nailed together yesterday or 20 years ago.  Your props know what you’re thinking.  The park they build might have Christmas cards taped around a door frame.  Your park could have an embarrassing picture of your young self, grossly enlarged, hanging on a wall or on a light pole.  Your parents are standing in front of it, admiring, smiling, motioning you over. Family pictures and portraits change weekly, like in a gallery.  The stuff in your storage room knows of hundreds that are possible.  Your park breathes, expands into a stadium, contracts into a gift box, disappears. Colors burst, explode, float away.  Brightly colored lights self-select for each scene.  The music is old school, blasting, but just as often, playing soft as butter.  The chinaberry trees appear, catch your eye, disappear. Caught in swirls of perfect breezes are bicycles, wagons, math books, happy dead people. Passing through are brown houses, white igloos, pink dining rooms.  There are clouds low down, big white puffy ones in hot pursuit of whirling black wisps shooting at them. That scene whizzes by quickly, always the finale.

My stock room is huge.  Coliseum huge.  It’s a mess.  Stuff everywhere.  Poorly organized.  I hurry through it.  The props getting the nod race to the park ahead of me.  They’ll be there waiting.  A dozen pathways lie ahead rising, falling, twisting around one another in a most pleasant manner.  I talk with my stuff as I walk along, and I stay as long as I want.  Time is different here.

Tim Hoyt     2/2/2015

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OLLI Epicureans

For the last three and a half years participants in the Encore/OLLI program have been enjoying the benefits of the Epicureans Special Interest Group. The group was established as a result of a discussion within the Membership and Marketing Committee about how to encourage members to enjoy socializing outside of the classroom setting. The idea came forward of having a lunch or dinner on a periodic basis to try out some of the area’s restaurants and I, Mike Rakouskas, a member of the committee volunteered to give a try at coordinating such an effort. Carol Cozzolino, also a member of the committee volunteered to assist.

Since May of 2011, about every other month or so, the Epicureans gather to sample some of the available fare in various restaurants in the Raleigh area. I remember the very first event that we held. It was an al fresco dinner at the Boylan Street Brewpub. It was a beautiful evening outside overlooking the downtown skyline. As we were dining a huge, bright full moon came out over Raleigh…it was absolutely gorgeous, and everyone had a great time. I knew then that we had the right recipe for Encore/OLLI members to enjoy being together.

Since that night we have enjoyed such restaurants as Caffe Luna, the Oakwood Café, 18 Seaboard, NoFo@the Pig, Spartacus, Tuscan Blu, Lucky 32, Mia Francesca, Peking Garden, Napper Tandy’s, Humble Pie, Posta Tuscan Grille, Mura Japanese Steakhouse, Hibernian Irish Pub, Taverna Agor, La Volta Italiano, Swad Indian Cuisine, and Shuckers Oyster Bar & Grill

Typically we have either a luncheon or dinner on a Monday or Tuesday. We’ve found that it is easier for restaurants to host us on those days without being too demanding about reservations and guarantees. We ask that the restaurant provide individual checks and not require a deposit. That makes it a bit easier on me as coordinator.

We look forward to trying more of the area’s restaurants and invite any OLLI member to join us. To be placed on the email listing for future announcements of Epicurean dining events contact me at mrakouskas@aol.com.

  • Mike Rakouskas

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Did You Know?….

Did you know that by participating in OLLI at NC State you are part of a nationwide movement? There are close to 500 programs like ours located at colleges and universities across the United States. They are all different in structure, instructors, and programming, but what they all have in common is the idea that continuing education is not just for the working years. There is value in coming together in a community to learn.  Yes, you can watch fascinating shows on PBS, and there is a wealth of material online these days. But none of those equals the opportunity to be in a classroom with interesting peers, who have led interesting lives, learning with instructors who feel they also grow and learn from the experience. Special?  You bet!

Tricia Inlow-Hatcher

Director, OLLI at NC State

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Contemplating America’s Greatest Tragedy—The Civil War

I am one of OLLI’s many history buffs, and have sat spell-bound throughout Dave Milidonis’ Civil War Sesquicentennial Series of classes. He’s a retired military officer by trade, and a military historian by passion. He puts you into the heads and hearts of those who fought, especially the generals on both sides, most of whom graduated long ago from his alma mater, West Point. Like most of us who take his classes, I have long awaited the Civil War battlefields trip that he led for us on June 4—7. It exceeded my lofty expectations! Here are some of my reflections during and since the trip.

For me, a Southern girl born in the state where the war broke out, South Carolina, and living throughout my adulthood in North Carolina, my feelings about the Civil War are highly personal, and highly complicated. Three of my great-great-grandfathers fought in the Civil War—you can easily guess which side they were on! If you’re from the South, you probably know these facts about your ancestry; if you’re not a Southerner, you might not know and might not care whether an ancestor wore either gray or blue between 1861 and 1865. You see, it matters to me, and I think to most present-day Southerners, because we cannot fathom why they went along with the things they did, and we so wish we could understand. The vast majority (70 % or so) of the citizens in the Confederate states did not own slaves. Many who volunteered to go to war had wives and children back at home, and life on the Confederate home-front was one of extreme hardship, deprivation, and ultimately financial ruin and searing grief over lost loved-ones. So why?

We all know the many reasons historians give for the war and the rush to become a participant in it, and I’ll have to settle for those insights into why, though I’ll never really understand. Dave Milidonis does not do much speculating as to why the war was fought. He seeks to teach us what and how and where and when things happened. One day last week we were at Antietam, the bloodiest single day of the war during which 23,000 young Americans were lost. The next day we were at Gettysburg, a three-day battle during which 50,000 died in the bloodiest battle of the war. On our way home we explored Spotsylvania, where trench warfare and hand-to-hand combat made it another horror, another bloodbath. Dave took us across each battlefield, pointing out how they studied the lay of the land and engineered their battle plans accordingly, either to their advantage or to their ultimate peril. He pointed out ingenuity and ineptitude, courage and cowardice, hard work and sloth. He leaves it to each of us to contemplate what learning in such detail about the savagery of this war does to our hearts.

For this Southern girl who had ancestors die in this war, I didn’t return home with any more of a clue as to why they went off to it. What I gained was a much deeper understanding of the costs, and an even keener feeling of sadness over the suffering and the loss. But I also returned home with at least a hint of hopefulness. If this country could recover, come together, and even thrive, in the aftermath of all that carnage and all that hate, surely there is hope for a less divisive future than what we are experiencing now. Perhaps all of our political leaders, upon taking their oaths of office, should be required to go on a Civil War battlefields trip led by Dave Milidonis, and see and feel what the results of divisiveness, animosity, arrogance and stubbornness can be!


Carol Rahmani

June, 2014

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A Grand Affair by Amber Sawyers


On this December morning, I am sitting in my living room enjoying the sight and smell of the decorated Fraser Fir that stands in the bay window.  As beautiful as it is even in its transient nature, it is not the star attraction in the room.  The real treasure is the female presence in the corner.  I knew she was feminine from the moment I first saw her.  She is my piano.

She is an upright grand constructed of solid, quarter-sawn oak and cast iron.  She is barely moveable.  I can date the manufacture date of 1893 from the Steinway serial number inside.  Underneath the keyboard is a sign of something from her past.  I envision a “rebellious” teenager lying on the floor of the Sunday School room underneath the piano in 1973 penciling on the peace sign that remains there to this day.  I love it!  After a major investment in her repair and rebuild, she once again has the solid, sweet tone of the Steinway masterpiece for which she was crafted.

I have had a years-long love affair with her.  She comes alive under my fingers, challenges me and makes music sound better than perhaps I can play it.  I pour out my emotions through her and she always listens with clear empathy, no judgment involved, and allows me to express myself in a beautiful way.

This will be her 117th Christmas.  She has seen many piano players come and go through the years and will likely be played for many Christmases long after I am gone.  I secretly harbor a desire that she remembers my touch and likes me the best of all who have drawn music from her soul.

Without music, life would be a mistake.
Friedrich Nietzsche

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