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Ship's Log: Entry #10 Sept 9-17


Sunday, Sept 9th Today there was a benefit event in the bullring in town, in el rondele. Yes, my town has a bullring. Your town has a hockey rink. PoTAYtoe / PoTAHtoe.

Bullriders from the all around came to try their and skill launching themselves through a gate riding huge, enormous, angry bulls. Everyone turned out. It was great, as always.

One of the houses in town had a major fire, basically the cement house equivalent of being burnt to the ground and this event was organized to raise money to help the woman and her family who lost everything. “Causa Noble” is what the Announcia Ajogada keeps referring to throughout his delivery. After awhile Harry and I suspect he may not know any details of this noble cause as he never references the woman, the house, the fire….

It’s marvellous fun. Our friend’s son executes a perfect ride. I love the kids running around in the ring taunting the bulls. Their moment in the spotlight. And there’s this other kid who occasionally does the announcing. He’s not very good, but soooo earnest that it’s great fun.

Today the guys who have to rope the bulls aren’t on horseback, but on foot. It is clearly a lot more work. I guess the horse-riding bull-wranglers were out of the charitable price range.

But of course, the real stars are the bulls themselves. Serious animals. Serious cajones. Really fun to watch as they dart and twitch and charge. One guy got close to being gored.

They passed around the hat, they raffled a pair of boots, some of the guys arrived on horseback to watch. All in all it was awesome.

Monday, Sept 10th Today I changed our flights, coming home Oct 17. Suddenly my mind fills with all the things I miss and shall soon have again. Wine, a variety of food, going to the movies, family and friends, talking in English, restaurants, my fall clothes. Today I planted 9 robust tomato plants one sweet red pepper and a sickly basil in between the yucca plants. Fingers crossed for the basil. Learned the difference between using fresh vs. composted manure to fertilize. Given the unknowns about the fresh stuff we have, I’m going to default to composted. The el ICE guys didn’t come Toño didn’t come. I am sensing something is going on in the bad blood dept, but I don’t’ know what it is. I suffered all day with an ear ache, and a tooth ache.

Tuesday, Sept 11th The tooth ache rules the day today. Can’t concentrate. Crap, crap, crap. Harry wants to take me to San Jose to deal with it. I’m going to wait it out for another day.

Heard the crazy news about the attack killing the ambassador in LIbya. Could it really be because of a YouTube video? Are certain Muslims that touchy? Is it a coincidence this happened on the anniversary of the attacks on 9/11?

Wednesday Sept 12th While I worked on my photos, Harry feeds me my concentrate! (a.k.a. cereal. The pigs’ food is ground corn, and is called concentrado….)

The tooth is actually worse, if that were possible.

While walking the dog, we come upon our imenense gris neighbour, Don Ricardo. He makes a comment about how Mariposa has killed 7 of their baby chickens (which is yikesville to be sure). Harry says “yes, and she’s been kept inside since we found out. We would like to contribute a chicken coop so they can be kept safely inside.” However Don Ricardo comments that really it’s the responsibility of the owners to contain their pets rather than their responsibility to contain their chickens. This from the guy who, when I had earlier asked him to please send back the dogs if they come over to his property retorts, ” Why do you want that?” My diplomatic reply was, “I want them close by, to guard the house” to which he said, ” Well, they can guard both houses, don’t you think?” In other words, “don’t be selfish, we can share, they are welcome at my house.” Sometimes I hate people.

It’s apparent that Mariposa is no longer in heat.

Thursday Sept 13 Toño comes to cut the grass. With a machete.

I’ve lost interest in cooking. I don’t know how some women do it.

In the afternoon who shows up, unexpectedly? The washing machine repair guy! Apparently we had a sock stuck in a filter. I didn’t know there was this filter. And why would a sock get stuck there? Why does it even have access to this filter? Wouldn’t it be prudent to create a block for the filter from socks and other debris like clothing?

I planted a few more tomatoes.

Fri Sept 14 Where’s Toño, (again)?

Found two caterpillars that had eaten my papaya tree leaves over night. What once were spry young trees are now flag poles waiting to die.

We take a ride in the car. Errands. But it’s an especially wonderful day. Not too hot, everything is green and lush. I feel like a newborn lamb, all the weight is lifted from our bodies and we are springing from place to place.

Getting things ‘done’ in Costa Rica is like getting your tooth pulled by a herd of caterpillars. However apt, I guess that metaphor may have been influenced by my recent tooth pain and today’s caterpillar pillage.

We have a special lunch of ceviche at the best ceviche place in all of Costa Rica. Funny that it is in cattle country. But this place is fantastic!

We visit Sixto at the farm where he works. It’s pretty there. One of the dogs has a gross skin condition, apparently it’s crazy contagious which is why it can’t be tamed on this poor beast. It looks like the small patch Mariposa has been developing. Oh god.

I finally finished planting the tomato sprouts. All that’s left is to transfer the larger, non-fruiting plants to see if they like being out in the field better.

We stop by Mylene and Mincho’s to see if she’s alright because apparently she started to bleed (?) yesterday and went to the hospital. She’s days away from her due date so we hope all’s well. The kids are at her house, not her. When asked how she is, the answer is “fine”. Then Royner does a pantomime of what we later understand to be the birth of the child.

Mylene is at her mother-in-law’s house (the next one over) with her baby. This little girl in my arms, only 24 hours old, is precious. It’s amazing as hell to hold such a newborn.

I finished “The Reluctant Social LIfe f Hermit Crabs” movie, but I am unable to post. This little internet stick offers a very weak connection. It’s just like having your tooth pulled by caterpillars.

Sat Sept 15 Get to post video of “The Reluctant Social LIfe f Hermit Crabs” finally, but I did have to use a much inferior resolution to make the file small enough for the damn data stick. I’m not sure the photos were worth posting…

My Dad’s 80th birthday is in less than 10 days, and I’m working out some ideas for that project. I want to send a video letter to him, since I won’t be there in person to celebrate. But it’s tough. My brain can’t seem to find the right combination of ideas, nothing is gelling. We have a complicated relationship.

Applied manure to the ground around the orange tree, it’s leaves are looking a little yellow. I’m not sure manure will cut it. Does manure have potassium? Another question for the internet.

I’m wondering about this new ability to learn anything you want online. Has the internet suddenly given people a false sense of available expertise? Is it a good ting that someone could think they’ve learned all they need to know to start an entirely new venture for which they have no training at all? No supervision? No mentorship? Hmmmm.

I’ve become that person who talks baby talk to their dogs.

Sunday Sept 16 We’ve lost Willie. He’s often gone for the first hour of the morning. We call, but it can be half an hour or more before he shows up. But he always does, supremely happy, usually soaking wet, and ready to eat. But today, he didn’t come back. By 11 am I have to concede that something is not right.

What has changed? Suddenly we’re trying to think like a dog. And we’re out of our depth

Where could he have gone? Why would he go? How did this happen? In fact, what’s happening? What do we do to find him?

We ask the neighbours, they haven’t seen him all day, but Teresa mentions there were some men, late last night, who passed by on the ‘road’. Their dogs were crazy barking. I remember. The suggestion is made — perhaps they took Willie. Another neighbour, one who used to be ‘close’ to Teresa, once said he liked Willie so much, he could steal him. And now, this becomes the prime directive, the clear reason for Willie’s disappearance. Because, the reasoning goes, if he could be back home he would be back home. It informs our efforts. And it’s heart wrenching.

Yet I’m pretty sure I heard him barking at dawn. Harry is skeptical.

Now I have been imagining him hidden in a garage, on a chain, kept out of visibility. Alone and scared. We search the town, we search beyond the town. I can’t contain my fear and break down while calling his name in vain. It’s a shock. I realize this must be a tiny tiny tiny bit what parents of kidnapped kids feel like. Horrible.

It starts to thunder and lightening. Willie is terrified of the thunder. If he were free, he for sure would run home, wouldn’t he? Is this proof he’s been taken?

But it’s hard for me to reconcile this. Why would someone steal a dog? Harry says people are covetous of large dogs that are beautiful and healthy. Our niece had her husky stolen in San Jose – twice.

Wouldn’t Mariposa have gotten agitated if some men had taken WIllie? Yet she seems fairly normal all day. ( I know they’ve been having their issues recently, but I don’t think so much so that she’d see him kidnapped and act like nothing happened.)

I say, what if he’s in the mountain, hurt, or dying from a snake bite? shouldn’t we look there? We start walking up the mountain. We’re so desperate for help, for direction, we actually start to follow Mariposa as she bounds from one great smell to the next, as if maybe she were tracking Willie. We just get into brambles and realize the futility. It’s an enormous mountain. And dog’s don’t really need to follow paths. Rarely do when free.

Harry pragmatically suggests we might be aided by the sight of circling vultures. But the forest is thick, the sky isn’t visible and we can’t get to the top of the mountain from where we are. Besides, he says, that wouldn’t actually happen until after Willie were dead. Grizzly. I’m completely devastated.

We go down the hill again, to look again for him in the town, calling his name. Some friends are on the road and we explain what’s happened, ask if they could keep an eye out. They do not believe anything malignant has happened, they say no one steals dogs in this town. Their theory is that Willie has found a bitch in heat. He could be gone for days. I feel a touch of hope.

At night, Harry wants to ask another friend what he might know about dog theft in this town. His friend confirms this is quite possible, he’l ask his criminal friends and if they know about what happened, he’ll make sure we get our dog back.

We have to wait until tomorrow because the rain is fierce and no one is out. It’s freaking awful. I actually pray.

Monday Sept 17 Willie is returned!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A lovely young teen appears holding him by the collar. He had walked all the way up our road in what would clearly have been an awkward position. Quietly he explains that he has a female in heat and Willie appeared in the morning. He started barking when he heard our car pass, and was looking up to el cerro when it started to rain. They asked around to find out who’s dog it was. A worker said the dog had followed him down the hill, that it was from el cerro. So he walked Willie up the hill to see if he could find us.

We are a puddly mess of relief and over-share our unbridled love with the dog. Mariposa is invisible today.


Originally published October 13, 2012

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