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  • karenleehall

Ship's Log: Entry #3 July 22 - 28

Sunday, July 22nd The sky was overcast and today I got Things DONE. Without direct sun beating down on the world, the temperature was a few degrees cooler, enough to allow me to think, to move, to do. Unable to contact anyone, focus turns to the bloody chores. I love days like this because they give me reason to believe that in fact I can get ahead of the chores, I will have real time to do the things I really want to do, the list WILL get smaller. The list for today was:

1- Cook all the old beans, make dip and bean salad 2- Make a beautiful chicken broth 3- Find worms in the pineapple tea and discard it all 4- Work the compost heap, avoiding the fireants as I stir it up 5 -Kill another giant spider the dogs are sniffing around 6- FINISH THE LAUNDRY. Now that may sound simple, but I’m talking about handwashing dozens of t-shirts, 6 pairs of jeans and a jean jacket, 2 cotton sweaters, 4 sets of sheets, more pants, shorts, underwear, socks and towels. It took four days, and now its DONE 7- redo the schedule, Cast Day out of Days, Budget and Financing plan for “Early Birds” a truly lovely film to be made by my pal Cassandra Nicolaou 8- read “1Q84” between things. mesmerizing 9- nap a little bit 10- prune the sweet lemon trees After which there is no greater luxury, nothing that feels better than a groundwater shower. The ground sets its water temperature to impossibly refreshing. mmmmmm

I am satisfied with the chore list. Now I feel like starting the major project of filing properly all my photos. Six years of digital photography, literally 1000’s of images. It took me weeks to figure out how I would do this, and thus set up my protocol going forward — forever. I am only capable of the most basic filing, alphabetical, and so this project baffled me intensely. But now I can see it and so a week from now, when I predict I’ll be done, I’ll be inculcated with a protocol to handle all new photos once and for all. No more duplication, separate filing for no apparent reason, and temporary (often years long) loss of images. Very exciting.

We’ll work on the road next week before the kitchen, I think that’s sensible. Another storm and we’ll lose our road altogether. how long will I have to wait for a decent kitchen?

The ants are eating my crops when they are just emerged, just geminated. I can’t imagine they will survive such brutality. I’m going to try the Cinnamon cure. My fingers are crossed and double crossed.


Monday, July 23rd missed the 6:30 bus by that much. (“Get Smart”, anyone?) “1Q84” prepare to leave on the 11:20 bus Dogs accompany me to the bus, we play in the shade, anxiety overcomes me as 11:30 comes and goes and I think I missed it again. I need to get the phone paid, the internet paid, food….. at 11:45 it arrives.

I meet a beautiful woman on the bus, she comes to sit next to me and chat. Slender unlike the norm, and not a line on her face. She’s radiant. She speaks slowly enough that I can follow her, and we talk the whole way. She’s married to a Cuban who’s living in Miami and is a microbiologist. She has two children and several grandchildren (! she’s no older than me, I’m sure) and there’s one who is definitely her favourite. She lives in San Jose but she’s from here and we both agree it’ nicer here. Her mother died 3 months earlier and she’s here to settle the estate. We talk about immigration and she comments how it appears Canada isn’t letting in anyone from Latin America. I tell her the government of Canada is run by racists at the moment and it doesn’t represent me. She gives me her phone number and invites me for coffee anytime. I’m excited, and scared, and I take it. It’s very very hard for me to follow up on such invitations, as my crippling shyness kicks in. But one day….

Tuesday, July 24th oh glorious internet Facebook Twitter Pinterest Flickr Skype communication with the outside world Spent an hour and half repairing the road. Slow work with a shovel and work gloves. Satisfying, though.

If only the butterflies would come into the house and the wasps would stay out.

Harry returns from San Jose. Yay.

Wednesday, July 25th Don Bonifaco comes for an unexpected visit. And like a good Costa Rican, I am able to offer refrained beans, tortillas and fried plantain all of which I made myself. Harry plays him a beautiful song and invites him to join us later to go to Nicoya to see the festivities celebrating Guanacaste’s annexation to Costa Rica in 1874.

The celebrations are excellent to behold.

There’s gentle, traditional marimba music set up in the centre of the being park played by 3 older gentlemen being drowned out by blaring cumbia and meringue from the neighbouring beer tents. However a few drunks are clearly enthralled as they dance right beside the marimba making it impossible to photograph the players without the happy drunks also being in the shot. Good dancers though, I have to say, a lot of fluid complex moves coming out clearly unstable bodies. It’s as if the music is keeping them upright.

You can drink freely outside everywhere (one thing about Costa Rica that’s definitely most excellent, it is very much more relaxed about people having fun outside).

I become fascinated by the gaggles of teenage girls and their manner of dressing. There’s a terrific vibrance to them and I wish I were better prepared that I could stop and ask to take their portraits. By prepared, I mean mentally. I ask Pacho (Don Bonifaco) when the next time there might be a reason for everyone to congregate like this, he says next year. “doh”

People greet Don Pacho as they pass by. It’s as if his family is spread across the whole peninsula like a beneficial plant. It probably has. Everyone here has huge, huge, huge families.

At some point, I invite the men to have a beer or drink, and happily for me, they agree. We sit in the park and enjoy the passersby. The place is teeming and it’s so great. Lots of kids. Many generations, although not so many people Pacho’s age (he’s 95 – still rides his horse and works with it out in the pastures. No wonder his family is large, he’s a great grandfather to be sure and likely he could be a great, great grandfather considering how young people have kids here).

As we’re thinking of leaving, the streets fill with riders on horseback. The streets are already filled with pedestrians, and there’s a man on the back of a pick up truck with a microphone and he’s announcing winners of something. Turns out, if you are willing to sing a rhyme of your own devising, you get a small appliance or something. One woman not only sings, but she sticks her butt out and grinds happily on the announcer. He’s smiling. He then invites someone to some a dance with her and kid hops up and he happily sings and dances on his own, completely oblivious to the hypersexualized woman behind him craving his attention and not getting it. It’s all fun and games.

The horses are beautiful, and the riders come is all shapes and sizes. A few have small children perched on the saddles in front of them. Family entertainment of the very best kind. Everyone is wearing their best cowboy hats and plaid, sabanero shorts. At some point they start to advance, as a group, through the crowd.

As we leave, we see the cowboys who didn’t join the parade, lined up at the bar having beers. They are still on the their horses, lined up at the bar, having beers.

Then the bar next to the cowboy bar decides to attract takers and puts it’s music on so freaking loud that it sets off car alarms. At this point I stop having fun as stupidly loud anything annoys me. We leave.

Harry has continued to enjoy beers throughout and is gone past tipsy. He’s getting loud now too, but he’s a happy guy so it’s okay.

We pick up a friend on the road and he hops in the back. Turns out he’s a nephew of Pacho (naturally). Although at the time, we’re quite amazed. He explains to us some technique we can try to get rid of the marauding ants. He definitely sang well for his supper on this occasion, I’m desperate to annihilate these pests.

Unfortunately, for some reason that lays deep deep inside and which he can’t identify himself, Harry gets inexplicably mad at everything, and mostly at me. It’s irrational, nonsensical, and I’ve learned to ignore it but it’s not that easy because when in this state, he doesn’t let it go until he falls asleep. All my life I’ve lived with men who drink. I am perhaps a flame to their moth or something. It’s not fun.

Thursday, July 26th, The morning starts out with sober discussion about the night before. Every relationship has it’s bumps, and all my life I’ve kept mine secret. Out of respect for my partner, and out of a misplaced sense of shame perhaps. But now I think it’s time to acknowledge we have our bumps too. So what? everyone does and it doesn’t change anything as far as how strong we are.

Generally it’s a productive day, we visit Doña Consuelo and get her to arrange for workers to come and work on the road tomorrow. This is terrific bonus. She tells us there’s a meeting of the council on Saturday, Harry agrees to go. Harry is becoming a politician. the good kind, one who is only doing things for the betterment of the community.

Friday, July 27th, The workers come and work gets started. Breaking rocks, tossing rocks into the biggest holes, digging dirt and putting it into bags and hauling those bags in our car up the road. I’m the driver. The only thing missing is the sound of a slow, rhythmic chant sung in low, baritones.

Lunch at the most amazing ceviche place. It is truly a beautiful feast. I’ll share photos in another post. Expensive, but I worth it. One feels so invigorated after that much fish. The Olympic opening ceremonies are on the television. Which is more like a radio as there’s no picture, just the sound. It sounded pretty awesome. I shall have to find the games online.

Arrange for the delivery of material to get work started on Monday for the kitchen! This is most exciting

We try and get the San Jose mechanic to send the part we need for the car inspection and certification, yet he seems to fail. Everything everything everything takes a long time to accomplish. Not only do you need to move with purpose, but you need to cajole everyone else to do so too. And the more people that are required to do something, the longer it takes because you need to push each of these little stones along. It’s rather like one person moving two cars somewhere. You drive one ahead a few hundred meters, then walk back and get into the other one and drive it ahead of the first a few hundred meters. Get out and walk back and…

Saturday, July 28th Don Jesus delivers the building materials. It’s the wrong kind of cement. He agrees to return it for us and we’ll have to pick up the right stuff again on Monday. Three hardware stores we went to to find the right type of cement. And the third one sends the wrong stuff anyway. Do you see what I mean? And I get the feeling that the normal thing is to accept this with a shrub that says “well, what can you do?”.

Transplanted zinnias – I hope they grow they are a favourite.

Transplanted tomatoes – I hope they grow and produce, we eat a lot of tomatoes.

Planted Sunflower seeds. This meant cutting grass where I dug the holes, planting the seeds and them marking them with sticks so no one accidentally chops them down while mowing the lawn. If they grow, they will create the most lovely privacy wall at the back, where the bedroom windows look out.

Worked on a new Tax Credit App

Harry attended the council meeting and talked to the ladies there. He reports they were quite thrilled that he attended, and asked him all sorts of questions. He tried to keep it businesslike, and reminded them this road repair isn’t for his personal pleasure, but for the public pleasure. He asked for two men to work all week next week, and a backhoe to dig the hole and carry the giant cement culverts to place in the hole so the water is finally redirected away from the road. My fingers are crossed over and over and over.

It rained.

Harry prepared the best dinner ever while I worked at the computer. The dogs are so awesome, they are back in the fold now the Harry is here.

“Dr. Strangelove” Good night.

Originally published July 29, 2012

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