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Ship's Log: Entry 4 July 30 - Aug 5


Sunday, July 30 I spent Sunday working on a new tax credit application. It was a lovely day and hard to be inside.

Also, I make the decision to use photos in the header of my Ship’s Log entries – I found several lovely square format pictures I took a while back with the iPhone using the Hipstamatic app. Hence the new look. I hope people enjoy it as much as I do.


Monday, July 31 – HAPPY HOLIDAY CANADA Walberto started work prepping to build the new kitchen counter.

! ! ! ! ! !

He had to haul the material (stones and sand) up from the bottom of the hill – mountain – whatever this is we live on – on an ATV because the road is still in such a state that the delivery truck couldn’t make it. I should take a video of climbing the hill on this road before it’s repaired. It would be funny. A real rodeo ride.

I am insanely excited about the prospect of the kitchen being finished. Harry went around and worked out a bunch of things with people, including confirming the municipality will start work on road repair next Monday. He was supposed to leave for Quepos, but it is delayed.

Full moon. We sit outside at night and make calls to Harry’s Dad and his brother, both who have birthdays today. The light is so magical. We moon bathe. I never want to leave. I wish I could shoot a movie in this light. Everything is clearly visible, only it’s all in black and white and grey. It’s a movie world unto itself. I feel like my life is a movie at that moment. Harry’s smile lingers on in my mind, even now as I write this.


Tuesday, Aug 1 Walberto and another guy (my god I’m so idiotic for not knowing his name) arrive and take down the old, remarkably destroyed-by-bugs wooden counter, saving as much of the white tile as they can for my later use (I am going to create a mosaic in the bathroom). Now there’s no sink in the kitchen, I have to use the laundry sink at the back of the house. No biggie.

Apparently the pigs are ready to be picked up, but we’re not ready to have pigs. Harry goes out to buy a sack of pig food and arrange for them to stay where they are until we have a place to keep them.

It’s a physical life here. One is lifting, moving, wringing, digging, hauling, whatever, all day long. And I’m extremely right handed so my right side feels like a Popeye arm while my left side continues to be slender, loose and free of pain. So I’m trying to use my left hand as much as my right. Which means about a thousand times a day I find myself switching to my left hand. Basically whatever I start to do naturally, I have to stop and switch hands.

Harry doesn’t leave yet for Quepos. The car is now officially expired. Now that Harry has learned the fine is “only” $20, I know the plan to get the registration will extend on into next week or more. It’s pretty interesting to be in the hands of another after a lifetime of being the captain of my own fate.

Lifting wood, I suddenly remember to switch to my left hand for that.

I constructed a computer table out of some lovely scraps of wood and cinder blocks. It’s perfect. Finally I have a computer table that’s the right height. My neck says thanks very much.


Wednesday, Aug 2 Walberto and his friend build and install the moulds for the counter using plywood and rebar. It is very cool to watch the work. They pour the concrete before leaving for the day. This is very exciting to me.

Car is still at Mincho the mechanic’s. He’s repairing the handbrake, and it’s not done. The plan for Harry to go to Quepos to get it’s yearly safety and emissions test via a friend who’s ‘connected’ gets revised to taking it to Nicoya. Harry will stay here.

Today I planted Chives, Black Seeded Simpson and Red Garnett lettuces, and celery.
Sweat just pouring down, into my eyes. Constantly reminding myself to do things with my left hand.

Harry started the pig pen. Our neighbour is helping him (by doing it) while he tears down the shed to use it’s corrugated tin for the roof on the pig pen. Harry has an idea about how to rebuild the shed walls using wood. So I await the results.

I learned to plane a piece of wood and started on the beautiful piece we happened to have. It’s much easier to remember to switch from right to left, tiring work. Here people create wood planks from trees using chainsaws. Hence the surface has uneven, large circular gouges carved into it. The planks are always wide as well, making each piece of wood seem like an artefact. This wood is beautifully striated with reddish with blonde colour. It’s going to be a lovely surface. I’ll plane it, sand it, varnish it and then set it on legs that are exactly the right height for short-waisted little me. And throughout I’ll regularly forget and then remember to use my left hand.

Harry returns with the car, but he drove with the handbrake on because we’ve become accustomed to not having a handbrake. It’ll need some tightening up before the safety/emissions test.

Discovered that Mariposa is in heat. (Dang, I missed my opportunity to have her spayed before her first heat) So we brought her in to keep her away from the marauding males that roam freely. She loves being inside. Loves being inside. Loves loves loves being inside. She’s a princess at heart.

It rained like the devil. I go out to the porch to find Willy. I call and call. Finally he makes the dash through the torrent. I dry him off with his doggie towel, but he won’t be comforted. He won’t be consoled. What ever could be the matter? This cheerful dog never sulks. I go in and puzzle over it. It’s not the rain, he’s safe and dry now. What could be the matter? Poor soul thought he was being punished being the sole member of the family left outside. Of course I invite him in and he’s so incredibly happy that my heart literally melts.

All night I’m in love with having them inside. Love having them inside. I love, love, love, love it.


Thursday August 3 The morning had an odd start as Harry bolted out the door before coffee saying he’d be right back, and to pour his cup. I waited 4 hours. Well, of course I didn’t just sit and wait, but it’s distracting when you wonder where someone has gotten to. Walberto was there for work. And our neighbour Sobrino Eloy showed up at 9 to continue work on the pig pen, still no Harry. Forgot his phone. (I heard it ring as I tried to call.) I didn’t know Eloy was coming, or what he was supposed to do. We did finally establish that he would get to work on the roof for the pig pen, so, for me, as long as people know what they are doing and can just get to it, it’s fine.

Walberto is here alone today, making the shelves and doing the fine work on the surfaces. But I accomplished little, so distracted I was about the cold cup of coffee waiting for a man who insisted he was coming right back.

The pig pen roof frame is up and it’s really high. And the pig pen is going to be enormous. And it’s right in the line of sight from the front porch. Hmmmm.

At almost noon I decide it’s time to go looking and so I start off with the dogs at my feet. I only get part way down our road before Harry returns.

I am getting tired again of neighbours yelling over the fence about every little thing. Transplanted some seedlings. No, Left Hand.

I point out how very large the pig pen is. Harry agrees, it’s pretty grand. henceforth it shall be the Pig Palace. El Palacio Porcino.

Washing up the clothes, no, left hand, left hand, left hand.

Confirm with Walberto that we’d like him to build the second counter in concrete. Agree on the price. Very exciting to think it too will be done before long. (The alt idea whas to have built it in wood, but we don’t yet have a carpenter lined up, etc. etc.)

I start the project of filing all the damn electronic files I have all over the place in different hard drives and computers. It’s so apparent I’m the worst filer ever. Duplication of duplicates.. Focusing on the visual material to start, to help with the inevitable boredom. It helps a little. A very, very little.

Harry asks if I’d like to go with him and a friend to town to pick up some smoke. I say no thinking I can accomplish lots while he’s away, and because I don’t smoke so I sort feel like it’s not for me. But he’s out for the night, and I’m sitting in front of the computer moving and deleting files thinking, “This isn’t boring, I AM boring”.

What’s wrong with me? When did I become this person who doesn’t go out, ever?


Friday, August 4 Homesick. I linger too long on Facebook and email and every other electronic connection between me and Canada. Then the dogs bark and I realize it is also so hard to be away from them when I am in Canada.

What have I done?


Saturday, August 5th 
Wake up late because of 2 beers last night. What the hell is happening to me that I can’t drink two beers without a hangover?

Today we are meant to leave for San Jose. My concerns are: ants eating the plants while we are gone; Toño not watering them and all the little sprouts shrivelling up for good; the dogs. Leaving them isn’t ideal, bringing them also has its issues – like having dogs at your family’s house when they aren’t set up for dogs.

A long day it was today. I had trouble with the post “Girls before Women”. Unclear still how to format the page with anything other than a list of photos. After much trial and error, it appears to be okay.

Had to make something to eat as we were both dying of hunger.

Then I can leave, late, for Nicoya to pick up the supplies Walberto needs to start the second counter while Harry works like a nut replacing the walls of the shed he removed to get the pig palace started. The shed is where the night watchmen sleeps while we are away.

I need to get plywood, nails, and some wood for the forms for the concrete. In Costa Rican Spanish, plywood is spelled pleivo: pronounced “PLA-woo”. I guess, like “FAE-boo” (Facebook), there wasn’t a word for plywood in Spanish originally.

It’s fun to get the supplies, even though I’m in a crazy hurry to get back so we can leave and not be late for my father-in-law’s birthday party, because I succeed in explaining myself very well. I even query a previous purchase which was in dispute, and fully understand the answer.

The guys from the warehouse affix the PLAYwoo to the top of the car for me and off I go back home. On the main road, travelling the max 60 km and hour, about 8 km down, I here this fabulous crack like the sound of a tree trunk cracking from lightening and see a huge chunk of PLAYwoo fly off behind me. Thankfully there wasn’t a car on the road behind. Holy shit. Get out. The sheet is split into three, broken at the point where the strapping was. Go back, pick up the chunk, try to affix it to the rest on top of the car, and go back. Now I’m disastrously late and feeling bad; I know how important this party is for Harry. He calls as I’m picking up the chunk of wood from the road where it flew off a second time. Back at the store, well, the store policy is transportation is my responsibility and once I leave the lot, they aren’t responsible. I argue that if they don’t understand how to affix material to a car, they shouldn’t offer to do it. The man is sympathetic. I buy another sheet of ply and attach it myself.

It’s now 2 hours after the point we should have left for San Jose. Harry’s friend Jerry calls, are we in San Jose? No, we’re still here.

Home, the usual flurry, recriminations, and difficulty getting the dogs into the car. Harry starts out at the helm and Mariposa is in my arms and struggling like a mad thing to jump out of the window. Oh dear god dog, don’t make us have to close the windows. She starts a crazy routine of dashing under the driver’s seat, going to the back, worming her way back out from under the drivers seat in a b-line to my open window. It’s madness. She doesn’t let up for an hour.

Harry and I switch so I can drive and he can contain the weird banshee dog.

Drive like mad, but the main highway is closed. So it’s a different route, still winding up, up, up, up, up but instead of a new, 4 lane highway, it’s an old, 2 lane road. We make it, albeit late, and all’s well. Food, cake, the rest of the folks leave and we settle in with the diehards – Harry’s brothers, Beto the neighbour, and Jenny our niece. The dogs are fine, all is fine. Much rum, music, conversation, laughter and it’s a good time. I crash at midnight, and per usual, the men are up until dawn. So it was a day that never stopped.


Originally published August 7, 2012

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