Dec 17, 2013 Tuesday
The last day of Shore Leave never goes as planned. But why, though? There were so many days before this one where I could have easily and comfortably done my chores? Why, she asked. It has been two and half months of being relatively speaking chore-free. Perhaps I was revelling in that freedom a touch more than I should? But also, it was 2 months of waiting. Waiting for Harry. Waiting to return.
Today is about visiting, dropping off stuff, cleaning up, finishing packing. Repacking so everything fits AND weighs out. Slightly repacking again to revise which things will make the journey this time. But that’s normal stuff. Today there’s a unique puzzle to solve. I have to put everything I own away — somewhere else — before I go. I can’t leave stuff behind where I’m staying, where I’m renting, and where I’ll be catching a cab in the morning. It all has to go somewhere else first. Things like a car. Like winter clothes and boots. And — and this is the bitch of it — literally a van load of my projects. How to define projects? Let’s call them craft projects and that will cover the gamut. 20 or more boxes of projects plus major items I was trying to Kijiji and didn’t succeed in selling and so have to haul back to storage for another time. It will take a van to move it out of here.
Fast forward to 9pm and I’m still loading the van. The car is stored in its parking spot so this is the last major task before returning the van and cabbing it home. Love the snow. At the storage unit, this shit’s so heavy. Over 30 loads, by myself. Every minute getting closer to wanting to put a match to it all and just walking away. Finally it’s all in. It barely fits but it’s in. Drive back to the gate for the final exit and — it won’t open. What? check the sign to learn the gate locks for the night at 10pm, not 11 as I thought. Doh! Vain attempts to call someone. No one’s there. So my hourly rental van is locked in and I have an early morning flight.
But no, I can do this. The gate opens at 5am, I don’t have to leave for the airport until 6. So I cab home to finish packing and get my regulation 3 hours of sleep before getting up to finish this damn job. Add $100 to the cost of life and move on.
Dec 18, 2013 Wednesday
Early – cab to storage unit – rented van returned – cab home to get bags – close up the house dropping the key through the mail slot in the door then off to the airport. I’m transporting 4 large suitcases full of family treasure (earned as a result of the folks making the big change from house to condo).
Airport a zoo. Helpful person runs through the prompts on the kiosk for me (I’m not sure why, but nice. So rare that people randomly offer help anymore I don’t want to ask the obvious question why she thinks I need it. is it the 4 unwieldy bags precariously balanced on a faulty cart?) She’s continues to try the prompts but it still doesn’t change the fact that today is not the day of my flight. it is tomorrow. so in the end, no matter her saintly intentions, even she couldn’t help me get me in the air today.
okay, so wow, that’s a first.
I dump the crazy-ass huge heavy bags into storage. (Add $35 to the cost of life)
Call the lovely woman in the basement apt to see if she’s home and can let me in to the lovely house I was renting because I’m staying another day and dropped my key through the mail slot this morning. Second call is to Harry to let him know I’m not actually coming till tomorrow. First call a success. Second one not so much.
Cab back to Toronto. (Add $70) Get back in. The whole place is peaceful, clean and quiet. Message a dear friend that I’m available to hang out after all. Receive messages from two people looking to buy some kijiji items I had for sale. So, after sleeping the day away I arrange to meet them at the storage unit. The same one that held my rental van hostage the night before. I arrive and we meet only to discover I hadn’t brought the keys. I dash back in another cab to grab them and return 12 minutes later, but the first guy had to catch his train. However a second buyer looking for a larger item waits, and it all made the stupid trip worth while. The sale of the Mac Pro will definitely cover the costs of cabs, additional van rental, luggage storage, and whatever else. So, feeling mildly successful after all I visit my pal. then go home. sleep properly.
Dec 19, 2013 Thurs
Cab. Airport. Grab luggage from storage. Check in. Pay outrageous cost for extra luggage (at least $100 more than last time). Go through ritual humiliation of security check. Arrive at lounge in time for breakfast and downgrade my fido plan. Have an uneventful flight. It’s a rouge flight so no movies unless you have a fully charge device to receive them on. So I read. From a paper-based object (a magazine & a book). What a refreshing change. I am suddenly infused with nostalgia.
Arrive. Good landing. Easy entry. No one asks me anything so, in fact I didn’t need to book that fake flight out of the country 3 months later to confirm my exit from the country. I collect my tower of luggage and pass through the strange Costa Rican second security scanner. Only one bag illicits interest — the one with the bocce ball set. I wonder what they thought it was on the x-ray? It’s pretty fun when they open and see the balls. There’s lots of exclaiming. I think they asked me to open the bag just to satisfy their curiosity, not because it posed a threat.
Harry greets me with our big black dog Willie. It’s a pretty awesome welcome. In fact, it is the most awesome. He looks great. They both do, though skinnier than I remembered. The truck is so cool, I’m incredibly happy to be back.
Drive home. Yet not. It turns out there was a problem with the electricity at the house; there is none. My first thought is, “oh is it something in the wiring?” It’s old, done by the guy who built the house and very DIY that way. If a taped together connection came apart, or an animal got in and chewed or any number of possible scenarios happened, it could easily render us without power. My mind sets up all sorts of scenarios except the one that’s in play. We were cut of for not paying the bills. So all the times I dutifully sent money for the bills, I ponder, what happened instead? This will become a much longer conversation for another time. First I focus on solutions.
I ask a number of normal questions but get only bizarre answers. Why don’t we stop in Nicoya on the way back and pay the bill? Then they can turn the power back on by tomorrow? Maybe. Why maybe? Because they removed the meter, so it needs to be reinstalled. WTF? Why remove the meter?
Okay at this point just imagine me repeating that question at various different volumes with a number of different intonations devolving into weak pleading sounds. Imagine a mind melted down with incredulousness. My brain circles this fact and can’t find any relief; and logical answer. I have to wait until we are at Coopeguanacaste to ask them myself wtf.
We do ass through Nicoya for something, to get something done, but not pay the bill, it’s too late or something. Who knows, I can’t recall, my mind has suffered a short.
So we go to Geranios. Local hotel run by a friend. I can’t unpack. I can’t go home and see the dogs and the piggies and my lovely place. I’m consigned to limbo. Happiness has quickly faded and I feel I’m being forced to continue to wait to get to where I want to be.
Dec 20, 2013 Fri
Harry leaves early to take care of the animals and comes back. We are served a lovely breakfast by our friend, Jorge, who usually doesn’t offer breakfast at his hotel. We enjoy a truly lovely talk with him. Then off to Nicoya to pay the damn Coopeguancaste electric bill. So, after the usual 40minute wait to be served, they gladly take our money and then, and only then, we discover they won’t fix the electric right away. No, an inspection needs to be conducted. They insist this will be a new service. It will be treated as if we never existed, as if there wasn’t electric service to this address for the past 40 years. After the inspection then there will an assessment if we have everything up to code or if we will need to upgrade our service first. Once we pass an inspection then they will then schedule someone else to come and re-install the meter.
I understand from Harry we might not pass this inspection. We will need to work on getting ourselves up to code before Tuesday. What? How do we do that? How do we know what we need to do? Harry ways we’ll ask Waddy. ( another story for another time)…
The utter weirdness of it all. I’m still in shock. I ask Harry to please ask why the hell they removed the meter. Because we hadn’t paid in three months. Why didn’t they just cut of the power? No one seems to know. The more we ask questions, the more forced the smile of the guy serving us. Kafka would be proud. Because here’s the kicker, the account we set up when the house passed from Don Eloy to us two years ago got lost in their computer system after the first month. We had been paying our electricity bill under Eloy’s name since because, well, that’s the account it was going to. No matter how often I asked them to please switch the billing over to our name. No matter how many times I was told either yes, we’ll fix that or no, you need to come it with Eloy and all your proof of ownership, birth certificates, passports and cedula before we can switch the account. No matter – none of it mattered — nothing ever changed and that’s the leverage they now have over us. That’s how they are going to get us to pay for a reinstallation. And in the end that’s what this is all about. I’m convinced. This was their chance to extract coin. Now my mind can rest because the true answer to all of this has been revealed.
We buy supplies to enclose pig shed with screen so the bats can’t get in to bite and infect them. Without any light to scare them away, they have been having a field day on our animals – those damn vampires.
We go home to enclose pig shed. It’s amazing and bittersweet to see our beautiful place again. It’s a tough job. It goes late. It get’s dark. In the end we are miserable.
Dinner at Geranios.
Dec 21, 2013 Sat
We visit Don Eloy and and Doña Jenarina, our friends who we bought the place from. Of course they can’t conceive of not paying the bill for three months. I say nothing as I ardently agree with them. But awesomely enough Don Eloy has a generator for sale. Even more remarkably, while I was in Toronto my mom suggested she’d like to buy us a generator as a gift. So the deal is done.
Our last night at Geranios. Jorge has been the most awesome host. He built a beautiful pizza oven and makes the thinnest crust pizza I may have ever eaten. Divine.
And with the generator secured, I begin to work out we can go back home. I can finally unpack my treasures. We can wait until Christmas eve for this damn inspection. What else could we need? A few hours of electricity, cooking over a fire. We have our own well water and… then I realize. The water is delivered by an electric pump. We can’t get water without electricity. The generator isn’t the right voltage for the pump so it won’t help power it. It won’t work. There are animals to water. Now I’m really angry.
Dec 22, 2013 Sun
Nothing to report except the generator works and I reacquaint myself with el fogon. (cook fire). We eat something simple from food not needing refrigeration. We have internet for half an hour. We sleep in our own bed. Tomorrow we will camp out at Coppeguanacaste until they give us electricity. This is now an issue of humane treatment of animals. not just our inconvenience. We’ll call them on their humanity.
Originally published January 8, 2014