Meet The Neighbor

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No.1 Sis and I walked down to the main road, merely yards from our houses, to wait for the bus into The Big City. There was already a man standing there. He was tall and scruffy and had no teeth.

MR. NO TEETH (ARTIST'S RENDERING)

MR. NO TEETH (ARTIST’S RENDERING)

We nodded politely to Mr. No Teeth and wished him a good morning. He realized he was among fellow Americans, and started to tell us his Costa Rica story.

Mr. No Teeth had arrived in C.R. about the same time we did, seven weeks ago. He spent the first week at motel on the Caribbean coast.

I felt some stinging sensations on my feet.

As he was leaving the motel to catch the bus to San Luis, he locked the keys in his room, as per the landlord’s instructions. Unfortunately, he realized too late that he had locked his only suitcase in the motel room, too.

The feet-stinging was getting more frequent. I looked down, and saw that my feet were swarming with fire ants. I shook and stamped my feet to try to dislodge the little buggers.

Mr. No Teeth continued his story without interruption. He narrated how, even though he had locked all his worldly possessions in his motel room, he didn’t want to miss the bus. He left the bag inside and got on the bus, which took him hundreds of miles away.

Meanwhile, the ants were stinging me like crazy. I bent over in half, a feat I can only accomplish in the most dire of emergencies, and started picking ants off my feet and crushing them, one at a time. My alarmed No.1 Sis dug through her backpack and found some bug spray.

Mr. No Teeth continued his story, oblivious to all the panicked gyrations occurring a few feet in front of him.

He indicated the outfit he was wearing. It was, he said, a thirty year old tee shirt given to him by his wife (now ex-wife) and warm-up pants loaned to him by his neighbor.

The ants coughed a little at the the bug spray, and then laughed, crawling deeper into my shoes. I took off my shoes and beat my own feet with them.

Mr. No Teeth called the motel after arriving here in San Luis. He asked the landlord to mail his suitcase to him. It’s been six weeks now, and he still hasn’t received his bag. Imagine that.

I wanted to go up to him, grab him by the thirty year old tee shirt and scream in his face, “You don’t knowingly drive hundreds of miles from everything you own, then ask for it to be mailed to you IN A COUNTRY WITHOUT MAIL SERVICE, YOU STUPID GIT!”

He was fortunate that I was still preoccupied with doing the roadside Hokey Pokey.

The Hokey Pokey. It really is what it’s all about.

MORE OF "DOWNTOWN" SAN LUIS

MORE OF “DOWNTOWN” SAN LUIS

Stay tuned…

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy

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No.1 Sis and I had planned on taking the bus to Tilaran on Monday, so we could shop for groceries. It rained, so we stayed home.

Then on Tuesday, it rained, so we stayed home again.

On Wednesday, we arose to another rainy day. We figured if we waited until it stopped raining here in Costa Rica, with the two seasons of wet and wetter, we’d soon starve to death.

I told myself what Dad used to tell me when I didn’t want to be outside in the rain. “You ain’t made of sugar. You ain’t gonna melt.”

So into town we went. I didn’t melt, but I sure got soaked. Turns out my Eddie Bauer raincoat isn’t water-proof. What good is a raincoat that isn’t waterproof? It just gave me another wet thing to lug around town.

Eddie Bauer raincoat

WATERPROOF, MY FULL AND GENEROUS BOTTOM

Tilaran is rather lacking in street signs, and there don’t seem to be any maps available on line. I drew myself a map so I could find stores, and the post office, and the bank, and the library again. Unfortunately, I seem to have thrown that map away last time I cleaned my purse. Oops.

As we wandered about Tilaran in the rain, we made the most wonderful discovery! We found a libreria. A libreria is a bookstore. And, in addition to books, they sell my favorite thing in the whole, wide world. Office supplies.

I sold all of my office supplies and most of my arts and crafts supplies in the big estate sale in August. It wasn’t easy (emotionally speaking). But I did it.

Now I’m here in C.R. with nothing to do.

I didn’t go crazy. I bought a few sheets of card stock, a couple of stickers, a little notebook, and a sharpie. It felt so good. SO GOOD! Is there something wrong with me? Don’t answer that.

HAPPY, HAPPY, JOY, JOY

HAPPY, HAPPY, JOY, JOY

Stay tuned…

No.1 Sis And The Broken Housekeeper

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Included in our crazy rent here in Costa Rica ($675 for me and $600 for No.1 Sis) is a housekeeper once a month.

We’ve been here a month, and Sis has already broken the housekeeper.

MI CASA & SAILORS ON LAKE ARENAL

MI CASA & SAILORS ON LAKE ARENAL

The housekeeper’s name is Mayra, and she came to my house on Wednesday. Even with my limited Spanish and her lack of English, I managed to communicate which bedrooms and bathrooms needed to be cleaned and where all the supplies were. I also said I was going out and I’d return before 3:00. I knew that’s when she had to catch the bus for home.

I went to lunch with No.1 Sis, and came home about 2:00. Mayra left about 3:00. All good.

On Friday, Mayra came to clean No.1 Sis’s house. Sis asked me if Mayra had brought herself a lunch on Wednesday. I told that I didn’t think so. As a matter of fact, when I returned from lunch that day, Mayra had said, “Yo faim”, and rubbed her stomach. Then she chuckled and went about her business.

The thing you have to know about Ticos (Costa Ricans) is that they’re very non-confrontational. They don’t want to embarrass you, or make you feel uncomfortable. So “I’m hungry” is a pretty broad hint.

The thing you probably already know about most Americans is that we’re pretty direct. Hell, I can be damn obtuse even when people are direct with me. I don’t do subtle.

So it took Mayra’s comment about being hungry put together with Sis’s question about lunch for me to realize it was my responsibility to provide lunch for Mayra. Epic fail.

On Friday, before Sis and I went to lunch, we asked Mayra if we could bring her back something from the restaurant (making her eat our cooking would have been cruel). A salad with chicken, perhaps? Perfecto. No.1 Sis for the win.

But then, No.1 Sis went above and beyond. She gave Mayra a tip. Insisted. Mayra did the Minnesota refusal (say no three times) and Sis finally had to tuck the money into her bag. Mayra responded with many thanks and hugs and kisses.

So you see my dilemma. I’m between a rock and a hard place, with a broken housekeeper. Of course, I’ll feed Mayra next time she’s here, but if I don’t give her a tip, I look very cheap. If I do give her a tip, I’ll get hugs and kisses, which will make me very uncomfortable.

What should I do?

Stay tuned…

 

 

 

 

5 Important Lessons Learned During My First Month In Costa Rica

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DOWNTOWN SAN LUIS

DOWNTOWN SAN LUIS

 

 

In the first month I’ve been living in Costa Rica, I’ve learned a few hard lessons.

LESSON #1: LEARN AT LEAST A FEW KEY WORDS IN SPANISH.

The other night a truck drove slowly through town, blaring a message beginning (in Spanish), “All of San Luis, come to the school now”. I didn’t understand the rest.

I ignored it, figuring it was a religious revival of some sort. I don’t want to be saved.

I told No.1 Sis about it the next day and wondered aloud, “What if it had been calling for an evacuation because the nearby volcano has erupted? In that case, I do want to be saved!”

Sis scoffed and said, “Just listen for the word ‘volcan'”. Dear Sis knows about six words in Spanish, and one of them is the word for volcano. Those are survival skills of the highest magnitude.

LESSON #2: ALWAYS CLEAN ALL FOOD PREP, COOKING, AND EATING SURFACES IMMEDIATELY.

Immediately, as in before you even eat, when possible. Costa Rica has tiny, nearly invisible little ants that get everywhere. On the floor, on the counters, in the sink, on the hot stovetop, INSIDE the microwave.

The only place I haven’t seen them is inside the refrigerator, so now I keep everything in there. I’d sleep in there if I could.

LESSON #3: YOU CAN GET BY INDEFINITELY WITHOUT UNDERWEAR.

I only know this because the airline lost one piece of my luggage. The one with all my underwear.

LESSON #4: DO NOT EVER, EVER EXPECT TO GET MAIL IN COSTA RICA.

I have one dear friend who is not well-connected electronically and she wants me to write her letters. On paper. Sent through the mail.

I posted the first one last week. She should get it in about three more weeks.

But she won’t be able to reply. There are no addresses in Costa Rica. There is no home delivery. There is no Post Office in San Luis.

There is a Post Office in Tilaran, from whence I mailed the aforementioned letter. I inquired about a rental box there. It’s $45 per month. I’m a retired old lady on a fixed income. I’m not paying $45 per month for a P.O. box.

By the way, it cost $2.50 to mail that letter. That may be the last one my friend ever gets.

LESSON #5: BRING CHEESE.

You know how I feel about cheeses. Enough said.

Stay tuned…