27 June 2015

No, Sir. We Have A Safeway Back Home

Rusty calls it coffee pal; I call it alcohol before 6:00 A.M. Way to go, darling!

Rusty takes his coffee with Baileys Irish Cream, or back in Texas with Carolans Cream if the Baileys is too expensive . . . or with Amarula, if he’s in an Africa frame of mind.

Amarula: my personal favorite, but trust me, you don’t want to know how it’s made. Okay, I’ll tell you. The elephant eats the fruit/seed of the Amarula tree; poos it out because 96% of what any elephant eats is poo’d out; and the fruit/seeds are gathered for this delicious, creamy coffee pal. Anyway, lest the Amarula be off-putting, Baileys is available in Samara; and it isn’t much more expensive than in Texas. Our version of Safeway, The Super Green Iguana (Iguana Verde) has Amarula and it’s less expensive than Baileys; so Rusty has a choice, and life is grand.

We spend a tremendous amount of money on alcohol – I know, you’re stunned. When we add up our expenses for our first month in country (the month of June), I suspect we’re going to fall over our cliff when the number budgeted for alcohol exceeds by ten times its allotment.

24 June 2015

Operation Dinner Out is a GO. Confirm

Rusty and I enjoy eggs in all their forms. I recently joined a FB Costa Rica expat group. Its members seem to spend an inordinate amount of time discussing their allegedly ridiculously-healthy diets, fit bodies, and insane exercise routines. They dwell for days on whether or not eggs are healthy. Some say they are, some say they're not. My take? I'm inclined to agree with them. At first I thought that the posts were sarcasm at its best. When someone posts, I got up at 5:00, biked 15K, swam for an hour, ran 10K, and had a bowl of yoghurt and granola . . . all before I went to the gym, I assume that this must be sarcasm. But I've come to believe that these expats really enjoy a good fight about diet and exercise. I won’t be visiting this FB group too often.

22 June 2015

It Must've Been Tuesday. He Was Wearing His "Cornflower-Blue" Tie

High and low tides . . . waxing and waning moons . . . swallows in Capistrano. Certain things happen periodically . . . predictably . . . or should in order for all to be right with the world. Rusty bought a weed-wacker for me. Stop it! No double entendre there – it’s for the lawn. Despite the fact that we want our new grass to well establish its roots, it still needs periodic trimming at the areas around the bushes. It's already scruffy in areas around the foundation.

And one day very soon I’m going to use that weed-wacker. I’ve spent so much time planting ginger and other flowers (not to mention what Cynthia’s gardeners have done), that I should strive for a nicer lawn. Periodically our grass will need trimming, but hopefully not too often. The weeding I love. The donning of my old rubber boots appropriate for grass-cutting? Not so much (must be that lost Banana Republic boot thing).

Frequent dips into the pool do not equal a shower.

20 June 2015

The Next Day We Started His Tradecraft

If a tree falls in the forest will monkey troupes far and wide hear it? 

Yesterday there was a crash across the river behind our western mountain. I thought, landslide? But Rusty saw the big tree falling. We could hear the crashing destruction of the under-story trees and brush as the big tree fell toward the forest floor. Thirty-six hours later the monkeys are still complaining. Well, perhaps that’s too judgmental. Perhaps they’re not complaining at all. Perhaps they’re initiating a monkey recon to locate new digs. Or, perhaps their monkey tradecraft is so perfected that they maintain assets throughout the montaña, and Plan B is already in place. In any event, they’re very loud and visible today. Monkey business . . . probably not as random as it appears.

18 June 2015

And As Good Cooks Go, She Went

San Jose holds little interest for me at this point on our Costa Rica adventure. The nation’s capital appears to be a dichotomy between a developing country and Times Square. As with any large city, there are suburbs. They possess individual names such as San Miguel de Escazú. To me, it’s all just San Jose; but it is indeed interesting to travel between these individual areas. One moment I’m charmed by the somewhat colonial feel of one area, and a ten-minute-ride away I’m thrust into ultra-modern P. F. Chang-world, with its culturally contradicting billboards for Breitling watches and an indoor Lexus dealership. I said, if there’s a White House Black Market, I’m stopping. Happily, there was not.

It’s A Dangerous Business, Frodo, Going Out Your Door

We had a mountain rescue event caused by some unknown fauna, most likely of the rodent genus. Last weekend near dusk Jill spied something down on level II where we were burning moving boxes. Off she went into the brush tracking rodent movement. It could have been a small mapache, but more likely it was a rodent given this dog's nose for all things mousey. Anyway, before she knew it she was sliding down the mountain toward the river, the loose earth crumbling under her feet. She finally reached a tiny, brushy platform and began her attempt to climb back up. Every leap was met with more landslides. Yes, I was on the verge of totally losing it.

Rusty ran for his brush pants, boots, rope, and a machete. In the meantime I took the walking stick and oh-so carefully climbed down around the retaining wall. So with rope and harness in hand, Rusty prepared to rappel down the cliff.  Let me tell you: all three of us were in danger . . . and we can lie to ourselves and say that we (especially Rusty) had the situation under control, but such was not the case. After five minutes of trying to find a spot where she could achieve traction, Jill was panicked and doing her crying bark. Anyway, she was so terrified when Rusty reached her that she stood paralyzed while her harness was donned; and I hoisted her up the mountain. Think she learned her lesson? Sadly, doubtful. And we'll all probably live through this nightmare another time.

11 June 2015

I Feel As Though I’d Lived Through All Of This Before In Another Life

There’s that moment when you’re uploading photos for your blog and everything is clicking right along. Then the Internet goes down and everything is lost. And you swear. I mean really swear, loudly. I’m frequently reminded by Javier, Jose Antonio (Tonio), and Melvie that some curse words are universal . . . probably due to TV and film. The heads of our workers turn and their ears perk-up to hear such foul language from their gringa.

After the first hour checking Internet service becomes just another thing to do. It goes with that cigarette break. After four hours it’s laughable, and after six hours I begin to embrace being off the grid, as such was my evil plan in moving to Samara. It’s Pô, Burkina Faso, all over again. And this morning à la mode de Pô, we experienced an especially long electrical outage.

Electricity comes and goes. On average twice daily the whirring of the fans stops and the only sound is birds . . . or birds and monkeys. This quiet normally lasts for about two minutes, max. Today we were without power for about 40 minutes. Now this is very brief, by Pô standards. And unlike West Africa, at Mil Colinas I can dip into the lovely pool for a cool-down when the fans stop. Jill is not as fortunate. When she’s clearly hot I hold her under the shower and wet her legs and tummy. She says that she hates it, but the dog is a known liar.

10 June 2015

Not Exactly 670,616,629 Miles Per Hour, Though Close

When I moved to Africa I took with me monogrammed Irish linen cocktail napkins. Yes, it’s true. They were a reminder that in all civilized countries there’s an institution known as happy hour. I used them most frequently when other Peace Corps volunteers visited. In a dusty sub-Saharan country where all whites turned pink, they weren’t appropriate for daily use.

Here in Samara I’ve shipped a Davis family heirloom: Rusty’s mom’s Irish linen table napkins, embroidered white-on-white with small flowers. What was I thinking as I packed these white linens? I have no idea why I shipped a cashmere scarf, nor why we brought Rusty’s woolen sweater that we purchased in Tromsø, Norway. I really don’t know how the scarf slipped in; but I concede that we made a conscious decision to bring the sweater. In fact, we joked that we’d frame it in a picture-box type frame and just consider it a souvenir of our travels. Now that it’s all here and we have zero storage (and few walls on which to hang any art, much less a picture-box), it seems incredulous that we made the conscious decision about the sweater.

04 June 2015

Even If . . . .

We live on a mountain. Can I make it any more clear? Not a hill . . . not a hilltop, but a true, steep-cliff mountain. And Nut-Meg Davis is pressing her luck and our patience by venturing down this mountain. Nut-Meg has always been the weatherproof model: an indoor-outdoor variety. She’s never had a cat box, and for most of her nearly-seventeen years has controlled her environment with a pet door. At our Texas home she would announce loudly (really loudly) in the night that she would be exiting the home for nature’s call. Alright, already, go outside, Nut-Meg.

Nut-Meg is still losing her Texas winter coat. White fur randomly blasts forth like tufts shot from a cannon. These tufts are snagged by our cross-breeze and roll into cigar-shaped fur logs that accumulate near the south screen doors. It’s truly astounding . . . a feat of nature; but it’s not filth (merely fluff); and there is a finite end when she finally sheds that coat and becomes a tropical pet.

Meg lives sin pet door at Mil Colinas, and even if she didn’t, even if we could install a pet door in the screen door, it would be locked at night to prevent the ingress of unwanted animals. The mapache, the pizote, the porcupine, lizards.