11 July 2015

Every Time I Turn My Back It Wants To Go Wild Again

We didn't move to Costa Rica for a manicured lawn and clipped boxwood hedges surrounding our 1.65 acres, more or less. Nevertheless, one wants a presentable area around the pool, some curb appeal (in a land without curbs), and as few weeds as possible within the landscaped areas that Cynthia so well planned. Achieving this takes an inordinate amount of work, daily. The devil vine (we don't know its name) grows at least a foot a day and attempts to strangle and pull down the mountainside Cynthia's palm/shrubberies . . . the palms that create complete privacy around the pool. So a portion of my day is devoted to removing strangling vines, pulling weeds, and explaining to the half-dozen watermelon plants (none intentionally planted) that they must grow toward the river and not toward the pool. 

I love working in the yard . . . despite that pesky eye-infection/dermatitis that resulted in an antibiotic/Prednisone/antihistime cocktail in two bags of I.V. solution.
Our friend, Osvaldo, the dairy farmer with horseys for me to ride, says that he really wants to keep my garden. Sure he does. For $10 a week Osvaldo will gladly stay on top of the yard. But Rusty and I really enjoy doing the yard work, despite this tempting bargain price. Well today I awoke with that troublesome eye issue again. Probably the 208 feet of devil vine that I uprooted yesterday. And no, I'm not so stupid as to work in the yard without long sleeves and gloves. But clearly I'm doing something wrong. 

Now what my eye condition means to Rusty is machete-time, which he loves. I was sent down the mountain to the village physician while Rusty donned his bush pants, gloves, and wielded his machete. Correction: one of his many machetes. Guess what? The doctor was closed. Luckily, the pharmacy will dispense most anything without a new prescription; so I stocked up on Prednisone, which makes me 100% bonkers . . . as in I-screamed-from-inside-the-4x4-at-no-less-than-15-people-in-town. Psychotic bonkers. So today is an inside-in-the-A/C'd-home-for-me kind of day. Jill volunteered to stay with me . . . and dose-out the Xanax. But generally I do a large portion of the outdoor work. Most of the indoor cleaning is left for our housekeeper.

My housekeeper is named Janet. This strikes me as an unusual name for a Costa Rican woman. Perhaps she’s not from Costa Rica. Still . . . I wonder whether she spells it J-A-N-E-T. Janet speaks not one word of English. In fact, I often wonder whether she speaks Spanish Spanish, or Costa Rican Spanish. She uses words that are definitely not Spanish for things that I know such as fan, sink, bed. But we get by; and I love her; and I’ve even learned not to clean the house on the days before Janet arrives.

Janet has two sons, ages three and ten. Of this I’m quite confident . . . but then I’m the woman who missed a baby shower and went to the wrong site believing that I’d been invited to a party for a new lake. So maybe Janet doesn’t have dos niƱos . . . maybe she was offering me two pineapples for 13 Colones.

Anyway, our home is an easy clean; and often I'm at work in the kitchen while Janet tackles the baths and floors. I’ve specifically asked that Janet not change linens (yes, I’m doing that now), nor wash dishes (our dishwasher remains full of copper pots), and not do laundry (which I love doing in our very European washer). Floors, bathrooms, cobwebs. That’s what Janet does. Takes her about two hours in a home with hundreds of square feet of floor and wall tile . . . ceramica, Janet says. Costs me about $5.00. Such a deal. Occasionally I give her a lip gloss or a bad color of lipstick . . . or a perfume sample from Neiman's. We laugh about her beautiful pedicure, my bare toes, and lip color. With her bejeweled pedicure, wonder how Janet is spending her five dollars per week.

Vacuums. I’ve got a hand-held Oreck®. You know . . . they come free when you purchase the fabulous Oreck® vacuum. I sold the upright Oreck® in a garage sale. I purchased a Shark thing for Mil Colinas because it doesn’t use bags. Well the Shark features a removable hand-held vacuum, so I don’t really need the Oreck; but Janet and I love it -- one day we'll fight over who is going to suck-up the dead moths. I think that Janet would probably clean my house for free because she really loves these vacuums (I do, too, and I vacuum almost every day).

So every Tuesday morning at 7:00 Janet arrives, and we do the meet-and-greet . . . knowing that no one understands the other and that half of my meet-and-greet is in French. Especially true after a week of Franglaise with Marina and Hilary, my Peace Corps friends. Then Janet rushes for the housekeeping power tools. I wonder how many other gringa homes Janet cleans without a broom. So the floors and bathrooms are spotless when Janet leaves. However, there exist a few issues.

I suspect that Janet believes that we’re witches . . . or practice some kind of Santeria, or God knows what. Let’s name the things that Janet won’t touch . . . won’t dust . . . and has been known to cover with a Kleenex. From our travels we have a giraffe vertebrae that rests on the floor near some other Southern Africa items; I have a bag made from a goat given to me by a village chief in Tiebiele (you can still see the goat scrotum, not to mention the tail . . . picture a whole goat, with nothing but air inside); and we have a mummified frog (Janet covers it with a tissue). Then there’s the collection of French gargoyles, which admittedly look out of place next to other leather bags from West African villages (some shaped like fish, others like an actual bag) . . . all next to the shrine of Jill The Pill photos, complete with fur tuft.

Janet will, however, dust the ostrich eggs and porcupine quill candles . . . after all, Samara has its share of porcupines. And, by golly, she’ll vacuum the heck out of the Steenbok skins on the floor of the guest bedroom. I just know that one day Janet will ask about the Texas chickens that made those enormous eggs. As for the 1.65 acres, more or less and its devil vine, despite daily attacks with spades and machetes  . . . it will go wild again. Lo que hay.