Monday, January 31, 2011

Chapter 36 - The Horn Blower

            I think that I finally found the offending early morning horn blower.  It’s a big truck which travels by the house at 4:30 a.m. and blasts his horn.  He probably has a friend along this street, and wants to tell him or her that he is off and running to work.  What inconsideration that shows, but Costa Rican men are full of machismo, and think they run the world.
            The reason that I think I know which truck it is, is because a large loaded gas truck went by during the mid morning, and blew his horn.  The horn sounded the same as the early morning horn, so at least I am sure that he is the offender.  There is absolutely nothing that can be done, it is just some satisfaction to know who the offender is.  Perhaps I could put out a tack belt across the road, but that wouldn’t work, someone else might be on the road.  If I put up a barrier, and said “No horn blowing before 7 a.m.” that may work, but I don’t know the Spanish words for the sign.  Perhaps I could stand out on the road, and wave a fist at him, but he would surely think I was just waiving at him and be all the more apt to blow his horn back at me.   
            I will have to take all these solutions into consideration and see what I can come up with.  There is a saying which is: Problems are just solutions in work clothes!
            In the meantime, I will have to expect an early morning horn call.

Chapter 35 - A Walk in the Orchard

            When Melaney took Gigi out for her walk this morning, I went outside to check the plants to see if they needed some water.  The plants by the house are all right for this morning, but I will check with them later. 
            I was in the house by the time Mel returned, and she asked me to bring my pruning shears and come with her.  The grasses are much too long around the house, and it is more difficult for me to walk, but she took my arm to steady my steps.
            We arrived at one tree location and she looked up.  She didn’t see what she was looking for, so we went to the next large tree.  She found the branch that she was looking for, and pointed to the location.  It was low on the tree.  This tiny branch was webbed, and in the webbing were tiny globules of something that she thought were egg casings.  I cut the branch.  She said “don’t let it fall on the ground!”  I told her I was holding a leaf and it was all right.  I took the offending branch, took a good look at it and told Mel that each tiny globe had a bit of a stem with it, and I thought it was tiny immature fruit that was caught in the webbing.  She told me to throw it beyond the fence line.  Once that was done, she was relieved. (I am sure it was large spider eggs -- Mel)
            All the trees in this plot need some good agricultural husbandry.  If I were younger and more capable of handling the chore, I would do more toward that task.  I showed Mel the leaves of one big section of tree that I had seen from the window that were all curdled with spots of growth and curled, and I know that tree is in trouble.  In my investigation of the trunk of the tree, I found two trees wound around each other.  That one big section should be shorne and burned.
            We looked up under another tree and Mel showed me the flowering of what Rita had called a water apple.  The blossoms are maturing and in a couple of places the fruit is forming.  It seems to be more in the shape of a pear than an apple.  We saw a little boy eating a fruit that appeared somewhat like this.  I hope it is better tasting than the peaches that Rita brought yesterday.  They were nearly tasteless……….Too bad, I was looking forward to some different fruit.
            The pineapple that I cut last was used partly on the top of a Hawaiian pizza and the remainder I cooked with sugar and it made it taste better and cut the acid.
              Rita came to the house, and after sufficient conversation, Mel took her out and showed her the diseased tree.  She said that she would have someone cut out the affected part. 
            Trees grow from stumps cut level with the ground here.  There are many places where I have observed this.  You would think the stump is dead, but the roots aren’t dead.  I wish I could encourage my tomatoes to grow.  I have been waiting on them for six weeks now, and they show little progress.  I think it is totally the soil.  This soil is rich for trees and shrubs, but it is too coarse and compact for tiny tomato plants.  I am still hoping for some cucumbers and squash and beets.

Chapter 34 - The Cleanup Crew

           We have a great cleanup crew in Costa Rica.  This is a frequent sighting of vultures along the sides of the roads.  This isn’t one or two, but a whole gaggle of vultures.  It is a good thing because any road kill would create a massive bacteria situation if they weren’t so efficient.  I call them a gaggle because that’s what a large group of geese is, and I am not sure of the proper name for a large group of those birds. (According to Google, a group of vultures is called a Wake --Mel).
            The streets in the towns and cities have a “gaggle” of clean-up crews, too.  We often see people with brooms and bins out on the streets cleaning the debris out of the gutters.  This is a very good thing too.  It gives some employment to people and keeps the streets remarkably tidy.  It isn’t like Mexico.  I have seen garbage in volumes in the streets and roadways in Mexico.
            Costa Rica is extremely sensitive to green and clean.  They have one of the best garbage pickup systems I have ever seen.  We get a big truck pick-up three times a week.  There are cast iron baskets on a standard in front of most homes.  If they don’t have this facility, they place their plastic wrapped garbage by the street and the garbage men lift it into the truck. You can always tell where somebody does their grocery shopping by the colour bag in which they dispose of their garbage. This collection service costs $6.00 monthly to the home owner. 
            One other thing we noticed this morning on the way home from church.  A lot of new road signs have been erected, and that is something I have been hoping for since we arrived.  That will help to direct us to the different locations.  We have at times been miserably turned around and lost all sense of direction for the sake of a few road signs.  The cities aren’t good about street signs yet, and they have the oddest way of directing a person to a location.  In fact I have heard stories about using a building location that isn`t there any more as a guide post.  They have just become so accustomed to using this term that they keep using it even if the building is absent.  I guess the cleanup crew got it erased and picked up before the general population knew anything about it.
            Another thing one must be wary of with directions.  The people here are so friendly and want to help that they will direct you to a location whether they know where it is or not.  We experienced this early in our time here.  We asked one older lady if she could direct us to the Banco National.  She used body language, but we could tell it was some distance to the right and around a couple of corners.  We looked up the street the other way, and saw the big sign of the bank about half a block up the street in the opposite direction.  We must beware of too much help.

Chapter 33 - The Doors

            We have very large doors in this casa.  They look like they have built for a castle.  There are nail studs decorating the edges of the doors, and they aren’t puny little studs.
           The doors have been constructed of solid wood in some workshop.  They are also wider than a standard door.  Because they are such heavy construction, they have four big brass hinges, two near the top, and two closer to the bottom.  All of the hinges need a good shot of WD40.  I bought some about three weeks ago, but I have really adopted the Tico way of doing things manana……..tomorrow, which is Monday, we will do the work.
            During the night last night, Melaney’s bathroom door did a dance something like our ant dance in the kitchen.  The wind was blowing.  The door catch on her bathroom isn’t secure.  I think the carpenter who built this house would never pass the Canadian Standard’s Test.  The door clicks when it is shut, but doesn’t hold.  First the wind caused a draft enough to pull the door open.  It squeaked. Then the breeze seemed to push the other way, and the door slammed shut.  If I had heard it (which I didn’t, I’m getting to sleep through many noises), I would have put a large towel between the door and the door jam.  It may have taken two towels; one before and one after.  However, Melaney’s very sensitive ears heard it all and she got up and tried to shut the door securely, but it didn’t hold and she raised a complaint this morning.
Tonight before bed, we will do something about that door.  We don’t want it to bolt off the hinges like the taps dropped off the sink and shower fixture.
  It is difficult to explain the eeriness of the squeaking door.  She said it sounded like a haunted mansion and all she needed was a skeleton to pop out.  I took special notice to the howling wind one night.  It was a different sound of wind than I had heard before.  It may in part be the type of windows that are here.  The bottom part of the windows is ordinary window glass, but the tops all have movable louvers which open and close with levers.  They don’t close tight, and that may be the wind screech we hear.  I don’t know how to test that theory.

Chapter 32 - The Buses

We have a constant stream of traffic during the daytime, fifty feet from the side of the house.  Everything in Costa Rica is moved by truck.  There are huge trucks, and small and medium sized ones, which travel past our house.  Much of this traffic is buses.
            The bus system in Costa Rica is everywhere and often.  If we knew the language and knew where we were going for sure, it would be tempting to use the buses.  I have seen buses traveling on the most remote road, way out on the fringes of wilderness.  They are not only frequent, they are cheap to ride.  They have been provided for the mobs of people who can’t afford to drive a car.  They are privately owned.  There isn’t a municipal bus anywhere, that I have seen. 
            Between out home and the city of Alajuela, it is about 20 kilometres and the bus fare is 210 Colones which is about 40 or 42 cents.  Gas is expensive here, and you can’t drive a car for that amount.
One thing that is awkward about the bus system is getting behind a couple or three on the road when you are in a hurry.  The roads are windy and narrow, and places to pass a bus are few. And don’t get hung up behind a green bus.  They stop at every pot hole.  There are few bus stops that I would recognize, they just seem to stop for anyone who is standing by the side of the road and puts their hand out.
On the way into San Jose, the traffic is fierce.  They have designated the right lane of traffic for the buses only and they have transit police at intervals along the road to enforce this rule. I think it’s a good idea, that way the buses can somewhat keep to their schedules.
On a whole, the buses are very modern, and well kept up.
Traffic in general is unpredictable.  People here seem to think nothing of stopping almost in the middle of the road at any whim. Whether it is talking to a friend going the other way, or on the roadside, it doesn’t seem to matter. They just stop.  Drivers also back out of driveways into traffic without a thought about what is coming.  I have seen some terrible breaches of driving etiquette.  It seems to be expected here, but it’s difficult to contend with it.  I wouldn’t dare to drive here, so I am not going to worry my head about getting a new driver’s license.  Applying for a Costa Rican driver`s license is something else Melaney is going to have to tend to soon.  We are approaching our third month here.