Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Rita brought a little man from town with her.  He was a tiny, wiry little man.  I had seen him before, working around the orchard for Rita.  Gigi raised a ruckus until he finally got into the house and I let her smell him.  In his body language he asked if she was a biter.  That tiny breed is bred to be a biter, but I assured him that once she had smelled him to recognize him, she would be all right.  He squatted down, petted the dog and fondled her a little, and she was fine.
Melaney and Rita had purchased a new tap and a tooth brush holder in their trip yesterday.
I wasn’t introduced to the man, so we will just call him Hank (really his name is Abierto, or something that sounds like that - Mel).  He decided that he needed to go back to town to pick up some more tools.  I asked Rita if he was really a plumber, and she said that he was, and that he worked for the municipality.  That made me feel a little easier.  Going back for more tools is the most common plumber tactic.  By the time they got back, it was getting late, and the light was diminishing.  He brought a flashlight.
By the time he got the old tap fixture off the sink, and looked at the bottom of the new fixture, he said that the new tap had two holes in the bottom that should have been screwed onto the sink, and the sink had only one large hole.  You must understand that this sink is at least thirty years old and perhaps more.  Every fixture in this house is antique.  I can’t imagine why she would build a new house and fill it with old fixtures.  That will only cause grief.
This required another trip to town.  Thank goodness shops don’t close early Friday.
When they returned with a tap fixture that could be attached to the sink, it took him only a matter of a few minutes to install it, put the tap on the lower part of the shower stall, and his work was done.  I have no idea what he charged her for his services, nor do I care.  It is shock enough to try to turn on a tap and have not only one, but two of them fall into your hand.  I can’t wait to see how long it will take to get at the other bathroom and the kitchen.
Now we had water.  Hank scurried out and turned on the main water tap, and we were in business.  I had invited Rita and her husband Victor out to dinner on Saturday evening, and without water that would have had to be cancelled.
Next morning, I was busy around the kitchen.  I had delayed taking a shower, because I wanted to do a little clean up and get the cooking started.  I turned on the tap for some reason, and NO WATER.  I suggested Melaney go out to the main switch and check to see if that was off.  She turned it, but that made no difference.
Phone Rita was the solution.  Her water was off as well, so it was a general shutoff.  I asked how long, and she said sometimes a half an hour.  It was over four hours before the water came back in and it was just a dribble.  Fortunately, I had filled my bucket and two gallon milk bottles with water, so I could continue with my cooking.          
            Then it was a necessity for showers.  Melaney tried first.  She couldn’t get more than a few drops out of the shower head (it isn’t abundant at the best of times).  She used the little tap at the bottom of the shower stall.  That must be for feet or something.  It was only cold water, and she is never happy with a cold wash.  She said she had to be folded up double, and it wasn’t successful. Then I tried mine.  The shower head didn’t get enough water through it to activate the heating mechanism*, so I took a cold water drip wash.  I said later that I didn’t get enough water to rinse the soap suds off, so I would be scratchy till I had a proper shower.
        After all that preparation, Rita and Victor came in separate cars.  She came first, and when I asked about Victor, she said he was tending his mother.  I think she gets a little flustered with the pressure of his family of seven brothers and a sister and an aged mother and father.
            The rice that I cooked for dinner wasn’t my best.  I had put in a little too much rice, and I couldn’t get a proper drain on it.  I had cooked it well ahead, so it had plenty of time to steam off, but it was a little sticky.  I told Mel it was like the sticky rice we had in Thailand.  The curry was weak for me.  I was cautious for a first time with this company not to put too much fire into it.  The bean salad was good.  I had prepared a kettle full of fresh green beans a couple of days ago and put the leftovers in two bowls in the fridge.  I put fine chopped peppers and a bit of cucumber with it, and dressed it with the oil and vinegar dressing.  It was a tasty combination with the curry.
            Both of the guests seemed to enjoy the cooking.  We had several chuckles with Mel and I trying to use Spanish, and Victor trying to use English. He was a very good sport and said he would be my first pupil.  Rita speaks English quite well, so she is great as an interpreter.  She also acts as a GPS for Mel when they are travelling.  It is so easy to take the wrong turn and get headed in the wrong direction.

            They were planning to move their household to San Jose the next day, so we didn’t linger long after dinner.  I had prepared sliced pineapple spears for dessert, but Victor said he couldn’t eat them.  He said they were too acidic.  I told him to quit drinking whiskey…….He had cut three pineapples for us two weeks ago, and it took them this long to ripen.  I thought it would be a treat, but it’s too common here.  Mel and I will enjoy it.
            I have a fridge full of limes and lemons.  We don’t have many oranges, after Estevan juiced them.  That’s good, because they aren’t all that tasty, except in juice.  Rita said the oranges bear all year.  I was very surprised at that.  It is the mangoes I am waiting for.  The trees are plastered with blossoms.  Rita says there are so many mangoes around, and everyone has them, that they can only give them away.  There isn’t any market for them.

*The showers in Costa Rica are called "suicide showers" for a reason. As there is no hot water tank, the only way we can have a warm shower is with an electric attachment that drives electricity into the water within the shower head. If the water pressure is too high, the water bypasses the electricity and comes out cold. Therefore, we have to set the pressure to "dribble" in order for it to heat. I must confess that the thought of having live electricity in the shower stall connected to running water is a bit disconcerting. However, the average lifespan in Costa Rica beats Canada, so it can't be THAT bad.--Mel.

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