Monday, January 17, 2011

A Thousand Stories From Costa Rica

          You have read about Shaharizad and her stories of 1001 Nights, and that is what it feels like here.  There must be a thousand and one stories of Costa Rica.

          Our little home is humble.  We have good sweet water in the taps in the house, but only cool water.  The cold is not really cold, and the hot isn’t.  We launder clothes in cold water, we do dishes in cold water, and the only thing that saves the day is a little electrical contraption on the shower head that gives us a little more than tepid water in the bath.
          The days and nights are about equal here.  By 5:30 in the afternoon it is dark, and day begins at 5:30 in the morning.  We don’t stay up late at night, usually hitting the pit by 9:00 and avoid getting up before 7:30. That seems like a long nigh time, but with the fresh almost mountain air, it’s easy to accomplish.  Ticos in the lowlands think it’s too cold up here in Poas, but not for Canadians.  It’s really like late May springtime all the time.
          One of my first jobs here was planting tomato seeds.  I brought a load of seeds with us from Canada including some fresh tomato seeds from the neighbour’s crop of sweet million.  I grew this little tomato years ago in Scotty Creek and it’s a terrific producer, and is very low acid like the name implies.  I have never grown tomatoes from seed before, and my tiny container was one of the ice cube trays from the freezer.  I don’t use Ice cubes, so I thought that was a good use for it.  It seemed like forever for them to erupt from the soil.  I nearly gave up hope, then about ten days later the first couple prodded their heads through the soil.  Gradually in a few days each cubicle had a little tomato in it.  I planted 16 seeds and had 100% germination, which I think must be rare.  Tomorrow we will have been in this little house for three weeks, and the tomatoes are showing their true leaves.  It will take at least another two weeks for them to be strong enough to plant in the ground.  I should have enough tiny tomatoes to go to market.

           Speaking of market, we were driving around through Grecia yesterday looking for a chapel.  We know there is one there, but we had no luck finding it.  The streets were jam packed, I don’t know where all the people and vehicles come from.  However, on a side street while we were attempting to get back to the main road, there was a small truck parked on the street and a fellow was plastic packing lettuce heads for market.  We stopped beside him, asked his price which was 300 colones (about 60 cents), made our purchase and drove on.  People here stop wherever they decide to stop.  They back out into traffic in any direction.  It’s a terrific challenge to drive. 

           Two weeks ago on Saturday evening we heard there was a civic celebration in Poas at 7:30.  We decided to go just after six so we would be early enough to get a good parking space.  We should have left at 4:00.  Most of the streets were blocked off by the Police by the time we arrived in town, and after a lot of juggling, we were about 7 or 8 blocks away from the action, and I simply can’t walk that far.  We just drove home.  We could hear the fireworks from home.  There were thousands of people.  Poas is rather a smallish town, but it is the centre of a large farming district and everyone seemed to be at the festival.  I think it was the 12 day advent of Christmas.

           Mel and I went into town to a furniture store where she had seen a recliner, when she was about town with Olivier doing some business about the car she bought.  The fellow in the store had been anxious for her business and though he had only one recliner, he said he could get another one.  It was bright orange, but our home is rustic and the color wouldn’t matter.  He said he would sell them for $230 each if she bought two.  When we went back to look at them he first said $490 then later after a lot of conversations with Olivier over the phone and Mel staying with the $460, the salesman said $510.  We got up and left.  Mel told him she didn’t like his little games….We aren’t sure if he understood, but he understood when we walked out of the shop.  A short time later she spotted a big recliner on Craig’s list, phoned about it, and agreed to go Tuesday to pick it up.  The delay is some rule that cars with a one in their license couldn’t drive through San Jose on Monday, and the town was on the other side.  It happened to be in the same town that Victor, our landlady’s husband, works in a cheese factory.  Mel asked Rita to accompany her, thinking that she could help with the directions.  Well, they overshot the turnoff for the community, got within 128 km of Puerto Limon on the Caribbean side and turned around.  They were able to get the chair.  It cost $150 from a Yanky couple who were on their way back to the States.  They had brought their furniture by freight to come here six months ago, and are now selling it.  She missed her grandchildren……….The total trip took almost 8 hours.  Both of them were fatigued by the time they arrived.  I had anticipated a tired hungry girl and had fried up a large pan of chicken, so I asked Rita to have a bite with us and made a big salad.  Her husband gets home late from work, so she was able to enjoy a bit of chicken with us.  After she left, Mel suddenly realized she couldn’t find her car key.  And that’s another story.

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