Friday, February 22, 2019

Airless

I've feeling sad for the last week and wasn't even sure why. At first I thought it was the stress, trying to figure out what I was going to do with NLQ and talking to some website/position brokers followed by Jim ranting at Multi Modal, the company that has had our personal possessions for a whopping seven months now. Remember how in November we went down to San Jose and sorted our possessions so we could take the things we actually wanted?

No doubt that all of these things mixed with the crazy tourist influx and the slipshod ways things are done in Costa Rica is affecting me. I'm dreading having that conversation with NLQs founder on selling NLQ. She's liable to freak out in the worst way. I just can't any longer. I need to do this for me. But I fully expect to be trashed all over the internet and lose friends from this deal.

The shipping of our possessions has gone a little nuts since Jim took over. After much threatening and pestering they finally gave us the final bill. It was over 6K and most of it was storage. I agree with Jim that this is not on us, they delayed it, and it seems to be the average amount of time they delay everyone's crap. I know some folks that waited well over a year.  We paid yesterday and are supposed to have our things next week.

I'm not even excited any longer, just stressing because it's going to take weeks to unpack and clean all of the stuff. Plus I have lived without the bulk of my things for nearly two years now and find I'm just not missing them. It is funny what you don't miss.

Because Jim has been rude and hateful we're not going to get our other items. They have been seized for auction by the government. No one at Multi Modal is going to help us get them on a salvage ticket. I'm torn up about this for only two reasons. I'm losing my wedding dress, and I'm losing my entire wardrobe right down to my heavy black leather coat lined with black mink. My mother in law's china, my collection of memorabilia from a few television shows and movies. Gone.

They've also seized Jim's motorcycle and he's very upset about that. I don't know. I did everything they wanted, filled out the forms and affidavits, paid the overages fine, jumped the hoops and was told we'd get everything.... then Jim took over. Ticos do not respond well to anger and threats I think. This is on Jim. But I am not going to hold this against him. He is who he is.

Still it will be nice to get my large china cabinet to use as a pantry, replacing the rickety Walmart particle board thing we're currently using that came with the house. I've seen my cabinet, the leaded glass panels are uncracked and the oak unscratched.

Late afternoon I finally got around to checking my oxygen levels. Very down. This mood is more asthma related than anything else, which makes it easier to deal with if I know. Not sleeping well, and last year right around this time I ran into big problems with my asthma. I think this is that again.

Glad I know or I'd still be bitching about Stompy no matter knowing the why now. Rehearsals last night she was actually there the entire time. It is her and I on vocals this week. She spent the entire time behaving yet again like I do not exist, no eye contact, no conversation at all. I smiled and was as pleasant as can be even if being treated like I was the red headed stepchild was irksome. At least I know she'll be on key this week.I wonder if she was finally told she must show up for rehearsals?

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Burn Out

I am feeling burned out. Not about life in general. Life is pretty darn sweet. We get up, look at the cyber paper with coffee, run a few errands or do a tiny bit of housework, swim, get into the hot tub, walk the beach, repeat, repeat, repeat. Even with the interestingly strange ways that Ticos sometimes do things.

Example. One of the few places that will send a fax and get it through is the local post office. It's quick, it's cheap. We've had no luck with the commercial places that do it. They talk a big game but the fax machine is broken half the time. We ran into an interesting wrinkle in faxing. The post office does not use cover letters. They had no idea what that was. So... anytime you fax here you must write up your own cover letter indicating who you are and where/what fax machine your document is coming from. It's a small thing, but there it is.

We say the phrases 'You would think..' and 'Every day is always an adventure..' at least a dozen times a day.

Stupid stuff like the cow that was hit by a motorcyclist in the middle of the night, killing both the cow and the rider. They hauled the rider off to the morgue. The cow is still laying for the side of the road. It's just bones now with a tiny piece of hide. Never have I ever been so thankful for a copious circle of buzzards and vultures before! We were having to see and smell that dead bovine every single time we head towards Huacas. In the States the owner of the cow would have had to remove the carcass, or the state would do it.

First world problems for sure. It's just a bit jarring sometimes. But it's not the problem.

The problem, the burn out is NLQ - No Longer Quivering. I've just run out of steam. It's turned into the 'Eat your vegetables and drink your milk' of my life. Ten years is a long time to keep doing the same thing. The farther away my time in my old quiverfull church gets in the rear view mirror the more it seems like a bad fever dream. Time to make the doughnuts. I've lost my passion and my interest, at least until something truly amusing comes along, like Cindy Kunsman's letter from the Botkin Sisters, or Doug Wilson's horrible romance novel.

It does not help that there are people with the movement out that I've come to realize have feet of clay, with their own foibles and follies. I'm just sick of them, the subject, and anything to do with religion in general now.

Plus Google and Facebook keep changing the rules on styles, content and sharing, meaning that I am having to shift every six months or year. I've gone from posting four times a day and making decent money via hits, to only being able to post daily and being paid a far less sum for the same number of hits. It's turned into a downer all the way around, except in regards to community, I will miss daily interactions with the readers. That has been awesome, that and the fact that it gave me work I could do while suffering the ups and downs of my asthma.

I suppose I need to just list the site on one of those places that sells sites and situations. Or find someone willing to take it over.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Nica-No-No

Just spent the most frustrating afternoon trying to explain to a well-meaning Christian that taking a mission trip to Nicaragua isn't what she wants to do right now. She keeps coming back with 'Jesus will protect me~' Which makes me feel all stabby and irritable.

I don't like mission trips. I've done them. One of my children have done them. Back when we were still attending old crazy church. Now I think there is more value in putting that roughly 5 to 6K we had to cough up for each trip into the hands of a humanitarian group on the ground in that particular country. Why? Because mission tourism really sucks on so many levels.

It's pure white entitlement in action. Show up, do something simple for a few hours, then spend the rest of your time doing touristy type of stuff. Even those trips like my daughter did with Global Expeditions where the kids were busy doing Christ-centered activities the entire time aren't good. People in other countries do not need a white savior type coming to their poor village to hand out trinkets and tracts who go away a few weeks later feeling proud of themselves for having been Jesusy for a few days. There's no real help, no deep engagement.

They need people who are going to meet their immediate needs, for food, for clean water, for vaccinations for the kids. With relationships, real two way relationships that do not involve religious manipulations.

That being said this gal was not talking about doing that type of mission. She's looking to go into Managua, Nicaragua to feed the hungry. Yes, and that is needed, but with the turmoil, that she knew exactly nothing about, ongoing I cannot help but think she's foolish.

Here is the latest travel advisory for Nicaragua from the U.S. State Dept:

Reconsider travel to Nicaragua due to crimecivil unrest, limited healthcare availability, and arbitrary enforcement of laws.
On September 12, 2018, the U.S. Department of State lifted the ordered departure of non-emergency U.S. government personnel and family members. The U.S. Embassy remains open to provide emergency services for U.S. citizens and will gradually return to normal operations.
Throughout Nicaragua, armed and violent uniformed police or civilians in plain clothes acting as police (“para-police”) are targeting anyone considered to be in opposition to the rule of President Ortega.  The government and its affiliated armed groups have been reported to:
  • Arbitrarily detain protestors, with credible claims of torture and disappearances.
  • Systematically target opposition figures, including clergy members.
  • Prevent certain individuals from departing Nicaragua by air or land.
  • Seize privately owned land.
  • Arbitrarily search personal phones and computers for anti-government content.
  • Arbitrarily detain certain individuals with unfounded charges of terrorism, money laundering, and organized crime.
These police and para-police groups often cover their faces, sometimes operate in groups numbering in the hundreds, and use unmarked vehicles.
Rallies and demonstrations are widespread and occur daily around the country. Government forces, uniformed police and para-police have attacked peaceful demonstrators leading to significant numbers of deaths and injuries. Looting, vandalism, and arson often occur during unrest.
Road blocks, including in Managua and other major cities, may appear and limit availability of food and fuel.
Government hospitals are understaffed and may deny treatment to suspected protestors. Some hospitals throughout the country may not be able to assist in emergencies.  Ambulances have reportedly refused to respond or have been denied access to areas with individuals needing emergency care.
Violent crime, such as sexual assault and armed robbery, is common.
The U.S. Embassy in Managua is limited in the assistance it can provide. U.S. government personnel in Nicaragua must avoid unnecessary travel and remain in their homes between 10:00 p.m. and sunrise. They are prohibited from traveling outside of Managua and are advised to avoid demonstrations. Additional restrictions on movements by U.S. government personnel may be put in place at any time, depending on local circumstances and security conditions, which can change suddenly.

Here's the skinny from people I know who've recently been in Nica and from personal observations. The people in Nica are starving, yes that is true that there's little food. The situation there is so desperate that families are selling family heirlooms by the side of the road for pennies on the dollar in order to eat. Industry is crippled, many places have closed. There's no work, no food, no money.

There is also almost no medical care. When the Ortega government began firing on their own citizens in Managua back last spring almost everyone that could, certainly the professional class of doctors, nurses, lawyers, and others fled the country in droves.

 I got to see that first hand during my time volunteering with the local food bank. We had food and supplies available at the border for those crossing. People were fleeing, at least those with money were fleeing into Costa Rica in huge numbers. Most hospitals and clinics in Nica lack personnel to take care of emergencies.

Working with an interfaith counsel, including a few Catholic nuns, we're being kept out of Nica and prevented from feeding people. Especially the capital of Nicaragua. A group I know of did manage to sneak in under the guise of tourists, get to a small village they'd been helping in the past and help again. But that's rare. What they found was heartbreaking in terms of extreme poverty.

The tourist areas like San Juan Del Sur are booming, with gringos still flooding in to spend their dolares and no idea of the country situation or that the American State Dept has still issued travel bans. The government forces do not interfere or hassle the tourists in those high tourist areas. But once you get near the capital or out in the countryside all bets are off. I've heard horror stories of having passports seized and spending a number of hours in jail just for being a foreigner.

Nicaragua so desperately needs help. But you are so much better off handing over the dollars you would have spent on the trip to a legitimate human aid organization. If you just must have a Christian aid org there are a few good ones. On the secular side I might recommend Food for Progress and World Vision. Just do not go out of some misguided desires to be a white savior.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

For the Birds

One of the interesting things here is that a corvid showed up at our pool. Black, shiny, huge. Some sort of raven or crow. I'd just been reading about the hyper intelligence of corvids too. He started showing up to drink our pool water, and bath in the pool. He's gotten bolder.

At first he would not approach if we were in the pool. Then it was okay if we were in the pool but there could have be glasses of drinks or flipflops near the steps. Now he bathes even if we are two foot away in the pool, or there is various flotsam of life around the steps. He's shown up and showed us things too. One day it was a shiny plastic bead he held in his beak, the next time it was a sizable cube of bread.

We've started putting bread out for him, no matter what the local laws are on feeding wildlife. Now he brings friends, and the friends have brought friends. I've started naming them,like Hopalong for the one legged corvid. I'm glad I took the time to develop the relationship and become utterly fascinated by the corvids.

Today I was reminded that how people first appear, on the surface, may not be what's really going on with them. You have to be watchful and adjust to what's really going on. I didn't sing again this week, I admit I complained to the guy in charge and have been sitting out because I'm not sure I want to keep dealing with Stompy, or fim-fiddling around on long rehearsals.

Damn, I'm so ashamed that I accepted what my eyes saw without looking deeper. Today worship was sort of clusterfucked again. I realized something. If there is no one singing next to Stompy she immediately goes off key. She can only mimic. Today they asked her to sing solo on a song and it went sideways from the first note. It was a hymn, a hymn so standard and old that anyone regularly attending any sort of church is going to learn it. She didn't know it. They threw her into singing solo.

I don't know if she rehearsed but I am thinking not because she so rarely comes to rehearsals. I don't care how strong your voice is. Everyone needs rehearsals, just like everyone needs training.

She started twice, both times stopping after a few notes and restarting. I took pity of her, hell she'd been mostly off key all morning already. I took pity, stood up and belted the song. Magically she was on key and everyone else started singing the hymn. After church she slunk away without staying to talk to anyone, and she didn't go to the church social after. I've never seen her deliberately miss a chance to hold court, rush about like someone VERY important and behave like she was all that, a bag of chips and a candy bar.

She gives off an aura of arrogance that I've called 'Mississippi Millionaire', a sub type of the same type of Southern church going socially prominent woman. Today that was all stripped away.

Today I got to see someone not so sure of themselves. Someone humbled suddenly, exposed, and I see her game. The facade was gone. It made me feel nothing but pity for her. I know what it's like to feel like less than nothing, yet trying to project that facade of everything being perfect. It comes at a high personal cost, it's uncomfortable and it's limiting.

I'm over my fit over her as a result of seeing the real her and my realization on how things genuinely stand. I'll be back at rehearsals and training. I may even have a gentle word with our pastor over all of this. I was stewing without any comprehension what the heck was going on. I'll be gentle.

I need a nap so badly right now. My eating is so screwed up due to social commitments and eating weird times. I always say my battle is to either take the metformin and get hungry enough to eat the fridge, or to not take the metformin, heavily monitor my blood sugar and eat a few lettuce leafs. I can control without the metformin easy, but when a part is involved I find it just simpler to have the pill and eat the same as everyone else. Didn't quite work like that today. Took the metformin, the restaurant took nearly two hours after ordering to bring my meal and now I feel like I must eat everything in the damn fridge. I think I'll take a nap instead.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Universally Filling a Hole With Fire

This morning I awoke to smoke, and where there's smoke there is fire. There was, there is. We/re in dry season and everyone has been busy doing controlled burns of their weeds. Last year during dry season I kept freaking out about the smoke and fire everywhere until I found out that it's normal here. This is what the Ticos do.

Saw the other thing Ticos do during dry season early on too. One of my neighbors had a wheelbarrow full of dirt he was packing and tamping down into the massive potholes we have on our main road through our village. The problem with the roads here is even if the potholes get proper patches once rainy season starts they just wash out again, dirt, rocks, asphalt. Pitted roads are a reality here.

Being that today was Valentines Day we decided to head out to Liberia for lunch at our favorite German restaurant by the airport - the Europa Cafe. If you eat there do not even bother with the American or Tico menu, order off the German one. You'll thank me. Best bratwurst this side of Munich!

The only drag was that the place was filled with American tourists, luring and feeding the onsite iguana. Crowded and filled with the crowing loud voices of my fellow countrymen behaving obnoxiously.

At least they all had on shoes and pants. I'm getting tired of seeing shoeless hordes in g-strings in the doctors office, grocery store and other places it behooves you to wear clothing.

We went shopping afterward. I'd been wanting to try a big department store by the name of Universal. Turned out to be a wise decision. If you're in need of oil paints and canvases, or office supplies, Hallmark cards, furniture, appliances or housewares they have it! We ended up buying not just oil paints but a mattress pad for our bed, and a number of things for the house. But the most exciting is that they have the sofa and chairs I want. We're going to be buying that and a sofa for the guesthouse shortly. I just cannot decide between gray or blue.

We were at Universal so long that we didn't get to the butcher in time. They'd already closed. German pastries made up for that.

The other thing I missed was worship team rehearsal, but that I'm not sweating. I'm just trying to decide what to do. I love to sing but I pretty much dislike disorganized personality drama. Not worth it. Spoke about it to someone in charge and I'm just going to let it be.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Ala Dentist

Yesterday evening and today involved a lot of trying to navigate the dental system, dental insurance and two rather hard headed folks.

One of my young adult children needs serious dental work, has insurance but the amount out of pocket is going to be ridiculously hard to afford. Jim decided they might be better off coming here for the dental treatments.

Jim has a wonderful dentist, who tends to be less about 'We have to do this many root canals and crowns!' and more about holistic treatments. I've never used him, but only because I go to the dentist that does sedation dentistry. I don't do well at the dentist because the dentist molested me as a child. I take a specialist.

Trying to get the dentist what he needs to give us a ball park price combined with navigating airline tickets, availability and other issues has been something of a hassle that makes me feel like I am stuck between the needs of the child and the needs of my husband. It's not easy because they are both very much alike, both rather stubborn.

But after talking more with the dentist (and playing with the cutest tiny dog I've ever seen that our dentist has) I have a better idea what will happen and what the costs will be.

Here in Costa Rica we pay out of pocket for all our dental needs. But like our doctors appointments the costs of actually doing that are a small fraction of what they charge in the States. We actually pay considerably less for an office visit here in Costa Rica than what a copay runs in the States. See why we're eager to have the dental work done here?

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

More Monetary Waiting

Yesterday we spent a good almost three hours waiting in the bank just to talk for five minutes with the only customer service agent. Frustrating, but not unexpected. Mondays are hell at our bank. We're in the middle of selling the remaining stock market holdings we own and moving them down here to buy another CD.

Tip: The banks in Costa Rica pay 8% on CDs. Try getting that in the States. Just make sure you buy your CDs at one of the two government owned and operated banks, Banco Nacional or Banco de Costa Rica. Scotia Bank might be safe too, because they are multi national, out of Canada and BAC while privately owned is huge so it might be safe. The rest of these banks in Costa Rica? Privately owned and not safe at all. I have heard expats who have lost all their money by putting it in one of the private banks that ends up going under. You really have to be careful who you bank with here.

Plus, if you are planning on transferring in more than 10K at a time it really behooves you to go into your bank and let their customer service rep know, telling him exactly what the money is for. We had a hell of a time last year bringing in 300K to buy our house, put in a pool and buy a CD because we started with our brokerage first. But since then it's been smooth sailing transferring the funds in.

 Here you have to do it backwards, start with the bank, prove where the money is coming from, where you came into possession of the money and that it's not drug money. It will go smoothly, a three day wire transfer. Otherwise we're talking a month with lots of paperwork.

Speaking of money and Costa Rica, the reason we ended up waiting so long is that there was another American couple in front of us in there that took nearly the entire three hours. The wife had answered the phone to someone speaking English insisting they were with one of the government agencies here. She gave them enough identifying info that the guy drained their account. There's nothing they can do. The bank is not going to reimburse them colonie one, or even file any paperwork for them. The couple is having to file with the police on their own, but there's no chance of getting anything back.

The bank helped them open up new accounts and transfer over what was left in their other account. This all took a lot of time.

This is why, in the States or here, you never give any info over the phone to anyone, never never never~ Scammers are not just in Nigeria or the Congo. If someone calls you and says they are with the IRS, or your bank or anything else and they start demanding money or access or information you just hang up on them. I am amazed that anyone falls for these guys.

Today I'm doing a little last minute cleaning. We have friends coming over at noon and I need to sweep.