Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Of Mountains and Con Men

I haven't posted in a while because of a few things. One of the coming changes with Google Ads means I had to make a big change to how I am posting at No Longer Quivering. I had to think about how I was going to accomplish this change and it took me a good month to decide how to handle the changes coming. I finally did come up with a new working model but I've not managed to update daily like I have been for years.

Truthfully I am going to have to decide if working as the admin over at NLQ is even worthwhile any longer for a number of reasons, like the new changes which are much more time consuming, dealing with a plethora of Russian trolls coming into the comments daily while attempting to use NLQ's comment space to build their reputation so that they will be able to post whatever propaganda they want later. All the email addresses are coming off a Yandex server, all don't post any original comments, they copy and paste someone else's comments in that same thread to garner enough likes to avoid the dreaded low rep/spamming.

I keep seeing this happen on many sites across the board, but damned if I'm allowing them to gear up for a promotion of anything. I had to alter the comment policy and make it an immediate ban if you copy and paste without adding to the dialogue.

This has been ongoing while I'm busy, that and some rather silly and stealthy attacks by the fan girls of another Patheos blogger all over social media. Yawn.

Here in Tamarindo I've been very busy. We are gearing up to have friends come stay with us from both the U.S. and the high school kids Jim taught here in Costa Rica are coming down from the mountains to visit along with their chaperones. I must be crazy to be hosting nine teens.

Jim and I are also in the stages of getting suppliers for our new online business, selling hand made things from Costa Rica. We've both talked to local artisans making things as diverse as pottery, hand carved wooden items and beautiful carved wood pipes and a pile of other items. There are so many clever and talented artists here that I'm excited to be opening an exporting business here.

I spent a pleasurable afternoon on Sunday sitting down with a local potter, a sweet very shy man by the name of Luis. His work is so beautiful and he's going to be supplying pottery to us.

Unfortunately not all people wanting to supply us have been entirely nice. Most are wonderful people, but somehow Jim has hooked up with someone that gives off serious con man vibes to me. He makes my inner 'Lost in Space' robot wave those dryer vent arms and yell out 'Danger, Will Robison, Dr. Smith'

His name is Steven (clearly not his real name) and I don't remember how Jim met him, but he lights up my inner warnings like the other con man in the States did. He pretty much straight up barged into spending the night at our house and accompanying us to San Jose the next day to pick up those wooden pipes.

Jim had been dickering with him over supplying us with the pipes like this -

The pipes are a mixture of wood, bamboo, clay and resin. This photos really don't do them justice.

Steve called up on Thanksgiving Day and said he would be in town the next day with a package of pipes for us, claiming he was working as a go between with us and the guy making the pipes. He showed up on Friday, no pipes. The story kept changing, now we were going to meet with a friend of his who had the pipes while he stayed to work in his mother's restaurant. Then the story changed again, Steve wanted to spent the night at our house and ride with us the next day to San Jose to pick up the pipes.

We warned him we were getting up and leaving at 5 am because we were due at the school Jim used to teach at far south of San Jose on Saturday afternoon. The kids were graduating and the school wanted as many of the teachers from that year at the graduation.

Steve shows up, and I scramble to set him up in the guestroom, hurrying to put sheets on the bed after an exhausting two days of cooking for Thanksgiving parties at several places the days before. I was tired. But I didn't openly grumble. I put the sheets on the bed, laid out fresh towels and told Steve to let me know if he needed anything before doing like I always do when put into the awkward situation of forced host, retreat behind my own bedroom door.

Steve over the course of the evening smoked copious pot, starting here in the house before I insisted he move outside with that stuff, telling him I was very uncomfortable with him bringing that stuff into our house. He managed to let our kitten outside three different times that night, which meant Jim and I had to run around in the dark trying to corral the poor scared kitten.

The next day went downhill. Jim and I slept through the alarm and were late getting out of the house. It's a good 5 hour drive to San Jose and we had another hour past that to the school. I gritted my teeth and didn't say anything as this young man kept calling me sweetheart and honey, acting so patronizing towards me the entire trip, actually becoming offended when I took over the driving when Jim got tired. Me, a mere woman, driving! I could not wait for him to get to the city and get the hell away from us. Bad, bad vibes.

We got to the city and had to have a slight repair to our car at the Honda dealership. Our radio apparently decided during the sea voyage to reprogram itself and it would not cooperate with our attempts to reset it using the owners manual. The dealership had to program in a code so that we could reprogram the thing. Took forever.

I hate, hate, hate driving in San Jose. The drivers are crazy risk takers, the streets are oddly laid out and numbered and the traffic is horrible. In the middle of all of that there are swarms of small motorcycles zooming around traffic and guys walking down the middle of the streets trying to sell things. This is why I prefer the bus when going into the city!

We get to Steve's contact to get the pipes and it's just another rip off the gringos souvenir shop, the guy wants full retail. He's not the manufacturer, he is just another middle man, just what we'd told  Steve repeatedly that we did not want. We bought very few pipes, Steve insisted we leave the pipes and he would take 'professional photos' for us and deliver the pipes on Monday, last Monday. We still don't have the pipes, I discovered he's broken a lamp and left a cigarette burn on the sheets. I'm not happen with any of this. Thank goodness we know of another guy who makes the pipes and will be dealing directly with him instead. We're out the costs of the lamp, the sheets and the pipes.

Live and learn I guess.

We went to the graduation and discovered that there were some problems with the lady who replaced Jim. The board had problems with her. She stayed just till the end of the graduation ceremony and hightailed it for the airport. Things didn't go as planned for her. I was afraid of that.

It was great seeing everyone at the school again and hanging out with old friends. The only bad part of the trip is that the mountain roads into the area are still very messed up from the October hurricane Nate. We had to traverse on at least ten places where the road was just gone between the small mountain towns and San Jose.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Long and Winding Road

We finally picked up our car on Monday. I'd left it at my mother's house for pickup to ship here to Costa Rica in late June. Discovered when I got to Mom's that my title didn't state that the car was free and clear so they refused to ship it until I got another title from the state of Virginia with a stamp and signature certifying that there were zero liens against the car to be sent to my mother. She was supposed to let me know when she had the new title and I would call the shipping company for a new pickup date.

The title took almost a full month to get to her. She and the shipping agent whose English is not the greatest did not understand each other so there was some delay and we missed the July date due to the misunderstanding. It finally left the port of New Orleans in late August - arriving at the port of Limon in early October.

Then we had that hurricane and had to go to the States for Jim's mother taking a turn for the worse, delaying pickup even more. Add in getting the needed import fees wired in from our US bank and the endless paperwork and money to get the riteve and marchamo paid. Dumb things like having the original car title take a plane to the import lawyer in San Jose/Limon and we didn't get pick up our old Honda CRV until Monday afternoon.

This is the thing about the experience that sort of blows my mind. We're out about a grand total of $5,500 bucks total for a car only worth about $2,000 in the States. Here the taxed value was a shocking $12,000. Yeah, I was blown away by that amount, but SUVs are worth their weight in gold in Costa Rica and I discovered why on my way home to Tamarindo.

Tamarindo is a good four or five hours from San Jose and to get the bus there we would have had to either hop the 3:30 am or 5:30 am bus ride, so we broke down and rented a car to take us to the import lot.

The drive down was largely uneventful and we had some errands to run before we left. We stopped at a restaurant named after Princess Diana for lunch. The place had typical Costa Rican dishes in a buffet line with a faded poster of the Princess tacked to the wall. This isn't the first time I've run into someone named for her down here. The funniest part is that I was so excited to see carrot raisin salad on the salad bar, got a heaping helping and prepared to have one of my old favorites from childhood. Took a heaping spoonful and discovered that their version had very hot peppers chopped up and mixed in, the kind of peppers I like to call Guatemalan Insanity Peppers. Burns going in, burns coming out. That's saying a lot considering I usually douse my food with Tabasco. The salad was very tasty even with the peppers.

By the time we picked up a new car battery and got to the import agency it was 3 pm. We finally met the older lady that handles all the import registration and paperwork and she was nothing like I imagined by her voice on the phone, a very sweet older lady who seemed more like someone's grandmother than a business woman.

Her office was right across the street from the airport and our car was being stored on the median near the big Holiday Inn hotel and casino. This stretch in front of the hotel and airport is one of the scariest intersections in the entire city of crazy drivers in San Jose, so we wasted no time getting the heck out of Dodge.

Jim took the rental car and I took ours. When we were on Route 1 headed back up north just at dusk I ran into an unexpected difficulty. A car with one flickering headlamp, no back lights just reflective stickers glued onto the back light lenses. The backseat was full of small children, at least four of them that looked under six or so.

I almost rear-ended the car because it's so dark on that road. No overhead lights and I feel pretty certain that the oncoming traffic wasn't seeing him either.

So I did the only thing I could do in good conscience, I got behind him, stuck with him the entire time I was on the road. At least others could see him while I was shining a light on him. He was driving so slowly that the entire drive took longer than I thought it would. But I just could not put those kids at any further risk.

Lately I've been thinking about just being helpful and encouraging as much as possible. At my old church one of my friends used to say when she got irked over something 'Thank you Lord for another opportunity to offer mercy and forgiveness!' While I'm not jumping up and down for joy to be doing just that I'm convinced that doing just that is the way to go.

Friday, November 10, 2017

When Comedians Are Just Creeps

I wasn't going to share this story any longer. But the Louis C.K. news and news of so many others being exposed as sexual predators has triggered me so badly that I'm vomiting up my tale of sexual weirdness with a well known comedian yet again.

My family knows it. They witnessed a fair part of this too. My eldest child who is now in her forties was involved in this episode too. Neither of us took it laying down. A tale from the late   90s/early 00s.

This was right around the time when I first started questioning what I'd learn at my old church, around the time of the yoga incident and the cracks were first starting to appear in my evangelicalism. How badly was I impacted? I'd gone back to work against all advice of our pastor and everyone I knew at church, not as a social worker, but I was working in the national licensing office in the D.C. area, working helping others obtain nationally recognized licensure.

One of the things that happened to me there was that the organization wanted to put up a website, making registration for the exams both available over the phone and online as well as streamlining and offering study guides and training for the tests on the website. It was decided that I would help out with that project and they paid for me to take classes in website design, coding, various internet things and yes, eventually I and several others did those things listed above.

I started to do websites for others as a sideline, on top of my regular job. Designed many local churches web presence including my old church. But around the same time I ended up connected to a couple of small indie film companies, even designing websites to promote films premiering at smaller film festivals. I started attending some of the smaller festivals. It was an ego-trip after the years of being ground down by my theology.

Still had not abandoned my beliefs, in fact I was still actively trying to have more children, rationalizing it that I would re-retire from working when I ended up pregnant and past the first trimester. Truthfully I was changing inside, and finding I was having less in common with those at church, while still spouting the party line. But I was starting to get some pushback for working and the trips to the film festivals.

At one festival I met a young film maker with a low budget and a cute comedy film he's put together on a shoe sting that needed social media help and websites a plenty. Saw the film, loved it and ended up helping him for very little. After I'd known him for about a year he asked me if I'd help out one of the actors of the film, who'd scored a television show that was soon to premiere, a 'clean' comedian. I did as he asked, setting up a Yahoo Clubs fan page for this comic, even if I rarely checked on it more than once a week to make sure the conversations were respectful and nice. Yes, Yahoo Clubs, you know that was a long time ago when that was state of the art social media. Cannot remember if My Space was around yet or not.

I forgot about the comedian mostly even after watching a few episodes of his show and adding in screen caps to the show. He contacted me, asking me to do screen caps from his highlights reel for a possible website. Did the screen caps and charged him very little since I was trying to help out someone just starting out. Exchanged a few pleasant emails, wished him success and that was that. I wasn't a fan, I'd done the club as a favor to someone that was a friend.

And then the trouble started. I got a private message followed by a pile of emails from the angry father of a teenage girl. This girl was a 16 year old of Asian heritage who'd joined the club and her father was claiming that this comedian was sexually harassing his daughter, begging for nude photos, asking for cyber sex and a host of other inappropriate things. I didn't believe him at first because this guy was billed as a clean comedian, but then the father sent me screen shots of the exchanges, I still didn't believe it was Mr. Comedian because the Yahoo ID this person was using could have been anyone.

The most disturbing thing was that the profile photo this person was using was a nude shot in what looked like an anonymous hotel room in a big city. The pasty white body was bent over, exposing glowing white buttocks, an anus and below that the scrotum and penis being pushed into view. I immediately messaged the offender to knock off the behavior and remove the profile photo or I would ban him/her. Saved screen caps of everything on my external harddrive, shrugged, thinking there's a new weirdo online born every day and moved on.

 By this time I'd left my job at the licensing agency and was doing website design and content provision full time from home. Everyone at church that had expressed concern seemed to be fine with me doing that, and I've done that in one form or another ever since, even with the fact that post-church I worked off and on outside of the house in my field.

A few months passed and I started getting a flood of messages and emails from underaged teen girls, all Asian, all under 17, that claimed they were getting sexually harassed online by Mr. Comedian through the Yahoo Club. I started investigating and found that whoever this was had returned, same profile photo, same modus operandi. Once is a careless mistake, over and over is a toxic pattern.

My daughter and I decided most meanly to Catfish this weirdo and try to figure out who he was. We both put up fake Yahoo profiles with photos of young Asian women and profiles to indicate we were high schoolers that liked Mr. Comedian. It didn't take long for the creep to strike, friending both of us, chatting for a few days before begging for three ways, cyber sex, phone sex, nude photos etc all the while claiming he was Mr. Comedian. I finally said I would have phone sex with him, having him call my business line. Time to find out if this is a random creep or really Mr. Comedian. The caller id flashed that the call was coming from Universal Studios in the Los Angeles area and I answered. It was Mr. Comedian..........

.......who was calling from his dressing room, telling me he was currently having cybersex with his girlfriend (now wife), but he really wanted phone sex with me. I made some lame excuse about my mother coming home unexpectedly and hung up. I immediately closed the Yahoo Club, called my friend at the indie film company to tell him exactly why I did it and that I wanted zero contact ever again with Mr. Comedian. My friend told me I was seriously mistaken because Mr. Comedian was nice, normal, kind blah blah blah! He couldn't be a predator on the internet of teenage girls! He refused believe me, even after I forwarded him all the screen caps.

One of the victims put up a hate page for him on Yahoo. I wrote about Mr. Comedian there and a couple of other places warning others he was a predator, posting up the screen caps. I got threats from fans and his management and had to take down the warnings. His manager was completely uninterested and unperturbed by his attempts to lure in teenagers for sexual purposes.

But interestingly enough I received many emails from women working behind the scenes in the industry with tales of Mr. Comedian's behavior towards them during movie and television projects he was in. His sexual harassment was in real life too, not just online.

So for years now I've gagged every single time I've had him cross my radar, when he appears on television I turn the channel, which is hard to do considering he's starring in a series of car commercials right before I left the U.S. for Costa Rica.

I am not going to name him here, in fact I am kicking myself that the external harddrive containing all the information is stored right now in our storage unit stateside because I would so out him right now. He's still out there playing the righteous good clean family man and I seriously doubt he's not still up to his dirty antics. I've met him at film festivals and the Improv in D.C. and I have photos to back up everything.

Hoping that someone who worked with him outs him soon publicly. He's not as famous as Louie C.K., but he's pretty well known now.

Karma is coming.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Unboxed Red Tape

On Saturday morning our possessions from the States finally arrived! Delivered by a nice Costa Rican man who spoke no English. Jim speaks Spanish pretty well, but I've still not far past my ugly American one semester in college Spanish. I can get around, I can shop, I can find the restroom, but not much beyond that. But between the three of us we managed to communicate plenty well enough while unloading the truck and putting the boxes in one of the spare bedrooms.

In a few minutes flat we had the 31 boxes of household things we'd shipped down. the largest amount being kitchenware and art supplies. I worked like a grunt all day Saturday unpacking boxes and washing the contents. I'd forgotten from our other overseas moves that the USA. some shipping by boat companies and other countries frequently insist that your boxes all be fumigated before they are loaded. Ours obviously were, and I reacted, it was wheezy day.

Pleased we didn't have more broken items. The ones that did break were a surprise. Both of my small crockpots ended up with the inner crock part broken to pieces even if I wrapped the crocks before putting them in the crockpot and overwrapping the entire thing in bubble wrap. There were a few plastic bowls that broke. No big loss. But I did discover that our microwave seems to be possessed or broken as it's working on low no matter what setting you nuke it on.

What is always interesting in an international move is what turns up missing. Let's not kid ourselves. somewhere along the line I always end up a few items short on these moves. This time we are missing a brand new toaster, I'm missing a fancy blowdry with some sort of op art motif on it in loud colors and I'm missing my turquoise blue Swingline stapler. They complete ignored the 1 Direction in drag lunchbox I keep drawing pens and markers in.


Saturday and Sunday were filled with unpacking and putting things away but this morning we had to go take care of one of the more frustrating things to deal with here involving mucho red tape - simply paying our electric bill.

Remember last moth when I was so thrilled to have a sixty dollar electric bill? This months bill ran right around one hundred and sixty dollars and last week we had to go by the electrical co-op and ask why so much this month. It was a silly exercise in the fact that local Costa Ricans do not like to say unpleasant things that will upset you. They may jump in front of you in lines all the time, or try to shake you down for more money that the average Tico for the same taxi ride, but they will not usually stand up to you and tell you bad news.

First they had to write a report about our claims that our bill jumped suddenly and we weren't even in the house for the full month. Then I had to get a digital photo of the meter and email it to them. After that they had to come out and test the meter. We went back today to find out what they'd discovered and pay the bill. They claim that they found nothing wrong with the meter and have no explanation for the huge increase. I am wondering if we're suddenly paying a gringo price on the electric. It is still cheaper than any electric bill from the summer in our house in the States, but it's just the idea of the price jumping around and all the hoops we had to jump through last week just to get them to take  look.

Jim's still dealing with trying to get the car delivered to San Jose, and there's been some red tape, requests for more money that is starting to feel like bleed the gringo. I guess it's the price you have to pay to live near the beach.

On better note Negrito is doing well. He gets into every single thing. Even going so far as to chew the hell out of the top of the pineapple in our kitchen.

Tomorrow is likely to be a heap of red tape too. Jim has to send the car import people more money.

Anyone considering coming to live here in Costa Rica really needs to budget three times the money they planned to bring just to help with the red tape.

Friday, November 03, 2017

The Stinkster

Last week we got a kitten, a poor miserable tiny kitten who the vet named Negrito - meaning 'Little Black One'. His markings look like someone stood over him and poured black paint over his white fur. We got him at the veterinarian clinic that also does animal rescue across the street an down a little bit from our home here near Tamarindo.

Here he is the first day:

Silly little thing!

We'd met the vet and her assistant during Tropical Storm Nate hitting this area. As the rains got stronger and weaker and stronger again they showed up on our doorstep wanting permission to leave food out for strays on our spacious tiled porch. Of course we said yes, and got to talking about animal rescue, how I ended up involved in it by default when people started dumping stray animals behind my home in the States. We told her we'd already decided we had to have a cat when we get back from our trip.

Get back we did, and yes, I visited my new friend the vet, who had a crate of four kittens. This guy was clearly the pushiest, demanding petting and to be picked up. Jim loves himself a pushy obnoxious kitty, he picked Negrito.

He should really be called 'Tornado' or 'Hurricane' because he's the most high energy kitten I've ever seen. There's nothing he cannot climb, jump, bite, crawl under, undo, you name it. When he's not leaping tall buildings, biting my feet or climbing you to get to whatever it is that you are eating he's snugging up on you purring asking to be petted. Unfortunately that seems to be when he farts a lot too. We sometimes call him variations of the name 'Stinky'. So so tempted to change his name to 'Pepe' for 'Pepe le Pew'

The funniest thing about this little guy is that he 'talks' to you. When you come in the door he meows 'hi', when you get up in the morning and are stumbling around before coffee he greets you. When you talk to him he talks back. When Jim and I talk to each other he chimes in on the conversation.

The most heartbreaking thing is that when Jim and I were in the States the vet placed him with a family in the nearby apartments and they returned him to the vet after a week, said he was 'too rambunctious'  Makes me sad that Negrito has been rejected at least a couple of times. I could never, even if we have a crazy day with him like yesterday. If I didn't cut off his tail behind his ears yesterday I never will.

Yesterday morn I got up first, staggered out into the living room, cheerfully greeted by Negrito surrounded by a sea of plastic shopping bags, unrolled plarn, a partially unraveled afghan I'm crocheting for the living room, yarn unrolled and various and sundry things. The living room was a sea of crazy things. He murped and meowed proudly showing off his destructive handiwork.

I went a little nuts, yelling and tutting 'Bad kitty! Bad kitty!' unable to figure out how he had managed to get into the little drawer in the coffee table I store my crocheting supplies and in the cabinets I had the bags and other things in. I did a fast pickup and power clean of the living room before coffee

When Jim finally got up he told me that, oh yeah, he'd opened the coffee table drawer and cabinets to get a few things he needed this morning and must not have closed them. Negrito had human help.

If there is one single thing that Jim does that drives me absolutely nuts, that I've gone from mentioning with a smiling face all the way to shouting at him about is his tendency to NEVER close a drawer or cabinet door. I've walked into open cabinet doors in our house and given myself a black eye in the past. I've pitched my request for closed cabinet doors from most polite to scary mommy and it seems like after 31 years of marriage he sometimes still forgets to close those cabinet doors.

So I started the day on a cranky note, knowing that this must have happened during Jim's morning ramble before I get up. We have had such different sleep schedules for years now. I go to bed at 11 and usually sleep soundly till 7. I find I need 8 full hours or I am totally useless.  Jim, on the other hand, goes to bed at midnight or 1 am, sleeps till 4, gets up for  couple of hours then goes back to bed from 6 till 8. I don't know how he does it because I would be a freaking wreck sleeping like that. I'm after him to get a physical because I think his crazy sleep hours are affecting his functioning in daylight hours and his memory.

Around 9 am I'm folding laundry and Jim is watching the fantasy football report on ESPN when Negrito jumps up on the bed next to me, sits down, then gets up and jumps on me just as I notice a weird spot where he'd been sitting. Then Jim starts yelling that he put his hand in cat diarrhea and I can see a drippy little trail of poop drops coming out of the room with the litter box leading to the living room and on to the bedroom. By that time I realized I was going to have to wash the quilt on the bed, the quilt on the sofa and the sofa cover and mop everywhere.

As I was getting the quilt off the bed to wash it Negrito jumped up on the bed and started doing the booty scoot across the sheets. I was something less than pleased and hurdled a few more curses.

Later that day we had to take Negrito back to the vet for his worming appointment and I told the vet about that morning's disgusting diarrhea antics. Turns out Jim has been giving him the milk from Jim's cereal bowl in the mornings before I get up. Negrito got a clean bill of health and has gained weight!

I finally managed to de-poop the house and this afternoon as I was making banana bread he was up in it, watching everything I do closely as always. All is well. I guess I need to remember that you can always pick up things he drags out and the most important - poop cleans off so it is really not that big a deal. Life lesson - you can clean up poop.

From this afternoon. Negrito trying to get right in the middle of baking.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017


We're getting our car and our boxes this week and I'm doing a happy dance! I've been living with a handful of belongings since 4 months ago. Imagining having only four or five outfits and one pair of shoes. I've been living out of a suitcase that long, and while it feels very refreshing not to be held back by possessions I cannot wait to get my stuff. I'll be able to paint again..mmmuhhahaha!

The hold up has been because of a couple of factors:
  1. Overseas shipping isn't cheap so I didn't book one of the services that brings your stuff to you in a week. I went with a cheaper alternative. I knew I would be okay living for at least a few months without our things. Jim used to be in the military and we did a few big international moves. Which remind me, when the moving company picked up my boxes they exclaimed over how perfectly packed everything was. I laughed and told them this was not my first overseas move rodeo.
  2. I shipped the boxes at the very last second because I was still using many of my things. They are shipped by freighter boat with lots of stops.
  3. When we got here we had lots of red tape with getting all our bank accounts linked between here and the U.S. That meant it took some figuring and straining to get the money here to pay the taxes, customs and import fees. Wire transfers can take a month.
  4. I have medical machinery I had to get permission from the government dept of health to import. Lots of paperwork, lots of hassle and haggling to get permission. 
  5. The hurricane and road situation
  6. Traveling to try and see Jim's mother before she passed.
Jim and I say that living in Costa Rica means every day is an adventure. One thing is for sure, between finalizing living here and Jim's tasks of taking care of executing his mother's will means that for every day over the last two weeks we've been in and out of the local print shop to print, fill out and fax forms around and that has been interesting considering doing these tasks in the States is pretty easy. Here? Not so much.

Thankfully I have a printer and office supplies coming because those things are pretty expensive here.

But the other day was a perfect illustration of how more casual and how different the culture is. The import company handling importing our car needed the original title to our car and didn't tell us this until that day, the day before the car needed to clear customs. We discovered that none of the shipping services here over an overnight delivery option like the post office or Fed Ex does in the states so our only option to get it there overnight was to go to the Tamarindo airport and put it on one of Sansa Airline's planes to Limon. So Jim sat out to do that after the taxi driver dropped me at the house from our trip into town.

It was an experience according to Jim. First of all, the road from the main drag of town into the airport is washed out, so the taxi had to take Jim on a long backroads way out to the airport, driving through a field and coming to rest at the end of the lone runway.

Jim said there was another taxi waiting there, with a guy sitting in the backseat. Jim had been told that he needed to follow the runway to the terminal to get the letter sent by plane, so he gets out of the cab and starts trudging down the runway, even as a plane takes off just overhead. By this time Jim can see and hear that the guy in the other taxi has gotten out, is trailing behind him and is busy weaving an invisible tapestry of obscenities in English. Jim cannot figure out what this man's problem is, so he goes into the tiny terminal and makes arrangements to fly out the car title.

The other man turns up just as Jim is preparing to traverse the runway again to get back to his taxi. Apparently that plane that had just taken off was supposed to take this man, and he's missed his flight. He's still cursing like he thinks he's Andrew Dice Clay, stranded in Tamarindo another night.

Never a dull moment that's for sure!

Saturday, October 28, 2017

The Rest of the Journey - Cliff Notes Verision Finale

Upon reaching my children's condo I slept in hard the next morning, sleeping so hard that I missed a couple of phone calls from Jim. When I called him back around 11am he told me that while sleeping at the Fort Lauderdale airport around 2 am he received a call telling him that his mother had just died. Thanks to Mrs. Satan and TSA he didn't get there in time. If they had just said sure come on over two weeks before, or agreed to help him get from the airport somehow to the nursing home (way too far for a cab, over and hour) he could have seen his mother before she passed.

Ran through my errands, getting stuff for Costa Rica and taking care of banking and investment tasks before myself, our son and daughter got on a plane for San Antonio. We booked a hotel for the week after taking care to make sure all three of us had funeral appropriate clothing. Telling the kids was hard, I think our son took it the worse, he was struggling not to cry.

When we arrived in San Antonio Jim met us and we heard the rest of what happened. He picked up his rental car and headed to his mother's home about an hour away in Texas Hill Country, but when he arrived he was told that he'd missed the mortuary picking up his mother's body by literally two minutes. Yeah, they knew he was on his way, on the road in the rental car, yet they couldn't hold back the pick up an hour or two?

So Jim never did get to see his mother at all. At all.

There was no funeral or memorial service. Jim's brother and Mrs. Satan insisted that they didn't want to hold the service until December or January and the only reasoning given was that it was too short of notice to do it this week even if we were all there from quite some distance. Keep in mind my Maw in Law arranged and prepaid all of this many years ago, right down to leaving lengthy instructions on what she wants. All that went out the window. The brother in law was insisting Jim tell no one in the family beyond us and post nothing about it on Facebook. It was very odd.

Mrs. Satan is handling the entire memorial service and kept saying that she wanted to do the memorial service on Dec. 30th, ignoring the first six times I told her that would not work for us flying in from Costa Rica because that holiday week is THE week of High Season where it is impossible to afford tickets. Back when I was toying with renting out our Costa Rican house for the week and returning Stateside just to make a little money I'd discovered the unpleasant truth on what airline tickets run from Thanksgiving to mid-January here. Told her upfront it needed to be either that week, or sometime in the first three weeks of November or the last two weeks of January. I get home and get an email with the date being fixed of January 10th. Just had to email and explain it was not happening for the reasons stated above.

The kids and I tried to make the best of a long strange bad trip, there was drinking, there was the occasional touristy thing done. I had great fun telling both of them of the misdeeds of LBJ in the LBJ museum. Mostly I tried to keep my temper under control around Mrs. Satan and tried to keep her and her husband from taking advantage of my husband. I drank an almost  liver killing around of tequila that week.

Turns out that they started being really, really nice to Jim before I got there. Jim's brother told him how jealous he was that Jim had commanded a lot of the family attention growing up. I'm so tired of Jim's brother continuing to bring that up, I was so tempted to tell him if he's that mentally unhinged by his childhood at 62 he needs therapy.

Mrs. Satan explained her hateful snubbing of us that Christmas by saying she'd been 'stressed out' by caring for the Maw in Law (who they only saw 2 or 3 times a month and prevented us from having her move near us. We volunteered to take over her care many times). Not one word of apology for that hateful fake list of a dozen things I'd done to offend her. I'm still steamed even if Jim has decided to let it go.

I finally figured out towards the end of the trip why they were buttering Jim up. They (well, mostly Mrs. Satan) does not want the will going to probate, they just want to liquidate all her accounts and split everything down the middle 50-50. The Maw-in-Law did leave a will, Jim is the executor, so I urged Jim to make sure that was actually legal since there is a will and he talked to the lawyer holding the will.

We get home and the assets situation gets very hinky again. Mrs. Satan sent my husband a paper for the insurance company she filled out for him, expecting him to sign with zero questions. Then she insisted that her name be added as one of the recipients of the big investment account. Why? She said in case Jim's younger brother died suddenly. I was put off by that, wondering if she was planning on bumping the brother off suddenly because it's a most odd request. Jim's brother has children from a previous marriage who would be more entitled to that money than she.

Jim has talked to the lawyer and started the process to honor the will. Assets are being chased down and dealt with legally. I just have to keep a straight face and not go off on Mrs. Satan one more time, at the memorial service in January and then I never have to ever see her again. That fills me with joy.  I'm still friends with Wife #1, who was not a manipulative controlling fake.

There are so many things that happened with Mrs. Satan that I could talk about, like the time on this trip she tried to press me into service polishing her flatware and other weird random tasks, but I'm going to forget them and do like I did then, smiled and walked away without a word.

We're back in Costa Rica now...

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Our Journey Part Five

Sunday Oct. 8th

..and of course nothing goes smoothly. We took the 1 am flight from San Jose, Costa Rica yesterday no problem and slept the entire flight. Get to Fort Lauderdale with a 90 minute turn around time to catch our other flights, Customs and baggage has been told that the flight is filled with folks that got stranded in Costa Rica due to Hurricane Nate and they wave us on through so that there's plenty of time to make the connecting flights.

We get to TSA security and it all goes haywire. I discover with some horror that my ticket does not have that usual security designation we always have -  TSA Precheck designation and started going right into a panic attack, no one from that particular Costa Rican flight has it and we get held up at security, I am starting to cry and panic now because it's been four days of crazy travel and almost no sleep. I get one person from the front of the line and  beg the supervisor to have mercy and let us through. He looks right at me and says 'No, Go to the back of the line. I'm going to teach you a lesson for thinking you can cut the line' All I did was beg for help since I'm about to miss my flight, I was polite even if I was emotionally agitated.

Even going to the back of the line I'm still way ahead of Jim because we have to go to two different terminals so we kissed at baggage and he ran to his terminal.

So I go to the back of the line where I really start crying because I have to go two terminals over and the Fort Lauderdale airport is huge. When the slow moving line finally gets up to the scanner I get in and get scanned and hear a 'Step over here! We think you have something in your pockets and/or underwear and have to pat you down!' Now, I'm wearing a thin cotton beach dress with no pockets and underwear, that is it. I pointed out that I had no pockets on my dress and then they searched me in front of everyone! The last time this happened almost ten years ago they took me into a private room. This time I was out in the open, dress being flipped up and felt. They searched me up under my dress, one agent putting his hand in my underwear to feel my threatening national security pubes. I start crying even harder and don't stop them because I've read too many stories about what happens if you object you usually end up in jail, which is the last thing I need. I just need to get past this and get to the damn plane. Then they started wiping down my hands and various body parts with gel that is supposed to supposed to test for plastic explosives, this crap goes on and on.

Ten minutes later after thoroughly searching my bag and my person they let me go. I get to the gate and see that the plane is pushing away from the gate. Missed the flight because of the idiot TSA officers. I'm going to file a complaint over this, but I'm going to wait till I'm in Costa Rica to do it. (I found out that filing a complaint does nothing, so I've hired an attorney and we are suing TSA)

I sat down in one of the airport lounges and had a good cry afterward I was still so upset. I texted Jim to make sure he'd gotten on his plane, found out he'd missed his so we went to breakfast and spent much of the day napping on the floor of the airport.

Jim missed his flight because of the gridlock at TSA and I would say about half the others did too. People were freaking going off on Spirit, but the problem was TSA, not Spirit for a change. So since we both missed our 7 am flights we had to get new tickets. They rebooked me for the 3:30 into DC and Jim for a 5 pm into San Antonio. We'd just gotten through this mess when Jim's brother calls to tell him yet again he'd better get a taxi or an Uber to get to where they are and he'd better book a hotel.

Jim's flight was supposed to land at there at 9 pm and asshole brother is refusing to do anything to help him get to see their dying mother?? Jim ended up rescheduling his flight to 6 am and arranged to get a rental car for the week. Rental cars agencies would have been closed by that time in San Antonio. I suspect the phone call and warning of no help is really the doings of Mrs. Satan - sis in law from hell.

I get to DC and find my daughter Laura is so panicked over all this with her grandmother and worried because the bro in law is going to a supposedly unavoidable work meeting in Boston on Wednesday, leaving her daddy and Cuntzilla alone together in her grandma's room that she's gone ahead and booked her, her brother and me tickets for a flight down to San Antonio on the Tuesday night red-eye flight.

This afternoon and tomorrow morning is the only time I'll have to knock out my long list of errands I have to run.

I need more than a valium

So we had another full day at yet another airport. Jim slept there last night and I finally got to DC around 6 pm.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Our Journey Part Four

Saturday, Oct 7th

There's really no sleeping on the vinyl chairs of the airport, no matter how plush the blankets and pillows. We spent the night at the Liberia airport even though there were no flights going out to the US until afternoon the next day. Strangely enough, even with zero flights or activity in the darkened and mostly abandoned airport the P.A. System kept blaring out announcements, like warning you not to bring 10K in cash in or out of the country and that it's forbidden to bring seashells out of the country (oops! I've done that!). The announcements blared out every 15 minutes all night long! You'd finally drift off to sleep only be to jolted wide awake by an altogether too cheerful voice loudly warning you about various regulations.

                                      Jim settling down for the night at the Liberia Airport

Where we slept there was a large overhead fan, the biggest one I'd seen, with blades at least 15 feet long adding to the noise and non-sleeping. But we got a giggle out of that fan. Jim lay on his back staring at the fan before asking me what I saw on the fan. I joined him in staring overhead and finally saw the name of the brand 'Big Ass Fans' Such a straight forward name could only come from Texas. I discovered later it is a Texas brand. Long way from Houston to Liberia.

The animals kept us up too. Jim was on the computer and pointed to the windows and asked me if I'd ever seen such a strange looking black squirrel before. There was just one problem, that was no squirrel, it was the cutest little skunk that kept running up to the plate glass windows to peer in. There was also a large white bird, I'd say a hawk or an owl, continually circling over head in the airport most of the night, making loud pissed-off cries that could not figure out how to leave the building.

For all my complaining I have to say I'm impressed with the staff at the airport. They put us up in makeshift beds on couches, provided pillows, blankets, bottled water, snacks and coffee for our stay. It's just hard to sleep in a public space like that.

After awakening from our fitful attempts to sleep we discover that the road to San Jose is still closed, the only way to San Jose from here is on a plan and the only airline with empty seats, United, wanted a pricey amount, starting at $1,600 going up to double that. Way to gouge people stuck by a hurricane, United! Those tickets would have only gotten us to a hub, like Atlanta or Dallas and we'd have to outlay more money to get to D.C.

But... while in crazy circumstances, do very crazy things, like go around and talk to each and every airline, even the regionals. While most of the other stranded airline passengers were snoozing at the Hilton dreaming of the waffle bar Jim was hustling around to the regional airlines.

None of the regionals had open seats to San Jose until 3 pm, but the good folks at Sansa airline let us go on standby for a seat on their 8:30 am. Fortune smiled on us, and there were exactly two seats with no shows for that first flight. Likely it was two from the hotel that overslept. We took that first flight to San Jose.

From the air the view was both incredible and devastating. You could see angry gouges on the mountains where mud slides had happened, and there was water for miles over various plots of land. The sight of the Arenal Volcano park rising over the beauty of Lake Arenal was breathtaking!

                           View of Lake Arenal and the volcano from our plane.

We finally got to San Jose Airport and ended up taking to many different service reps from our airline. But just as we were finalizing our new tickets and flights around 1 pm Jim's brother called with the news that my beloved Maw in Law wasn't doing well, that the people from hospice said it wasn't long now, that it was merely a matter of days until she passed.

Which meant if Jim wanted to see his mother before she died he needed to get to San Antonio, Texas.

Mini rant: Two weeks before we got word that MiL was being put in hospice. Jim wanted to try and change this ticket to him visiting his mother for a few weeks and me flying out a few weeks later on my original ticket. He wanted to see and spend time with his mother. He should have, but apparently once he announced to his brother that he was making arrangements Mrs. Satan (our sis in law) put a kebosh on that, saying that the Maw in Law wasn't 'that' sick and insisting Jim not come visit his mother. More passive aggressive stupidity. I urged Jim to go anyway, but they talked him out of it. I will never forgive them for doing that selfish thing.

We scrambled up to the airline offices yet again, rebooking Jim on a flight to San Antonio, Texas and keeping my ticket to D.C. exactly the same. We were scheduled to fly together to the hub in Fort Lauderdale at 1 am and then take different flights in the morning to our respective destinations.

It has been a stressful few days with no sleep, so we did attempt to nap right on the floor of the airport, grabbing a few quick naps.

We didn't get much sleep because Jim's brother kept calling to get updates on when Jim would be there, and also to tell Jim he'd have to get his own ride from the airport and find a place to stay as he was still not welcome at his and Mrs. Satan's house. The nerve. Some brotherly love. Jim and his brother were pretty friendly right up until Christmas from Hell shortly after he married Mrs. Satan.

No matter what happens, if the Maw in Law lives or dies this next week it's going to be interesting, an very likely a goat rodeo if recent interactions over the MiL'sinvestments and that Christmas are any indication. I dread the funeral. I hope there is booze because that's about the only way I'll be able not to say nasty things to her.

When we were finally boarded on the plane back to the states it was around midnight. We both went immediately to sleep, one minute the plane was taxing down the runaway and it seemed like the next moment we were landing in Fort Lauderdale. Then things go nuts.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Our Journey Part 3

Friday, October 6th – Still in Tamarindo

When we got up in the morning we had electricity and water, but no cable or internet or access to cell phone towers. We still could not call anything at the airlines. We had breakfast and settled in for another day without much to do. But the heavy rains ended a full day earlier than anticipated, the sun started peeking out from behind dark clouds. It seemed like everyone in town had taken to the muddy streets.

Mid morning I decided to walk over into Villareal proper, to the closest grocery store, one run by a Chinese family that stocked a crazy variety of things. I needed to get Jim a pair of flipflops because his sneakers were still soaked through from the day before. Plus the storm had turned my already dying umbrella into a twisted unusable wreck.

They had shoes for Jim but the only umbrellas bore images of Spiderman, so I passed on the umbrella and bought a raincoat instead. Plus I ended up with something even more valuable – information.

I saw a bus bound for Liberia, even as the news I'd seen in that brief late night one hour return of power said that with the flooding from Nate had displaced people, closed roads, closed public transportation and it would be days before things returned to normal. Most stores and all government offices were closed.

I talked to the bus driver very briefly and he told me that his bus line was up and running and another bus going to Liberia would be by in an hour. If I could just get to Liberia I thought I could hop a bus to the capital and the airport.

Stupid, stupid me, I actually believed him, not knowing that the major road I needed, Ruta 1, was closed at many points. I ran home and Jim and I went into a frenzy of repacking after finally getting enough hot water to shower with for the first time in 48 hours.

We got to the bus stop, even as we had to do the wade through water with our suitcases on our heads again. There in plenty of time to catch the bus to Liberia. But the lady at the ticket office said that the bridge was still out near Filidelphia so there were no direct bus going to Liberia. There was a bus heading south to Santa Cruz and from there we would be able to catch a bus going south on the Nicoya peninsula through Punta Arenas and due east to San Jose and the airport.

We saw the bus in the distance making the turn onto the road to Tamarindo. All we had to do was wait, when the bus picked up its passengers in Tamarindo it would swing back here and pick us up and we'd be on our way.

That never happened. After waiting about 45 minutes we got word that a huge tree had fallen, taking out the electrical lines with it, across the main road to and from Tamarindo. The bus was not coming and Tamarindo was cut off again.

While we were waiting at the bus stop taxi-driving, semi-swindling, ever-hustling and karma victim Gus came along on 3 different times, wanting us to hire him to drive us to Santa Cruz. Each time he circled by he shouted out cheaper and cheaper prices. We ended up getting into someone else's cab in front of him, sharing it with two of the Germans teaching at the local private school.

But when we got to Santa Cruz we found one of the bus lines was still closed and heard about more washed out bridges and a landslide with a rock the size of a small mountain right in the middle of Ruta 27 to San Jose.

We talked a long time to the people at a rival bus company who told us about the lack of roads and road closures. They put us on a bus towards the Liberia airport, figuring if we got to an airport we might be able to switch our tickets to fly out of Liberia. I was told it would be a minimum of a week before there was any hope of the roads to San Jose opening again.

Liberia is only an hour away, but we witnessed scenes of great devastation in that hour, houses with three and four feet of water surrounding them, floating bobbing cars and landslides being cleared away with heavy machinery. The bus had to stop many times and it crawled through mud and flood.

Arriving at the airport around 2:30 pm (after leaving the house at 11:00 am) we found that the only flights out had already left for the day. There was not a soul at the ticket counters. But, where there's a will, there is a way. We and four other people spent the night at the airport in hopes of being the first in line to score a ticket and fly out the next day. The only nearby hotel, the Hilton Garden Inn had sold out every room to other travelers stranded by the storm.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Our Journey Part Two

I left off yesterday with us at a tiny casual restaurant on Thursday, October 5th. Continuing on.

This was the point where I finally found enough cell phone towers to call out. Coverage was down in Tamarindo along with everything else. I called our airline to tell them we were never going to be able to get to San Jose for the flight. I wanted to reschedule for Saturday or Sunday because the battery operated radio in the cafe had announced that Costa Rican president Solis had declared a state of emergency, ordering everyone to stay home and off the roads until further notice because of all the downed trees, flooding and washed out roads.

I'd been watching right up until we lost power the weather sites and updates on this airlines own website, seeing nothing about my flight, but noting that they'd already announced that anyone flying their airline out of New Orleans or Mexico later in the week would be able to reschedule their tickets for free because of the approaching Hurricane Nate.

But when I got through I ended up with someone who sounded Pakistani at an overseas call center, she told me that she didn't show Costa Rica with any weather emergencies and my only options were a) miss the flight and eat the cost of the ticket, or b) pay an additional $750 to reschedule for Saturday. She refused to refund us or simply rebook, insisting there was no weather events going on in Costa Rica. I was still hyperventilating and crying when this set of cell phone towers went down and the call dropped.

We just came home, Annie's car crawling slowly back around downed trees, powerlines and water lapping at the roads ever higher. The water covered the roads in places we'd just been, meaning we had to seek another back road to get around it. We had to stop and reroute again. We were in the car over three hours.

Took some crazy video of the waters everywhere. Sadly I wasn't quick enough with my camera to get some of the stranger things I saw, like floating cars, people huddled on bridges because it was the closet thing to a high spot to shelter from the high water. Saw a man walking a huge hog on a leash like he was having a Sunday stroll with the family dog.

We got back and quickly realized that not only did we have no electric, internet, telephone service or water we also had zero drinking water and no way to flush the toilet. I quickly set out every pot, pan, pail to collect enough rain water to be able to flush the toilet.

After we talked to people on the street we found out the fruit stand was open and one of the nearby grocery stores had their own generator so they were open. We really needed a few things because we'd deliberately run down our groceries for this trip back to the states.

We get to that only open store and it's bedlam! They are out of bread, candles, lights, matches, so we grabbed what we could to hunker down for the wait. I got a big brick of shortening to make a makeshift button lamp for nighttime.

So, we're checking out at the Mega Super with our food and I'm bagging and starting to load our bags into the cart while Jim pays the cashier. As I put the third bag into the cart Gus, the scheming scamming taxi driver from the day before appears suddenly, telling me that he'll take us home. I tell him no, we've arranged for another driver. When I turned away to bag more groceries Gus grabbed all the bags and marched outside to put them in his trunk. Jim and I look at each other, look at him and both say 'What an asshole!' Jim and Gus start dickering over price while a lady and her child also get into the cab.

We get to the house, starting to lug bags of food and jugs of water into the house inside as Gus pulls away, trying to turn around and not watching where he was going along with ignoring our earlier advice that the driveway has a huge dropoff on either side. He went straight down off the drop off, popping a tire and scraping up the bottom of his car.

Twice I'd warned him about the raised driveway and he still drove right off it into the water.

Without electricity and with hard rain falling there hasn't been much for us to do today but read, eat and take naps. Tomorrow we make another attempt to get to San Jose and the airport to talk face to face to an airline rep not in a foreign call center. Hopefully they will reschedule us for free.

Coda: Right after writing this account of our day I was blowing out candles, readying the house for the night I had the mosr disturbing encounter – a tarantula spider as big as my hand had decided that the house made a dandy place to escape the storm. After very carefully sweeping him up into a dust pan I put him out onto our covered patio out back safely out of the rain. During the day we'd had oodles of ravens and magpies huddled down into the iron bars over the windows to be out of the storm.

Shortly after we went to bed the lights came back on along with the water and internet almost a full twenty four hours after we lost them. First thing I did was close all the windows and doors so there could be no more creepy crawly surprises in the night.

After less than an hour everything went down again, around midnight. It was nice while it lasted. At some point between 1 am and 3 am the power came on again along with the water. I got up just enough to re-close and lock the windows while switching on the spider-defying levels of air conditioning to pull some of the sticky humidity out of the house.

Our Journey - Part One

A lot has happened this month that does not involve internet trolls. Hurricane Nate hit Costa Rica just as we were trying to get home for medical appointments, banking and investment business and family visits. It did not go well, and then we got word as we were sleeping at the San Jose airport that my Maw in Law was at the end of her days. Things went nuttier from then, including a hurried trip to Texas and a family death. These are my notes hand written on those days sleeping at various airports. Going to take days to unpack.

Thursday, October 5th, 2017 – Tamarindo Costa Rica

Today seems to fully encapsulate the frustrations and challenges of living as an expat in Costa Rica.

It's been raining for days off and on as a tropical depression formed off the eastern edge of the country in the Caribbean. We have been told that in addition to the usual rains of the rainy season we are getting high winds and heavy rain bands that started Tuesday night, just as we climbed into the bed.

This trip has been planned and tickets purchased three months ago, we cannot cancel or reschedule because too much needs to happen.

Wednesday is crunch time. We needed to pack to fly out on Thursday afternoon for our 90 days out of country, pay our electric, cable, water and rent and pick up money for the trip. The bus tickets to the airport had been purchased a couple of weeks beforehand.

We pack and fret over the rain because the road in front of our house is flooded over to the depth of around 6 inches.

Once the rain eased up from monsoon to sprinkling we grabbed our umbrellas, waded down the street, making straight for the taxi stand and go into Tamarindo proper to pay bills.

The taxi driver lies right to our faces. We ask him before getting in if he'll take one mil (about $1.75), and he says sure, he'll charge us a mil. We go a block or two, the rain picks up again and he (Gus) announces it's now going to cost 2 mil. Why? Because it's raining. Seriously? Me? I would have gotten out of the car and given him 25 colonies tops before hailing another taxi.

Jim says okay, but only because we're pressed for time. Remember this taxi driver, Gus, because he makes several appearances this week.

So we go to town, for the high price Gus is charging us we make him wait at the bank and stop at the coffee stand before going home. Bills paid at the bank, traveling money received, both dollars and colonies and we stop for our afternoon coffees. Jim loves his mocha frios. Gus asks very charmingly if we'll buy him one. We chuckle and buy him a coffee too.

Turn out that paying the electric bill is a good thing. After a month of hearing our fun and lovely German landlords have heart failure over our use of the air conditioning we end up with an electric bill of sixty bucks. I laughed hard at this because literally everyone has been moaning about how expensive electricity is here. It's peanuts compared to our electric bill in Northern Virginia.

Packed and went to bed around 11 pm, after having cleaned the house. We were laying in bed when the lights suddenly went out. Pitch blackness, jungle darkness, for one night I will not need my light blocking eye mask to sleep.

The roof has started leaking in a few spots, so upon getting up the next morning we checked the pots and pans strategically placed to deal with the drips. The landlord tells me than only once every few years during a terrific storm with wind the roof leaks. I see I'm going to have to add that to our list of things to fix if our contract to buy goes through.

We arise at 4 am, getting dressed for the trip in the pitch blackness. The plan was to walk out to the bus stop to catch the 5:30 am bus to San Jose and get off at the airport stop to catch our 12:30 pm flight to BWI and our kids.
After getting up and ready in the dark we hoofed it outside in the still pouring rain, trudging through high water to the bus stop. Jim's shoes were sodden. I'd been a bit more practical, wearing my Tamarindo uniform of rubber flipflops and beach dress. Even sheltering in the overhang of the bus stop our suitcases and ourselves quickly got soaked. We waited and waited and waited with a crowd for over an hour. No bus, no one answering the phone at the bus station.

After an hour a lady taxi driver we know well, Annie, stopped and said no buses were running in Tamarindo because of washed out roads, but she could try to take us an hour away to Liberia, where we could get a bus to San Jose on Ruta 1.

Piled in our baggage and squeezed in with a couple trying to get to Nicaragua and off we went through the raindrops. Downed trees everywhere, several times we had to skirt around the trees on the shoulder or drive through after waiting for road crews armed with chainsaws. Water covering the road in many places, lapping at the edges in others. When we were almost to Liberia we discovered that a bridge was washed away and we had to turn back around.

Annie tried to take us to nearby Santa Cruz where we might be able to catch a bus, but yet again we got nearly there and came upon a closed road. Houses stood three and four feet underwater and many places were huge churning lakes of roiling brown water.

We finally had to stop and regroup near Filadelphia, stopping at the only open soda to get cold pastries and drinks. Annie warned that we needed to eat up hearty because we might end up stuck on the way back to Tamarindo.

To be continued......

Saturday, October 21, 2017

DisGUSted - People Always Tell You Who They Are

Recently I had an experience that for me summed up what can happen when you're openly deceptive, yet behave like you're a person of integrity. A few days before Hurricane Nate I met a new taxi driver here in Tamarindo.

We've become known enough in the community that some taxi drivers know where we live and openly shout up how much to take us to our beautiful house named after a local bird. Most are nice people, you get in the car, you hand over the money and chat while you're on your way.

What happened was one day at the taxi stand by our house we were approached by a driver we'd not used before, Gus. Gus quoted us one price so we climbed into his lovely and cleaner that most taxis car. We hadn't gone more than a half mile when Gus turned to us and said that because it was suddenly raining the fare would now be double. Usually when one tries to pull a bait-n-switch like this we demand he pulls over and we get out. That day we were in a hurry, but my husband Jim argued with him a bit before acquiescing to the inflated price. We swore we would never use him again because he'd tried to hustle us.

The very next day Jim and I were grocery shopping at the Mega Super by our house. Jim was dealing with the cashier while I was bagging our stuff and transferring it to the shopping cart. When I turned to put a third bag in the cart there was Gus at the cart, telling me that he would be taking us home. I said no, I'd already arranged a ride with my favorite driver Annie, thanks but no thank and turned back to keep bagging. When I went to put the fourth bag down I saw Gus rushing out of the store door holding my other three bags. He took my bags, put them in his cab and refused to give them back. I told Jim what was happening and we both agreed in the store that after this ride we'd avoid Gus and he was due for a serious karmic realignment from what we'd seen.

On the way home that second ride with Gus I warned him again about the steep drop off on either side of our paved driveway and he waved me off. But mere seconds after Jim and I got out of the car Gus tried to turn around by driving right off our driveway and down into an 18 inch drop off, popping a tire and scraping up his car badly. Jim and I shrugged and said the same thing at the same time “Karma”

Gus demanded we pay for his tire and trouble, and while we expressed sorrow for his troubles Jim pointed out that we warned him and we don't own the property that damaged his car.

We see Gus around still, but we never ride with him, even preferring to walk from the supermarket with full bags instead of use his service. He grins and shouts out 'Mi amigos!' when he sees us, even offering discounts, but we still don't use him. He showed us very clearly who he is during those two rides and who he is happens to be a person that resorts to guile and something less than truth.

If you observe people they will eventually show you who they are. Even the baddies, although it might take you awhile to figure out which are crooked evil users or severely damaged people who thrive on hurting others. We were lucky with Gus. His intentions were easy to read and quickly determinable.

Sometimes in recovery and survivor groups it's just not that easy to pick out the manipulators, or the ones grappling to be the top authority, the gaslighters, the gossips and the ones who turn out to be rotten to the core.

In the last few days I've seen a couple of people in recovery circles be outed for manipulative toxic behaviors. One of them a man using his status as a blogger to groom and take emotional and sexual advantage of women. That's pretty bad, yes indeed, but it was the reveal of the other writer that is much worse on the scale of damage wreaked on unsuspecting people.

Yesterday one of my friends who's suffered at her hands was brave enough to step up and say she would put up with no more after this writer's husband issued what seems like a threat in a private message. She spoke out and the dam burst. Many more people than I ever dreamed had been victims of this lady came out with their own tales.

I'm not going to talk about the tales of others, but I do seek to document the damage done by this person. I actually more feel pity for her at this point because her actions cannot possibly be those of a happy fulfilled individual.

The writer I am talking about is Libby Anne of Love, Joy, Feminism. Yeah, the same writer trained and launched by Vyckie Garrison of No Longer Quivering. I was around NLQ in those early days when Vyckie was encouraging and launching new writers among the Quiverfull second generation escapees. Somewhere I have the chatroom transcripts from those early days stored in one of my hard drives with the other documents from No Longer Quivering.

Libby Anne showed her true colors eventually with NLQ and Vyckie too, but there were red flags from the beginning that we all missed. Shortly after Libby Anne garnered some small publicity she conveniently forgot who had helped her at the beginning, completely failing to ever thank Vyckie, or mention her help at all. Libby's narrative evolved into one of her own heroism of escaping, rising above and bravely forging on solo to speak for all the other 2nd Gen.

During my time before taking over the day to day posting duties from Vyckie Garrison at NLQ I didn't have a lot of interaction with Libby Anne. I did what I still do towards those that work in recovery in some fashion, felt supportive, wished the best of, and tried to encourage the work. Thought it was odd she ignored everything Vyckie helped her with at the beginning and suspected a lot of what she wrote about her children and relationships was possibly not true, but it was none of my business. I didn't determine who wrote for NLQ.

Vyckie had this to say on Facebook about Libby Anne:

Honestly, they're like a pool of piranhas ... and their bullying has incapacitated the spiritual abuse survivor movement. When I realized the extent of their zealotry, I truthfully just gave up and moved on because I no longer feel compelled to work things out with tyrants at the expense of my own happiness.

She could have steered "Libby Anne's" devotees in a healthy, productive direction and HA had the potential to make a genuine impact for the benefit of all the kids being homeschooled in QF homes today and in the future, but she chose to use her influence to capitalize on their worst tendencies. Together, they've become exactly what they say they hate - abusers.

It's too bad ... because we had a good thing going and a lot of Christian fundamentalists were waking up and getting themselves and their kids out. Not so much anymore

Stupid innocent me, in recovery myself, suspecting little, but being behind the scenes supporting the site and what needed to happen. It was not long after I took over administration of NLQ I felt a distinct frost between myself and Libby Anne.

Eventually I did notice that Libby Anne borrowed ideas and content from many other sites without crediting any of them. I wasn't pleased, but this was one of Vyckie's proteges, so I said nothing, just filed this away as another indication of who she really was inside. Another indicator that she wasn't much like she was attempting to project.

After a few more years I went through a pretty dark time emotionally, dealing with a situation with my adult daughter that distressed me greatly. She was involved in relationships and behavior I did not approve of for a married woman with children. Especially since some of the behavior was happening right in front of my grandchildren. In my distress I wrote about my daughter and her situation in this blog, my personal blog, a blog where I do link to NLQ but mostly do not share the posts on NLQ.

In the middle of this Libby's friends started attacking me. I got ugly threatening messages and emails. If I recall correctly Libby Anne contacted Vyckie demanding I be removed from admin of NLQ because of my words on my personal blog. I had to be interviewed by the mods of another organization we helped launch to determine if I should be tossed from the board. I resigned from several board positions because of the rancor.

The attacks were pretty relentless, I cried every single day while this was ongoing as some of her supporters contacted my children and tried to drive a wedge in between us. It was unrelenting and heinous. Eventually I started forwarding everything to my attorney and discussing the possibly of suing as well as contacting the media company we both were affiliated with to inform them of the doings of her fans.

The thing about all of this is that she claimed to others that she had nothing to do with the harassment I was experiencing, but someone sent me screen caps where she was indeed talking up how 'horrible' I was. People that manipulate others into doing their dirty work so that they can appear Simon-pure are worse than those that actually carry out the actions.

But here is the thing. We're human, we're all human and make mistakes. We muddle through life trying to do the best we can, while frequently doing the wrong things. The problem happens when those wrong things continue and repeat.

When a recovery group starts focusing down and demanding absolute perfection to a set of rules set by the leader, demanding everyone in the group be focused on 'purity' they're no different than the damaging cult that they all left. You're just exchanging one horrible mindset for another. This is not freedom and it's not recovery.

My daughter and I moved past that bad time quickly. She learned I am sometimes right about human behavior and I learned that she has a deep capacity for changing her life for the better. We're closer now than we've ever been and I'm extremely proud of her growth, as well as knowing I need to talk to those I love when I have a problem with their behavior instead of staying mostly silent and ranting about it to others. I learned a lot from that bad time.

After Libby Anne and pals started leaving me alone, finally, mercifully, they moved on to others. Here's just a few of the things that happened.

  • A very recovery-oriented former pastor ran afoul of them by something he said and they came very close to completely ruining his online reputation.
  • A writer struggling with sexual addiction issues had his children contacted by them and they attempted to drive another family apart.
  • Another person found themselves tossed from the very organization they founded. If that wasn't bad enough now Libby Anne claims publicly in interviews and media that she is the sole founder of that org.
  • Another writer dedicated to recovery from evangelical cults found herself harassed and maligned even to the national organization she volunteered for, ending up leaving the org.
  • Several ex homeschooler organizations were blown apart and those dedicated people working to ensure that homeschoolers had options for recovery were marginalized and run off.
  • Libby and pals attacked Vyckie Garrison over remarks on Facebook before angrily demanding their stories be removed from NLQ.
  • ….and there are many more stories I've heard, a trail of people hurt.

Let me state this again – People will tell you by their actions who they are. Are these the actions of a good person, a compassionate woman or a good leader? Let's examine the evidence.

  • Does not show any thankfulness or gratitude for those that helped and supported her.
  • Possible theft of intellectual property and borderline plagiarism.
  • Takes control of groups or organizations started by others and claims she founded them.
  • Leads witch hunts against others and spreads false information of those disagreeing with group.
  • Possibly encouraging others to contact minor children to tattle on the parent.
  • Gaslights people she dislikes.
  • Manipulates others into doing those unpleasant things so she can accomplish her goal and deny any responsibility.
  • Pretense of innocence while denigrating others.

A different list than Gus the cabby, but just as revealing.

Recovery is not recovery if you use it to bully others into doing everything your way. You are just wasting time, resources and hurting others trying to recover.

I know I've waited a long time to tell my story, but for a long time I didn't realize I wasn't the only one. Now I just want to make sure no one else is taken in, used and tossed aside by that group. I've moved on and am living the happiest life ever on the beach in Costa Rica. That is revenge enough, living well.

I hope that those hurt heal and the bullies get the type of inner healing they need. This just needs to stop.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Climbing Bullshit Mountain

This has really been one hideously terrible week! Another round dealing with the government over importing out possessions combined with worrying about my husband's mind.

Things took a loop into crazytown mere hours after my last post. Once Jim got back he wanted to walk back to that same store I had just visited. I agree to go because I'd forgotten to poke my head into the souvenir stand in that same shopping center that sells yarn so I could pick up a few skeins to crochet up a few more wash clothes.

We set out on foot to the farther away store, about a mile. Jim got to talking to the guy in the store working the Moneygram counter (leading to further crazy doings a bit later), while I got my yarn and a bottle of Costa Rican chocolate/coffee/cream liquor to give Jim for his birthday on Sunday. As we left the shopping center it was twilight, and it turned nightmarish for me.

Let me back up, about four weeks ago I was driving hear San Jose, near Escazu, when I suddenly lost a lot of peripheral vision, seeing a new huge floater in my left eye and seeing big flashes of light. I know it's likely my retina or cornea is starting to tear or fray. It was pretty scary driving in high speed hwy traffic and losing some of my vision. I made an appointment to see my eye doctor when I'm back in the States a week from tomorrow, because this was back when we still lived in Copey de Dota. I haven't been bothered with it much and don't seem to be losing any more vision, but it still needs to be seen. Soon.

We're walking back from the shopping center along our narrow paved road, the one that runs past our house and turns towards the beaches of Tamarindo as it got darker and darker. As people started switching on their car lights I literally could not see, I just saw the crazy flashes of light in my eye compounded  by the headlights. I was stumbling along, yelling to Jim that my vision was almost nil, narrowly avoiding be squashed by cars.

He could hear because he'd done that thing I absolutely fucking hate that he does, that I have told him I hate, he's way way ahead of me and cannot hear me over the noise of the traffic. I don't entirely blame him. His legs are at least 8 inches longer than mine and he towers over me by a foot. I have to run to keep up with, he has to significantly slow down for me. It very rarely happens.

By the time we mad it home I just lit into him for his thoughtless running ahead of me bullshit while I literally could not see! I. Was. Livid! He could not understand why I was so completely out of control angry. He found out the next morning when I woke up sick with lungs and another sinus infection. We both should remember by now that if I get that type of over the top serial killer pissed off there is significant asthma/lung problems getting ready to happen.

The other thing I am noticing in the last few weeks is that Jim is exhibiting suddenly a lot of signs that he might be developing dementia. I'm after him to get a complete physical while we're in the States. I'm so afraid he is losing it.

The bullshit of the rest of the week is of him listening to the advice on wiring in money from the US to have the funds to pay the taxes on the car and trying to do just that. Pissing off our kids by asking them to do it, refusing to listen to me when I point out that the website for Moneygram says something completely different than what he was told and the advice of our CR banker and others. He's living in La-la land over what needs to happen and has gotten increasingly cranky when his schemes and misunderstandings do not work out.

Never use Moneygram overseas because we were unable to retrieve our money from them at any of the listed receiving branches here in Costa Rica. Had to cancel the transaction and have the money refunded. Which means our car is still sitting at Porto Limon. We'll not be able to pick it up for three weeks and they're going to hit us with storages fees.

It's not entirely on his malfunctioning brain either. Getting money here is not an easy task. Anything having to do with the local government is three times longer and more expensive than they tell you.

On the other side I think I keep getting sinus infections from my new VPAP machine. I haven't been the most virtuous about scrubbing the various masks and hoses down with disinfectant. I am now, even going so far as to come up with an organic germ killing procedure and solution.

Most of all this bullshit meant endless trips into town to try and resolve all of this and zero time on the beach. Ugh. I need coconut rum right now.