Sunday, June 25, 2017

I've Finally Arrived!

Sleep.

That's the main thing I've been doing since landing here in Copey, Costa Rica. Sleeping.

It's hard not too. The remodel of my house was fraught with stress, problems and was turning into an endless money pit. I finally broke, tossed a few things in my suitcases and blubberingly hauled ass across the country to my mother's house. Things didn't go any better once I got down to South Louisiana. I discovered the day that the car was supposed to ship out that I was missing one of the crucial documents for shipping and had to contact Virginia DMV to get a copy sent out. The shipping company handling my household things suddenly decided to bill me and demand payment right then after me calling them for two weeks wanting to pay the bill, at a bank that does not even exist in Louisiana. Add in my mother and her myriad issues including her panic over the Tropical Storm and you have me getting a rental car and decamping early for New Orleans to wait out the time for my flight to Costa Rica.

In other words I've barely slept for months on end, when I wasn't eating Xanax like M&Ms that is. I have hit the wall and crashed. Every afternoon here in Costa Rica during the rainy season you can count on it raining and raining copiously. The rhythm of the downpour on the tin roofs puts me right to sleep.

Jim picked me up at the airport yesterday. I came trotting out in all my glorious white privilege with a train of redcaps hauling my numerous suitcases. That's the funny part of all of this, since leaving my mother's house I've been operating in a very bourgeoisie way. It has nothing in common with our usual simple life. I stayed at a 500 buck a night hotel for next to nothing because I had saved a boatload of travel points with that chain. It's the high end hotel of the chain that uses 'Game of Thrones' actor who plays Tormund Giantsbane as their advertising mascot. I got to see his smiling face all over the place. First time I've stayed at such a luxurious place! But I did the most middle class thing and swiped all their nice toiletries. Lots of room service food too! I rented a bag cart at the airport and even sprung for uber overpriced food on my Spirit airlines flight. Tiniest glimmer of what being rich must be like. I even got to bypass the long lines for immigration and customs courtesy of the redcaps.

The not so fun part of the trip included having to leave the rental car in outer Cajunlandia at the New Orleans airport and schlep all those bags through criminally high humidity levels and heat before getting anywhere near the terminal. Did I mention that Tropical Storm Cindy was bringing driving rain at the same time? Sodden luggage and I made it into the terminal just in time to check in for my 5 am flight.

It was a two hour ride in a tiny car from the airport to Copey. Beautiful countryside, hair pin turns up and down the mountains and the most spectacular views down sheer drop offs into the valley. We passed a waterfall visible from the open road and groves of coffee and apple trees.

The place Jim is staying at, that's about to be my temporary home for three weeks, is a far cry from anyplace I ever imagined I would live. Our 'apartment' is a half of a converted former garage, cobbled together from tin roofing, plastic paneling and tile. It's about 180% from the place I stayed the night before. Yes, there's a Shower of Death, but it seems to be properly grounded, but like all those types of showers you get a minuscule amount of lukewarm water in between rushing gluts of cold water. I am learning to step out for the bouts of cold and wait for the electrified shower to do its thing and make with the lukewarm water.

I guess you can live with anything for a few weeks. I'm so thrilled to have a bed, sheets, pillows again that I'm not even concerned about the third world nature of the accommodations. It is scrupulously clean.

The tiny village is charming, chickens, cows and horses wander about at will and there is virtually no traffic. The mountains surrounding the village have clouds dipping down obscuring the tops. We went for a long walk in the village in the morning. Jim took me to the small store to get drinks this morning, juice and his favorite drink – local chocolate milk. After lunch and another in a series of naps I started taking immediately upon arrival we took the bus into the next town, slightly bigger than Copey.

We hadn't been in town more than a few minutes before we spotted that sight you can count on seeing, no matter how tiny the village, worldwide – Mormon missionaries. We talked to them for a few moments, but they immediately tried to convert us, but they quickly figured out that it was the impossible task.

I have been trying new odd things this afternoon. First freshly squeezed raw sugar cane juice, a local delicacy. Was very curious about this because growing up in South Louisiana you get to see the fields of sugar cane growing, the blessing of the sugar cane by the local Catholic priests and you get to dodge the cane trucks hauling the harvested sugar cane to be processed. It's not very clean or appetizing when they first extract the juice, it's gritty and brown. The juice undergoes processing, boiling and skimming to remove the impurities (squashed bugs and dirt) before being reduced down into sugar.

Sure enough, fresh sugar cane juice has gritty dirt a-plenty. Didn't much like it no matter how 'natural' it is, or what the locals claim about it's health boosting abilities. Yep, I drank dirt.

We had ice cream, and I got to encounter one of the things I loved about living in Germany years ago – booze ice cream. I had a double cone of rum ice cream studded with dried fruits heavily soaked in rum. Kill your sweet tooth and get a buzz on at the same time.

Followed by a taxi ride back into Copey and more napping.

Tonight we walked down to the town's only restaurant and had pork, potatoes and steamed vegetables with a tamarind mousse pie. Deliciouso!

More sleep about to happen. I have three months of crappy sleep to catch up on. Pretty easy to sleep with the pounding of the rain on the tin roof and the fact that we're close enough to the equator to get about 12 hours of night.

Tomorrow – mass at the local Catholic church by the local priest – a Tanzanian with limited Spanish skills and likely a lot more napping.

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