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.

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