Sunday, September 27, 2009

2 BR Condo for Rent - RENTED!

View from my balcony

Live in luxury for a pittance! My tenant of two years moved out and I need to find a new one. Here's the description:

Modern 6th floor condo with 2 BR, 2 bath, TV room, living/dining room, kitchen, laundry room, balcony, 3 ceiling fans, 2 parking spaces. Pretty view of Alajuela mountains and Volcan Poas. Big swimming pools, BBQ area, tennis, 24/7 security. Located in Concasa Condominiums in San Rafael de Alajuela, only 15 minutes to Forum, 20 minutes to the airport, 4 kms from Panasonic in Belen (next to Santa Ana). There will soon be an entrance here to San Jose-Caldera autopista (only a half-hour drive to the beach). Only $495/month, unfurnished. Call me at 2282-5557 or email

The locks have been changed, some work has been done, and the place will be painted soon.

I bought this condo during preconstruction, two years ago. It's a lovely place to live, but I like where I am in Santa Ana, which is why I want to find a tenant to live there. If you know of anyone...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Wonton Day

I am blessed to be good friends with two Susans, one in Massachusetts and one here in Costa Rica. Both are very good cooks. Which is a good thing, because I never really learned to cook, but I sure do like to eat.

My local friend Susan, a dietician in her former Canadian life, who lives here in Santa Ana and works on my street, has been wanting to go to Super Sony, the oriental food store in San Jose. Last week we planned our menu so we'd know which ingredients to buy. We were going to make wontons for Susan's favorite wonton soup, plus fried wontons, and spring rolls, fresh and fried, which are my favorites from Vietnamese cuisine.

This past Sunday was Wonton Day. I picked Susan up around 1:00pm. We stopped at PriceSmart, the big box store to stock up on food and stuff, before we headed into the city. On Sundays I can park on the street right in front of the little supermarket instead of parking in the paid lot a block away.

We took our time going up and down the aisles. There was food there I had never seen before and didn't know what to do with. Susan knew just what we needed to get, and an hour later we left. We had to stop at a regular supermarket to pick up ground chicken and fresh bean sprouts, and while we were there, we realized we hadn't eaten lunch, so we got some good junk food to tide us over - cookies, chips, all good stuff.

About 4pm we got back to my place and dug in. I had no idea what to do, so I was Susan's eager assistant. She had me chop vegetables for the spring rolls, while she did, um, I don't know what she did. I was busy putting on music, pouring us drinks, and blowing a whistle into the phone when Jose called.

He called four times and I decided I had had it. I called the police and they came within five minutes. I showed them the restraining order and the phone log I've been keeping, and begged them to make him stop calling me. I played the saved messages so they could hear how he was harassing me. But they said they couldn't do anything about his phone calls. If he got within 500 meters, about 1/3 mile, of me, I could call the police and they would pick him up. So the police left, and Susan and I got back to work in the kitchen. She has been very supportive of me during this difficult period. Jose has been bothering her, too. We both just wish he would go away.

Next up was making wontons. We laid out the wrappers and put a little of the chicken mixture in them, then rolled them halfway, turned them around and brought their little arms together.

Then we fried them.

Then we ate them, but there's no picture of that. The next day Susan came over for lunch and we made wonton soup and ate more fried wontons and spring rolls and more fresh spring rolls. Mmm mmm good!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Volcan Arenal

Soobs and the Dancing Queen

My friends have been coming to my rescue as the stalking experience continues. Fred and George offered me their guest room in Puriscal, about 45 minutes from where I live. Patricia and Gloria did, closer by, did too. Hugo,Laurie, Kim and Susan in MA offered sympathetic ears. Laura made suggestions about how to avoid Jose. Lisa gave me her whistle in case I have to call for help. And my Canadian friend, Susan, got us a free room for two and some free tours in the resort area of Volcan Arenal.

So off we went Saturday morning, Soobs (Susan) and me (the Dancing Queen), leaving Santa Ana and Jose behind. We packed up my car, and I am happy to say that it was a fun and uneventful road trip. I think the town of La Fortuna, where the volcano is located, is supposed to be about a 3.5-hour drive, but we took our time, stopped along the way, and enjoyed the scenery. This was my first trip to Arenal.

I highly recommend the San Bosco Hotel for staying in town, as opposed to staying closer to the volcano. It's a clean, comfortable hotel with a delicious breakfast included, and a lovely pool. Shops and restaurants were just a block or two away, yet our place was very quiet.

Saturday afternoon we got picked up by Desafio Tours for a nature hike. We saw and heard howler monkeys and birds. My calves felt a little strained from walking up and down the hills. As the sun started to set and clouds and rain settled in, we stopped at a clearing where we could look up toward the volcano and see fiery red/orange lava. The entire volcano was socked in with clouds, but that lava stuck out. Our gracious tour host provided us with a timely cocktail: fruit juice and guaro. Guaro is like a legal moonshine here in Costa Rica. It's made from sugar cane and creates a wicked hangover when a lot is consumed. We didn't imbibe that much, just enough to feel happy.

Our next stop was Baldi Hot Springs, a popular tourist place with many pools fed by thermal springs. Ooh, did it feel great soaking in those hot spring pools. It didn't matter that it was raining. We were comfy and already wet. We had a $9 buffet dinner before going back to our hotel.

At 7:30 the next morning, Lavamar, another tour company, picked us up and took us to the Hanging Bridges. It was another nature walk, but we had to cross 15 narrow bridges that were suspended in the rainforest over chasms of up to 250 feet. Susan wore a poncho, but I thought my rainjacket with a hood would keep the rain from soaking through me. I was wrong, wrong, wrong. After the first half hour of misery, I accepted the fact that I was just going to be drenched through and through, and I started to enjoy being outdoors. This really is a beautiful country, with vast amounts of primary forest, wildlife and flowers.

Our next tour was a hike down to the bottom of the Arenal waterfall. If it hadn't been pouring rain and so chilly, we would have gone swimming in the pool that the waterfall makes. So we just walked down the well-paved steps to the bottom. OMG - there were hundreds of steps, and with each one, my already-aching calves screamed in agony. As we walked down, we saw sorry souls walking up. They looked hangdog, and I kept wanting to turn around and beat feet it to the top before seeing the waterfall up close. But I felt obligated to complete the (free) tour, and I kept at it. Sure enough, going up was excruciating. Not only did my calves burn, but my lungs did too. Finally we reached the top and we piled into the van, thanking our lucky stars that we didn't have to ride away on horseback like the other tourists who made it out before us. The last stop was at a restaurant where I had a pretty good steak.

Back at the hotel, Susan and vegged. I read by the pool and stretched my calves in the water. I got three little stings by a red ant. And then I took a 2.5-hour nap. Ooh, did that feel good.

We walked around town, or rather I hobbled and Susan walked, and we bought some earrings at a little store. Susan bought earrings to match her hair, which seemed funny at the time, and another pair to match a bracelet. I bought a black and silver pair for myself and a pair of witches on broomsticks as a gift. Then we went to Don Rufino's for dinner. Mm mm mm, what good food! Susan had a delicious rib eye steak and I had a tropical chicken dish with cashews. My calves were so painful that I couldn't go to the dance place that was only around the corner from our hotel. I hadn't realized that salsa dancing uses calf muscles, but it does, and I didn't have any in working condition.

Monday morning we lazed around the pool, then headed out. We stopped before San Ramon to buy queso palmito, a round ball of cheese that peels like spaghetti. I bought an extra one for my landlords, and Susan bought some for her coworkers. We laughed a lot on the way home, as she felt compelled to read road signs aloud, which is one of the things that drove me crazy about a guy who visited me 2.5 years ago. He had to read every sign out loud.

We stopped at AutoMercado to do a little food shopping before having a Welcome Home drink at Coyunda's. At least for three days I was able to feel safe from the ongoing haunting by Jose.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Object of His Obsession

I would like to say that Jose is history, but he is still part of my daily life. And not in a good way.

After four weeks of "having a boyfriend", which was a new and happy occurrence for me in Costa Rica, I broke up with Jose. I realized that he is an alcoholic who cannot control his drinking, and he is not a pleasant drunk. I learned too late that he has an obsessive personality. I became the object of his obsession, and now I cannot extricate myself from him.

As of today, September 3, it has been 12 days since I told him "no more." Every day since then, he has called me from 5-20 times a day, usually starting around 6:00am, and ending sometimes as late as 2:00am. I do not answer the phone when he calls unless he calls from a number I don't recognize, and then I hang up as soon as I recognize his voice. Sometimes he calls and hangs up; sometimes he leaves a message. When he is drunk, he leaves a loud, angry message that is undecipherable.

One Friday he was waiting for me after my exercise class. I had walked away from the building with a friend and we parted at the end of the street. At the next corner, Jose stepped out from behind a wall and scared the shit out of me. We talked for 10 minutes. He kept saying, I love you, why did you break up with me? After telling him why again and repeating myself many times, I just walked away from him, uphill toward my street. He must have taken a taxi to get ahead of me, because as I approached my street, he popped out again from behind another wall. This really freaked me out. I just kept walking, ignoring him.

Two days later on a Sunday morning as I was driving back home from the feria, I saw him walking away from my street, and he saw me. He would have had no reason to be in that neighborhood other than to look for me. When I got home, I put the letter to him that I had written the day before into an envelope and waited for him to come to my gate. Sure enough, he arrived, and I handed him the letter through the wrought iron gate. He read it. In the letter I told him again why I broke up with him, I asked him to stop calling me and to stop looking for me, and that if he continued, I would get a restraining order against him. I asked if he understood the letter, and he said yes. Then he said, I love you, why did you break up with me? I walked back to my apartment.

His calls have continued. During one particularly nasty call, he said "Voy a matarla" or "Voy a matarlo" meaning I am going to kill you or I am going to kill him. I wasn't sure which it was. He seems to think I broke up with him not because of his drinking, which he cannot take responsibility for, but because there is another man. There is no other man.

A friend of mine from my dance and exercises classes offered to be my witness to get a restraining order, so Wednesday morning Olga and I went down to the mayor's office and filed a formal complaint against Jose. I like to believe that people are basically good, that we all want the same things - to be loved, to have our basic needs met, to be happy - but I realized I have been naive about Jose. Still, I didn't want to file a legal complaint against him, but I did. And I was glad I did. The clerk waiting on me said that Jose had been in the day before asking if I had filed a complaint against him. So he apparently took my threat in the letter seriously; I was just delayed by a day.

I received a Protective Order and was told that if Jose comes near me again to call the police. Jose would be arrested and put in jail for three months. Olga found out that Jose had already violated a Protective Order filed by another woman a while back and had spent three months in jail for that offense. Geez, I wish I had known that when I met him!

Sometime during Wednesday afternoon the police delivered a copy of the formal complaint to Jose. Sometime after that he got riproaring drunk and found a friend who could write a little English. About 5:30pm, Jose pulled up in a taxi to the front gate where I live, handed my landlady, Ana, an envelope with his copy of the complaint in it, and took off. Ana delivered it to me and said Jose was drunk. On the back of the complaint was some scribbled handwriting with seven lines. One said that I was a bitch. Another said I was a lesbian. Another said he didn't like my body. And I couldn't decipher the other four lines. He signed his name to it.

Then the phone calls started up again. The first was angry and unintelligible. The next ones were more conciliatory as he worked off his drunkenness. In all, there were five messages yesterday after he received the notice, and so far today there have been eight messages. It doesn't seem to matter to him that I don't pick up the phone.

At lunch today, a friend gave me her shiny metal whistle on a rope. It has become my new necklace that I will wear everywhere. I also have to carry my cell phone and the order with me everywhere I go, even when I just walk in the morning, so I can be prepared and call the police if Jose shows up.

Meanwhile, something happened on our property and my landlords and I are not sure if Jose is to blame or not. Sometime between Tuesday at 5:30pm and Wednesday at 5:30pm, someone came onto our private property, opened a cement box where the electrical and telephone cables connect to the apartment next door to mine (those folks are away), and cut the cables. The cut had to have been made by someone who knew what he was doing. Jose has worked in construction and knows the trades. He or he and a friend could have done this, but there is no proof. Maybe he thought the cables went to my apartment (they didn't) and he wanted to get back at me for filing the complaint. Maybe he did it so I would call him for help (no way in hell). Whoever did it and for whatever reason, my landlords are not happy, and I am afraid they will ask me to move out if this harassment continues. I love where I live and don't want to leave, but if I move out of Santa Ana, I am pretty sure Jose will not follow me. He doesn't drive and doesn't have a license, so his stalking activities would be put to a greater test.

At this point, I hope he does show up so I can call the police and they can drag him away to jail for three months. I would like some peace of mind.

Before this happened, I would read about stalkers, but I never understood close-up what the victims were going through. Now I do. I am jumpy, I always look around me, I am afraid to leave my apartment, I am afraid for my students who come here. Even after this stalking stops some day, will I be able to trust anybody again? Will I feel safe going out? And yet a part of me feels strong, almost invincible, thinking that I am not going to let him get me down. HE is the crazy person. I am the sane person. He wants what I have (sanity), but he doesn't know how to get it. I am sooooo sorry I ever fell for him.