Saturday, August 28, 2010

Pool Day at Rosemary's

Lisa and Marilyn picked me up at 9am and we drove 55 minutes on the new highway out to Rosemary and Barry's house, just before Jacó. It was an overcast day, but perfect for lounging out in their new salt water pool, and admiring the open view. We saw wild macaws fly overhead, and dragonflies kept up company most of the afternoon.

The others did water aerobics with their noodles, while I babied my sacroiliac joint, which still hurts a lot from the car accident. It was fun and very relaxing, bouncing around in the water, and talking about this and that. I always love to hear Rosemary talk about creativity (she leads creativity workshops for professionals around the world).

Then we muddied up our faces with volcanic mud from the Osa Peninsula. When we washed off the mud, my face felt very soft and light, as though I had dropped a pound or two from my face.

We gathered around a handsome wood table, beautifully set, and dined well. Lisa and Marilyn had stopped at Fresh Market for sandwiches and chips. Rosemary made a salad. Barry had bought a delicious ceviche with different kinds of fish. I brought brownies that I had made. Well, from a mix.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Cerro de la Muerte

Joy, Sima, Glenda, Rosa, Vicky, Estilita, Carolyn and me

A bunch of my Cariari friends and I went on a day trip to Cerro de la Muerte, the road that leads to the highest point in Costa Rica where it has been known to snow on occasion. It didn't snow where we were, but it did rain. By the bucketfuls. But did that stop us? No!

We rented a tourist bus and were regaled by Marcos, the tour guide who is very knowledgeable about all things ecological. Our destination was the Mirador de Quetzal, which means the quetzal lookout, or vista. The quetzal is a beautiful bird with a long blue tail. Unfortunately, we didn't see any quetzals on our trip because of the rain.

We did see a lot of hummingbirds, though. At the mirador, there were dozens of the tiny birds sipping through their pointy beaks from the feeders. We ate well, too: a plentiful meal of comida típica served family style.

Here we are, drowned rats on a hike in the rain. We saw a 1000-year-old cypress tree, lots of moss, and a primordial forest.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Car Crash a Great Experience

I was slowing down for a stop light in bumper-to-bumper traffic when the RAV4 crashed into my rear bumper, nearly forcing my car to hit the one in front of it. We got out of our cars, shaking, to assess the damage: his radiator was emptying its contents into the street and his bumper was dented; my entire back end was demolished and I couldn't open the rear left door. No one was hurt, although at the time the back of my head and neck ached, but the next day I was okay.

The law says to leave the cars where they are and not to move them, so the heavy traffic backed up even more and had to go around us. The owner of the other car, Manuel, a businessman about my age, called the transito police, and I called my insurance company. Manuel had no insurance.

When the transito cop arrived, he looked at the cars, which were stilled joined at the bumpers, and told me to move my car to the side of the road. I said that I had to leave my car there until my insurance adjuster came so he could see what happened. The cop said, and I quote as a translate, "I am the transito police, and this is an order. Move your car." I asked if he was going to take a picture of the accident scene, and he said no. I moved my car, and Manuel moved his car, and the traffic breathed a collective sigh of relief.

Manuel was very kind from the get-go. He said the accident was his fault, which was obviously the case, but still, I could have met up against someone who said it was the gringa's fault and could later prove it at the judge's office with a dozen relatives who swore they were there at the time. Oh yes, those things happen here.

I was having a little trouble understanding everything being said in Spanish, until Manuel's daughter, Alejandra, arrived and translated for me. It's funny, even though she talked to me in English, I answered her, the police and the adjuster in Spanish. I wanted to be sure they had my side of the story.

Even though my insurance could have paid for the damage of my car, and then I would have had to pay higher premiums, Manuel offered to pay for repairing my car. He told me to get an estimate and let him know how much it would be. I thought, wow, I'm lucky to have been hit by a good guy.

Manuel's car was towed away, but I was able to drive mine. I went straight to two body shops. One would charge $600 and take a week; the other, recommended by the insurance company, would charge $1700 and take two weeks. I talked with Manuel's daughter and told her I'd be happy to go with the $600 body shop, and she said her father would give me the money so I could pay the shop.

Manuel and I also had to go to the courthouse together to say that we agreed to settle the repairs outside of the insurance company, so we arranged to go the next day. We met there and handed in our paperwork from the transito cop, and showed our IDs. The clerk said that because my car was owned by my corporation, I had to show proof that I was the owner of the corporation. Now, why didn't the transito cop tell me that? Manuel offered to accompany me to the Registro Nacional, a few blocks away, so I could get a Personaría Jurídica. He even paid for it, about $2.60. Then we went back to the judge's office and completed the paperwork. All the time, we were talking about his printing company and the school that he owns where his daughter works, and about my teaching English and being a marketing consultant, and how hard it was to learn a language at our age.

When we left the judge's office, we had one signed document that said we had settled the case. We walked around the corner to make copies for him and me (which Manuel paid for).

Before we parted, I asked him if he had been talking on his cell phone when he hit me. I wondered because his phone kept ringing after the accident. He said no, that he has high blood pressure and was supposed to wait 30-60 minutes after eating before doing anything. He had eaten but gotten right into his car, and was dozing off when he hit me. He said he was glad the accident only cost him money. It could have happened on the highway at high speed, or he could have driven off a cliff (easy to do around here). I told him that it was a shame that the accident had to happen, but I was glad that he was so nice about it and I was happy to have made his acquaintance. We parted with a handshake a kiss on the cheek.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Coco Futbol Team's 40th Anniversary

One of my two hangouts, El Coco, has been sponsoring a futbol (soccer) game the first Sunday in August for 40 years. I went last year; this year I understood more about futbol so I could follow along better. The game coincides with the last day of a week-long festival in Santa Ana, and La Romería, the day that devout Catholics make their way (mostly by walking) to La Virgen de los Angeles in Cartago.

There were a couple of near misses when the soccer ball (la pelota) went whizzing by our heads, but no one was injured. It was great fun to watch our friends run around, kicking the ball, or at least trying to. It's the fastest I've ever seen them move.

After the game, there was a little parade and my favorite band, La Solucion, was playing on the stage. People milled about everywhere, playing games of chance, Tico Bingo (to support the Red Cross), and generally having a good time. On Sundays, no one stays inside.

Then we went to El Coco for the day. Susan, Indio and I wanted to be sure we got a table, because we knew there would be a lot of people going there after the game. Hugo and his cousin started playing music at 3:00, and we danced, ate and drank until about 7pm.

I am not much of a drinker, and after a miserable 59th birthday spent hugging the porcelain bowl, I stay away from tequila. But guaro, that's much smoother going down, and it packs just as much punch. I hardly ever drink it, but something made me order a shot of it for Indio and myself (Susan had her own whiskey). The look on the waiter's face was priceless. He knows I don't drink much, and I've never ordered guaro before. But he brought two shot glasses, and I downed mine like a trooper all at once. Susan and Indio were surprised and impressed. It kicked in about 10 minutes later. I was happy, happy, happy. And we all had a good time.