Monday, August 10, 2009

Tanagers & Bananas

We bought a bunch of 16 lady finger bananas for 400 colones (69 cents) at the local farmer's market last Saturday. They're quite tasty. This pair of palm tanagers obviously agrees. When we got up this morning, they were sharing a banana on the balcony railing. I appreciate that they just concentrated on one banana rather than trying a little bit of each of the remaining bunch like critters usually do.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Heading Back Home

We're winding down our stay here in Puerto Viejo. Yesterday was one of the few sunny days we've had. Today it is raining once again. Last night we went for another melt-your-mouth lomito barbecue at Rolf's place. We were joined by Juana's daughter, Caterin with her baby Angelina, & boyfriend David. They were talking of our return trip. I don't know when we'll be back. I doubt we will come for this long again.

Tomorrow we will sell the bicycles for 30,000 colones each. We paid 65,000 each for them a month ago. Caterin is buying Shar's, & Marie, the hotel maid, is buying the other.

The northern European (German, French etc.) have been replaced by southern European (Spanish, Italian) tourists. Locals tell us the Americans are missing this year. Actually yesterday two twenty-something American women booked the room next to us (it shares our balcony). They're the first Americans we've seen here at the hotel.

We spent a nice time visiting with Ingrid, the Austrian woman we met with her husband bicycling at Punta Uva, over the past week. Her husband is a physician & needed to go back to work, but she stayed on here another week. She left the other morning for Tortuguero before flying home. I hope she had a good trip.

I hope the folks here survive whatever the economy (and perhaps the climate) does.

I've been communicating with Paul & Scott of Supertrees via email over the past week or so. Paul has cooked up a date for us at Wine on the Waterfront on the pier in P.A. They are doing a 40th Anniversary commemoration of Woodstock on Sat. Aug. 15. I was at that event 40 years ago, so I decided not to pass this up. We have not rehearsed any of the hour's worth of songs were gonna' play together starting at about 9:30 p.m. (an entire set of songs performed at the original Woodstock festival), but I feel ready. The event is called WoWstock. It's also a benefit for the Food Bank. Bring a can of food. I was wondering if they were gonna' be pairing brown acid with the Chardonnay. Paul was quite taken aback about my gauche ignorance: "Everyone knows that brown acid goes with zinfandel!"

Our flight is not until 7:05 p.m. Tuesday, but Rolf advised us to take the 7:30 a.m. bus to San Jose. The bus is generally about a 4 hour or so trip, but with the way the weather is now, there may be landslides in the mountains, which could cause some big delays.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Oral Surgery

I just had my first experience as an oral surgeon. Hopefully it will be my last. I stopped by Lenny's this morning. He said, "Can you do someting' for me? I 'ave tooth, it need come out. I get string, you pull it out for me?" I quite didn't know what to say but managed to answer, "I could try…"
"No–you don'
try–you pull it out! You strong. You don' wan' do it?"
"Well I've never done it before, but if you really need me to, I could try to pull it out?"
"No mahn you don'
try–you pull it OUT!
"Okay–I pull it out, it's just…I've never done this before, but I'll try…I mean–yeah, I'll pull it

I was silently thinking to myself, what in
hell are you doing? When I tell this to Shar she's gonna' say, "You did what!?" Lenny went inside his house and got a spool of black string. I said, "Can't you go to Home Creek (where the clinic is) to get the tooth fixed?"
" 'Dem charge. Me 'ave no money."
"What if the string breaks?"
"It strong. It nylon."

Lenny sat before me on his porch making a series of knots & loops in the string saying, "I do this with tooth six times 'fore now." I found a scrap of wood on the ground to tie the string around so it wouldn't slice into my hand. He placed a loop of string around a tooth. I held the other end around the stick. He said "I gwan' to make noise. When I make noise, 'den you pull. You pull very hard! You pull it out! You ready?" I didn't think I'd ever be ready, but nodded yes. He started to make a low growling noise. I lunged with my entire body away from him. The growl increased to a roar. I looked at the end of the string and saw a tooth–roots & all. Lenny was clenching his mouth moaning. He looked up at me and said, "Tank' you mahn, I been in so much pain many months now! Tank' you! That time number seven now." What could I say.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Chino (The Chinaman)

This is a shot of Chino's, one of my favorite establishments here in Puerto Viejo. Everyone refers to the owner as "Chino"--a real character. He's in his seventies, but remarkably active. He runs the store (and in fact owns the entire block, in addition huge tracts of land surrounding Puerto Viejo) pictured in the photo. The store (the green-painted central portion of the edifice, a currently closed disco is on the left, and a dive shop on the right) sits out at the end of the Point in Puerto Viejo. He sells just about everything, and makes change by peeling from the huge wad of bills he pulls out of his back pocket and the pile of coins on the counter. His prices are very competitive. He has no overhead--he lives upstairs, employs hardly anyone and obviously does no maintenance on the building. He opens (or doesn't) & closes the store when he feels like it. He speaks fluent English and supposedly Cantonese. (The story goes that his father, who presumably arrived with the original railroad-building Chinese immigrants, sent him to China to learn the language as a teenager. He spent a few years there before he could get out during Maoist times.) I've been going into the store for about seven years now on a seasonal basis. The other day he asked me, "What's your name?" I told him. He put out his hand to me, "I'm Manuel--the Chinaman! Are you American?" As we shook hands I said, "Yes . . . the United States." He said, "Oh, I thought you were Swiss."

There's a roughly 200' x 200' area of water, defined by the beach on one side and the reef on the others, in front of the place (from where I shot the picture), which is one of our two favorite swimming spots in P.V. It's also popular with Tico families because the reef keeps it pretty calm. We swim there when it's too rough at Playa Negra, or if we just want a quick cool down without the extra 3 minutes bike ride to & from Playa Negra.

Punta Uva (Grape Point)

Yesterday afforded another break in the heavy rains we've been experiencing, so we rode our bikes down to Punta Uva--about an 8 km trip. The sea was rough, so we didn't swim much but we drank a couple cans of Pilsen on this idyllically beautiful beach. I gotta' say this spot beats the White House lawn for a beer hands down any day! While there a couple came along on bicycles asking if they could continue on the little dirt track there on their bikes to Manzanillo. I told them no, it ends in about 100 meters and they'd have to go back out to the road to get to Manzanillo. The woman asked, "Are you American?"
I said, "Yes. Are you German?"
"No! Why does everyone think we are German? What is it about our accents?"
"You're Dutch?"
"No--we are from Austria!"
I didn't say to her, well Austrians speak German. When you speak English with a German accent, folks might guess you're German. We told them about where we are staying, & they showed up this morning to book a few days at Cabinas Tropical.