Winding down in Vodice

Only two more days before I get on the bus to Zagreb and then the plane to Rome. Definitely getting amped.

Yesterday, Visjna brought me a piece of her homemade pumpkin pie, complete with whipped cream. Yum! Tonight, I’m treating her and her family to a pizza dinner. Hint: It’s not Dominoes. Or Pizza Hut. It’s Halo’s.

It’s cold enough here now that I need three layers of clothing on my walks. I’m not sure it will be much warmer in Italy but I’m getting used to it. It is a lot different than walking around in shorts, t-shirts and sandals like I did in Costa Rica.

The above slide show is the result of me taking my camera with me for one final walk to the Adriatic. I wanted to collect some beach sand as a keepsake. Emptied out my plastic pepper shaker for the container. Here, beach sand is really “beach pebbles.” No sand.

Once again, the task of unbundling myself to leave is a challenge, although not nearly like leaving Costa Rica, nor especially the long process of leaving Florida. At least here I haven’t bought a lot of stuff to get rid of, although I am winnowing down my belongings so that I only need one suitcase instead of two. The biggest challenges are trying to leave with little or new food left in the refrigerator and kitchen cabinets, and wearing clothes my last two days that I’m not taking with me (since I will not have time to wash and dry them). Despite my best efforts, I’m guessing there will be some food left over.

Also, I finally walked into town to get a haircut for the first time since I left Costa Rica the end of July. Actually, I walked down twice. The first was in the middle of the afternoon, but I learned that the shop is closed from noon to 4:30; so I went back the next morning. The shop was maybe 10×10, with two barber chairs and two customer chairs. The barber was a young guy. Had to wait on two customers ahead of me.

As I’ve discovered, when you don’t know the language well you are usually at the mercy of the barber. I brought a written translation for what I wanted but didn’t use it because I thought he understood me. So what I have is military-style whitewalls on the sides and longer hair on top. Not a bad look, just different. The cut cost $8 and was professionally done.

My bus to Zagreb leaves Vodice at 9:50 Monday morning. It’s a 4-hour trip. Once I’m there, I have to take another bus (if I can figure that out at the station) or a taxi, which would run me $25-30. My flight leaves at 5:15 p.m. so I have plenty of cushion time. The plane stops in Munich, where I change planes. I arrive in Rome at 9 p.m. I am already booked for three nights at the Hotel Seiler. On Tuesday and Wednesday I will be doing the “hop-on, hop-off” bus tour, where you can get on specific buses at various places and ride to different tourist sights. You can get off wherever you want, walk around, take pictures, have something to eat, and then go back to the bus stop, get on another bus and go to the next stop. I don’t think there are any tour guides for this but all I should need is a map.

On Thursday, Thanksgiving back in the States, I will be flying to Cantania, Sicily. I have a hotel for three nights (Hotel Catania Centro), time I will use to frantically try to find a place to live for three months (maybe less if the rents are too high).

One thing these hotel stays will do is force me to eat out among the locals. That should be interesting. I can’t wait to have real Italian food cooked in Italy.

First haircut/phone

Aug. 24, 2010

To the post office (correo)

The trip to the other end of town by bike is starting to become routine, although I have to be very careful riding down “main street” with all the activity. I had two letters to mail ($1.40 total postage, 700 colones) – one to my brother Garth and one to my daughter, which was technically not a letter but three checks I needed to endorse for her to cash – not for me but for future mail forwarding. The last envelope she sent by certified mail cost $28, so it ain’t cheap. Plus, she also has sent (I think) some stuff I ordered from Walmart. I may have to rethink the latter in the future, as the postage and any tariffs they might impose on this end might make U.S. clothing too expensive to buy and ship. It’s worth the experiment for one time anyway. The lesson here is you want to reduce any mail forwarding to you to as little as possible. I know one couple that has a relative scan documents as PDFs and then sent via Skype, has cancelled their magazine subscriptions and receives very little mail from the U.S. I’m working toward that goal.

Jack’s decided he has to help me find a cat but I’m in no rush. That would be a responsibility that could curtail my mobility but at least my apartment is now cat-confinement friendly. My new screens are doing the job insect-wise, as well.

Got to talking with Jack about restaurants, as I still haven’t fulfilled my promise to experiment with the local fare (although most of the restaurants here would more accurately be called American fare). He mentioned a place, Poseidon, that offers two full meals for about $25 and also recommended a soda where I could get a good meal for about $5.

Phone

I have realized that I may not need a phone here after all. All I need to do is open a Skype account for calls I want to make to people without a Skype account. So, for example, I can call a local cabbie or friend for a low per-minute rate. I can even call mobile phones. This would be far cheaper than getting a landline or mobile phone, especially since I really don’t have anyone to call here on a regular basis, except Jack, and he can get a Skype account for that anyway. UPDATE: Today, (Aug. 24) I went ahead and bought Skype phone service for a year for $34.

First haircut

I’ve been putting this off for some time. Had my last haircut the end of May so it was getting pretty wild. Always hated getting a haircut from someone new because you don’t know if they will cut it right. Denise in Sarasota did a great job – and she was hot to boot! Anyway, there’s a shop just down the main road past the first bridge, off on a side road. Figured I’d try that. There was a woman already getting a cut, so I waited. The stylist said it was three mils (3,000 colones, or $6). I was expecting somewhere between $4 and $8. She said her name was Bonicia, or something like that. I tried to tell her what I wanted and she said to say it in English. I did ask about the haircut in Spanish when I arrived (corte de pelar, cuanto es?). Well, it looks like I now will be able to wait another three months for the next haircut. It hasn’t been this short since the military. All my curls are gone. Yikes! Oh well, it’s clean and will grow out. She actually did a nice job (if you want your hair short) and even trimmed my eyebrows, which I never let Denise do but this one just assumed it was part of the service. She also put some sort of stuff on my hair to stiffen it. It’s the style here but I will wash it out. As I was leaving, two lovelies came in to have their nails painted – to look good for their customers tonight, I guess.

Magazines

While I was roaming about I stopped at a bookstore and they do carry the two magazines I subscribe to – National Geographic and Playboy. NG sells for 3,300 colones ($6.60) and Playboy for 5,500 colones ($11). That’s way too expensive and means I will continue to subscribe and have them forwarded – but I will try to send them regular mail and not certified mail. My last certified mail package cost $28, like I said, and most of the weight was the two magazines. Buying

Dentist

On the way home, I decided to stop at the dentist’s office on my block. This is the dentist that Jack uses and who just put a whole bunch of crowns in Jack’s mouth. I need to get my teeth cleaned and start up with a new dentist here and Jack says this guy is good – and reasonable. He apparently is into all the latest technology, including digital tooth scans instead of x-rays. Apparently, teeth cleaning and scanning all my teeth will cost less than $30. I walked in, told the receptionist why I was there, and made an appointment for next week.

Ant parade

While my new screens are doing wonders keeping the insects out, the same cannot be said about the ants. normally, they’re not a problem, but twice in the past week I’ve had invasions. The first was in the kitchen. I had put some powdered sugar (that I bought by mistake – damn language!) in a baggie and put it in the cupboard. Apparently, I was not careful and spilled some. Well, there was a line of ants on the wall above the cabinet, one row going to the cabinet and the other to the ceiling. And the cupboard was filled with ants. Some spraying and cleaning fixed that mistake. Then, the other day, I had the same problem on the bathroom sink. I guess they were after the toothpaste or mouthwash, both of which contain sugar. You have to be real careful here about keeping everything clean or the ants will find you. Certainly don’t want to eat in bed.