June 11, 2010
Yesterday was a bad day. My computer went dark again and had to bring it to the shop. Have it back now but now my e-mail messages do not load on my laptop and I can’s get into my webmail account to check messages there. So if you’ve sent me a message please be patient because I may have to bring the laptop back to the shop. The good news is that I now have wireless Internet access in my apartment, which is what I’m using now. I can’t stress enough how important having this lifeline is.
I don’t know if I’ve described this process here, at least what I’m doing. I have a four-burner propane-fueled stove, pretty typical for the area. The propane tank is under the kitchen counter. When it runs out of fuel, I tell the landlord and he orders a new container, usually delivered by a guy on a motorcycle. Boiling water with propane takes some time and I have yet to figure out how to get the oven started. Most of my cooking is with a cheap frying pan. The pots are these all-aluminum things, light as a feather, but without temperature-proof handles. Have to be careful not to grab a handle without protection. Most of what I cook or use for cooking is kept in the refrigerator because of bugs and humidity. I even keep my sugar and dried creamer there.
Went to the grocery store again today. This is a 31/2-block walk and I usually carry my backpack. The Pali (owned by Walmart) is the least expensive place to buy groceries. I go every 2-3 days because I can only buy what I can carry back. I buy pretty much what I would have in the U.S., just smaller sizes and I try to buy non-U.S. brands where possible. Much cheaper. Today they had no bacon. This happens a lot I’m told where what you buy one day might not be available the next time you want it. I also bought some kind of dark green squash-looking thing. Thought I’d experiment with something local. They use a lot of squashes in their dishes here. Also bought two sticks of butter, which I have been avoiding because of the high cost. I think I paid about $3 for half a pound. Also getting into the local bananas, which they almost sell for free.
I remember as a kid running behind the machines spewing out bug spray to kill mosquitoes, etc. Well, seems the practice is alive and well here in my neighborhood. Some guy will just walk up the street, enter living areas and spray away. The guys doing the spraying don’t even know the danger.
Decided it was time to visit our neighboring wildlife sanctuary. Recruited Michael to show me the way. First stop was the bus station, which is also the central market. We waited for a few minutes for the bus, got on, paid our 240 colonnes (50 cents) and made the 15-minute ride over the narrow, winding and steep road. MA has a half-moon shaped beach flanked by lava outcroppings rising straight up out of the sea. Lava islands with trees clinging to the sides are a short distance off the beach. The area around the beach has some tourist bars and such but it’s not really a town. This was an area I considered locating in but the costs are higher than Quepos and I would have to get on a bus to Quepos to do any shopping. Figured it was easier and cheaper to take the bus to MA if I found it was a good fishing spot. Well, it is beautiful, and I finally got in the Pacific (first time since Vietnam), but it is very touristy, even out of season like now.
When we got on the beach we had to first contend with what I call the “beach boys.” These are the beach hustlers, and I mean that in a good sense. For tips, they will do just about anything, from watching your belongings to fetching a beer or a chair. Michael had already met two of them – Raymond and Butch – who were all over us for tasks. I immediately went fishing, with Raymond telling me to fish the jutting rocks on the south end of the beach – also the park side. I figured I should listen but nothing (nada) happening. Surf was pretty high so I could not wade too far out and, thus, could not fish very far out. Fished the surf a bit and then gave up. I do feel, however, that if I can ever find bait this would be a good spot to throw out some cut bait, bring it back to the shore and wait for the action (ala, Turtle Beach).
We then got some lunch at a second floor restaurant because some guy kept pestering us to have lunch there. Said they had great mahi mahi and lobster but didn’t see it on the menu. I decided to have the national dish of black beans, rice, squash, cole slaw and chicken (can substitute fish or beef). The Ticos apparently eat this virtually every meal, but I’ll pass except on occasion. It was twice as expensive as I can get at one of the small sodas in Quepos but still only $4. Huge plate of food, most of which I brought back for later.
We even had some entertainment as we sat overlooking the palms and the ocean. A couple of Ticos got into a fight across the street. A tall thin guy with long dreadlocks thought his primitive kick boxing would be good enough against a smaller guy. I told Michael if he did one of those kicks on me he would end up on the ground, which is exactly what happened to Mr. Dreadlocks, with the small guy pummeling him while he was down. The action went on for several minutes. Looked like a couple of (should I say it?) women fighting. We took the bus back.
Later, I planned to go play pool but it started raining. When it quit, decided just to go to the bar district, where I treated myself to a Jack on the rocks while I watched the last quarter of the Lakers-Celtics game.