Here’s a short slideshow of the sights around my neighborhood tonight.
Now, some trivial stuff. Apartment keys:
I have a history of forgetting or losing keys. In Florida, I once had to demolish a window of my car to get inside, where I had left my keys. (Actually, I couldn’t bear to break the window and had a friend do it.) Another time, I locked them in the trunk of the car. I’ve always kept a spare for my apartment somewhere outside the door, which came in handy one day when I left the keys on the beach and returned to find that someone had picked them up.
In Costa Rica, I twice dropped my apartment key, one time on the beach when a passerby picked it up right after I dropped it, and the second when I was out playing pool. (The bartender saved it for me but it was a long walk back late at night.) A third time, after my friend Jack and I had returned from a trip to San Jose, I realized I had lost the key and had to call a locksmith – on a Sunday. I bought spares shortly thereafter.
When I was presented with three different keys for three different locks for my apartment here, I knew I had a problem. I knew I would forget or lose my keys, sometime-somewhere, and asked Giuseppe to make a second set that day we went to the mall when I first moved in. I could tell he was not sure why, but he had them made nonetheless. The problem now was how to make those spares available when the inevitable happened.
To get into the apartment, you first have to open the outside gate that leads into the courtyard. That’s one key. Then, there is the downstairs door to my part of the building, and the stairway inside. A second key. Finally, after the 80 steps up 3 1/2 flights, there is the apartment door. A third key. I figured I could conceivably be locked out of any one, or all three.
The solution was to hide one key outside the gate, a second in the courtyard, and the third inside the stairwell somewhere. I did just that. I figure someone finding one key would be highly unlikely to find the second, and almost impossible to come across the third. Odds are just too great, plus if someone found the outside key they would not know what it opened, based on where it was hidden.
Well, the inevitable did happen – and the system worked, albeit I had to climb those stairs one more time since I realized as soon as I closed the apartment door I had left my keys inside.
I have an interesting street in the back of my apartment building. Half a block away is the A&O market, where I do most of my grocery shopping. There is an upscale cafe at the corner across the street from the market. This is a one-way street, and parking rules are optional, as you can see by the photo. There is routinely a line of cars double-parked on the left. Often, the cars are so small that they can be parked heading into a space too small for even small cars, their front wheels riding up into the sidewalk.
They come and go, but when they don’t move, and someone parked on the inside needs to get out, a lot of honking takes place. This is the signal that someone is boxed in by a double-parker and can continue for some time before the offender moves the car in question. This street is always a traffic jam waiting to happen, and the source of regular noise interrupting my days. After awhile, it almost becomes white noise. Ah, life in the big city!
Right next door to the market, there is a huge sign hanging on the building touting someone for president, I think of Sicily. You can kind of see it in the photo. On the day this photo was taken (the Friday before Christmas), there was a huge mob of well-dressed men milling around underneath this sign, which obviously designates a political headquarters. Their presence meant far more cars parked on the street, far more cars (many of them expensive) coming through, far more horns honking, until finally the crowd spilled over into the street. The people didn’t seem to even notice they were blocking traffic.