You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Tico Times’ tag.

I somehow find myself in my last week in Costa Rica.  No matter how long I’m here, whether two months or six months, the time flies by.  I never get to everything I want to, I don’t see everyone I want to, but I always seem to manage to experience a new part of the country and see some old friends who I missed the last time around.  This year has been no exception – what has been exceptional has been the addition of Walking with Wolf  in my life and now it is in the community and the country. 

A book has a long life and so what I have missed in promoting it this time I will get to the next time.  Wolf and I are still waiting for the interview that we did with Alex Leff of the English paper the Tico Times to appear.  A month has passed and it hasn’t shown up, yet it was a great interview we thought.  When I contacted Alex a couple of weeks ago about the state of the article, he admitted to me that he was still working on it but was having a problem interpreting Wolf from the taped conversation that we had.  He said, ”I have a renewed appreciation of just what was involved for you in writing this book”. As in, how did I understand Wolf? Let’s just call it a sixth sense, luck and determination. So there is now only one Friday left, the publication day for Tico Times, before I leave.  Who knows if the story will be there.  I will start it all up again when I return next winter so am not worried. 

The negotiations for the Spanish translation have also been stalled as we awaited word from Wolf’s son, Carlos, who lives and works in the northeastern USA.  I just got word from him that he can’t come up with a price but does want to do the work.  So before I leave, perhaps we’ll have a chance for one serious conversation with the Tropical Science Center who is interested in financing it, otherwise thank goodness for the internet and cheap long distance phone plans. This too will happen when it should.

The book is in many bookstores and selling.  And those who have read it seem to really like it and appreciate the history it relates. For this, I am most grateful.

I have returned to San Carlos, to the base of Arenal Volcano, to be with my friends, the Martinez family, for a few days before I go.  The last week I experienced a number of strange health issues.  I had a twenty-four hour virus in Monteverde that felt like I had been hit by a truck, every bone and muscle, particularly my neck, very painful.  It passed, but the sore neck part of it returned the day I got here and I’ve been receiving nightly neck massages which have helped. The virus didn’t affect my stomach or give me a headache, so I think that it isn’t dengue. One never knows around the tropics.

The other problem is the continuing saga of a bug bite that I got while on the Caribbean, that the folks here are quite sure is a nasty little number called papalamoya.  Most Ticos I know, especially the ones who have lived part of their lives in the country, have big scars (usually round patches of rippled skin) from this bug that gets into their blood and takes forever to cure.  The treatment usually involves injections of something nastier than the bug venum.  In my eighteen years coming to Costa Rica, I’ve been waiting on two things – a scorpion bite and papalamoya.  So far, I’ve evaded the scorpion bite, but I may finally have been caught by the bug that causes the other.  I’m not really sure if it is a botfly or a sand fly or what it is (I’ve heard many versions) but I know the scar.  So I am now using a country treatment – I’m using a cow drug called sulphatiasol ground up with fresh nutmeg and some of my own saliva which I plaster on the bite.  Slowly but surely the big wound is shrinking in size and doesn’t look as nasty, but the new tough skin that the treatment forms must be softened and washed off a couple times a day and more guck put on and, well, it’s a process.  The good news is that it hasn’t erupted anywhere else in my body, meaning that the venom hasn’t traveled in my bloodstream – she says hopefully. If I end up with a small scar on the back of my leg from this, well, it only makes me more Tica, something I am already in my heart and soul. In which case I will wear it like a badge of honor.

The final piece of bad news before I get to some good, is that last night, after we arrived back from our day spent on the beautiful Rio Celeste, we received the horrible news that Zulay’s nephew, Victor, who was just here with us up until a couple of days ago, had been shot by robbers trying to steal his motorcycle in the city of Alajuela.  Unfortunately this is a more common occurrence here now.  In fact, people say that they, los ladrones, will shoot you for a cell phone.  I refuse to be overrun with fear and I’m not convinced that Costa Rica has become more crime-riddled than anywhere else, but I do know that the difference of rich and poor in this country has grown and the influx of serious drug-related activity has increased and this all means that it feels at times like there is a general air of lawlessness.  My great sadness for the whole country is the amount of fear that people live with here.  If they watch the news in the evening, they go to bed with these images of robberies and assaults on the streets in their heads.  It reminds me of when I was young, living in the very safe suburban city of Burlington in southern Ontario, but we watched the Buffalo, New York, TV stations.  It became very obvious over the years that some of these stations started their newscasts with all the street crime and police reports and so we were assaulted nightly with images of killings and armed robberies – as a kid I got very nervous, but sooner or later we realized that this was affecting us and we stopped watching those stations.  And the news wasn’t even about our locality,  where this stuff seldom happened, but it made us feel unsafe as well.

Now here in Costa Rica, people are living with this fear everywhere, in some places much more justified than in others.  And when crime hits a family personally, as it just has this family, then it only reinforces the terrible possibilities.  Victor, who is only 19 years old,  as well as two of his brothers, has been assaulted before (while being robbed), and the story right now about last night is that he refused to give the motorcycle to the guys, who shot him in the lung, and then fled – well, my dear Victor, hand over the bike, please.  But who knows what passes in the mind at a moment such as that? Anyway, I believe he is going to be okay, even if he loses his lung (and as this is published, he is past the danger).  At least he is alive. And he kept his motorcycle. But a very troubling day for this family.

Before this tragedy yesterday, ten of us piled into two cars and drove fifty kilometers north of here to the town of Guatuso.  Another fifteen kilometers or so, down a rough rocky road, took us to the entrance to Tenorio National Park and the magical Rio Celeste.  I only started hearing about this place about two years ago, when it captured my attention and imagination, and find that it now shows up more and more in articles in tourist guides and newspapers.  I know that as word gets out, people will go there, and am always happy to be there before the crowds, although there were several Ticos visiting, being the end of a 2 week school holiday.  What a beautiful place.

The deep turquoise color of the river is caused by the convergence of two rivers which carry certain minerals – you can smell the sulphur – on which studies are being done to determine just what chemical reaction is occurring.  We entered the area from the ”backside”.  There is another entrance into Tenorio National Park from a place called Bijagua, from which I think the hike is longer. From our entrance, we hiked on very beautifully maintained wide muddy trails (remember, I know what rough trails in these mountains are). 

You can walk to the teñidoras, the convergence of the two rivers where you see a grey-green river mixing with a yellowish river and very distinctly, at a line, becoming this brilliant blue. We walked in pure jungle, with twittering birds and a large variety of tropical plants and trees hanging over us, along with the occasional roar of Arenal Volcano but more often the loud cracking of thunder.  Somehow we didn’t receive more than a drop of water on us, even though the thunder around us was ominous. 

The trail was only maybe four kilometers long to get to everything – the convergence, the waterfall, the hot springs as well as a lookout and blue lagoon – unfortunately we didn’t make it to the last two because of time and that increasing threat of a big storm. The waterfall was out of the movies, the shady path along the cascading blue and white water was inviting, the meandering turquoise like a liquid jewel, and the hot springs were super hot.  As in, you couldn’t put your hand into the water in places, it was boiling hot.  In other places the cool mountain water flushed the hot water and created very comfortable pools to sit in, but if you happened to move out of the cool current and touch the hot mineral water, it scalded.  Incredible.

We spent about four hours hiking and playing in the waters until the threatening storm sent us back to the car – and sure enough, we were just back on the road when the downpour came.  Driving back from Guatuso we were facing Arenal Volcano which went in and out of clouds all the way, and lightning appeared and disappeared in various parts of the sky all the way home providing a light show of special effects.  It is places like this and days like this that make Costa Rica the phenomenally intriguing place that it is – sadly, the spell is broken when you return home to bad news, but the splendour of the day isn’t negated, only temporarily replaced by life’s reality checks.

  Andrey in front of the huge ceiba, The Tree of Peace near Rio Celeste

After those lovely few days of food and friends in San Carlos, I went to San José and on Monday morning met up with Wolf and Lucky.  We dropped off books at Seventh Street Books with Marc, one of the owners who has been very helpful.  We also left books with a couple of other chain bookstores who will hopefully decide to carry Walking with Wolf and place an order soon.

 

We spent an hour and half with Alex Leff, the reporter from Tico Times, the English weekly newspaper.  He was very generous with his time and asked a lot of great questions that kept Wolf and I talking (HA! As if we needed help…) We walked with him and the photographer up to a park to take pictures that looked like we were surrounded by greenery.  It will be interesting now to see how the photos and the story come out, but we both felt that Alex was truly interested in the book and the material and hopefully that will show up in his article.

 

We also left books with William Aspinall who owns the Observatory Lodge at Arenal.  He was the director of the Monteverde Reserve when I first came in 1990 and happily took books to sell.  It was great to see him after all these years. 

 

Monday evening, I went and saw the recently released movie The Incredible Hulk.  I had been an extra when it filmed in Hamilton last September.  They had built a large false set that was meant to be Brooklyn in a couple of empty lots in downtown Hamilton.  On the same block was scaffolding around the reconstruction of an old stone building that will be the first rooftop patio bar in the city, I believe it is called the London Tap House, and the filming included this construction site.  Although I didn’t see myself, there were a few minutes in the movie that came out of that whole week of nighttime shooting that we did – and I’d say the London Tap House got as much screen time as anything else.  Not my kind of movie, but I’ll still probably have to check out the DVD and scan the scenes where I’m running the streets to see if I can pick myself out in the crowd. It is fascinating to have participated in and seen how they make these movies.

 

We came back up the mountain yesterday to be here for today’s presentation of Walking with Wolf at the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve.  Since the maintenance crew and the forest guards were all in the forest the day of the community book launch, we felt it was only right to do something with them and the other employees of the Reserve where Wolf has worked all these years.  The director, Carlos Hernandez, once again was very supportive in enabling as many of the workers to be there as possible, and Mercedes Diaz, who has been unfailingly helpful for the last year in keeping Wolf and I connected by internet, organized the event.  Our heartfelt thanks goes out to both Carlos and Mercedes for the support they have given us.

 

 

Below: Luis Angel Obando, Head of Protection

 

Some other members of the community came as well as some of the guides who take people on nature hikes in the forest. Even the reclusive biologist, Alan Pounds, who plays a big role in the chapter on the golden toads, showed up. There were probably about forty people.  It was as touching and poignant as the community book launch had been.  It feels like family there, even for me, who only spends a part of each year here and only some of that at the Reserve. For Wolf, it has been his home away from home for many years.  Many of the staff has been there a long time, like the Obando brothers, Lionel and Luis Angel, and the Brenes brothers, Miguel and Jose Luis. Much of the staff changes, new younger faces appear, yet there is a sense of history there and they are all very aware of the role Wolf has played in the development of the Reserve that now furnishes them with their jobs and the area with its beautiful protected forest.  He is an elder in this community, an entertaining and dedicated figure that people don’t always understand but look up to and respect and thoroughly enjoy.

 

Since I knew that we would do the presentation in Spanish and it didn’t make sense to do a reading in English, I had thought that it would be good if we asked anyone there if they would like to share a story of walking or working with Wolf.  So that was part of the program.  Carlos introduced me and I gave the story of the beginnings of the book in the longest Spanish public talk I have ever given.  I’m very comfortable with this gang, many of whom I’ve known since I came here, so stumbled my way through, knowing that they would be generous with their understanding of what I was trying to say.  I don’t think I did too badly in the end (fortunately I’m far from a perfectionist, so speaking strangely in any language doesn’t bother me).  We had the pictures showing on the screen as we had at the other presentation, many with folks from the Reserve, and of course people love seeing themselves and each other, so that was a great backdrop.

 

Before Wolf spoke, Carlos presented him with two plaques, one in English, one in Spanish, each with a picture of him and a summary of his story.  Wolf’s son, Carlos, had asked me a year ago if I would write a short background on Wolf for something, and this is what appeared on the plaque in English, then translated in Spanish.  These will hang in the restaurant of the casona at the entrance to the Reserve so that visitors will always be able to read about Wolf’s role in the preservation of these woods.  Wolf was very touched – he was also given copies for his house.  Carlos also gave him a beautiful wooden walking stick with an “I love Costa Rica” glass ball on the head of it.  It was all very appropriate and kind and a really wonderful gesture to Wolf from his co-workers. I can’t overstate how much I appreciate Carlos Hernandez’ constant and respectful generosity to both Wolf and our book project.

 

The administrative assistant, Marjorie Cruz, then stood up and presented me with a beautiful arrangement of tropical flowers with thanks for the work I’ve done to record Wolf’s story.  That was very much a surprise to me and, once again, very nice of them.

 

Mostly keeping his tears in check, Wolf spoke about his years of developing the Reserve and working with the Tropical Science Center, the satisfaction he gets of seeing the young staff carrying on his work, the thrill of watching the guides teach visitors about the flora and fauna, and the fact that it takes a community to do such great things.  He is always humble when he speaks about his contributions. 

 

 

 

Wolf’s son Ricky with his son Francis on his lap

 

 

 

Marjorie than asked if anyone would like to share their own experiences and several people stood up and spoke – some with stories, some just expressing their gratitude to Wolf for the work he has done, some stating how glad they were that his stories and history have been recorded while he was still alive and able to see the book in print.  They all expressed, in different ways, the realization that what they were doing today came from Wolf’s hard work and gentle ways and that this would live on forever both in the spirit of the preserved forest and the pages of Walking with Wolf.  Wolf’s son Ricky, who hadn’t been able to be at the other presentation, was there today and took the opportunity to stand and publicly embrace his father. 

Miguel Leiton’s son, William, also spoke of the great relationship between his family and the Guindon’s and how his father was there today in spirit; Adrian Mendez, an employee of the Reserve since he was a teenager, now a professional guide, also spoke of the role Wolf had played in influencing the direction of his life.

 

William Leiton on right, with the elusive Alan Pounds in the blue

 

We laughed a lot, soft tears were shed, great stories were shared, then coffee and treats were had by all.  We took a group picture of the Reserve staff, although some had already left to get back to work and others had been left behind to run things while the rest participated.  The morning couldn’t have been nicer, the gestures kinder, the faces friendlier, or Wolf and I happier. Gracias ustedes, es un honor ser un parte de esta communidad.  

It is morning – you can tell by the chorus of birdcalls and the chanting of the howler monkey.  I think it is going to rain for, according to Wolf, the monkeys sing out at dawn and dusk but also to complain that the rains are coming.  It is so hot and humid here in San Carlos, and the clouds are sitting so low, that I’d say the howler is probably correct.  I think it is going to pour.

  HOWLER MONKEY WAITING ON RAIN

Last week while I was still in Monteverde, I was soundly asleep when all of a sudden there was a huge roar right outside my window.  A congo (howler) was in the tree not ten feet from my window, about twenty feet from my bed.  He was so close that I could hear the roar gurgling up in his throat, like coffee rising in the stem of the percolator getting ready to boil.  I’ve heard these roars a hundred times, from a tent in the forest, and from a tree at the side of a trail.  But nothing prepared me for the force that came out of that monkey that morning at 5 a.m.  I woke with a start at the sound of it, looked at the clock, realized I had no intention of staying awake and once my heart beat slowed, I thought about falling back to sleep.  However, every time I was just about back in dreamland, the guy started roaring again.  I ended up lying in bed just listening to that roar in his throat building in force until he released his monkey-like cockadoodledo.  Later in the day I ran into a neighbor who asked me if I had heard that monkey – how could I have missed him?  She also couldn’t get back to sleep – a second monkey in a different troop was close to her house and these two guys seemed intent on keeping us awake that morning. 

I can hear one outside now but he is probably half a mile away, which is an acceptable distance, so his roar is no louder than the rumble from the volcano.  I’m up already anyway, getting ready to pack and leave for Alajuela and a family fiesta with Zulay before heading into San José for the big interview with the Tico Times tomorrow. The other thing that is telling me it is morning is the aroma coming from the kitchen – fresh Costa Rican coffee and gallo pinto (rice and beans) made with Lizano, the Costa Rican condiment of choice. 

Last night we had Nectaly, Zulay’s cousin, over so we made a big pot of olla de carne – that is, a meat and vegetable soup/stew. I love this dish as it gives you a little of the redder-than-usual beef that is pasture fed along with a wide selection of the root crops, squashes and other veggies which are common here but more difficult to find imported in Canada – yucca, yampi, tekiske, elote, ayote, chayote, camote…bueno, there are many. 

 

Nectaly waiting for Zulay to serve up the olla de carne

 

 

The last few days here we have been feasting on tamales which in Costa Rica are made with a milled and cooked corn mash, rolled with some vegies and chicken or pork inside leaves from the banana family and steamed; pejibayes, served with mayonnaise, which is the fruit of a specific palm tree and a food that sustained the natives for centuries and my absolutely favorite food here; breadfruit, a ball of dense vegetable that grows on the most beautiful large-leafed tree I know; and the nuts of the castaña, the false breadfruit tree. 

  A COSTA RICAN TAMALE

  THE BEAUTIFUL CASTANA, COUSIN OF THE GLORIOUS BREADFRUIT

I’ve been lucky in my life here in Costa Rica to have been introduced by my Tico friends to a wide variety of exotic fruits and vegetables, animals and even insects. I’ve spent hours pulling snails, sea cockroaches and other small critters out of tidal pools and off the rocks, then painstakingly cleaning the sand and refuse out of them to make a seafood and rice gastronomic delight. I’ve tried a bit of everything including iguana, armadillo (both with chickeny or rabbity-like meat), tepizcuentle (a small rodent-type animal that is known to be the best meat around and is now farmed – and truly tasty), and my first year here I ate turtle.  I know that it was completely not right but I was staying with locals at the time on the Caribbean and they were still killing turtles for food then.  And as I ate the tender pieces of juicy meat served in a spicy salsa, I have to say I understood immediately why people would eat these now endangered creatures – they are the filet mignon of the sea, a little bit fine steak, a little bit lobster.  I also very politically-incorrectly sucked a turtle egg one night, but I won’t get into that….the event just about wiped out my reputation as having a social-conscience and all I can say is that it seemed like a good idea at the time.

 BREADFRUIT CENTERPIECE AND 4-FRUIT JUICE

Most people when they come to Costa Rica eat rice and beans in some form or other, as well as rice with chicken or shrimp, or casada – the daily meal named after what wives serve up for their husbands, combining a mixture of the more inexpensive foods that can be served up on anyone’s table (rice, beans, cabbage salad, ripe plantain and a protein such as egg, cheese, or meat), fresh fish at the beach, chicken or pork when inland.  But if you get outside of the restaurants, and are willing to try new foods, there is no end to the variety here.  Papaya, mango, pineapple, avocado and banana are common and can be bought anywhere – when in season, they are of course much sweeter and tastier here than you would ever experience with imported ones in the northern world.  But there is also caimito, mamones chinos, guanabanas, guayabas, well the list goes on. And each one has its own flavor and texture.  I’ve learned that mamones (a variety of lychee nut) are great for traveling as you crack open the colorful spikey skin and get a grape-like juicy treat from inside with a minimum of fuss and mess; that green mangos with salt and lime are very satisfying to curb your hunger; that there are a whole bunch of different fruits that involve sucking sweet white flesh from around large seeds inside pods, such as guavas or anona or cacao; that there are several varieties of citrus, including lemons and limes as we know them, but also sweet or sour, orange or green limones and oranges; that there is a tree that grows little fruit that taste like cookies and I never remember what they are really called so I just call it the cookie tree and love the little fruit whenever I find them; and that nanci,  a small yellow fruit the size of a small crabapple, can be soaked in guaro, the national cane liquor, making what I call an authentic Tico martini.

 

 

A sampling of Tico food – a partially-used breadfruit (which became the centerpiece above); the nuts of its cousin, the castaña; pejiballes; papaya; creamy avocado and the leftovers of a tamale.

 

 

Of course in many parts of the country the influence of foreigners has brought new kinds of cooking, new spices, new flavors.  When I first came in 1990, I couldn’t find a satisfying piece of pizza if my life depended on it (and sometimes I felt like it did) but now I’d say that the pizza you can get here, often in Italian-owned restaurants, is better than what I find in Canada (or you can go to Pizza Hut if you are so inclined).  The variety of fish – red snapper, tilapia, seabass, calamari, shrimp – often cooked with a generous dose of garlic, keeps my seal-like tendencies very satisfied. I wouldn’t say that in general Costa Rica is known for its fine cuisine, but the freshness of its food often balances out the simplicity of its preparation. The jar of hot chili peppers, onions and vinegar that is often sitting waiting on the table as a condiment adds some spicy flavor.  And the large presence of other cultures here means that you can find fusion-foods to die for in communities all over the country.

Then there is the question of red beans verses black beans – there is a whole discussion here about the intelligence, virility and general sex appeal of those who indulge in one type or the other (and we are talking daily), depending on which community you are in, but I’ve never really formed an opinion on that so will stay out of the controversy. But I will give you a small cooking tip – when preparing black bean dip to serve with nachos, a little leftover strong coffee and a touch of sugar adds great flavor.  Mmmmmm, coffee, time to get the day started. 

 

Beautiful Marilyn, Zulay’s niece – raised on red or black???

Beautiful Cabure Argentine Cafe in Monteverde, where I have wireless and send email from  (and eat and drink…)

 

I’d like to say that I’m writing this from the balcony of some funky hotel on the coast, watching the pelicans flying in formations and listening to the waves crashing. Instead, I’m back up in Monteverde, listening to the birds waking up and the early shift workers’ motorcycles heading to the dairy plant. However, I am bringing you a story of great success in the big city, getting Walking with Wolf out of customs with a minimum of fuss and a reasonable amount of money. I decided to come back up the mountain Wednesday in the Reserve truck with the books and Wolf. Beto our trusty chauffeur made it all easy once again.  As is usual this time of the year, the day is dawning bright and sunny but the rain will move in sometime later, so you have to get your outdoor chores done early or you are going to get very wet.

 

Wolf and I went down last Sunday on the afternoon bus following the community potluck lunch which is held the first Sunday of every month after the Quaker meeting.  It is a great chance to eat really good homemade food and to visit with folks who you may never run into otherwise.  We sold some books, filled our bellies and then went in the pouring rain to Santa Elena.  Fortunately the bus was a dry one, unlike the older bus that I came up in the week before, where every other seat was under a leak and it was hard to stay dry even though you were inside a bus. It seems that’s a theme of these latest blog posts – the fact that it is being a very wet beginning to a rainy season is impossible to ignore.  Staying dry is a challenge but you just have to accept the inevitable – for the first time that I can remember, I bought an umbrella, although much of the time even an umbrella, rubber boots and rain coat aren’t going to keep you completely dry. 

 

We spent the first night at the Casa Ridgeway, known as the Peace Center, run by Quakers, which is Wolf’s base camp when in San Jose.  The folks there know him and were all pleased to see the book.  It is a spartan little place which I don’t mind – I especially like the monk-like rooms that are painted white with no decoration except a quote about peace stenciled on the wall. My room said: Me, you can kill but you can’t silence justice. 

 

Early Monday we began the process of getting the books.  I’m still not sure what that first company we dealt with was exactly – there are a number of hands extended when in the process of paying to get your imported goods. Although we called early in the morning, the papers weren’t ready for us till mid-afternoon. We then took a taxi out to the western part of the city, La Sabana Norte, and there we paid for the permit to release the books and the cost of the books being moved off of the boat and into the customs storage.  Once that is done you want to get them out quickly as they cost plenty for each day they are held. We paid our money and received the documents and were told to contact the aduana, the customs broker, Eliezar Alfaro Porras, who helped us through the next step. It was too late to see him but we did make an arrangement to meet at 9 a.m. on Tuesday.

 

This, of course, meant another trip by taxi and bus and taxi to Alajuela, near the airport.  Eliezar was great, meeting us in a convenient place, taking us in his car to his office, trying to explain the process of what was going on, attempting to keep the costs down, going to the bank for me to speed up the process.  We spent a few hours with him but they were pleasant ones and I will keep his number to use him again in the future.  By 1 p.m. he had confirmation that everything was in order and we could head out to the bodega, the big storage place where the books were being held. We went back into the city by bus and taxi to the Tropical Science Center who had said they would send a vehicle out to pick up the books.  By the time we got there, their truck wasn’t around and by 3 it was looking like we wouldn’t be able to get our books that day as the bodega closed at 5 and was at least half an hour away. This was worrisome as you don’t want to stop the momentum once it is rolling.  As Wolf kept saying, if we don’t go while we are at the head of the line, who knows how far back they will send us. I have to say that both Carlos Hernandez, the director at the Reserve who has helped and supported us every step of the way, and then Vicente Watson, one of the main scientists at the TSC, were invaluable. 

 Vicente Watson and Wolf

When Vicente realized that we didn’t have a vehicle to pick up the books, he stayed with the problem, gnawing the bone, until it got worked out.  By 3:15 we were in a car with Warner Corvajal, an employee there, zipping across and out of the city to Santo Domingo de Heredia where the bodega was.  Vladimir Jimenez and the TSC truck was located on its way back from a trip and was rerouted to the bodega.  By 4 we had the paperwork done and the last money paid.  By 4:30 we were loaded and on our way back to the TSC office in San Pedro.  It all happened so quick and with so little fuss, except for the hours of waiting, it is still hard to believe.  In the old days, things took a lot longer.  But with computers and supportive people who are trying hard to help the process go quickly, well, incredibly, sometimes it does. 

 

Wolf and I celebrated with a great Italian meal of very anchovish ceasar salad, authentic pizza and red wine at Pane y Vino in San Pedro.  We had spent the better part of the two days together and had lots of time to talk while waiting.  If there is something Wolf and I can do it is talk, but at the same time we don’t always have quiet time anymore to do just that. We have either been running around or surrounded by family and friends or so tired that all we can do is smile at each other. 

 YAHOO – we have the books (and a glass of wine)

 

I moved from the Peace Center to my friend Myrna Castro’s house for Monday and Tuesday night.  I met Myrna and her daughters Sofia and Veronica when they came to the music festival back in 1999.  Her ex-husband, Luis Zumbado, is a great violinist and was playing in Monteverde that year and staying in the house for the musicians which I managed for a couple of years.  I’ve remained friends with them and try to visit at least once a year when in the big city.  Veronica and I went out Monday night to visit Sonsax, our friends the sexy-saxophonists, who were practicing at the university.  I hadn’t seen them for a couple of years.  Valerio, Jan, Pablo, Chopper & Manrique the percussionist are five great guys who have played around the world including the Montreal Jazz Festival, where I’ve gone to see them a couple of times.  When I first knew them back in the mid-nineties, they were young crazy too-good-looking-for-their-own-good musicians, but they are all maturing (or getting old as Jan said, not me) and now have wives, children and are all busy teaching when they aren’t playing their high energy brand of sax music. 

 

I also went to see Manuel Monestel again, the musical leader and mentor of Cantoamerica who I went dancing to last week. We shared some wine and some stories about the Caribbean community, which we both know and love. Made me want to go to Cahuita, the funky little town I’ve spent a lot of time in on the east coast. He was heading there the next day, so now I await some good gossip back. 

 

While we were in the city, we also talked with the Tico Times, who took the book to read and do a review and we will return for an interview in a week or so.  We talked to Marc and John at Seventh Street Books who will carry the book but it isn’t the kind that they distribute.  But they are going to be helpful in supplying a list of booksellers in the country where our book may fit in. I will head out on some roadtrips, peddling books to the stores I choose in places I want to go (and return to later).

 

When Beto arrived on Wednesday morning at the TSC office, we carefully loaded the books, along with a bunch of bedding materials, and triple wrapped everything in plastic and tarps.  It poured on us most of the way home but we felt pretty confident that the boxes would be okay.  As it turned out they weren’t totally.  When Beto and I unwrapped the boxes Thursday morning, the bottom four boxes had water damage – fortunately we only lost about 10 books to a bit of damage, and not so bad that we can’t give them as freebies to friends. But as Wolf said, those books traveled all that way from Montreal to Costa Rica on the sea and were dry, but a little 4 hour trip up the mountain to Monteverde couldn’t keep them that way.  I tell you, the moisture in this place would be to die for if you lived in the desert, but I’m back on that mantra again…beach, beach, beach… 

The dark skies over Monteverde

So now it is already Friday – I’ve written this in bits and starts.  Have been distributing books, making plans, and am truly heading to the beach tomorrow, then back to the big city.  Have some presentations lined up at the Reserve for the next week.  But I need some more sun and heat then Monteverde is willing to dish out right now.  However, one last night out at the new sushi restaurant in Santa Elena, oh so good – and a visit with our friend Marc Egger, multi-lingual guide extraordinaire, who is here from Sao Paolo, Brazil.  It’ll be a great night slurping sashimi. Soon I shall return, hopefully with sand in my shoes and solar energy stored in my skin.

 

 I’ve moved into my friend Mark’s house while he is out searching for the missing golden toads.  Now that the rains have come, he has great hopes he’ll find them, or maybe some other missing toad.  As I said in the last post, he has already found two species that were thought to be extinct.  I wish him well, am very appreciative that he was around to do the introduction at the book launch, and am thankful to have his little cabin in the wet forest, even if I’ve already killed three scorpions! 

 

 

I have this thing about scorpions…I’ve been coming to the tropics for eighteen years and, touch teak, I have yet to be stung by a scorpion. They seem to disappear once the rains begin – they come into the houses in dry season, but here in the House in the Hole, the scorpions don’t seem to have cottoned on to the change in season yet.  Mark said that this year was a ridiculous year for them – he was killing two or three a day – but he hadn’t seen any since the rains began last week.  Well, I guess he missed the three I got yesterday! Makes you a little nervous each time you put your hand in a bag or grab a towel or piece of clothing – I truly feel it is just a matter of time till one of them gets me, and I’m tempting fate by living in a house such as this one.

 

The slow boat to Costa Rica that was bringing our books turned out to be a fast boat and the books are already here in the country.  Wolf and I are heading down the mountain to San José tomorrow to start the process of getting them released from customs purgatory. The paperwork and run-around will probably take several days.  So we will go visit the Tico Times, the English newspaper, who has already put something on line at http://www.ticotimes.net about the book. They want to do a review and an interview.  We will also talk to 7th Street Books, the English bookstore/publisher in the city, about distributing the books around Costa Rica.  And then there is beginning discussions with the Tropical Science Center about the Spanish translation.  Carlos Hernandez, the director of the Monteverde Reserve, sounds very serious about it. We are hoping that Wolf’s son Carlos will do the actual translation.  But we are just starting with that issue.  No doubt I’ll visit friends and go out to hear some music and do some dancing while down in the big city.

 

 

And then I’m going to the beach.  Enough of this rainforest stuff, I need some sun.  Today is actually dawning with a very blue sky here on the mountain, and the sun will no doubt be warm and wonderful, but I want some real heat! So once the city business is done, I’ll make my way to one of the beaches, which I’ll decide on by the weather – wherever there is the most sun and heat, I shall go.  There are so many great beaches in Costa Rica that one doesn’t need to be limited.  Best swimming – Playa Hermosa in Guanacaste.  Best relax – anywhere on the Caribbean.  Beauty walking across sandy beaches and rocky outcrops and swimming in cool streams – Playa Moctezuma.  Ai yi yi – decisions! I may disappear from bloglife for a few days but will write again when I’m on a good computer.  Ciao chicos!

PS:  A fine gentleman, Nicholas Goodwin from Minnesota, just helped me get the system down for posting photos.  I like to think that it’ll be easy now….as long as someone nice guy like Nicholas is sitting close by. Or maybe I’ll manage it solo one of these days….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 2020
M T W T F S S
« May    
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
242526272829