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I’m riding the Greyhound north savouring the last of Vermont’s colourful October forests. Although we are riding over dry pavement here, I am very aware that elsewhere many people I know are suffering from torrential rains and the subsequent damages they cause. Reports from Monteverde have been full of soggy complaints following about two weeks of downpours, grey skies and lack of sun. That means that landslides are probable and so traveling becomes quite unpredictable, making my hour-behind-schedule-otherwise-smooth bus ride from Maine to Montreal seem quite insignificant.

More seriously, my friends living on Lake Atitlan in Guatemala – an enchanting place I’ve written about frequently over the last few years – have been watching the water levels rise at a rate that they couldn’t imagine and were hoping they wouldn’t see quite yet. The pictures being posted on Facebook are truly alarming. I believe that many living close to the shoreline on the lake have been forced into evacuating their homes, perhaps permanently, for even if the water hasn’t entered the building, it has destroyed septic beds and compromised their water system – and is still rising. They say the lake has a fifty year cycle of rising and the elders know that the lake still has a ways to go. My heart goes out to those who built their homes and businesses only to have their dreams gradually washed away like eroding sand castles.

In Monteverde, our friend Wolf has just spent close to two weeks again in the Puntarenas Hospital. I am happy to say that he is back home and apparently doing fine. He had a bladder infection that they couldn’t control with antibiotics administered at the house so he was put into the hospital to receive treatment intravenously. Experience has shown that bladder infections cause a greater distress in older people, confusion and weakness being common symptoms and I guess that is what was happening with Wolf. Fortunately it seems that Wolf has rebounded well. I am anxious to be back down there, to see with my own eyes how he is doing. Once I’m there, I’ll be blogging about all things Wolf, Monteverde and booklike much more regularly.

I’ll be headed back to Costa Rica on November 16, just in time to attend a concert honouring the late Fidel Gamboa, Costa Rica’s recently departed musical genius. Malpais, the band he fronted along with his brother Jaime and five other great musicians, have decided to disband. I expect that the strength and reorganization it would take to carry on without their main composer, singer and guiding spirit was just too great. I believe it will be an incredible night of Fidel’s powerful music performed by his musical brothers and sisters, his lyrical poetry sung by friends and the night augmented by the addition of Costa Rica’s Philharmonic Orchestra. I am so glad that I can make it back to Costa Rica in time for this last-in-a-lifetime show.

In the meantime, I’ve been paying attention to the Occupy Wall Street movement as it ignites our world. For those of us who have been paying attention to the corporate takeover of the world with trepidation for decades, the rising of the 99% in North America is a wonder to behold. It’s about time! I move around with the sound of Lorraine Segato’s “Rise up, Rise up” playing in my mind – a song performed at Jack Layton’s wedding years ago and again at his funeral in August (for those unfamiliar with this man, I wrote about him a couple of posts ago.) I know that Jack, if he had not died so prematurely of that nasty cancer, would have been joining Canadians in the street and helping to inspire the peoples’ movement.

The timing and strength of the protests has surely exploded with the examples set in other parts of the world – Egypt, Tunisia, Libya – where populations of largely oppressed people realized that they have taken enough abuse from the upper echelons of power. At a certain point, people figure they have nothing to lose but plenty to gain in rising up. North Americans don’t like to think that such revolutions, sometimes violent, could happen here, but I’ve always thought, or at least hoped, that even in the comfort zone of the passified North American consumer society, people would eventually realize the folly of our system. It’s based on the lies and greed that reward a few while keeping the masses distracted with shopping and sports addictions (how many corporate logos can you wear in one outfit or fit on one car?) and fed with the belief that one day they too will get to feed from the golden trough. It would seem that we have reached the tipping point here, where people have had enough of supporting a system that isn’t supporting them any longer. While the 1% licks the cream off their lips too many others never even get to lick out the bottom of the pot.

Surely the movement has been fueled by the frustration of people trying to get ahead with hard work, if they can find it, but without the rewards promised. We pay for insurance that doesn’t guarantee security, for schools that don’t properly educate, for health care that isn’t available when you really need it. The two industries that seem to thrive in this harsh climate, that people are forced to seek work within, is the military and prisons, neither of which offer any hope for the future or health benefits for our society. Even here in soft-shelled Canada our very conservative government has decided to buy into this draconian way of creating jobs and controlling the poor.  As French/Basque musician activist Manu Chao says, a country that spends more money teaching their citizens to kill than they do on education is a country based on fear, not hope for the future.

Besides following the leads of other dissatisfied societies around the world, perhaps the 99% movement in the US is taking advantage of having a president in power who may be somewhat sympathetic, at least enough not to have the protesters immediately tear-gassed and jailed, though there are signs that mayors in some cities are going in that direction. Although there is plenty to be disillusioned about with Obama’s presidency, it was always obvious that he was up against a corrupt and well-entrenched system that retains power and wealth for the select few in a historic perfect storm of global collapse. I believe that he can still do the right thing as this movement gains strength, and I will continue to believe that deep in Obama’s gut, there is a spark waiting to burn a hole from where his real strength and humanity will fly. I like to imagine that he and Michele watch the news at night and embrace each other, happy with the knowledge that the citizens of the United States, as elsewhere, are passing the goblet overflowing with empowerment and justice. When it makes its way to them, the Obamas will be ready to replenish it. At least that is what I like to think.

Being Canadian, I obviously didn’t have a chance to vote for Obama, but I joined with the millions who celebrated his election and believed in his message of hope and change. A simple fact of global life at this point in time is that though the citizens within the confines of the US may be able to live in ignorance of the governance of other countries, the rest of us are as deeply affected by the politics of the USA as we are the global governance by multinational corporations.  How to explain what has been going on for the last three years? A system so entrenched in corporate power and elite privilege that even a man of deep principles and experienced in community welfare can’t remain immune nor stand up to the force of its greed. I remember Obama’s 100-days in power interview when he answered the questions “What has surprised you the most?” What has troubled you the most?” by expressing his not-so-naive understanding of just how difficult it is to work within the system, that change in Washington (and on Wall Street) comes very slowly, that even in the middle of a big crisis the discussion is lost to a lot of partisan bickering. Even as President of the USA, he can’t make the bankers do what he would want them to do or turn on a switch and have congress fall in line. Well, that is why he needs the help of the population to stand up and insist that the corporate rulers, the bankers, and the outrageously wealthy pay their share. It is time to get the power back into the hands of the people.

I also believe that it is the responsibility of people everywhere to stand up to the massive brainwashing that has created a global epidemic of consumption. The belief that owning a bigger home, a newer car, a better wardrobe, every new appliance and electronic device available, that all these things are going to bring happiness and peace to your soul – well it is time to step back and stop the madness. How can one possibly defend the needs of those who own several mansions, a fleet of luxury vehicles, whose bracelet probably costs more than your monthly salary unless you are thinking that it your own goal? This kind of ostentatious outlandish decadence is setting the example of so-called fulfillment. It has tricked everyone else into supporting those who feed this dream to us even as it is making people physically, emotionally and mentally ill. If one can’t afford the luxury items, they shop with the same abandon in the dollar stores. Junk, stuff, tomorrow’s landfill. It is insanity and, to me, it is a big part of the problem, this desire for more and more of everything. The drug lords are the corporations, the pusher is the television, the addicts are everybody…and the loser is the earth.

Instead of spending so much money on the war on drugs and the criminalization of marijuana, the government should be cracking down on the real crack – stuff!!!!!

Those of us who are the protesters, the 99%, whether we are living in a tent in one of the occupied city parks, or disseminating information through the social media, or speaking up in support of the Occupy Earth movement at every chance we get, know that it is time. We don’t need a “leader” or a single headline for the media to grip on to that will simplify their job. It is impossible to narrow the issues into one stream when it is already an ocean out there, full of inequality, insane policies and despair. The “free market” system, capitalism as it is called, has stopped working for the majority of not just the humans, but all creatures who share this fragile earth. A few may be getting rich – even very very disgustingly rich– but most are experiencing life as one crisis after another with nowhere to hide. Climate change, environmental degradation, health decay, economic collapse, fiscal mismanagement, the inequities that pit workers against workers and the middle-class against the poor… the absurdity of it all is well beyond a single slogan or one spokesperson. It is time. Gather your loved ones, put on your dancing shoes, be peaceful, open your mouth, feed your mind and RISE UP!

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I’m still here in Chepe (San José in Tico talk). It would seem that I’ve just about moved in with Edin and Lorena and their pride of cats – a lovely family to spend time with but I hope I’m not overstaying my welcome. I’m constantly amazed by Edin’s flowing creative process, Lore’s generous spirited companionship, and the dynamics between the five felines. We had a concern a week or two ago that I was developing an allergy as I was sneezing uncontrollably when Frijolito, the blank panther, would come and curl up beside me. In the end, it must have been something else, thank goodness, as he is purring beside me as I write this and I haven’t sneezed in days. I love animals too much to have to avoid them.

I am very happy to report, for those of you following the story, that Walking with Wolf has sold like fireworks on the fourth of July at the airport here in Costa Rica! We were only about twenty days into a thirty day trial when Café Britt sent me another order for books! So if anyone reading this bought a book at the airport in these last weeks, or suggested someone do that, thank you very much! I only know of one person, my friend Raymond, who not only bought a book but made quite a scene regarding the value of the tomb to fellow shoppers, so it makes me even happier thinking that perhaps it was strangers (not planted buyers) who went into that big bright souvenir store and chose to spend a few of their precious dollars on our book! We are very pleased.  

Meanwhile Lester, the editor of the Spanish version of Walking with Wolf, and I have been working together at least a couple of days a week…I wish it could be more often but he is too busy. When we do get together, we work for many hours and so have made our way through half of the book and hope to finish this week. I am learning more intricacies of Spanish as we go but I suspect that I am like nails-on-the-chalkboard of his linguistic mind for poor Lester with my funky use of the language.

I can happily report that Wolf just keeps improving. I talk to him and Lucky regularly and will be going up to Monteverde next week to see for myself. Apparently he is walking, perhaps not as far as he would like, but steadily. I know that he has managed to get out to the Ventana, the famous lookout a few kilometres into the Monteverde Reserve. His pal Jim Richards took him up and the Reserve drove him out in one of the vehicles, but he must have walked a ways too. Our friend Wolf is a miracle machine…he always was, as anyone can attest who has tried to keep up to him on the trail. But now he is arm wrestling with the future….and winning!

The other project I’ve taken on is getting some dental work done. Costa Rica is getting known for “medical tourism”…people like myself, without insurance, coming to have various treatments or operations that are available at a more reasonable cost here than in our homelands. In my case, I’ve been aware for some time that I need some crowns and so finally bit the bullet (well, not literally or I’d have even more broken teeth) and took the ol’ proverbial gondola down the root canal. My question is…when did they start making this stuff painless? I have had one tooth done (waiting for the permanent crowns till all 4 teeth are ready) and haven’t suffered at all. I would recommend my dentist (Edin’s niece) to anyone and the price is soooo right.

Needing to recover (?) from my first tooth challenge, last week I went up to the hot province, Guanacaste, to see my friends from Canada, Patti, Leo and his sister Tucky. Tuck has been living in Costa Rica about a year and has a lovely little casita not too far from the beach in the small community of Playa Hermosa on the Pacific Ocean.

This beach has always been one of my favourite sunny spots in Costa Rica. One of the reasons I love it is that it is in a bay that gives you very protected water. You can swim and float without getting knocked over by waves, though there are big enough swells to body surf when the tide is coming in. We were there a week after the Japanese tsunami and during the days of the “super moon” and the waves were enormous, bigger than I’ve ever seen on Playa Hermosa. A boat trying to land on the beach almost killed a man when it was carried higher and further than anticipated by the huge waves. The man, a beach vendor, had the wherewithal to dive under the boat and survived almost unscathed. Swimming was out of the question during high tide.

The beach and community are not very big and up until recently have maintained a very laid back and undeveloped character. I’ve visited a lot of places in Costa Rica over twenty-one years and seen communities change, sometimes so much that you hardly recognize the place. Up until this year, I felt that Playa Hermosa was avoiding what seems to be the inevitably big transformation that comes with development despite being the closest beach to the Liberia International Airport. I suppose the retarded “progress” is due to the limited size of the beach and the restricted availability of water. Guanacaste is a desert in the dry season and the huge neighbouring developments of Papagayo, Riu Guanacaste and others have taken more than their share of water and utilities. Residents and businesses in P. Hermosa and surrounding communities have had their water shut off at times so that these big resorts can have a steady supply. This injustice has created tension between locals and the corporate hotels and one can only wonder what the future will hold.

I am always blown away when I see the size of the houses being built  – each one loaded with air conditioners and bathrooms and surrounded by lush green gardens and sporting a swimming pool – covering the tinderbox hillsides along the Guanacaste coastline. People want views, they want sun, they want the sweet life – in a totally unrealistic world where water is only going to become more limited and electrical demands need to be met somehow. We search for answers to the most recent round of nuclear-fears while conservation and solar power are treated like remote possibilities by so many. I have always stayed in small hotels that are right on the beach and could only see the development when I’m floating in the ocean and looking back beyond the palm trees, up into those cactus covered hills.

This time I stayed with my friends in a small cluster of casitas at the base of the hills that are surrounded on all sides by development. On our way to the beach, we would pass two “high-rise” condo buildings built since I was there four years ago. We also walked past several buildings – condos and fancy strip-type malls – that were stuck in mid construction or just sitting completely empty. Beyond its gorgeous sandy beach and established inns, Hermosa has taken on a look of decaying decadence.

On the beach itself, the government came a couple of years ago to deal with the 50 meter law…which states that all building on the coastline of the country is, by law, required to be back 50 meters from the high tide line. Everywhere in Costa Rica this law has been broken with seaside hotels, restaurants and homes sitting as close to  the water as physically possible. In Hermosa, the government got busy and had buildings, pools, gardens and fences removed that had sat for decades within that limit. That has made a major change on the beach. There is now a palm tree lined path to walk along at the top of the sandy beach and properties have shrunk. Years ago we stayed at the Playa Hermosa Inn with its pretty garden and small swimming pool, and now there is no pool and only a remnant of the garden remains (along with Gladys, the last of the employees who ran the place, as economic times have been very tough in P. Hermosa – she now does the work that used to be done by three).

We had a fantastic dinner and a great night of music at the Hotel Villa del Sueño. Owned by some talented musicians who came years ago from Quebec, they have got the fine art of hospitality down. Our dinner was excellent, the service impeccable, but the best part of the evening was the band – beginning with a Costa Rican guitarist and singer sweetly crooning Latin love songs and growing into a seven- piece band playing some great arrangements of covers of Latin, reggae and rock songs…with enthusiasm and joy. Excellent musicians. Highly recommended!

The other place I can’t get enough of is Ginger Restaurant. Patti, Leo and I went there four years ago when we were together at Hermosa. We went back with Tucky and friends Ed and Rhena for what will remain one of my favourite meals in Costa Rica this year. Ginger is about small portions of creative cuisine that you can share, not big plates of rice and beans with a honking big piece of meat on the side. Although it can be called a tapas restaurant, it is much finer than the tapas I had when in Spain a couple of years ago and much more international. Many ginger infused dishes, por supuesto, with vegetarian options and lovely plates of delicate protein. The restaurant itself is mostly outdoor treetop patio dining with an open bar and twinkly lights. I suppose the menu wouldn’t satisfy someone looking for Texas-size portions, but for those who love to try different flavours presented with charm, this is a must. I can’t wait to go back to Hermosa just to eat at Ginger.

As much as I loved being on the beach and under that beautiful hot tropical sun, my pleasure was as much about being with friends as anything. Patti and I have been amigas since high school. We both went to live in the bush of northern Ontario and so were neighbours (within a 200 mile neighbourhood, Canadian-style) since the early 80s. She and her husband Leo have just completed building a straw bale house that I can’t wait to see when I return to Canada this summer.

Leo and his sister Tucky are two super laid back folks who are willing to do anything, eat anything (except cilantro says Leo) and laugh over anything. Their cousin Rhena and her husband Ed were also good company, full of stories. Great folks to hang with at the beach. Tucky has taken on the care of a half wild cat (quickly becoming comfortable with the domestic world) she calls Minette. The cat lived with a woman who used to live in the house and, when she moved, she took Minette with her to her new home about 10 kilometers away.  I guess the cat didn’t like the change, because she made her way back to her old home (no doubt avoiding coyotes, cacti, and cars) and adopted Tucky as her caregiver. She is one of those cats who seemed very independent up until the neighbours told Tucky that when she was out at night, the cat wandered from house to house complaining loudly. You gotta love cats.

All in all it was a wonderful week at the beach. It was so nice to be with old friends, fellow Canadians, as well as with the other nice folks who own the Papagayo Village (not to be confused with the Papagayo Resort), who happen to be from Washington State where my sister lives. We shared in a big fish feed one night and seemed to talk food a lot. Tucky is a great example of someone living life in a gentle way, trying to be very careful about how she uses water in the house, working on her Spanish so she could get to know more Costa Ricans – you know, the kind of nice woman who cleans the house before the cleaning lady comes. You have to love her. Thanks Tucky, Leo and sweet Patti for everything. Nos vemos a Canada!

A few weeks ago, when I was up in Monteverde, cold, wet and miserable with fever, I felt the strong urge to write and complain about the rain. Prior to that, I enjoyed three sunny September weeks here in Cahuita of perfect hot, dry weather, but as soon as I ventured out on a trip to San José and up the green mountain, my spirit was soddened as quickly as my clothes. I was caught almost daily in pouring rain, keeping me constantly damp, if not soaked, until I was able to escape inside and change into dry clothes. Eventually I succumbed to “la gripe”, Costa Rican for all that ails you. Last April, after experiencing the desert conditions of Los Angeles in California, I swore I would never speak harshly again about water replenishing our thirsty earth, but it doesn’t take many days of walking about dripping wet and cold to forget one’s best intentions.

At our bush home in Cahuita, we are constantly stoking the cooking fire, and its smoke swirls through the rancho and steeps our hanging clothes like curing sausages. A comfortable odor here, it becomes a foreign acrid smell when you hit the urban life of San José with its fresh scents of soaps and colognes, or the clean but humid mountain air where that smoked chorizo musk follows you like an poor immigrant from the old country.  Note to self: freshly wash all clothes and dry far from the fire before visiting civilization.

In Monteverde, I stayed with the lovely ladies Deb and Barbara, who took great care of me as I sunk deeper in my sickness, and in the end, in a very ungracious-guest-like-manner, I left them both under the same nasty weather. The worst of the whole thing was that I had gone to Monteverde with the intention of spending a few hours each day with the ever-recuperating Wolf, but I only managed to visit him one morning and then didn’t dare return with my germs. I missed a bunch of other events as well, but it was the anticipated Wolf time that I really regretted.

To update Wolf’s continuing medical adventures, he continues on a roller coaster, slowing going up the track of wellness, only to crest and slip down another precarious slope. However, I believe that as of this writing (as per a phone call with his son Benito last night) Wolf is doing okay. He had the first of his cataract operations a couple of days ago. I hope that this will mean that while he is laid up with his other conditions, he will at least be able to read again. Often he has been feeling punk enough not to want to do anything, and he is not a television watcher – indeed, the Guindons don’t even own one. However, once he is feeling better yet is still not very mobile, he can at least amuse himself by reading, something that the cataracts have been making almost impossible. He delayed the operation once while he was recuperating from the pacemaker episode, but now he has at least one eye open and I trust he has a date for the second eye. 

His heart and pacemaker seem to be working well together according to his check-ups. A change in insulin as well as a more rigid regimen of testing his sugar levels will hopefully mean that he will get better control of his diabetes. He has been told, once again, to drink more water to keep flushing his liver and kidneys of all the medication he takes (Wolf is still trying to come to terms with the fact that coffee is not water). A few days before I visited him, Wolf had a bad urinary tract infection. Combined with his chronic prostate issues, it resulted in the placement of a catheter. Although he wasn’t happy about it at the time, he seems to have made some adjustments and now is finally able to eliminate his liquid wastes with less pain and problem than he has had for a couple of years now.

Carambola!  As he told me, a few weeks ago he hit a low point that he thought he wouldn’t return from, but he’s once again feeling like there is a light at the end of the tunnel (not THAT LIGHT), and fortunately his strong spirit is still soaring. Unfortunately, his ever-suffering wife, Lucky, who has become a nurse despite a lifelong desire to never be one, recently took a fall and broke (I believe) a rib, something that is known to be very painful yet seldom fatal. So she has taken at least a couple of bumpy trips down the mountain with Wolf and their son Berto in his car to various medical appointments, no doubt grimacing from the pain but stoically carrying on. Ai yi yi, don’t you think enough is enough for these good folks? 

I did manage to get over my sickness in time to participate in workshops for the nature guides at the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. Mercedes Diaz, head of Environmental Education at the Reserve, asked me to repeat the presentation I had given last year on the history of Bosqueterno S.A., the original watershed reserve that the Quaker community had set aside. So I went up to the Reserve and despite technical problems, a lingering fever and rain pounding on the roof, I told the guides this important story of the beginnings of conservation in Monteverde. I finished that last mountain day wrapped in the warmth of my friendship with Patricia Jiménez, aided by dry blankets, hot conversation and healing wine.

The raging Rio Concepcion and a bit of the highway

 

All said and done, I was happy to leave the cold mountain and continue my wandering, challenged by the treachery of the Costa Rican highways during this very wet rainy season. A new highway was opened less than a year ago connecting San José with Caldera on the Pacific coast but due to very poor construction and very adequate corruption, such a terrible job was done that this new and important highway out of the heart of the country has been sporadically closed like a blocked artery constantly requiring surgery. The old highway that passes San Ramon was also closed when a bridge was washed out meaning that both of the main routes west of the central valley were cut off or clogged up. You take your chances moving about a mountainous, overly-underdeveloped country like Costa Rica, especially in the rainy season.

Despite bus delays, I eventually got to visit with people I consider family – the Montero/Martinez gang – one branch having moved from San Carlos to Palmares recently. I also had a chance to visit a different branch of the same family in Sarchi on my way to Monteverde.  A year had passed since I saw some of these folks so it was a wonderful time of catching up and seeing their new or improved homes.

In Sarchi, I was thrilled to see Claudio’s organic lettuce operation and made notes as I think that Roberto and I can use some of his ideas to grow some vegetables here on the Caribbean, something that we struggle with constantly (too much sun, too much rain, too hot, not enough soil fertility, voracious ants, every other bug, etc.).

I spent several days near la Fortuna with Zulay Martinez, and wrote about this in the last post as we spent a day at the CRiterio Film Festival…if you haven’t read it, take a look and try to see some of those documentaries. I love being in that region of Costa Rica and Zulay has been one of my closest Tica friends for 20 years. The sun was shining, it was warm and mostly dry, so the time was completely enjoyable and I was only sorry that it was so short.

Before returning to the east coast, I went to San José for an important meeting with the Editoriales de la Universidad de Costa Rica and the Tropical Science Center. Thanks to the enthusiasm of a few men – first, Carlos Hernandez, the director of the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve; secondly Javier Espeleta, the new director of the TSC, and now Julian Monge, the editor at EUCR – the translation of Walking with Wolf should see the light in the first half of 2011. Wolf’s son, Carlos, completed the translation a year ago, but editing etc. is still to be done. However, with the energy and commitment of these men behind us, I believe that Wolf and I will be celebrating Caminando con Wolf in the foreseeable future. His health concerns have helped to push these very busy men into action, a positive side benefit to all of Wolf’s trouble. 

While in the city, I stayed with my good friend Myrna Castro and her new husband Ron, and her talented daughter Veronica. We were all busy, but they provided me with a 6-star hotel, a mother’s care and always interesting chatter while I was there. Vero took me to a bar I’d never been to, Anocheser, in San Pedro, where musicians gather after their gigs and the music carries on through the night. A small intimate place, the night featured a series of singers, strumming guitars to songs that everyone in the place knew and sang along with (except me, of course, who only knew a few of the Spanish lyrics). Note to self: learn more Spanish lyrics.

I went to visit Lorena Rodriguez, a good friend and very talented designer. Although I went to see her just to visit and catch up on life, the day turned into a design-fest. When I told her that I was getting ready to build a little casita on the land I have just purchased here on the Caribbean, she sat me down at her computer and we started turning my ideas into reality. Hours later, the house details that had been brewing in my mind, aided by her extensive experience and creative juices, along with a fantastic computer design program, could be seen in full color, in scale, and we were even able to take a cyber- walk through the casita to make sure it all felt good. Incredible! Once again, I am so appreciative to Lore for dropping what she was doing and helping me (as she did last year when she fussed over my preparations for my visit to the Canadian Ambassador’s house to meet the Governor General).

Now I have a very workable plan for a humble 5 meter by 7 meter casita that I plan on building on my little piece of land just across the stream from Roberto. I’ve had a couple of frustrations with the buying of the land but in the end, all seems to be in order. I know why I’ve waited twenty years to buy land here. However, this is a property with title and no legal problems, and I’ve had a surveyor come and we are now just waiting for the land survey to be completed, and I think all will be fine although I’m expecting each step to involve frustration. The most difficult thing could be that our relatively isolated but very peaceful life here in the jungle could be changing as our road gets busier, land is bought up, buildings are constructed and electricity is soon to come. You can’t stop progress but you can certainly disagree with its definition.

We had a disagreement over the actual property line with the woman who is buying the land immediately next door but hopefully that has been settled. Roberto and I went out the other day and placed a makeshift fencerow along the boundary line as dictated by the woman who sold me the land, and now we wait and hope that we will all be in agreement. Roberto thinks I should erect a proper fence of barbed wire but I can’t stand the idea. Instead I plan on planting a variety of hibiscus, crotons and other colorful fast growing plants to mark the edge of the property. I told him that I would erect a real fence if I felt it was necessary one day – he shakes his masculine head of dreads. As we discuss issues around land ownership, security and building houses, I’m not sure if it is gender issues, personal experiences or cultural issues that cause our differing opinions, but in the end, it’s my property, my money and my problem. And Roberto’s prerogative to say, “I told you so”.

As I wrote at the beginning, I was feeling like complaining about rain, but once I returned to hot and sunny Cahuita, to the trials of land purchasing and house design, to Roberto’s delicious coconut-cooking and Miel’s amusing antics, and to the very low water level of our little stream, well, I decided I didn’t have to whine about wetness anymore. I brought a new simple battery-operated radio (see former post about radio problems) and it has brought music back into our daily lives – as well as a connection to the news of the world, including the amazing rescue of the 33 miners in Chile. They say that a billion people were watching or listening to the rescue operation – what a nice thought, that so many people across the globe would be focused on something that is positive, not warlike, and has nothing to do with sports.

And as I write this from the shelter of the rancho, our first day of east coast rain has come – beginning with a thunderous pouring in the night and lingering as a mellow shower all day long. Our gasping little stream has swelled again, its renewed current rushing along its banks, washing nature’s refuse back out to the sea, the moisture triggering a brighter twinkle in the green eye of the forest,  and cleansing our sun-baked souls. Ah, what a sweet rain it is.

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