Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Still more to share

I am taking pictures, but I won't be able to post them to my blog as I'd hoped. We'll see how that turns out. Blogs can be so boring without pictures!

We have to remember to pick up every crumb after we eat in our cabin because otherwise we'll get a visit from a line of ants. (our cabin isn't antproof) C'est la vie. It reminds me of when we used to live in Texas - those sugar ants were tricky!

Our friend, Charles, helped us to call the U.S. on his Skype account today. That was a first! He and his wife, Chris, have thought of every detail. Due to their kindness and a computer they loaned me I'm able to post this blog tonight.

I can hear the wind blowing and the crickets chirping. Alex told me today that listening to the birds calms people in measurable ways. I heard what sounded like a Cardinal and Charles said that I'd be surprised at how many northern birds make it this far south to stay for the winter. Speaking of noises, as we hiked up the mountain, I was stunned by how loud the insects were. They sounded like cicadas, only less shrill and seemingly louder. Wow, the wind just blew and the gust was so strong. A professor from UPeace said that it's a trade wind blowing from the north, which was why the volcanoes were shrouded in clouds.

The kids are enjoying learning about colones, the Costa Rica currency here. A 10,000 colon bill is worth about $20. You just lop off the last three zeroes and multiply the number by two to get the value of the bill. Their money is losing value fast due to inflation. We're lucky that we don't have to devalue U.S. dollars. It must be hard for the ordinary citizens to keep up with the rising cost of necessary goods.

As we drove from San Jose to Ciudad Colon, we passed many businesses and homes. There is no zoning here, so you can have a strange mix of homes, businesses, schools, and so forth. It does look very haphazard.

Driving here is odd. You have to watch for pedestrians with children as you go around curves, you have to watch out for foot deep potholes that will take the wheel right off your car, there are drainage ditches and no sidewalks so you can drive into a gully. There are no guard rails for the steep drop-offs that catch your breath when you see how dangerous they are. And Ticos (the familiar name for people who live here) drive rather fast in spite of only having a lane and a half at times. As a pedestrian you have to be aware. There is not a single street sign and no raods are named. Actually being on the street with no name was surreal. So odd!

Charles explained that the police often can do little about theft even if the person is caught red handed. It's part of the culture to think that if you're not careful enough or smart enough to protect your belongings then you deserve whatever petty theft comes your way. Whoa. And if a person trespasses they can be shot by the owner. Sounds like a state I used to live in a few decades ago!

The few Ticos whom I have met have been so sweet and nice. Going through Immigration was a breeze, nothing like what you sometimes get in the U.S. The man at Customs was friendly and told us about the volcano that had erupted. Egads. This place feels like I should have a bullwhip a la Indiana Jones - incredible beauty in the rainforest, matched with natural disasters and a feeling of lawlessness.

Well, it's been a long day and Antonio has been patiently waiting to use the computer, so I should go now. Ta ta!

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