Friday, February 27, 2009

Creature Comforts.

If you were packing for three-and-a-half months in a foreign country, what would you bring? I am not the world's best packer, in any situation, so this one flummoxed me a bit, and now that I've been here just shy of five weeks, I have come to a few realizations.

First, after the crying jag and emotional stress of last Friday and the alarm night... I soothed myself with The West Wing. Yes, that's right. My obsession with that show dominates the tiny, 12-disc carrying case I brought. The iPod and the iTunes mean you never have to waste space with a CD again, so I brought 13 DVDs:

High Fidelity

Almost Famous (the director's cut)

Marie Antionette

and ten discs of the West Wing. (In case you care, I brought the last two discs of season 1 and all of season 2.)

The West Wing is like chamomile tea for my soul, it's like a glass of whiskey at night or a toddler's la-la. It was definitely the right choice.

High Fidelity is my number one movie of all time (yeah, yeah, Bill, I KNOW, shut up! on the WW too!) and Almost Famous is a close second. Marie Antionette, the Coppola one, is the kind of thing I would normally hate, but it is a movie I love to watch when I need some mental reorganization. It's like a film version of meditation for me.

But I would have, should have, sacrificed two spots for Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. What was I thinking!?!?!? That's got talking, love, humor, foreign countries, and everything I need. Big mistake. I miss them.

On the clothes front... I didn't bring enough nice stuff - it's all beat up cotton tanks and boring tee shirts. I did not bring enough shoes, I am bored with my choices and one pair of sneakers? Am I an idiot? I did bring more than enough underthings (thank goodness) and I wish I had more light, cardigan-y things for the cool evenings.

I caught a little Oprah the other day, it was a special on how the recession is affecting real people. The people interviewed, living in shelters, cars and tent camps (or one couple living in their office after losing the house), were all former car-owners, homeowners, and employed in middle class jobs. The thing they all shared was, when asked what things they missed most: a hot shower whenever they wanted it. It made me grateful for my toothpaste, my hot shower, my soft bed, and also to have the luck to enjoy the silly, indulgent, time-wasting, reassuring desserts I brought with me: DVDs, two great long juicy books, a couple pretty scarves.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A Moment of Crazytown: Did I Dream This?

So the bruise picture above is a simple mosquito bite! I've always had sweet blood but boy oh boy. My bites right now are EPIC.

I share it because I find it kind of amazing, and I share it because maybe I am going crazy. Why, you ask? I remember hearing somewhere once that an east wind drives people mad. Was it an old wives tale, a Dustbowl Era saying, from a play or novel? (Maybe I dreamt it?)

At any rate, it's been a windy winter in San Jose... around dusk, and often in the early mornings, I am startled by huge gusts of wind, the kind of wind that's not too common in Portland. It's more like Livingston, MT wind! It comes from the east, and it feels foreboding. It cruises past the comfortable point... it rattles things a little too much, it blows doors shut loudly, it scratches the windows with big palm leaves. It peaks and I realize I was holding my breath, listening nervously.

I've never been so aware of the wind. Is it because I'm getting a daily dose of east wind - is it driving me mad? Or is it a mosquito bite side effect?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Bills, Bills, Bills.

Here's something new. Picture getting a bill... for the installation of your cable or internet, for a snowplow or yard service, for painting, for delivery of an item, for pretty much anything. What does it say on the bottom?

Payable in 30 days, payment within 15 days of receipt, something to that effect. Right?

In Costa Rica, all bills are Payment Due Upon Receipt. The minute it is handed to you, you have to pay. This requires carrying lots of cash, or making trips to a cajero automatico with vendors impatiently driving behind you.

It also adds a layer of serious stress... if the dishwasher repairman comes, fixes it, and then leaves with your payment, you have no time to see if it is truly working properly. His receipt, with contact info, may include a cell phone number that never works again. And your money's gone.

So there's a whole new level of "I've got a great handyman" type recommendations. They carry a lot of weight, and people do not lightly share the handyman, delivery service, cleaning crew, security consultant, moving company, courier, taxi driver or any other service they use. After all, their recommendation carries a lot of trust and high stakes with it. There's no Angie's List or Consumer Reports!!

It is a big mental adjustment, getting used to "Payable Upon Receipt." It adds a level of immediacy, a level of rush-rush-right-now that, funnily enough, adds to the days slipping by on "Central American Time"... which means that things get done when they get done, appointments are rough estimates, and things always seem to 'come up' that prevent the day's business from being completed. Like, running to the cajero to pay a bill! That sort of urgent thing gets done, but big grant submissions or workouts at the gym... not so much.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Home Sweet Home.

Starting out: that's the front gate to the office/my home. (As viewed from upstairs.) One of the first things you notice about San Jose, Costa Rica is that everything is gated, guarded, barred and barb-wired. (And electric-fenced.)

Next up, that's the back wall, if you look close: currently it is enhanced by a nice line of broken bottles and other sharp glass.

Then, that's the vista from the office conference room - looking S/SW into the hills of Escazu, the neighborhood of San Jose we're in. Finally, that's a second-floor shot of the bamboo stand outside my window. I admit, when it squeaks and whines, I still sometimes think it is a door opening, but I'm getting more relaxed each day.

And now, the story from Friday.

The introduction is important, because many things I took for granted come into play. For one thing, when you rent in CR, you don't get a stove or refrigerator. You don't get a phone line - your landlord owns the phone line and grants you access to it, with a hefty deposit. (S/he doesn't want to lose it and have to wait for another.) In our case, we don't know the voicemail code!! The last tenant changed it and didn't leave it behind.

The security system, too, is owned by the landlord and the responsibility of it is temporarily transferred to you, the tenant.

So, on Friday night, I got two kind but clearly determined visits from the street's night guard, who was concerned because my alarm was going off. (It was? I couldn't hear it.) His English was zero; my Spanish is that of about a three year old. For example, if "gorda" is fat and "gordita" is a cutesy pudgy person, then to me, it followed that if "ahora" is now, ahorrita would be right right right now, please. Uh, not so much.

(For your Spanish reference, ahorrita means in just a few minutes from now.)

Anyway, me and the sweet but concerned Miguel went back and forth twice about my alarm, which I then just disarmed for the night. (I still have locks. And broken glass.)

Miguel's third visit, with escalated concern, had him asking me, Entiendes? (You understand?) and me repeating, no, no, indeed I clearly DO NOT understand what is happening.

So, like so many of my dear friends and family, I hated to do it... but... I decided I had to ask for help. I called a co-worker, who was gracious and wonderful and zipped down the hill from her house, to translate, explain and ... upon seeing a friendly face who I could communicate with after a stressful, dark, foreign evening ... set me off into tears. Isn't it strange how when someone asks, "How are you?" you respond off hand, "Good!" But when someone looks at you, sees you, and asks with genuine concern, "How are you?" it can set you off into tears? Maybe its just me.

The problem was not clearly identified, but with three dogs, four neighbors, my coworker and her husband (who kept being so nice that it made me start crying again and again) plus me and a security guard, it was determined we would let it go till morning, and I would sleep with the system unarmed for the night.

After adding another dog, three more friends, and two more security guards to the mix the next day, we figured it out!!!

That previous tenant... she changed the generic setting of "People in the House but Keep Us Safe" button to mean "Well, Actually, Motion Sensors on the First Floor Are Always Armed and Will Go Off and Cause Emily to Cry and Security Guard to Freak". So NOW I have it figured out! I can set the "I'm Inside" alarm, but only be on the second story. If I want to go downstairs, I disarm for a bit, then re-arm at bedtime.

It is a relief and as United Statesy as it is, I slept better last night knowing the first floor was motion-detector protected. (Please do not send me any news stories about easily foiled motion sensors. Thanks in advance.)

Of course it already seems silly to dissolve into tears over not being able to communicate with the security guard. But that's the power of language. Whether it was god's wrath about the tower of Babel or something a tad more Darwinistic, language sure prevents humans around the planet from perfectly, clearly, effectively collaborating on common goals. And solving this eensy teeny puzzle took sign language (the landlord is deaf!!), English, Spanish and big dose of patience all around.

I'm off to watch the Oscars! Go Slumdog! Go Anne Hathaway!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Chicken. Road. Crossing.

Tonight was the first real tear-filled breakdown, a combination of language-isolation and frustration (a sink or swim when I sank!!), alone-ness and neediness. The story shall come this weekend when I'm in a better zone to tell it. I'm safe, I'm fine, and like losing my diary in France (remember, Meggie?!?!?!), it will be funny... LATER.

In the meantime, how do people cross the road in countries with no traffic signals? As they say, very carefully.

Here, you walk across the oncoming lane, stand on the yellow line, hope the cars are small and the motorbikes are few, wait till the next lane is clear, and run for it. I thought this was insane until I realized its a matter of daily course in San Jose.

I admit, I'm not a big fan. But it was sort of thrilling this morning with a backpack on, computer and wallet inside, orange juice in one hand and toasty bagels for CAVU peeps in the other. The cars took no notice of my big accomplishment. ; )

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Me Gusta Vino.

They sell liquor, wine and beer at the grocery store in Costa Rica... unlike Oregon, where it's only beer and wine, and unlike Massachusetts (where I lived before that), where none of it is available in grocery stores, gas stations, convenience stores, anywhere. Only "package stores".

Anyhoo, before I try to fall asleep in the new digs, which is a little scary and I'm looking forward to getting curtains!, I just have to share that so far, I've seen Duck Pond wine from Oregon in TWO stores, and Erath Pinot Noir in one! Cool! The Duck Pond 2007 pinot noir? $40. The Erath, about $30 or $35, I think. Obviously I'm enjoying Argentinian and Chilean wines most of the time, but it gave my heart a little proud beat for Oregon, reprazent! here in Costa Rica.

Pura vida, pura vida.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Next Phase!

Tomorrow I move from the cozy home of my bosses into my "own" place... I will, literally, be living at the office. There's a little suite in the office for visiting staff, and I'm the first to make it mine. Like Willie's Room of the Wives, I suppose I should christen it with some kind of cool name.

I will post pics soon, but for now - it's on the second floor and outside the window is a huge stand of bamboo. I never knew that bamboo rattles and creaks in the breeze, it's a great noise. Since I get up around 6:30 or 7 these days - I know?!?! right?!?! - I'm glad to have a east-facing window to help with that transition. There's a river down below... and this being an emerging economy, that's less romantic and more ... uh ... sewagey ... than it sounds, but there's an element of pleasure to hearing the water, as long as I don't think too much about it.

I'm within two blocks of all sorts of eating options and a three minute cab ride from the MultiPlaza with its Hollywood movies, Argentinian version of Forever 21 and McD/Subway/Pizza Hut/KFC.

But it's going to be a big shift, and an interesting phase on this adventure... I'm being pushed out of the safety of others' language skills and cooking habits, and smack into living on my own in a foreign country really-truly. I should also have evening access to a Vonage phone, complete with an USA phone number! Details to follow.

I have learned this week: it's not nice to say "American" when referring to something unique to the United States.

Also: I am considering a boycott on the blog until Dr. Meg posts an update to hers. (MF was almost in this category but snuck by this evening.)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Favorite Sound?

That's Bruno, at the office today. (Our office at CAVU, not his office at the airport.) I felt he deserved a nice head shot after his internet introduction with the ol' wheels-up. Stately, isn't he? El Famoso, claro que si! And now the guards at the office gate greet Bruno, more than me, with a "Buenas" at all times of day. Sigh.

So... you know on "Inside the Actor's Studio" how the ab-fab James Lipton always asks, "What's your favorite sound?" as part of the final questionnaire part?

Don't tell me you don't try to think of yours. You do. We all do.

Mine change each time I watch the show.

So today, I hate to be cheesy, but I thought of all the things I miss hearing in real life or on the phone, about a month into my trip, and though this is FAR from a complete list, a few of my favorite sounds are the voices of my friends, and I'm thinking of them tonight...

When John says almost anything - when he laughs, when he growls, when he sighs in his sleep. When he says I love you, and when he calls me pie.

When Torry says "Fantastic!" (This is the best. I am sad for you if you don't know Torry telling you something is fantastic.)

When Bill laughs.

How Brigitte laughs.

(I wonder if its part of their magic as a couple, or that they just both happen to have wonderful, explosive, genuine, heart-tugging laughs? But when they laugh, you feel satisfied. End of story.)

When Jordan says "NO!" in disbelief. (In a Spanish accent.)

How Hanna says hi on the phone. Honestly. She gives a great, sad, funny, we've-been-friends-almost-twenty-years "hi."

When Micheal says "Goodbye Emily" at the end of every phone call, no matter how quick the call.

How Dad says "Oh, hi!" when I call.

Meggie's French, but in particular: TopCool. (Also, when she and Eric speak fake-French to each other. Ahhhh, blissful.)

When Erin says "What...?" with disbelief and anticipation about a story I'm gonna tell.

When Lisa says "ab-fab."

How Nikola says "Oh! It's like..." (Do you know what I mean? You have to have had a very late conversation with Nikola to know when she wonderfully links two thoughts, two theories, two world experiences...)

How Julie greets me at CK. "Emily!!"

When Arthur sings in the car on the way to wine country.

How Lin doesn't say anything and sits down for a blueberry unicorn with A Nod. (Stories shall begin.)

The way Bennedetto/B Love/B/Bennett pronounces Emil.

The sound of any voice mail message I have ever received from Jason Malone.

When Pickel says "I love you" or "Thanks."

The start of a happy Adrienna about to tell me a story.

When David says, "Oh. My God." during a story.

How Molly's smile comes through over the phone. (And her frowns, too.)

When my text messages ping with a greeting from Sean.

The sound of it in my head when Tony says something awesome on IM.

Meg saying "WooHoo!" ... especially when out dancing.

Shannon calling me a pet name.

When Leighton says, "Yeah, son!"

Kelly describing a crafting idea. (Something I know nothing about, yet, the passion is contagious.)

Megan talking to Marcus. (And now, I imagine, to Daphne.)

And, to end on the squishiest of squishy notes... pretty much anything my mom says, from niceties to worries to my favorite, "Hi Honey!" is the best sound ever.

(I am too tired to keep writing. I am, not, however, out of sounds I love. You are not forgotten or ignored, and will probably be on the next list.)

Sunday, February 15, 2009


At my apartment in Portland, every day at noon I can hear church bells from a few blocks away. Now, every sundown here in San Jose, and all through the day (and night) on Sunday, I hear church bells. Soon, I'll post a picture of the Spanish-style church in the neighborhood and it'll just break your heart with how perfect a setting it is, imagining a Central American Catholic church, bells echoing down the hillsides and over the bougainvillea.

Like Living Nostalgia.

Do you ever think to yourself, life moves too fast in the United States. It would be nice to return to a simpler time, a time when someone always helped me to the car with my groceries... a time when the cashier wasn't always trying to up-sell me a larger soda or a silly trinket... a time when it felt like employees were "people" and not "human capital" or "human resources."

Well, in some ways, the developing world (they're not called that, actually, anymore - now they're emerging economies) has that slow pace you're seeking. It has a personal touch, and less (or no) bureaucracy.

But to quote John McCain... my friends, this is not always better.

Yes, there are young men at every grocery store who pack your bags or boxes and bring them to your car. For between 50 cents and a $1 tip, it's a nice piece of times past.

But, what about buying, say, a set of dishes - the kind that come in a box, a simple set for an office? Well, each dish will be removed from the packaging, inspected for chips or breakage, then stamped OK, then you fill out a paper agreement, and all this is because you can't dream of returning it. The CUSTOMER SERVICE counters we know and love in the States don't exist here... you can't buy a cookware set, get home and realize you forgot it wasn't oven safe, and then return it simply. Oh, no.

So, the checkout line is slow. OK. But the employees aren't really interested in giving you a good impression of the store either - because they're people, not Guest Associates. It took three employees nearly ten minutes at the register to help us purchase kitchen items for the new office yesterday - opening, inspecting, paperwork, packing into plastic bags, getting receipts, finding a cart, walking to the car.

(Of course, Americans are famous around the world for being nice - whether we mean it or not, we smile, say please, we are cheery folks who love commerce. This, ahem, may be getting us in some trouble.)

But it's an adjustment. Nothing happens quickly. A refrigerator was delivered on Friday evening. The men did not have a dolly. Yes. That's correct. They lifted a fridge out of a truck (with no ramp) and carried it inside - no dolly, no supportive belts for their backs, and good thing we have cement floors, otherwise pushing a fridge through the house would have slayed a carpet or wood floor.

It reminds me that it might be annoying when a restaurant won't let you block the aisle with an extra chair, to squeeze one more friend around the table, but those laws are there for a reason - they come from a time when fire escapes or legal windows or occupancy laws led to some terrifying, preventable, scary disasters. It might seem nutty to require four men to carry a fridge out on delivery... but boy, it's better than watching a new fridge teeter back and forth in the hands of two guys who are probably very tired at 6 PM.

So, I try to not to have the impatience of the Ugly American. I calmly fill out paperwork, agreeing that my silverware set does, indeed, have 4 forks, 4 spoons, 4 knives. I look down when walking so I can spot the uncovered drainage ditches, places the sidewalk stops (which is about half the time), and sundry messes I may not want on my shoes. I work on not thinking of either way of life as better, and I remember that if I miss some customer service, if I miss the motivation and above-and-beyond attitude that so many, many Americans have, I know I'll also miss getting to sit in a cafe for an hour, chatting, and not being nudged to leave and yeah, OK... I'll miss the guarantee of help out with the groceries.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

El Famoso.

"El Famoso" means just what it looks like... The Famous.

Around the CAVU world here in Costa Rica, El Famoso is Bruno... the dog who has survived a 40 foot fall from a waterfall, the dog who chases away howler monkeys, the dog who the airport employees know and thus wave us in at the security gate, the dog who travels in small planes, big cars, on foot, in boats, by roads unpaved and well-traveled, the dog who sleeps "wheels up," as pictured above. (Hey, Bruno travels by plane. He knows what "wheels up" means, and when he sleeps, it's time for ultimate relaxation.)

Bruno is like Megan and Ryan's Marcus, or my old Bridger, or Molly's Missy; Bruno is about one incarnation away from being a person. He wouldn't surprise me if he talked one morning. If I came back to the office after lunch and Bruno was sitting in the yard with a shotgun, tipping his hat to me as he scoped the birds, I'd think, "Yeah. That's about right."

Bruno trusts the world so much, he sleeps on his back, with his paws in the air, silently snoozing away. How can you not love a creature that knows, deeply, in his sleep even, that the world is a trusting, loving, supportive place?

He's never happier than when he's with the bus. That is: the car. If he's near the bus, he knows he won't miss a trip to the supermercado, a restaurante, the teatro, just a drive, or, of course, to his office: the airport. If he's near the bus, Bruno is happy - because he's with the party, he won't get left behind!

And the best, best part. Bruno has a girlfriend. Her name is Chile Reina... Hot Queen. She is about eight pounds, and she Puts. Him. In. His. Place. It rocks. She makes him earn it and after all, isn't that what El Famoso really wants?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Sending Sunshine.

This is me, Tuesday, 4:36 PM Central Time, on the deck, working. I was just at the gym - !!! - so my hair is wet. Only one purple flower in the photo, but lots more nearby. I am sending the bright, warm sunshine and light breeze to those of you wherever it is snowing, cold, raining, dark or all of the above. It's about 68, just enough for light jeans and later a sweater, and this hills behind me have long afternoon shadows in the fading light, as the sun sets behind them, into the Pacific.

Today I was thinking a lot about independence, and marriage, and balancing those two things for a lifetime. And everyone thinks they're doing things right, of course, so I'll join everyone and tell you something I think I'm doing right, at the moment.

I miss John terribly, I wish he were here experiencing Latin culture and taking in the sun and eating dinner with me at night, but there is something sweet about us having a breath to ourselves... a little time (14 weeks being little in the grand scheme) to remember who we are as individuals, to stop in this pause and be present to it, whatever it is each day, when it's fun, sad, lonely, exhilarating, easier today, harder today, on and on. I think this time apart is a gift for two people who fiercely want to remain independent and also turn into the relationship as the most important thing in our lives. It's a time to learn that balance and return to each other in May, centered, matured, leaping into a new stage of love.

I suppose it's a long winded way of saying that absence makes the heart grow fonder. So I think I am saying that, yes, perhaps this absence will make our hearts grow fonder... both for each other and also for who we are as individuals. For how we create and live our partnership.

So it's a nice day in the sunshine here, and today was a good day.

Monday, February 9, 2009

What $10 Will Buy You.

Admittedly, I am standing a little behind this vase of flowers... but not by much. It's a pretty accurate depiction of my head versus the size of the bouquet... the flowers are about twice as big.

Their fragrance fills up a very large room, and it helps me write the poetic, and important, document I'm trying to finish this week. It also makes you think about having a wedding in Costa Rica, if for the flower prices alone!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

La Playa in Uvita - part of Parque Nacional Marina Ballena.

Believe it or not, this was considered a busy day at the beach... but you can see how hard it was to get pictures of the sweeping vistas! Busy for here, maybe, but I still felt practically alone! The day was sunny and beautiful, with storm clouds gathering in the jungle above, as we walked back to take afternoon naps. At low tide, there's a large rock tunnel filled with awesome little crabs. The dozen or so other people on the beach were grilling, talking, playing - but not much swimming. Ticos, as Costa Ricans are called, are much more interested in freshwater rivers for their water recreating. (So even though that's not me wading into the water, we were the only three people to swim in the couple hours there!) The warmth of the water was truly stunning to a girl from the West, and the beauty of the ocean is infinite, wondrous and ever the same... I only hope I can live by it someday.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Fitness Regime.

I know I keep promising beach photos - I will upload them tomorrow!! But in the meantime, a quick diversion before I fall into bed, completely exhausted.

You know all the things you tell yourself, as reasons why you can't lose weight or get into better shape? (Whatever better means to you, that is.) Well, I believe you. Whether it's the doughnuts at the office or the cold weather that means no afternoon runs, or whatever it is, it's real.

Mine, as most of you know, is snacking. I probably eat as many calories in snacks each day as I do at meals. Well, I'm spending time with folks who not only don't really snack, they truly keep only healthy food around. No chips, no cookies, no trail mix from Costco, nothing, nada. It's like I'm on a reality show. I go to the fridge... nope. The pantry? Nope.

So I settle maybe for some fresh mango, and lots and lots of water. Am I hungry? Not really. I'm head-hungry, but not actually hungry. I do know that I don't have the self-discipline to do this at home!!

All of this is a very tired, very roundabout way of saying that I'm convinced between the lighter eating, the fresh fruit, the lack of snacking and the when-in-Rome action of me working out more (from never to sometimes)... I will end up being all fit for the wedding I said I wasn't going to lose weight for!

And it's also a way of saying that moving to another country where you don't speak the language and living with very healthy, active people is THE ONLY WAY to get in shape, for me. So I better enjoy the wedding photos in May, because kiddos, this is probably going to be the best I ever look.

I miss you all. Today was my first day of a big pang of homesickness, so thanks for stopping by to read the blog and I hope you have a great weekend ahead of you.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Not My Choice.

Back in San Jose... guess where I went to dinner tonight?


But remember we packed a house, moved the contents, unpacked most of the contents and also managed to fly in a plane, drive in a car and breakdown the purpose of Facebook in a modern society all in one day.

We deserved bacon cheddar cheeseburgers in el estilo de Estados Unidos.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same.

So the blog will have gorgeous beach photos in a day or so, but in reality, I leave early, early tomorrow AM to fly back to San Jose. Today was a work day like... remember writing a paper in college, in one day, because you blew off weeks of prep time? Well, imagine having to do that, a couple times a week, because deadlines come up at least that often. Today was that kind of work haze, the stress, the fixation, the frustration.

Of course, I rounded out the day with a swim in the pool and wine overlooking the ocean, but you get my point.

So before I leave la jungla... it's funny how quickly one can adjust. I stepped in howler monkey poop yesterday and was like, oh sheesh. Monkey caca. I brushed off a cicada from the bed without thinking, and swept the tiniest lizard you ever saw out of my bedroom onto the deck this morning.

And it's equally funny what doesn't change. During some social and business dinners this week... heartbreak is heartbreak in any language. Women get hung up on men that aren't worth it the world over. People who love their dogs would do anything for them in the mountains, in the jungle, on the beach, if it means preserving their health and happiness. And babies, well babies are always welcome. And, yes, que linda, pregnant women are just as gorgeous as can be in English, Spanish, Spanglish and more.

Over and out. It's wheels up at 8:30 AM and back to la ciudad!

The Rest of the Hike.

So after the anthill, the hike got serious. It was about five to eight minutes later that I realized... umm... we've been walking downhill the whole time. Which means uphill on the way home. It reminded me of riding my bike to school as a kid - it would be cool in the mornings, and I'd cruise downhill the mile or so to Anderson School. Then, at 3:30, it would be blazing hot and bone dry, and time for an uphill bike ride after a long day in an un-air-conditioned building. Miserable.

So we hiked through primary rainforest, secondary rainforest, all the time hearing the rushing of water, somewhere below. We arrived at a 90 foot waterfall, and waded across a wonderful swimming hole, with no one else around, and hiked partway up the waterfall. The falls are 90 feet from top to bottom, but they cascade through about three pools. There's no photo, but I sat in the pool for a bit, being massaged by the pounding water - it was fantastic. As a Montana girl, it's hard to accept how warm the water is. Even in Hawaii, with a 70-72 degree ocean, when you jump in, there's a second of bracing yourself against a slight chill. Here, it is truly warm... you can wade in without a second thought. Mom, you'd love it!! No need to go toe, then ankle, then knee, then waist, etc, for twenty minutes, like on the Cape!

The hike back up was, predictably, not as bad as I thought... we did the 750 vertical feet in about 25 minutes, sometimes through thick, matted grass as high as my knee, sometimes on smooth open ground under the canopy, sometimes over fallen logs! Returning to one of my all-time favorite things in life... an outdoor shower... and a fresh, crisp tuna pasta salad made it a pretty sweet afternoon indeed.

I may try one of these hike things again someday. But tomorrow... the ocean!

(The one up-close photo has three butterflies in it!! The butterflies here are amazing - they're everywhere, and all different, and really truly magical.)

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Happy SuperBowl Sunday!

For the first time a few years, I'm missing the SuperBowl at Meggie and Eric's - what a bummer!!

I changed the comment settings, so anyone should be able to comment now, sorry 'bout that. And thanks for the comments, everyone. I absolutely love them. I'm still without a phone, so it's a real connection for me.

The only thing better than a SuperBowl Sunday nap in the jungle? A SuperBowl Sunday nap in the jungle with the rain, pattering on the tin roof above.

One pic for today: me in front of an anthill on a hike yesterday. (Yes, a hike. Me. On a hike. Mostly willingly. At the end of said hike was a waterfall, more pics soon.)