morning rain

morning coffee
i woke up to the sound of rain on the roof this morning. i grabbed my laptop, went downstairs, and sat shirtless on the porch drinking coffee, reading feeds, and watching the rain fall on the yard. i got bored of reading recaps of the worst week for the s&p 500 in five years and picked up howard zinn’s “a people’s history of the united states”. the rain continued to fall, a bit harder for about an hour. i became distracted by the thought there may be a secret cilantro patch somewhere nearby, because the air smelled like the herb.
cilantro would have gone well with the avocado i brought home yesterday. i put two aguacates in the bicycle’s front basket, along with a bunch of other groceries. one arrived at the house intact, but the other had been hammered into guacamole during an altercation it had with one of the two mangoes i had packed in the basket.

mystery power outage

last night we got back from bodysurfing and dinner in town to discover the house with no power. we fired up candles and flipped the breakers, then went out to the street and looked at the connection to the power lines. the street lights were on, the neighbors’ power working, and the tie-in to the city looked a little funky, so i determined that whatever the issue was, we weren’t going to solve the problem until morning. i started reading by candlelight in bed, made a comment about ruining my eyesight like abe lincoln, then remembered the headlamp i brought.
an hour or two later, the lights on the balcony came on, and someone shouted from the street asking if everything was working. he didn’t seem to be from ICE, the power company, but i shouted back yes, thanks! so to recap, the power to the house was off, but several hours later, without our having notified anyone, someone came by and brought back the juice.

things that go bump in the night…and day

every so often there is a slightly metallic thump coming from somewhere in the thick growth. the first night here, i couldn’t quite figure it out. my first guess was that someone in the neighborhood was collecting and recycling. the noise sounds similar to the crunch of aluminum cans i heard at night in berkeley as roaming scavengers poached recycling from the bins.
that was a guess prejudiced from prior experience. it turns out the thump is from branches, nuts, and fruits falling from the trees and landing on corrugated metal roofs.
in other metal roof news, last night was the first time it has rained while i was in the house. i awoke to the unfamiliar sound of a hard rain falling. it took me a moment to get my bearings and realize where this great white noise was coming from. once i knew it was the sound of thousands of drops drumming on the roof, i fell back into a deep sleep.
corrugated metal roof

the anti-warehouse store mentality

i went shopping today. there are many things to explore, lots of different spices and fruits and vegetables i am not used to seeing in a corner store. i found some tasty looking granola, liquid yogurt with tropical fruit mixed in, bananas, coffee, a mango, some dish soap. then i went to the paper goods section for some toilet paper. my conditioned instinct was to grab the biggest megashopper-sized extra-combo pack i could find. there was one large-sized pack, but as i reached for it i reminded myself that all the groceries had to fit in the new bike’s basket. i grabbed a single roll instead.
a kid on horseback just went by the house at a full gallop. the hooves on the gravel and stone road made a great sound. a minute or two later his buddy came sauntering along lazily, riding halfway sidesaddle and looking in no hurry to be anywhere.
saturday riders


i did laundry today in the kitchen sink using dish soap. then i brought the clothes upstairs and hung them in the morning sun off the back porch railing. i started thinking as i scrubbed my t-shirts that although throwing clothes in a washing machine and walking away seems quicker, it takes more of my time in the form of thought cycles. i put clothes in a machine, and then i start a reminder timer in my head, “need to remember to change the laundry,” that occupies a fair amount of memory. doing laundry by hand is quicker than a machine cycle, for a small load at least, and when the rinse is over and the clothes hung out to dry, you don’t “take your work home with you”. the process is done and you don’t need a mental reminder.

the dryer

lost my talisman

i lost the maori greenstone necklace i have been wearing for the last 4 years today to the surf gods of the caribbean. i guess that means it is time for a new talisman. my new bike, below, does not count.

my new bike

i need to swim out there
i woke up around 5:30 this morning and pulled the laptop under the mosquito net to do some reading. so far i don’t mind the lack of internet at the house, it’s a nice distraction free environment. my attention bounces around a lot less often when i don’t have constant twitter and pownce updates streaming in, friends going on and offline or changing status in my buddy list, email arriving, etc. i am fairly aware of and disciplined about managing notifications and minimizing windows that are constantly updating, but without a connection i can’t help but be. getting broadband up to the house isn’t impossible, but it might be an effort, and i am not sure how motivated i am to change the peace and quiet here.
so far, i love playa cocles and the surrounding areas. the people are relaxed and friendly, the food is terrific, and being in the middle of tropical rain forest next to the beach pretty much fits the definition of living in paradise. yesterday i stopped by landlord juan’s place as i rode to town, and we hung out for a while as he showed me the pizzeria he is building. he’s originally an architect from argentina, as a point of pride and with a good sense of humor about it, refuses to learn english. his wife is a tica and speaks perfect english, and his kids laughed at him as we struggled to communicate . luckily, we were both highly motivated in our desire to shoot the shit, and hammered out a pretty decent conversation. he’s an interesting guy who has built a lot of cool stuff here, including the house we are renting, a bunch of buildings around his residence, and a successful bar/restaurant downtown that he just sold. on my way back from town i stopped back in and he gave me a tour of his incredibly diverse collection of trees, including lychee fruit, all sorts of citrus, star fruit, several amazonian trees with names i don’t remember, and a couple of the tallest avocado trees i have ever seen. he told me he would never go back to the suit and tie architect job he had in argentina and i don’t blame him. he has a great life going, la pura vida.
i am still yet to get some bodysurfing in. that is on the agenda for today. i just glanced at the clock on the computer, and realized that the stock market is opening in ten minutes, seven-thirty local time here, and i have already been up for a couple hours. not bad, but i am still figuring out where to go for internet in the morning. marlena’s place at the end of the road doesn’t open until 10. i should talk to her about grabbing signal before she officially opens.
it’s somewhat later, and i am sitting on the patio at cabinas el tesoro, where the proprietor told me he is putting in an antenna that will blanket the hotel and beach with wifi. it’s not here yet though, so i am having a coffee and reading yesterday’s news before i head back up to cafe rio negro at ten.

second day in costa rica

sunset at punta uva
as i write this, i am surrounded by the noise of the rain forest. crickets, frogs, birds, monkeys, and the distant surf are mixing together, and it sounds similar to a meditation/sound effects LP my parents had back in the 70’s. the parallel reminds me of my recent dream about living under a planetarium ceiling.
yesterday we flew in, hopped on a bus and travelled four hours from san jose to puerto viejo, through warm misty mountain cloud forests and gentle rains falling on banana plantations. the sun was shining brightly by the time we arrived at the beach and caught a taxi to our rented house at playa cocles. our landlord juan met us there and sorted out things like keys and mattresses and mosquito nets, then drove us around the corner to the store to pick up candles when the power in the neighborhood suddenly went out. tonight the power is on but we killed the electric lights, and are sitting in rocking chairs on the balcony with candles lined up along the edge.
this morning we set off to test out bandwidth in the area. the internet cafe closest to the house opens at noon “mas o menos”. the hours are not posted, but we asked the proprietor while she was shouting down her order to the traveling pineapple vendor from her bedroom window above the cafe. we walked the main road downtown to “jungle internet” and bought 10 hours of access, then went next door to pan y chocolate and connected to the signal from there. the coffee was excellent, served in french presses, and i had a bowl of papaya, mango, pineapple, watermelon, and yogurt topped with granola. i was IMing with my mom, who told me she had read on the internets (and seen) that i should go to pan y chocolate and try the pan dulce. i laughed and messaged her back that i was eating there as we typed. maybe tomorrow i will go back and take the advice, provided the oven is working. i talked with the owner tom for a bit and his bakery oven has been having some issues.
i bought a bicycle this afternoon. it’s a standard single gear beach cruiser with backpedal brakes, whitewall tires, a basket and a rear rack. the roads have quite a few potholes, and the spring-cushioned seat is a key feature, especially on the rough gravel sections or at night with just the moonlight to guide the way.
marc picked up a bicycle from a friend of his sister’s down at playa negra, and we rode out to punta uva to catch the sunset. the beach up there is pristine, deserted, and the water is bathtub warm. we passed a restaurant on the way back called “jungle love”, and marc mentioned as we passed that he had heard the owners were originally from the bay area. it turns out that both yamu and poppy are in fact from the bay area, and the restaurant kicks ass. we stopped in and had an unbelievably tasty dinner of ginger sesame glazed medium rare fresh tuna on brown rice. the lettuce and vegetables in the salad were of as high quality as i have had.
the candles are burning down, and i am feeling tired. although i haven’t been bitten, or at least haven’t had a reaction to any bites so far, i am going to go crawl under the mosquito net and let the sound of the rainforest send me off to sleep.

greetings from puerto viejo

i am sitting at pan y chocolate, drinking some costa rican coffee from a french press. i flew in yesterday and took a four hour bus ride up through the cloud forest and then down to the coast. the house i am staying in is awesome, and i woke up to a loud chorus of birds, monkeys, and other jungle fauna. i will write more when i get more situated.