Self portrait as a vase...pronounced vaahz
What a day. William’s son arrived around 10 a.m. and we took a taxi to a bus, then another taxi from where the bus dropped us off to his home. His children, Monserrat, age 2¾ and Bryan Gabriel, age 1+, were adorable. They served us a wonderful lunch with fish, rice with camarones, pickled vegetables and potato chips. I think the chips were there in case we hated everything, we could at least eat the chips.
Now for the interesting part: It turns out that William II’s mother and stepfather treated him really badly. He was made to wear old worn out clothes and no shoes and she did nasty things like rub Vic’s vapor rub into his eyelids so he couldn’t go anywhere because his eyes hurt. And he had to work, work, work, work, work. The rest of his siblings did not get this treatment. At 14 she told him to get out of the house. He then lived on the streets in the frontier area near Panama and around Limon until this older woman (whom I met) took him in and became his second mother. He has an aunt that hadn’t visited her sister (his mother) for years and didn’t know he had been kicked out. When she found out, she went around Costa Rica for years looking for him and actually found him finally, when he was 17. She then told him who his real father was (my William) and where my William’s family lived.
William II had no idea that the man who raised him was not his real father, though he didn’t look anything like the other kids. [Note from the future: Carmen told me the step father was black, which made it hard for me to believe that William II didn’t suspect something was off, but it turns out he just has dark hair and eyes and darker skin than William…who has green eyes and blond hair.] The mother had told the aunt to never tell her son about his real father, but she named him William Alberto after William. How weird.
Anyway, the aunt took William II to William’s family’s house [William had been living in the US for many years already], but no one was home, they were all at Patricia’s house. They asked the neighbors where they were and the neighbors actually knew. So they went to Patricia’s where they were all having lunch and knocked on the door. Apparently Alisia (William’s mom) thought she was seeing a young William and fell back into a chair in a faint and everyone else gasped. [Note from the future: more about this later. William’s mother may have thought William II was someone else totally…stay tuned.] The rest of the family was called and eventually everyone met him.
I didn´t understand this entire history while they were telling it. I just thought they were saying that he felt different from the rest of his family and when they got out the photo albums and Carmen started saying how old William II´s mother looked and other equally uncomplimentary things, which of course I DID understand, I was so embarrassed. I kept saying how I thought she was very pretty. After all, I got the man, I can be generous. Later Carmen filled me in on the details in slower Spanish and I wish I had said she looked like an old hag, too.
Carmen and I then took a taxi with the whole family to downtown Heredia where we parted from William II and his family and took another bus to a cemetery where we attended the funeral of a cousin of William. The lady who had died was an artist who studied in Spain and the USA and was a millionaire. We met William’s mom and sister Patricia at the funeral and all sat together, along with a 10 lb papaya that William II picked off his tree for us. (William asked us if we were sure we wanted to take the papaya with us to the funeral and Carmen said, why not? We didn’t steal it.) We were the poor relations. Everyone on that side of the family is apparently quite wealthy and the only time they see William’s family is at funerals. Patricia also wore jeans, which was a surprise as she usually wears dresses even when climbing trees – I think she was thumbing her nose at them.
Three people stood in front of the church and sang songs and Patricia almost blew me off my seat when she joined in with them at the top of her voice…which was quite good by the way. As far as I could tell, she was the only person in the church who was singing other than the trio in the front. I was sitting next to her and let me tell you my eyebrows certainly shot up into my hairline when she started belting out the tunes. Maybe there’s a reason they aren’t invited to many events put on by that side of the family. We did walk in with a 10 lb papaya under our arms, too, remember. Lots of rich looking old ladies all in black attended…looked like they belonged in San Francisco. The dead woman had two children, the son was killed in a drug deal gone bad, according to Carmen, but the daughter was there with her family.
After the funeral, Carmen and I took another bus to San Jose to a shoe store where two men made all the shoes. I’m definitely buying a pair before I go home…I have my eye on a pair of high-heeled, red suede over the ankle boots…just perfect for a woman half my age. Then we took a bus back to the house. Whew! Tomorrow Jose and Mirta pick me up in a car.
It’s 10:10 pm, time to get to sleep. We get up between 5 a.m. and 6 am. Everyone here goes to bed around 8 pm. There are approximately 12 hours of light and 12 hours of dark all year round because CR is near the equator. It varies a little, but not much. William’s mother gets up before everyone else every day. It’s certainly a peaceful time of day. Not a time of day I normally visit.
I also understood my first joke today. Beto (William’s father) joked that he had started the microwave when he had actually started a fire in the wood stove outside that they use for cooking things that take a while, like the jam they made out of the fruit Patricia jerked out of the tree yesterday—guayaba , I think—absolutely delicious. He let me lick the spoon. Yes, I am over 50, but like my neighbor, Howard, I may be one of the oldest 12 year olds on the planet.