Feministas, Prayers and Panties…day 12

Woman with facets of indigenous people and caucasian people

Feminista

Attended a Feminista meeting with M and M on Tuesday evening.  Margo gave a speech on the internet in Spanish.  Very impressive.  Met many very interesting people including two women who print a Feminista newspaper, which I have casually left on the table for William’s family to read.  Almost left my shoes in M and M’s car, but knew they were there somewhere as I could smell them.  Mucho funky from the mud on the banana plantation and the Atlantic Ocean.  Carmen has somehow managed to get the smell out—unbelievable.  I figured I’d just have to live with every dog and cat in the city following me for the rest of my stay.

[Note from the future: I was wearing these same shoes to an event at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco and they just fell apart on me. The soles crumbled into tiny little pieces, leaving a trail everywhere I walked. I wonder if this happened because of Carmen’s cleaning.]

Wednesday I spent half the day in an internet café—a different one than I was using as I pooped in the other one after days of one of the traveler’s curses, constipation, and the toilet didn’t work.  Feel sure they can’t pin it on me but am taking no chances—DNA testing and all that.

Today Carmen and I went first to a lawyer’s office where we met up with the pastor of her church and Carmen signed some type of testimonial about the church, I think to verify its existence so the pastor can go to the US to raise money.  Before we left the office we all put our arms around each other, kind of like a huddle, and the pastor prayed the loudest but Carmen and the lawyer (female) ran a close second.  They were all saying different things at the same time. Carmen and the lawyer said a lot of gracias and Senors and the other man, who drove us, used the word Padre a lot.  I didn’t say anything.  Though I heard my name mentioned by each of them a couple of times—they were probably asking the Senor in the Sky to watch over me carefully as I fell twice walking up the stairs to get there.  I think the stairs are different heights.  Carmen told me I need to watch my feet instead of looking around.  I didn’t tell her that I just recently quit watching my feet because William told me to stop looking at them all of the time.

Carmen and I then went to an exposition for computers that was supposed to be the largest in the world.  It was probably the smallest such event I’ve ever seen.  The computers were very expensive compared to Dell, unless prices have soared in the past two weeks.

Afterwards, we took a bus to San Jose where we walked into some art galleries and around town a bit and then took a bus to Alisia ’s (this would be Wm’s sister Alisia II, not to be confused with Wm’s mother, Alisia I) house somewhere in outer Heredia.  Also went to visit Alberto, Monica and Gilary—Patricia’s son, wife and 6-year old granddaughter.  I was amazed at what this little girl can make with only a set of dominoes.  Her mother also drew a picture on a piece of paper and this is what she used as a coloring book. There is no money for a real coloring book here.

Alberto made a pair of socks for me with my name on them at the sock factory where he works.  The first night I was here I thought I heard William III (this would be Rosabell’s son, Wm’s nephew, William III, not Wm’s son, William II…yikes!) and Beto and Alberto talking about the various merits of bikini underpants vs. other types and sure enough, they were.  William III works in a panty factory where he sews panties on a sewing machine.  Alberto makes socks using some type of computer. William III mentioned that they make gigantic panties for WalMart in America and he wondered what these gigantic women looked like to need such gigantic panties. By the way, I have never told William I (my William) that men don’t call their underwear panties. I get too much of a giggle out of hearing him use the term to tell him. [Note from the future: finally had to tell William about panties as we were at Sears and he stopped a store clerk and asked him where the men’s panties were! “Why you let me say that all these years?!”]

Carmen and Alisia II tried to convince me that the world is a much more dangerous place than it used to be, but I managed somehow to tell them that they think it is more dangerous because they watch shows that feature all the bad things that happen all over the world—including much blood—and that in the past, there wasn’t a camera focused at the site of all the bad events and even if there were, the media didn’t put it on TV.  Alisia looked like a light bulb had gone off in her head but I could tell Carmen remained unconvinced.  Had the same conversation with William’s folks and they looked like light bulbs had turned on too.  My next move will be to tell them to quit watching those programs as they are being brain washed into fear poco a poco.

Carmen went to a prayer meeting tonight.  She told me that she does this every week and prays for everyone in the family including me.  She’ll probably be spending more time on me after she reads the paper I left for her.  It has a long pro-choice article that’s going to flip her out.  Need to beef up on my Spanish pro-choice/anti-war terminology before that conversation.

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Photos with the BriBri

Photos of the family whose home we invaded for lunch. I took no photos of people’s butts as they were getting in and out of the canoe, unlike my cousin Margo whose butt is now fair game.

I don't think this young man is going to stay home on the farm.

Multi-Mono Culture, BriBri, Spiders and Bananas…Day 9, 10, 11

colored pencil drawing of woman with leaf as a head and cherries and leaves as hair

Self-Portrait as a Multi Cultural Goddess

Margo and Madonna met me in front of the church in Grecia and off we headed for Puerto Viejo.  Torrential downpour through the mountains, then an obstacle course of potholes, in the dark, from Limon to their beach house.  We could have been lost forever in any one of them…maybe dropped into the bowels of the earth, met up with those folks who are living in the center of the earth…but we made it there safe and sound.

Madonna and Margo are incredibly interesting.  They have traveled all over the world covering human rights’ issues for a Central American radio station. I shall say no more as I think that should be their story to write.

On Sunday we drove to the center of the BriBri’s (an indigenous people) land and then were taken on a 3-4 hour ride between Costa Rica and Panama in a canoe that had been carved out of one log.  We went up-river through rapids that were probably 3’s in river rafting terms with one guy poling in the front and another in the back.  Eight of us were in the canoe in total.  These were skinny little dudes doing the poling…I say this because we weren’t “skinny little dudes” doing the sitting.  We hiked up to a waterfall and swam in the pool beneath it.  There were two Italian guys with us and one fell and bruised his face pretty good.  We told him it made him look macho…which he was not at all if you know what I mean. 

Madonna fished the entire way. When she didn’t catch any fish on the right side of the boat, she threw her pole into the left side and announced that she was going to try the fishing in Panama. The BriBri said that even though Madonna was actually raised in Puerto Rico, she was more Costa Rican than rice and beans. They did not say that about Margo and me and I am still to this day puzzling over that one.

We hiked to an area that has about 30 BriBri families, though you’d never know it as you couldn’t see one house while at another.  It takes anywhere from five minutes to one hour to go between houses.  They prepared a wonderful lunch for us in a thatched house with bark floors. You had to climb a ladder to enter.  Guillermo took us on a tour of their organic, multi-culture banana and cocoa plantation.  We slipped and slid through mud up to our ankles, but it was incredible. 

Colored pencil drawing of a banana tree with a face and a nipple

Mono Culture (aside: mono is monkey in Spanish)

The banana trees can live 20-25 years in a multi-culture setting, but only five years in a mono-culture setting.  The BriBri also raise many medicinal plants, one of which Margo takes for depression rather than pharmaceutical drugs and says it works great for her. All in all, it was an unbelievable adventure.  Margo and I kept looking at each other and saying “we are a LONG way from Wisconsin.”

That night we went to hear some music in Puerto Viejo, which is like a mini-Jamaica, very different from San Jose and the Pacific Coast which have hardly any black folks.

Monday we went fishing and snorkeling in the Atlantic and I saw unbelievable fish and coral and snails.  By the way, the beach house is on stilts and huge (over a foot across) crabs live under it and all around it.  Madonna catches them sometimes and puts them in a cage, feeds them till they’re fat (how do you know when a crab is getting fat?…could they be skinny inside their shells?), then eats them. 

 

Colored pencil drawing of spider with face and woman's body

Portrait of My Sister Patsy as Spider Woman (checking to see if she reads this)

I walked smack into a huge spider web the first day on the way to the toilet, which, by the way, is outside. And by huge, I just want to say the body of the spider was around 1.5-2 inches long and .5-1 inch wide. This is not counting the LEGS. So you can imagine the size of the web. I don’t mean to be a wuss about this, but it was something out of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. There was a point in my life when I thought I might become a naturalist…Indiana Sarah and the Temple of …. Incidents such as this have convinced me that I made a wise choice in not traveling that path.

Everyone kept warning me how dangerous Limon and the Atlantic Coast are, but M and M said Costa Rican’s think this because there are black people there.  Racism is pretty rampant – boo hiss.  Even I might have been a little leery of the men walking along the road with machetes, though, if I hadn’t seen Madonna gardening. Madonna gardens with a machete.  It seems to be an all-purpose tool on this side of the country.

M and M’s regular house near San Jose is gorgeous—lots of windows, lots of wood, and a bathroom that is totally cool.

The butterflies have been unbelievable—huge iridescent blue ones; red and black ones were mating right in front of my nose.

The cats were also doing something in front of my nose.  One male and one female youngster in a 69 position nursing on each other…and the male had an erection.  The female was kneading her paw into him very, very near this erection, too.  Hmmm…decided to draw outside to give them some privacy.

Mouse, Karaoke and Tight Clothes…day 8

cartoon rat

Self portrait as a mouse

Today I wrote a database for the Plastics Factory, a very simple one, but at least it will track orders and payments.  I hope I can find enough Spanish to teach them to use it.  I enjoyed having a day to think about otras cosas than Spanish. 

It’s raining cats and dogs, well dogs anyway.  No cat would dare to rain anywhere near this place.  Mirta has a phobia about cats and all the poodles have been trained to chase any cats away.  I still haven’t figured out exactly how many poodles they have, but it’s a lot.  There are two 3-week old poodles in this house and five 2-week old poodles in Jose’s daughter’s house.  We contact her by shouting through the kitchen window. 

Tomorrow I go to the Atlantic Coast with Margo and Madonna.  Jose thinks it’s dangerous because people are poor and there isn’t any work there.  He also said that gringas like it there because they can get drugs and sleep with black people.  There are plenty of black people in the U.S., why travel so far? that’s what I want to know.  I’m pretty sure Americans like it because of the music and diversity—at least that’s why I’d like it.  The drug part might be correct, but again I have to wonder: why travel so far for something readily available in the U.S.?

Later that night: I was drawing, but had to stop to record this.  I was unhappy about the enormous roach that was here last night, but now a mouse has just run across the floor– not that I haven’t had them in every place I’ve ever lived. I thought at first it was a REALLY big insect, but no, I now have a regular zoo in here.  It must have been all the rain.  I’m trying to keep a good attitude about these things, after all, at one time I was considering a career as a naturalist. I do wish nature would hang out in someone else’s room, though.

Went to a Karaoke bar/restaurant with Jose, Mirta and Stephie.  I had two coconut drinks and so much food it’s getting ridiculous.  Tonight it was a huge platter of fried chicken, fried pork, fried fish, fried cheese and fried unidentified vegetables, along with ceviche with bananas and lots of orange lemons.  I thought they were green oranges, but they are lemons with green peels and orange insides, whatever happened to lemon yellow?  Both Jose and Mirta sang songs.  I didn’t have the nerve.  We really had a blast, though.  Jose knows everyone.  I’m so lucky to know these people. 

Mirta made ceviche for lunch today and it was out of sight (ha! I have dichos tambien…William’s family, especially his father, Beto, is teaching me many Costa Rican sayings. Twanis, Mahi [can’t find it in the dictionary, so unsure on spelling] translates to cool, Dude.).  Mirta is Peruvian so all of her cooking is Peruvian and WOW can she cook.  The mouse is making noises in the corner.  Maybe she has a family and is nursing, it sounds just like the two puppies nursing.  I don’t have the nerve to pull back the curtain to look.  I remember thinking I could catch a mouse with my hands in college and pulled open a kitchen drawer to grab it. I was so startled when I saw it actually in the drawer that I ran in place and screamed—which I almost did just now as it ran out from behind the curtain again, darted across the room, saw me jump and ran back behind the curtain.  I’m going to brush my teeth and give it a chance to settle into my bed.

Well, I’m back from the bathroom and I can still hear it behind the curtain.  Am going to sleep with my socks on—I don’t know exactly how this will protect me, but I feel more secure with them on. 

Observación 1:  Costa Rican women are much sexier than I am.  Their clothes are much tighter and lower cut.  I look like a 50-year old woman in a 14-year old boy’s clothes.  Well, actually I am a 50 year old woman.  Still, I don’t think I shall change my style soon as I didn’t have to suck in my stomach all evening (thank God, considering what I ate) like all the other women.

Observación 2:  Americans are so much more wasteful than Ticos.  More on this later.  Forgot to mention that Jose came home with a new second hand car, a Range Rover or something like that—big anyway.  It broke down on the way to the Karaoke place.  He called one of his sons on his cell phone, who came and towed us back with a Suzuki Sidekick about 1/3 the size of the Rover.  Even though the Sidekick was smoking when we got back, we hopped in and continued with our evening.  No one was bent out of shape about this.  I want to own this attitude.  Maybe I could bottle it and sell it to gringo commuters in the US of A.

Carmen is looking for a German husband…day 4

Post Columbian Artifact

Post Columbian Artifact...a self portrait

Went to the Mercado in San Jose today with Carmen.  She wants to find a German husband, or at least a German-American husband.  I’ve been given the task of finding one for her, which reminds me of Gus’s parents.  His father answered an ad put in the paper by her father.  Well, their marriage lasted over 50 years.  Gus and Carol answered some other call and look at how bad their marriage was.

Back to the Mercado. Carmen bought a huge bag of fish heads which she then told me were for juice, fresh juice.  I was horrified as I pictured her putting the whole mess in a blender and serving it up raw…mmmm, fish head juice.  Turns out that it’s a Panamanian expression for soup—still, I hope I have some other place to be on the day she makes that.

Tomorrow William’s son will come and get me to visit him and his wife and two children, ah, that would be William’s grandchildren.  I have no idea how I am managing to communicate with everyone. My Spanish really sucks.  William’s father keeps correcting the others so they don’t teach me bad Spanish.  David (14 years) took me to the post office today, then I got out the paints and we painted together.  I may not be able to say much, but the kids love me because of my art supplies.

We shook all the ripe guyabas out of the tree today to make something – jams, I think.  Patricia (aged 45+ and wearing a short dress and high heels) climbed a rickety old ladder leaning against a rickety old shed and pulled the fruit off the tree with a long pole, while her father pointed out the ripe ones.  I really love this family.

We gave William’s father several puzzles which he had requested.  He asked me to translate the back of the one he started because he thought it said it should take 20-30 minutes and they take him five days to do.  He was pretty worried.  Turns out there was a recipe for corn muffins on the back of the puzzle for some unknown reason.

 

Dear Charlie (email),

Am having a great, but exhausting time.  My Spanish is worse than even I thought it was.  Williams family is taking this business of teaching me Spanish very seriously and they make me pronounce every word 400 times.  This doesn´t seem to help me remember the word, by the way, so my journey to fluency may be long and arduous for all of us.  However, I have actually improved my ability to understand even if I can´t remember the words to say them myself.  My dictionary is attached to my hand.  I´m thinking of drilling a hole in it so I can wear it around my neck.

Dear Mary (email), 

 All of Williams brothers and sisters have already been over to visit, some of them several times, except one who has an eye infection which is being mysteriously (to me) blamed on Nicaraguans….

What’s happenin’ Butterfly, what’s happenin’…day 3

Butterfly with human body

I am metamorphosing

Went to a Pentecostal Church with Carmen.  Wow!  Everyone in the church – men and women –was crying including the pastor.  Some people went to the front and kneeled or laid flat on the floor to cry.  It seemed absurd at first, but then I remembered my latest of life’s lessons – the first impression/thought I ever have about anything is usually wrong.  These folks probably have many things to cry about and Jesus Christ was not necessarily one of them. Carmen dragged me to the front row, I guess so we could see better, but maybe because she thought I might want to go to the front and cry, too. The way my communication skills are not happening, I almost did.

My first day: Friday…page 1 of my journal

Day 1 of my trip to Costa Rica

What was I THINKING?? No one speaks ENGLISH!

Estoy mucho cansada…really really really tired.  Most of the family showed up today for Mother’s Day.  I know they think I can’t speak a word of Espanol, because I couldn’t.  I was too tired to even speak English. I flew in on the red eye, arrived at 7 am.

William phoned and everyone sat around me smiling while we spoke.  It was a bit unnerving, but since they can’t understand English, I went ahead and talked dirty to him—ha ha.