A Pre-Post, or Post-Post Apology, Depending on How You Read These

tamarindo estuary playa conchal atenas 409To my six dear, loyal readers.

I do apologize for the jumbled, discombobulated effort at an articulate post about my on-going bout with Dengue Fever, my Costa Rican Scam Artist of a Lawyer, and that Friggin‘ thief of a taxi driver whose window I had to crawl into to wrestle my change out of his grubby hands.

Anyone who reads my posts must know by now that I don’t re-read my posts before I post them, when it might be of some help…only after I post them, and then it’s usually my wife who tells me how badly written they are.

I have a completely valid excuse.

The mosquito that gave me this bout of Dengue Fever has given me a gift that keeps on giving, for a few months at least.  It seems that this more virulent strain I picked up this time causes such an internal buildup of heat on the brain that normal functions take two to six months to recover full operational mode….so, my last post contained even more misspellings, syntax problems, clarity trouble, and just downright nonsensical rambling.

I guess I should have given myself another couple of weeks before I subjected CyberLandia to the crap coming out of my over-cooked brain, but I wanted to see if I was back to my normal levels of poor writing now that I’ve passed though the hemorrhagic fever stage.

Guess not…..

Here’s to fully functioning brains…and to roasting that S.O.B. of a lawyer of mine…I’m coming for you, Pacheco !

Later….

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Mosquitoes, Costa Rican Lawyers, Taxi Drivers to Huacas, and Other Blood Suckers

English: Stegomyia aegypti (formerly Aedes aeg...

English: Stegomyia aegypti (formerly Aedes aegypti) mosquito biting a human. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I just checked into my WordPress site and noticed I had not published anything in exactly three weeks.  I guess I have no real obligation to post anything, but my few followers have become somewhat of a social group – sort of.  I even saw a few comments from a week – or weeks ago – inquiring as to my health, or my degree of slow, degenerative demise.  How sweet.

About this Non-Posting thing.  It started out as a conscious choice – I Was Busy…with a Costa Rican residency lawyer who was backing out of a legal agreement when the going started getting rough.  The mosquito-borne Dengue Fever happened soon after, and the taxi driver thing…well…that’s been going on since the first gringo got off the plane in a Third World Country.  (Oh, yeah…the politically correct term now is Developing Nation, and since the Cold War was exposed for a colossal scam to fuel the ammunition and armaments biz…screw it – Developing Nation it is).

 

Costa Rica Arenol Hans Scott Char 226I am so pissed at my lawyer he is going to get his own post soon as I feel a bit more feisty, and it ain’t going to be pretty folks.  For now, though…let’s just hit the hi-lites.  There was a small glitch in our – my wife and mine – application for residency.  We put her down as the main name on everything.  Nothing much became of that during our initial proceedings, but when it came time to sign up for the socialized medicine aspect of our residency, our lawyer became one M.I.A. dodge of an S.O.B. – hanging out with his buddies in the pool at The Scamming Bastards Club in San Jose, no doubt.

The socialized medicine here is written into law, sometime around the new constitution of 1948 when Costa Rica abolished it’s military to focus on more important matters, such as education and free medical for all the citizens of this tiny, unimportant little Developing Nation.  But…something that hasn’t changed in this D.N. is that it is a patriarchal, Catholic-informed domain, and the man’s name should be on every document, application, or other such scraps of paper.  My wife and I were wondering why our lawyer had so expertly handled everything from our dealings with the American embassy to our finger-printing at the fortress-like San Jose police station.  All we got was an e-mail telling us to get hooked up with the CAJA (literally box, but an acronym for the Social Security here) for our medical, and a gentle demand for the rest of his legal fees.

Whoooooaaaaa, I thought.  Let’s see how all this plays out before we go depositing $1,200 in his account with no assurance of success in a land where anything legal moves glacially, and there’s always a hook or sixteen.  And why had he abandoned us at this seemingly simple (and final) step before we got our Cedulas which made us residents?  BECAUSE, grasshopper…with my wife’s name first on our application, and mine listed as a dependent, we had to get a letter from a Costa Rican accountant verifying that anyone would be silly enough to list a woman’s name first on their application.  After several trips to Manana-Land with our lawyer (we have no car, so we have to beg or borrow rides, paying for gas at around $6, or paying $50 taxi rides).

We finally got to an accountant in a small town down a muddy, rutted road to Huacas.  He wrote the letter out wrong, using one he had prepared for someone else.  The names were in the wrong places, and the occupation was wrong.  It took several rides to the Vientesiete de Abril CAJA office to get a human to talk to us (using up our goodwill and money each time) until we got a bitchy little man to laugh in our faces and tell me the accountant’s paper was useless.  (It was around this time I woke up one morning with a fever that had sweat dripping from me, my clothes as wet as if I had just got out of a swimming pool, and shaking from chills so bad I couldn’t push the buttons on my phone).

To make a long and painful story short, so I can get on to the next one, we had to make four trips to Vientesiete de Abril, two trips to the canton capital of Santa Cruz, and two to the provincial capital of Liberia trying to get someone to show up for the many appointments we made trying to rectify the bureaucratic problem of a woman’s name being on top of a man’s in the great paperwork pile of life.  $$$$$$$$ and GoodWill all gone, it was taxi time, folks.  The lawyer who dicked it up in the beginning…remember him?  The only replies to our e-mails for help was his Sincere disbelief that such things were happening to us, and calls for our final moneys to be deposited QUICKLY.  And, the accountant who could have repaired our application, but dicked it up worse?  He refused to answer his phone, and his beefy secretary blocked all attempts to enter his office.  And, you have to remember, each move costed…and costed…

A TEM micrograph showing Dengue virus virions ...

A TEM micrograph showing Dengue virus virions (the cluster of dark dots near the center). Español: Partículas maduras del virus del Dengue-2 replicándose en un cultivo tisular de cinco días. La magnificación original es de 123,000 veces. Deutsch: Eine TEM-Aufnahme, welche Dengue-2-Virus Virionen zeigt (schwarze Punkte in der Mitte). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, this Dengue Fever thing.  It just got worse and worse.  Dengue Fever is transmitted by several types of mosquito within the genus Aedes, principally Aedes Aegypti, from Africa.  It is pretty much confined to tropical areas, but has been reported as far north as Southern Florida.  The virus has four different types; infection with one type usually gives lifelong immunity to that type, but only short-term immunity to the others.  I got the least of the virulent type almost one year ago exactly when I was living in San Jose.  It was a week of one of the worst flues most people will ever get, and then it was gone.  No big deal.  This was a different bug altogether. Subsequent infection with a different type increases the risk of severe complications, so Wikipedia says…and that’s what I got.

Dengue Fever is also called Breakbone Fever, since the muscles get so constricted that it has been blamed for broken bones in the very young, or very old and brittle.  Every bone in my body hurt…every muscle in my body hurt…the headache settles in behind the eyes, like the worst hangover headache time 100…chills rattled my bones….sweat poured from every pore, soaking my bed nightly…it hurt to turn my head…my fingernails hurt…my hair hurt…any sustained thought is impossible.

Most people, with insurance or family to pay for hospitalization do it, since it kills off the white blood cells, and when they drop from @250,000 count to under 85,000, the patient is in serious danger of a life-threatening stroke after it hits the hemorrhagic fever stage. No one is paying my doctor’s bills, and the insurance thing…that’s where I started this little rant about Bloodsuckers.

My self-prescription was staying in my smelly, sweat-soaked bed, drinking pure grape juice (builds up the white blood cell count) and trying not to move my eyes or touch my hair.  But, every few days the wife and I had to venture out and try to get the medical insurance thing straightened out…and write my lawyer a quick “Piss Off and Die” e-mail.

English: A positive tourniquet test on the lef...

English: A positive tourniquet test on the left side of the image in a person with dengue fever. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m getting known in town a bit by now, but there are still a few taxi drivers who think every gringo can’t count when the colones get up into the tens of thousands.  One of these Bloodsuckers tried to take of with a few dollars of change after another ride back from another disappointing ride to a disappointing half-day spent in an non-air conditioned office where another gringo-hating hack laughed at me for having my wife’s name above mine on our application papers.  I guess the taxi driver was used to confused, passive gringos who think just because the money has lots of numbers on it, and pretty colors, and pictures of monkeys and toucans, that’s it’s not real.  WRONG !

Despite my debilitating disease, for which I should have been in the hospital for, under a doctor’s care, I climbed through his window, grabbed his skinny,

old wrist, and wrenched my money our of his hand…tossing him a few coins, before telling him to go and have sex with his mother in Spanish, which probably surprised him more than a man as sick as me doing what I had just done.  At least he had something to talk about that afternoon with the rest of the boys at the cab stand….and my standing as the craziest gringo on the streets of Tamarindo shot up like Apple stock after the release of the newest iPhone.

There’ll be more when I’m feeling a bit better…lot’s more…I promise.  Pacheco, you’re lawyering days are going to take a serious spike downward.  Don’t screw around with writers…they have audiences, and they’re articulate enough to cause a bit of a ruckus.

Later…

Monkey Business

Monkey Business

Becoming known as a local in a small town is a long process, even with the Howler monkeys. It takes more than a year, usually, and you’ve got to learn the language. My wife and I were out jungling around the other day looking for monkeys, and finally gave up and went to the beach. Something unusual happened. A troop of about twenty Howler monkeys were there, and they were on the move, not liking the wind, the approaching rain, and the people gathering at the beach bars for happy hour. They walked, one by one, down a fence we were standing next to, then jumped up into a tree right above us. I’ve learned to bark, hoot, and gutterly grunt like they do, so they stopped to check us out. I guess we’re gaining local standing, if only with the Howlers. Then the daily flood started and they went swinging off into the higher trees. This place is a miracle a day, if you stay awake, pay attention, and learn the language of the locals.
Aoooaaaghhhh – uugghhh – ugghhh…
Later…

The Philosopher Red Stimulates my Reptilian Core

達磨 Dharma-Zen Painting-

達磨 Dharma-Zen Painting- (Photo credit: hira3)

Great…I finally get home, and I have had to make a strategic move back to the Ghost Hotel.  I’ve heard rumors of three gringos in town, very white-toned skin, wearing dark blue pants, serious expressions, and asking questions – which is bad form in a community of refugees from the “real” world – too many with too much to lose from answering questions.  Then, there’s that terrifying AA of American Airlines on the patch sewed onto the breast of the trio’s equally dark blue jackets.  I think this has something to do with my outburst in O’Hare after being delayed three times, missing a connection, and being re-routed to Chicago where thunderstorms had us grounded for three hours.  Look…I really had nothing to do with the disappearance of that snaggly woman at the Missed Flights/Distressed Passenger counter.

Any Way…I thought I could sit this out in peace here with the Philosopher Red at the Ghost Hotel, but he wasn’t around, only a dozen or so empty Impeial beer bottles and a messy pile of clippings from magazines to even suggest he had been here in the last month or so since I’ve been gone.  The clippings of word combinations were a bit disturbing, since I lean toward gallows humor and conspiracy theories.  Here’s what I found:

Sometimes, coming home can be a battle in itself.

TE ESPARA (you wait, in Spanish)

Black Magic

EXCESSIVE FORCE

Stay Comfortable, Stay Connected

No more business as usual

Donde estan los ninos?  (Where are your children, in Spanish)

Robotic revolution

Heroes among us

Prefiere sus reuniones cara a cara a las 7:30 (you want to meet face-to-face at 7:30, in Spanish) with the “7” inked out, and a “9” scribbled above it.

Brilliance.  Proximity.  It’s all Here

VeryKool

A Costa Rica Wilson

While sifting through this debris I noticed a few marks on the fence Red and I put up to discourage any outside examination of our life in the Ghost Hotel.

Lifting a candle up to the marks I found this.  Wilson…  Yes, Wilson in Costa Rica.

I was getting the fear.

The more optimistic types – those who don’t know the history of the Philosopher Red – might take these clippings for an exercise in found poetry…the image for an innocent blot left after a day of painting – but I do know his history.

Now, I’m not sure about anything any longer, but the purpose for these clippings, and the paint blot?

I’ve  watched enough television cop shows to know the beginning of a ransom note, or a warning to the Rude Red Dude’s perceived enemies when I see one.

 

pilsen girl

pilsen girl (Photo credit: w rollins)

A young surf bum on a stool at a beach club bar (or, an apparently young surf bum) with an Australian  accent, leaned into me and whispered, “They hijacked an Imperial truck two days ago,” to me while I was yelling – I mean asking – the local Pilsen Girl why the only cold beer they had was Pilsen.

Imperial is the “Beer of Costa Rica” as the advertising says.

Just then the local miriachi band started playing Hotel California for the 137th time since I’ve been here, but there were no tourists paying them, and the singer was  staring directly at me.  The rest of the musicians were looking at their instruments, the ground, the palm trees, anywhere but at me.  Something in that Reptilian core of my brain began to itch…the fight or flight center which has always served me well.

The Aussie beach bum slipped me a local magazine called The Howler, opened it to the editor’s page, and said, “I’d read this if I were you.”  He left immediately, without finishing his Pilsen.  I did too.

It seems that some researchers have been snooping around, trying to connect the way children learn language with the way baby birds learn to make bird calls.  One of their bodies was found in the estuary of Las Baulus National Park, the favorite dumping ground for Nicaraguan and Columbian – I’ve got to go.  I’ll explain later, when I can…if I can.

Later…

Hot Coffee, Same-Sex Unions, and Ohio – Running for Cover

Rust Belt

Rust Belt (Photo credit: jenni from the block)

So, I’m still on the run…or on vacation, as some people call it.

Morning coffee…cigarette…all good to go – until I spilled that hot coffee on my bare foot, causing me to drop my cigarette in the folds of my cat pyjamas.  The fire was a threat to spread to the newpaper I was reading, those heartless black and white symbols of progress and knowledge all going up in smoke?  Not on my watch !  I should know betterthan to read the news – I should KNOW better !

Yelping for my wife in my usual exaggerated, animated, over-reactive manner, she didn’t know whether to respond to a flood, a forest fire, a visit from a deity, or just go back to bed – which is often her most sensible choice, and she can be sensible.  Despite all that, she rushed to the front deck, carrying a glass of cold water – which she doused my lap with…thanks, hon ! – then tossed a towel at me, then gave me her best scowl, disappointed there was no true emergency, since they usually suggest degrees of her superiority to me in such situations.  But, I was engrossed in the news of the day, and the reason for my latest morning histrionics was a bit of breaking news, and dysfunction from my adopted country, Costa Rica.  Try this on for size:

THE WORLD

Costa RicaConservative lawmakers are mortified that they may have accidentally approved language making same-sex unions legal when they passed legislation this week and didn”t notice that the final version of the bill had changed earlier language that defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman.  President Laura Chinchilla signed the bill late Thursday.  She has refused to veto the bill.

Laura Chinchilla

Laura Chinchilla (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I do love these fumbling, bumbling attempts to restrict the private lives of human beings…they never seem to work out just right.  And, before anyone in some industrialized, “First World” country gets too puffed up about how screwed up those political posers in so-called “Third World” countries can get while trying to imitate the streamlined, well-oiled legislative processes of their betters, STOP !  I used to live in Ohio, the Mississippi of the North, as I’ve heard a few people call it.  It will always be the Buckle of the Rust Belt to me…but I am getting away from my purpose.

I survived Ohio for fourteen years, finishing a sort of education and teaching at a university there.  I was going to get married at one point, before I discovered it was illegal for me to do so….and it wasn’t because of my sexual preferences.

I was – and still am – an epileptic. My kind has a history with the conservative, uber religious set as being spawn of the devil, a danger to the pure gene pool.  Really…I’m not joking.  Religious influence in early law-making labeled epileptics as “spawn of the devil” and “marked by the beast as his” and were gently – sometimes not so gently – encouraged to not breed.

(These dim wits thought forbidding undesirables the right to marry would keep them from reproducing…”who you calling imbecile, imbecile?”).  I guess I haven’t got to the part about imbeciles and marriage yet, so, maybe I should…here:

In the stilted view of Ohio lawmakers of yore I was bunched in with a class of humans to be banned from that most public of pools, humans such as habitual drunkards, epileptics, imbeciles, or the insane.  These laws were pushed into being by eugenicists…conservative crusaders whose agenda was to cleanse their world of racial characteristics they thought unnecessary, and encourage those they thought needed preserving.  This marriage law forbidding licenses to unapproved persons was passed in 1904, and came into question during a 1925 push to ban interracial marriage.  Sterilization was a proposal included in cases such as these.

Sterilization and culling the herd using medical practices and procedures…proposed by conservatives?  Ohhhh, there are so many plot twists and twirling, swirling storylines in this Work in Progress most people refer to as the World.

Most of this nonsense was kicked around or ignored until it was repealed in a more sober moment.  Epilepsy was forgotten in the debate.  There has never been much of an Equal Rights for Injured Epileptics (ERIE) movement, and Che Guevara never made it far enough north to incite the social outrage and encourage the necessary civil disobedience that Henry David Thoreau did in his landmark work, Civil DisobedienceI guess Thoreau didn’t excite people the way Guevara did…or the CIA was too lax to murder him when they had the chance.  (I jest…there was no CIA back then – hence, Thoreau and his kind).

Speaking of a lack of sobriety, political screw-ups, and Ohio – which are three topics nearly anyone can gracefully incorporate into any sentence, and, I think, belong in a special knowledge-base tested for in the public school system since the No Child Left Behind disaster –  listen to this: Ohio was not truly a state until 1953 !  It was another governmental clerical error, one on a much larger scale than Costa Rican lawmakers could ever imagine.

Thomas Jefferson signed an act of Congress in February of 1803 that approved Ohio’s state boundaries and constitution.  The debate over the sensibility of statehood had been carried out in a tavern…whatever…more heinous crimes have been hatched in kitchens, garages, boardrooms and Senate chambers.  Any Way…Some How, Congress never passed a resolution formally admitting Ohio as the 17th state.  The paperwork was misplaced during the excitement over the Lousiana Purchase and the War of 1812.

The rules for such recognition changed in 1812, during that excitement over the Louisiana Purchase and the War of 1812, and the oversight was not discovered until 1953.  Ohio congressman George H. Bender frantically introduced a bill in Congress to admit Ohio to the Union, since the state was in the process of arranging for the 150 year anniversary of their statehood – or non-statehood, as was the official case.  Anticipating inquiries, outrage, and paperwork problems concerning taxes paid to the Federal Government, relatives killed in wars, prison sentences served, and other such rewards and/or penalties of statehood, Ohio’s formal admission to the Union was made retroactive to March 1, 1803.  The new petition for statehood was delivered to Washington D.C. on horseback.

(I have neighbors in Costa Rica who, until fifteen years ago, got their power bills delivered by horsemen).

President Dwight D. Eisenhower postponed his usual tee time on August 7, 1953, and scrawled his signature across the dotted line at the bottom of the bill…and Ohio’s anniversary plans went on as planned.

My answer to this sort of nonsense is, pour another cuppa coffee – Costa Rican only…light another Cowboy Killer, rearrange the sodden pages of the neighbors’ newspaper before I put it back into the plastic covering and replace it on their porch, and just carry on with the more mundane and managable aspects of life.  But, I hear rumblings from the locals…tales of sneaky legislation trying to regulate the pursuit if happiness, pertaining to others only, of course – others those regulators don’t know.  I hear Ohio is still a state, and I guess there’s nothing I can do about that.  So…I guess the boat floats, for the moment.  Be back soon….

Later….

The Victoria’s Secret Model, Dr. Bill, and a Kid Named Alberto

Viví el Victoria's Secret Fashion Show por TNT

Viví el Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show por TNT (Photo credit: sitemarca)

“I felt like a piece of meat,” was the complaint from a model after participating in a Victoria’s Secret fashion show.

Yeah, this came off of Yahoo News, so you know it’s got to be suggestive, but did an experienced model really have come to this realization only after working her way up to the big time Show of Shows?  When they outfitted her in wings, squeezed her into revealing lingerie that left little to more to suggest, did she pause before high-heeling it onto the runway?  No.  She seems to have made sure the check was deposited first.

Nothing else to report from the world of non-news, at least of any interest…Prostitute ads, Pope wasting food…, Taco Bell firing coupled with FBI investigations – the usual stuff I’ve commented on before, the kind of information that has no value and calls for no action or reaction, other than offering the easy and empty, “Our thoughts and prayers are with you” reaction.

I’m considering doing a few posts on some of the American, Canadian, and European ex-pats who call Costa Rica home.  They are an odd lot…mostly people who have left wrecked lives or open indictments behind in their country of origin.  These are risk-taking people, mostly, and they are as quirky a bunch as I’ve ran across in thirty years of traveling.  Few photos can be included with such posts, since many of these people seem very camera shy, and most of them go by names they’ve made up or have adopted since their arrival.

Costa Rica often reminds me of a pirate-era Tortuga.  There is little altruism here, as I’ve seen ex-pats involve themselves with in many other countries I’ve visited.  Some people are here for the eco-tourism biz, and there are some who volunteer for turtle, sloth, monkey, or parrot rescue projects.  But, on the whole, these people are here for their own economic advancement.  I’ve got a better example to draw from – one from when I lived in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

I was walking down the beach my second day in town, trying to kill two days until an apartment opened up.  I had been sleeping in an abandoned restaurant near the beach, and came across Dr. William St. John on my way “home.”  A skinny man, appearing to be in his 70s, bright green bathing trunks that were too tight for comfort, and he was working away at a pile of beach junk, dock lumber, rusted cable and ropes – there had been a severe storm a few days before that had destroyed the city pier, and this was the remains.  I stopped, watched for a few minutes, he acknowledged me, then went back to pulling the mess apart.

“There’s a pelican in here,” he said.  I started helping him.  We eventually freed the pelican, and by that time he had found out I was homeless, and offered me a place to stay.  I spent the next two days living on the roof of the Hotel California – really, the Hotel California – under a corrugated tin roof, my only furniture was a full-sized Brazilian flag.  His name was Dr. William St. John, from White Plains, New York, and he smoothed over the rougher aspects of my life, asking for nothing in return besides my company.  We spent two evenings on his balcony talking over many topics, the broadest, the meaning of life…the narrowest, the value of one life.

Dr. Bill had been a successful physician in Boston, with houses, summer homes, cars, boats, a portfolio of investments, and a severe alcohol problem.  Putting down the bottle somehow brought him to question the lifestyle he had constructed around the endless drive for symbols of status.  He sold everything, gave much of the proceeds to charities, saving enough to travel the world comfortably for the rest of his life, which he refused to do.    He took public transportation, traveled across seas on cargo ships, hiked dirt roads, paid for passage on Arab trading boats, and generally lived like a bum.

When I met him he had visited 52 countries, and had been changing the world for the better, one life at a time.

In Puerto Vallarta Dr. Bill had made friends with a Catholic priest.  Dr. Bill was an atheist, convinced the best he could do in this world was serve his immediate community, and in turn, the world.  But, he also knew that in a Latin American country a local Catholic priest was probably his surest source to discovering a worthy project.  Through that priest he had identified a young man named Alberto who had shown promise, intelligence, a sense of family and community loyalty, but lived in a shack up on the hill without electricity, indoor plumbing, or any of the other conveniences most of us take for granted.

Dr. Bill moved Alberto’s family into an apartment with the basic amenities…nothing extravagant.  He up-graded their wardrobes, concentrating on Alberto, since the young man would need presentable clothing to attend the private Catholic school he was to be enrolled in, on Dr. Bill’s dime.  Alberto got a new computer, the beginning to a library worthy of a young man on his way to medical school, and reliable transportation to school every day.  The Catholic priest was put in charge of monitoring Alberto’s progress, and a local businessman of good repute was charged with monitoring the priest and his relationship and guidance of Alberto.  With all this in place, Dr. Bill backed his way out of the picture, asking only for bi-annual reports on Alberto and his family.

This was not the first such project the good doctor had undertaken.  He received many such reports from countries such as India, Bhutan, Vietnam, Ghana, Morocco, El Salvador, and Ecuador, to name but a few.  Besides the criteria perviously mentioned, the common denominator in Dr. Bill’s kids seemed to be they had ambitions toward a profession that would serve their community.  I lost contact with Dr. Bill after he moved on, while I stayed to become a diving guide, a waiter in a restaurant called Baby Jaws, checked in on Alberto and his family now and again.  One of Dr. Bill’s requests was after he had set a more manageable future in motion for this lad, strangers – like myself – should stay out of the way as much as possible and let the situation play out.

I can imagine I’ll have a hard time finding another Dr. Bill, but I am sure I’ll be able to come up with some unique modern-day pirates.  Will report soon.

Ten Plagues Upon Playa Tamarindo

English: Second plague of Egypt. Frogs. Pictur...

English: Second plague of Egypt. Frogs. Picture from popular bible encyclopedia of archimandrite Nikiphor (1891 year). Русский: Вторая казнь Египетская – жабы. Иллюстрация из иллюстрированной библейской энциклопедии архимандрита Никифора (1891 год) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A wet season downpour drove me inside yesterday, and the usual internet problems left me with little to do besides…read books.

My latest acquisition is a Bible, courtesy of some Evangelicals who are trying to pester the loyal Catholic mobs to cast their culture aside, and slide into social anarchy before being redeemed by the Cult of Speaking in Tongues and Snake Handling.

I have read this book before, and know to skip Genesis…that first page always gets me, where God is a singular sky god for a while, then a plural land god when he says, “Let us make man in our image” before becoming a singular sky god again.

Bad editing and no consideration for continuity always drive me to close a book, or go directly to the end and find out what happened, allowing me to feel like I read it.  That’s been my approach in the past, go straight to Revelations, and read a few chapters in reverse order.

Now, if you’re looking for some tough talking, action-packed, tightly written words with the power of a literary locomotive, that’s a good place to start.  I usually get bored by Kings or where everyone is begatting, so I’ve never read Exodus.  I should have, since that book seems to hold the secret to the Wet Season torments that drove me inside in the first place…the Ten Plagues that Moses allegedly brought down on the Egyptians.  If I go over them one at a time you’ll see what I mean.  “Fasten your seatbelts – it’s going to be a bumpy night,” as Bette Davis advised her entourage in the film “All About Eve.”  (Another Biblical reference…hmmmm).  Don’t let me digress…here are the plagues I missed in Exodus, but am living out now:

1) Plague of Blood – when it rain here in Central America, it rains.  And, since the roads are not paved and there are no ditches or water channels, they become rivers of mud…in the case of western Costa Rica, where the earth has a red tint to it due to iron and other volcanic minerals, the rivers running by my front door are Red as Blood.  Torrents of knee-deep water come down the hill behind my place, carrying boulders the size of bean bag chairs.  A good friend of mine has scars on his shins from sliding down one of these roads a couple of years ago…a good reason to stay inside.

2) Plague of Frogs – I heard this trumpeting sound the other night.  The lonely little EMS vehicle always parked outside the main market, I thought.  I’d never heard it, since it hasn’t moved in the eight months I’ve lived here.  But it sounded like geese…big geese, the volume of their calls bringing to mind visions of madness.  But, as usual, I was wrong.  It is the rainy season infestation of frogs, a friend told me.  He also told me if I wanted to see them all I had to do was go down to our pool, which they take over for the month or so they’re in their rutting period.  So, I went.  Frogs were in the pool, and around the pool on lounge chairs, puffing up and emitting a terrifying sound from their froggy mouths to advertise their sexual potency.  But they were hand-sized creatures, hardly large enough to emit so much noise, but what do I know…I retreated to my apartment building, toweled off, and slammed the door in case any of the croakers followed me and tried to slip in after me.

3) Plague of Lice or Gnats – hasn’t happened yet…but I know where the EMS vehicle is now.

4) Plague of Flies or Wild Animals – Wet Season does bring on an unusual amount of flies, and the animals are coming back down out of the hills.  The Howler monkeys have set up shop across the street and in the patches of jungle beside and behind my apartment building.  I saw a juvenile yesterday, hanging by his tail, using a tree branch like a switch as he tormented the dogs howling beneath.  I felt better after that, knowing I wasn’t the only creature suffering these plagues.

5) Plague of Pestilence – I forgot what pestilence means…and, everyone has their own definition, so I’ll let this one sit.  I’ve got enough to deal with already with Rivers of Blood, Frog Gangs and Switch-wielding Howlers.

6) Plague of Boils – there is usually a boil alert when water starts washing the sewage and garbage down from where the Nicaraguan and Columbian illegals have set up their shanty towns.  I already knew this…not plague worthy in my book.

7) Plague of Hail – I haven’t seen any hail yet, but the rain is falling so hard that a piece of the roof fell in not long ago.  Not a large piece of roof…just enough to damage an iron railing, or bust a head if anyone had been walking beneath it.  Fell on the steps just outside my back bedroom window, where I was reading Exodus…I think I should have stuck with the wickedly fierce prose in Revelations.

6588) Plague of Locusts – Locusts, Schmocusts…I have grasshoppers the size of magic markers coming in and out of my place all the time.  They take over the coffee pot when they please, and licked the cream my wife spilled right off the floor.  They crunch under foot when I step on them on my way to empty the garbage…a sound similar to when tap dancers toss sand on a stage before they start their steel-bottom shoed shenanigans.

9) Plague of Darkness – hasn’t occurred as of yet, but it would be a relief.  The Howlers shut up, it never rains at night, and it would be convenient if those frogs got run over by the drunken, brain-dead surfers that race around on the mud-slickened roads after a hard day of Flor de Cana rum and the head-high, right-breaking waves I hear crashing against the shore.

10) Plague of the First-Born – being a first-born, I don’t even want to hear about this.  I’m definitely staying away from this Old Testament mayhem…going back to the ferocious idyll of Revelations, thank you.  I’ve learned my lesson for the day.  And, if I end up going to Hell for any perceived insolence, I’ll go with the words of Mark Twain on my lips –

“Heaven for climate, Hell for company.”

Later…