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….

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…

Cleaning Up My Corner of Costa Rica

 

 

 

tamarindo estuary playa conchal atenas 419

I read a post by a WordPresser who goes by the title inoniamartin in which she spoke of a young man named Ryan who had decided to take  it upon himself to clean up an area of beach.  She went on to say how inspired she and her two children were by his actions that they went out and cleaned up a park they frequent.  She sent out an  invitation to followers to do the same, then make a blog post about it.

This is something I do already, since I like my beach enough to pick up the refuse left by people who don’t like my beach enough to keep it clean, I asked my wife/photographer to come along and take a few shots of me doing what I do.

 

A Garbage shotSome of what I often find left on the beach is bio-degradable, like pieces of pineapple, coconut shells which vendors sell with a straw to drink the juice, which they call “pipa.”  These sorts of items are a part of the eco-system here, and I usually leave them since animals eat them, or live in them, or hide in them.

Then, there’s the stuff the sign was for…the things people leave on the beach that will be there forever.  And, much of it can be dangerous to people who like to walk on the beach barefoot…people like me.  I picked up several pieces of broken glass from beer bottles, something that can send the unsuspecting beachcomber to the hospital, or the nearest beach club for a little first aid.  And then, there’s the junk that is just annoying.

 

Yes, Coke is the real thing, so I’ve heard…but not part of the ideal beach experience.

 

A Garbage shot IIA Garbage shot VIIII

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the bag…along with a plastic container, empty of cans and left floating on the tide.  Some of the beach vendors have garbage bags attached to the sides of their carts, but there’s still plenty of garbage to keep someone like me busy…busy enough to fill one bag with garbage, and then another.

 

 

A Garbage shot VA Trash Pick Day

 

 

 

The results of an hour or two of cleaning my small corner of a Costa Rican beach…

 

 

tamarindo estuary playa conchal atenas 294

A clean beach the next morning, for me…for my wife…for my neighbors…for the tourists here for only a few days…and for you, Ryan.  It may be a beach you will never visit, and I may never visit the beach you cleaned up, but we did something good for the world, and all the people and animals that share it with us.  There are some sea turtles here called Leatherbacks, which are an endangered species that only come ashore and lay their eggs here on this beach.  I’m sure they would appreciate people like you if they spoke anything but turtle.  Good luck in your effort to keep your beach clean, I’ll continue to do what I can to do the same.

 

Sea Turtle on beach in Costa Rica

Sea Turtle on beach in Costa Rica (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

 

Jatropha – The Little Bio-Fuel Fruit that Could…Scare the Oil Gangs

Costa Rica Arenol Hans Scott Char 063

 

 

I met Rogelio Murillo, a Costa Rican businessman operating a wind farm in the Vulcan Arenal area, and Hans Haeberer, a German engineer and partner in Clean Fuel and Energy for Latin America (C-Fela), when I moved to San Jose, Costa Rica a year ago.  They told me of a model Jatropha plantation they were involved with…Murillo contributing his knowledge of renewable energy, and Haeberer funneling investment and applying his expertise as an engineer.  The plantation was the brainchild of Eduardo Acosta, a Cuban who grew up in California.  The three are pictured above – Murillo, Haeberer, and Acosta, left to right.  The plantation has been featured on television programs on bio-fuels, and Acosta regularly updates his advancements in the propagation, harvesting, and processing of the plant for clean, sustainable use as a bio-fuel on his website www.greenacrescostarica.com.

Research has showed that oil from the crushed seeds of Jatropha make an excellent bio-fuel.  The plant has an advantage over other plants being used for bio-fuel production in that it not only tolerates, but grows well on dry, rocky soil unsuited to agriculture…such as the over-farmed, then over-grazed lands readily available in Costa Rica and nearly every Central and South American nation.  And, since most of the land they are purchasing, or interested in purchasing, is nearly useless to farmers or ranchers, it’s inexpensive…millions of hectares have been, or are in the process of being purchased.

Costa Rica Arenol Hans Scott Char 184European companies, lined up by Haeberer, have small-scale production machinery based on a model developed by Acosta, one he put together from a bicycle and spare parts, as well as a cooking stove fashioned specifically for Jatropha oil.  Acosta, along with C-Fela, has been addressing the problems encountered by others who have attempted to utilize Jatropha in the past, difficulty in seeding, harvesting, and the toxicity of the wild plant.  Planting Jatropha in conjunction with Coyol Palms, Bamboo, and other bio-fuel producers have made for more bio-diverse plantation planning, and when possible, are arranged in what Haeberer calls “bio corridors” providing migration routes and living space for wildlife, some species on the endangered list.  The day I visited Green Acres Costa Rica we found Acosta photographing Scarlet Macaws, a once plentiful species, now threatened due to loss of habitat.

The media in the United States has generally lined up against Jatropha as a viable source of bio-fuel:

A 2007 article in the New York Times warned that cultivation of Jatropha on a scale broad enough to make bio-fuel production financially attractive would infringe on fertile land currently producing food crops.  A March 2009 article in Time Magazine focused on the Myanmar government‘s efforts to encourage Jatropha cultivation, and raised a warning that decreased food supplies were inevitable.  Another Time article, from October, 2009, claimed the Kenyan and Indian governments were being bamboozled by shady speculators pushing farmers into Jatropha farming with little reliable information that it could work, leading them to certain devastation.  A 2009 study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) found  that a natural breed of Jatropha used more water per gallon of biofuel than many other biofuel crops. This study was later contradicted in a letter from other scientists who claimed PNAS’s findings “too simplistic” in their calculations of estimated water consumption.

Then, there’s the plain greedy and larcenous.

A March 15, 2012 article in Bloomberg Businessweek gave several examples of the dangers of investing in Jatropha plantations.  In 2006, BioShape, a Dutch company approached the Tanzanian government with tales of jobs, economic aid and fortunes to be made if they would allow the company to create and operate Jatropha plantations among 11 rural villages.  Tanzania allowed…BioShape logged the land…2006 became 2010…BioShape’s telephone, disconnected…a spokesperson for Eneco, a Dutch backer of the project, declined to comment…attorneys from the Lawyer’s Environmental Action Team, advocating for Tanzanian workers who were left unemployed, and jungle-less, claimed, “The company was not interested in Jatropha, they were interested in timber.”  Jatropha took the blame for the failure.

The same article related accounts of Worldwide Bio Refineries – seven men connected to the company convicted in a British court for fraudulently claiming to be producing biodiesel from Jatropha, as well as Sun Biofuels, a British company, and Viridis, both who failed to hold investor confidence.  Viridias shifted its operations to mining, making it a safe investment.  Gem BioFuels and D1 Oils (in a joint venture with BP) also proved unprofitable, citing lack of investors.  Tales of theft and disappeared investments have their effects.

Where profits are involved, every organ serves a purpose…it seems media outlets, many owned by corporations which are also heavily invested in the oil industry, seem to be serving theirs.  So it goes.

But, there have been recent successes with Jatropha-based bio-fuel, the flashiest, an Aeromexico flight between Mexico City and Madrid, Spain,in August of 2012.  The airline industry is the one that will benefit the most, and the quickest, from the use of bio-fuels utilizing Jatropha.  Boeing is quietly involved, financing and supporting research and development of Jatropha oil.  Cuba recently used Jatropha-based bio-fuels in an experimental automobile, reporting the engine to be in better condition after using the bio-diesel than it was before.  So, it seems that the countries that have the most to lose – those whose economy is based on petro-chemical fuels, are lined up against Jatropha, while those not dependant on oil-based economies are busy refining the cultivation and utilization of other options.

The energy and environmental future of the world could be decided in Latin America on plantations that look like this…

Costa Rica Arenol Hans Scott Char 098

Ghost Hotel: When Grand Plans Go Awry

BW Hotel w MeSometimes things just don’t work out here.  And, sometimes that’s not such a bad thing.  The Philosopher Red and I were looking for a hideout after my interventionist activity at the bar with no name.  Maxie Kahn has a long reach, but he is fearful of the unknown, and ghost hotels qualify as such to him.

Strange winds blow on this beach.  On the far side of the point tourists crowd the sand…here…not a beach blanket to be seen.  The trees are dead, their branches rattling like wind chimes of bone.  The trails are blending back into the natural settings they were carved from.  Seats and benches and railings built for the anticipated tourists are reverting to their original form – Driftwood.

 

Grand plans…lots of money to invest…but not enough, I guess.

BW Langosta Rock Towers Good

 

This nameless beach with its nameless Ghost Hotel are a short walk around a nameless point where the remnants of a long lost culture stand as what…

 

A Welcome?

 

A Warning?

 

Simple stack of Rocks?

 

Whatever they are, they work.

BW Langosta Hotel

 

Past the nameless point, to the nameless beach, the nameless Hotel stands gaunt…like the skeleton of a financial boom gone bust.

 

The sand here is so hot it burns calloused feet, accustomed to heat, rocks and crumbled, earthquake cracked pavement.

 

Bird calls are frequent, but not the chirpy, happy sounds of alerting others of their kind to finds of food, shelter, or potential mates.  They sound like a caution.

 

 

It doesn’t matter…I’m moving in until I find accommodations safe from Maxie Kahn, and acquainted with plumbing and electricity and water.

 

BW Me w Flowers

Finding something alive here is not as easy as it is elsewhere…but it takes some looking.  These are the only flowers on the beach…it is the dry season.

BW Hermit Crab crop

There’s always life on the rocks…small creatures struggling to survive when the tide is out and the temperature is nearing 100 degrees Farenheit.  These hermit crabs have found themselves a bit of shadow, and they’ve took refuge together, waiting out the six hours of low tide.

They are a natural example of what the long-gone investors were thinking of when they started this fool’s errand…unnatural and temporary colonies of tourists drawn by brochures of Costa Rican sun, surf, sand, and swimsuits that leave little to the imagination.

The tide will come in…the hermit crabs will survive…the wet season will return.

BW Langosta Stranded

And, I will still be on the beach…a man without a country, drawn to Costa Rica…a refugee who could no longer fool himself that living without a culture was really anything more than surviving.

From the beach of ghosts of dreams and seasons past, Pura Vida to all, and to all, Pura Vida…