Mad Dog Terrorizes Small Beach Community

My wife and I were combing the beach yesterday afternoon, as we often do, looking for photographic opportunities, unusual shells, and absorbing our daily dose of vitamin D.  There are rarely many people on the beach at mid-day.  The tourists have mostly retreated to their hotel rooms, restaurants, or beach bars where they can cuddle up to air conditioners.  The beach vendors can be found in the shade of palm trees, discussing the current crop of cheapskates who aren’t buying their bird whistles or Chinese-produced Costa Rican handicrafts.

It’s hot here in the afternoon…hot enough to drive just about anyone or anything to fits of unusual behavior.

march 28 2013 2090So, we’re walking down the beach and we see a black beach dog out in the waves pawing at something floating in the water.  My wife thought this interesting behavior, and took a photograph.  The dog noticed us, and rushed out of the surf, dropping a coconut shell at our feet.  Yelping and growling, the creature batted the coconut about with his paws, knocking the nut into submission.

My past experience with mad dogs made me think I should back away from the scene unfolding before me.  My wife – such a brave soul – started clicking away, hoping to record the carnage for mass distribution and edification. The vicious animal began ripping away at the helpless fruit, pawing at it and pinning it to the ground.  In the rush of the moment my wife didn’t notice her shadow in the frame.

 

march 28 2013 2091

march 28 2013 2092

I tried taking on one of these tough nuts on Playa Negra once, smashing the coconut against the edge of a concrete bench.  The bench suffered some, chipped pieces of concrete flying in all directions,  but the husk of the coconut suffered little more than a dent.  I gave up.

But this dog was not to be deterred.  He growled, and barked, and pawed, and tore at his defenseless victim.  I felt helpless as the shredded pieces of the body were strewn about the beach before us.

march 28 2013 2094

 

As quickly as the vicious attack had begun, it ended.  The black beach dog sniffed at the dismembered coconut, looked up at us to gauge our response to his show of power.  Then, he turned and calmly walked away, head swaying from side to side, snake-hipping his way down the beach to confront and vanquish any other insolent nuts that looked as though they needed a reminder who was truly the King of Playa Tamarindo.  The torn flesh of the beach nut before us was the only evidence that anything out of the ordinary had happened, so we made our way up the beach.  Calling the police into the situation would only have complicated our day.

 

march 28 2013 2095

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

Hermit Crab Crush at Low Tide

A certain Mrs. Fringe suggested that Hermit Crabs are heartless in their search for new snail shells, as if they’re always looking for a new outfit for vanity’s sake.  This gave me a whole new outlook on this photo…they’re not crowding for shade, or moisture…they’re mobbing the door of an outlet sale.

Later….

Abraham Lincoln: Advice from the Ghost Hotel

So, here I am, crashed out in the Ghost Hotel, the empty shell of some developer’s dream, and the walls are beginning to glow whiter…the straight edges of doorways and windows are starting to waver like sinuous dancers.  I should never let the Philosopher Red cook…or at least, eat what he cooks.  I go to the concrete chunk and wood scrap pile we call the kitchen and look at the recipe he used.

1 bunch of spinach, chopped

1 1/2 cup sour cream

1 cup mayonnaise

1 package vegetable soup mix

3 green onions, chopped

1 cup roasted chapulin (or other insects)

Squeeze spinach until dry.  Combine ingredients.  Refrigerate two hours.  Serve in hollowed bread.  Scoop using crackers of vegetables.

Now, Chapulin is a Spanish slang word for grasshopper, or a young thief or troublemaker.  A bag lying on the counter has a few of the large black ants which The Philosopher Red has discovered cause a slightly hallucinatory effect when dried and eaten.  He becomes a troublemaker when so intoxicated…I regress into my self – past the area where the Rude Red Dude rules.  A Chapulin, indeed.

A Lincoln penny on ground

I walk out onto our rubble of a patio, and find, of all things, an American penny.  The wind sounds like the hum of an audience waiting to be entertained.  “A much better image had he, before the weight of wisdom and responsibility brought him to un-sightly ends,” I pronounce in the best tragedian voice I can muster.  I would have flopped in Shakespeare’s Globe.  The wind seems like muffled applause.  These ants do the job.  Note to self: never eat anything The Philosopher Red –

“My father taught me to work, but not to love it,” came a deep-chested voice, world-weary and monotone.  “I never did like to work, and I don’t deny it. I’d rather read, tell stories, crack jokes, talk, laugh — anything but work.”

“A talking penny,” I mumbled.  This was beginning to take on a religious feel…projecting words on to idols, although the smallest American idol – but one any Televangelist would worship.

“Don’t criticize them; they are just what we would be under similar circumstances,” the voice replied.

“But they all look so good while doing so much disservice to their faithful,” I said, feeling a bit silly talking to a penny, but so alone in the Ghost Hotel it didn’t matter.  And look at Lincoln’s image…not the skeletal mug of his photos during the war years, but the grand features of a born entertainer, a teller of stories, maybe.

“When a young man in Illinois I was riding through a wood and met a woman, also on horseback, who stopped and said; ‘Well for land sake you are the homeliest man I ever saw.’ ‘Yes, madam, but I can’t help it,’ I replied.  ‘No, I suppose not,’ she observed, ‘but you could stay at home.'”  The Lincoln voice sounded playful.

“Might have been a good idea, in your case,” I said to the image on the penny.  “Too late to learn from history though, or advice from friends.”

“All I have learned, I learned from books,” the voice answered.  “My best friend is a person who will give me a book I have not read.”

“Well, you know,” I started, thinking I might as well play along with my distorted senses.  “America hasn’t not done so well since people like you…last president raised in the Age of Reason, left before telling us how to clean the mess up.”

“This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it.  Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their Constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember it or overthrow it…”

Now this fantastic voice seemed to be rising to the occasion…a little bit of good old stump oratory…some frontier wisdom.  I sat down.  The effects of eating these black ants might last a while.

“…America will never be destroyed from the outside.  If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”

“I hope you wrote some of this down,” I said, flipping the penny aimlessly. “This common little copper disc reminds me of common people.  They serve a purpose for a while, but in the end   they’re expendable.”

“The Lord prefers common-looking people.  That is why he made so many of them,” the voice said, a light-hearted air starting to become apparent.  “And writing, the art of communicating thoughts to the mind through the eye, is the great invention of  this world…enabling us to converse with the dead, the absent, and the unborn, at all distances of time and space.”

English: John Wilkes Booth.

English: John Wilkes Booth. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Plain and not honest is too harsh a style,” a new voice echoed through the concrete walls of the Ghost Hotel.  I looked at a darkened corner where it seemed to have originated from, then back at the penny now lying head up in my palm.  I must have looked a bit baffled.

“That is the corner where presidential assassins seem to congregate,” the Lincoln voice said.  “That Booth – always quoting from Shakespeare…Richard the third.  A beast of a man when ignored.”

“No beast so fierce but knows some touch of pity.  But I know none, and therefore am no beast,” the assassin’s voice rang out.  A voice trained for the theater…projection.  Looking into the corner I see the spectral shapes of several people.  I look to the penny.

“John Wilkes Booth…but I suppose you knew that,” the Lincoln voice said.  “And…Giteau, Czolgosz, Oswald – claims to fame, presidential assassins.”

“Sin, death, and hell have set their marks on him, and all their ministers attend him,” Booth’s voice boomed.

There were more than four spectral bodies in the corner.  A female voice began muttering, as if talking to herself:

“Am I sorry I tried?  Yes, and no.  Yes, because it accomplished little except to throw away the rest of my life.  And, no, I’m not sorry I tried, because at the time it seemed a correct expression of my anger…my thoughts of -”

I looked to the penny for an explanation.

Sandra Good, and her cohort Squeaky Fromme,” the Lincoln voice said.  “I hear they tried to assassinate a President Ford, and the joke around here is that he was stumbling down stairs and slipping on wet streets so often he was more of a danger to himself than these attempted assassins were…the management allows their failed company to mix with the successful, for reasons – ”

“Dispute not with her: she is a lunatic,” chimed the Booth voice.  Does he know anything except lines from Shakespeare?

I could hear a squeaky voice arguing with the surer voice of Sandra Good.  “Chapman, shut up…” they said in unison.

“This has to be harder on you than hallucinating on black ants,” I said to Lincoln’s profile on the penny.

“When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on,” it replied.

“Good advice,” I said, looking in at The Philosopher Red rifling through my shirt pockets…probably looking for more ant money, “Very good advice.”

 

Caturday: A Philosophical Question of Perception

Caturday: A Philosophical Question of Perception

The Situation: I had a cat who for her six years of life had never been outside of my apartment. The apartment had only two doors, one for the closet, and one door opening to the stairway outside. My cat spent a lot of time in the closet…dark, floor a jumble of snow boots and shoes, and a sky of coats and jackets. I never went in the closet, but used the front door, several times a day, or twice a day, leaving in the morning and returning in the evening. She had her door, I had mine. Any time I returned from a short trip, or an entire day outdoors, she would be sitting there in the entryway, waiting for me.

My Question: With my cat’s limited experience with doors, did she think that I spent hours, or whole days in a closet? I could think of no other reference point for her to consider. And, how did she know it was me coming up the stairs of the apartment building…or did she go to the door every time she heard footsteps? Can’t imagine that. But, back to the more philosophical part of my thinking here…

Philosophical Question: How many times a day do any of us take our past experiences, or what we consider innate knowledge, and project our “truth” onto the actions. appearance, or beliefs of others? The people we think are in closets…are they really out in a world of challenge, uncertainty, decisions to be made, mundane, challenging, or life changing – even dealing with desperation and mortality? Or, are they just kicking back in a dark, safe closet full of known and comfortable objects to wrap themselves in?
Of mundane origins…but larger implictions…and –

Songs from the Closet

I Want to Know ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !
Later….

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…

My Search for The Philosopher Red in Death Alley

達磨 Dharma-Zen Painting-

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

I can’t explain why I even care about The Philosopher Red any more.  All he’s done since he’s been here is cause problems for me, upset the locals, associate with known hoodlums like Maxie Kahn, and attempt to start a revolution.  I guess it’s one of those childhood attachments that we all make with some non-ordinary friend, the kind that complicates our lives, but we just can’t seem to shake loose from.  But, I’m getting to the point where I jus don’t care any longer about childhood attachments.  The rogue philosopher of revolution has got to go, and I’m going to tell him that today.

So, I come back to my apartment in the early hours of the evening, after he ruined my only afternoon to relax and do a little reading.  I’m ready for him.  He’s got to go.  I’m not going to let this slide.

Marie F.U.S.S. But, the first thing I see when I open my door is that crazy, gun-toting revolutionary leader of Feminists United to Suppress the Slaughter,Maria Isabel Chavez.  She’s changed her name from Marie to Maria…says it sounds too Bakersfield, as in California…where she was born and raised.  And now she’s insisting on being called Negrita de la Muertos – the Little Dark Lady of the Dead.  Says she wants to become a more “authentic” revolutionary…she wants her F.U.S.S. followers to have a leader with a Hispanic name, one they can trust.  I don’t know if I trust her, but I’m not going to argue with her…that’s for sure.  And I’m also not going to ask her why the Commandante of a revolutionary group dedicated to suppressing the slaughter would choose that name.  She appears to be taking her new image seriously.

And, if that wasn’t enough, she’s gathered together a small group of friends she calls her revolutionary army.  I think that they’re here just to watch my television.  They claim to be Los Monos Locos, or the Crazy Monkeys.  That is the name of a local dance club here.  I don’t think they’re true revolutionaries.

DSC01375

I ask Commandante Negrita de la Muertos where the Nicaraguan banana workers are…the ones The Philosopher Red brought back after his encounter with the Killer Figs of Costa Rica.  She doesn’t say a word.  She gestures at one of Los Monos Locos sitting at my table feasting away, and a drunken teenaged surf bum hands me one of my Japanese place mats, saying, “They were getting a bit chatty… asking too many questions…get my drift?”

Tamarindo

I have no idea what to think of this.  I’m certainly not going to ask too many questions, that’s for sure.  But I do have one question for my little revolutionary lovely.  “Where’s The Philosopher Red?  We’ve got a few things we need to straighten out here.”

“He went down to Dengue Alley,” she said, lowering her assault rifle.  “Maybe you should go down there and let him straighten you out on the way things are going to be around here from now on.”

“Dengue Alley?”  It’s the worst back alley in town…in fact, it’s the only back alley in town.  Dengue Fever

“He’s there scouting out an action we’re planning,” she said, caressing the barrel of her weapon.

I make my escape, leaving the Little Dark Lady of the Dead and her Monos Locos to my apartment.  The Philosopher Red and I need to have a little showdown.  I hurry out the door and make my way to Dengue Alley.

Dengue Alley got its name a few years back when an outbreak of Dengue Fever swept through town.  For whatever reason, not one person in the dirty alley got the fever.  And, this is a place where suspicious-looking water forms reddish rivulets, even during the dry season.  I found the hidden entryway to the alley, and discovered a shop there had human torsos displayed in the window.

A Dengue Alley EntranceA Dengue Alley Torso Shop

I move down the blessed alley, finding no indication that The Philosopher Red had been there.  I even stopped at El Monasterio de los Addictos to ask the watchman if he had seen a crazed-looking monk in a red robe.  He said he hadn’t, and I moved on.

 A Dengue Alley arms

I carry on with my search for The Philosopher Red, and some idea of “…how things are going to be…” around my apartment.  I see a woman stealing some chairs from the back door of a restaurant, and call out to her for help.  She hurries off down the alley, yelling something in Spanish about those “…pinche Monos Locos…”  Then I see the Capuchin monkey doll, crucified on a fence post in the classic Christ death pose.  Most people would think things are getting a bit eerie here in Dengue Alley, but it’s such a beautiful day…how can anything go wrong with my search for The Philosopher Red and our impending showdown.

A Dengue Alley Muscle ShotA Dengue Alley monkey

Pagan symbols surrounded me…the tortured faces of demons with unrequited lusts…and a dousing pool for the devil children of the devil-worshipping priests, no doubt.  I was beginning to have serious doubts whether a professed coward like The Philosopher Red would ever venture down this alley of the damned…this trail of horrors called Dengue Alley.

Dengue Alley Face Dengue Alley Pool

I finally came to the end of my trail of terror, and not a clue as to where the red-robed maniac was lurking, if lurking he was.  I strolled out of Dengue Alley, into the dying sunlight of a tropical evening.  I decided that the only answer to my dilemma was to go to the beach, grab a book, a hammock, and a beer at El Pescador and enjoy the sunset.  It would give myself another day to find The Philosopher Red…and see just what the hell was going on back at my apartment with Commandante Negrita de la Muertos and Los Monos Locos.

A Dengue Alley ExitPooh Hamaca 2

Until tomorrow – Pura Vida everybody… sorry for the anti-climactic ending.  Tomorrow’s another day, as they say in the movies.

A Sun Silver Dog

The Philosopher Red Interrupts My Day with Mark Twain and Oscar Wilde

A Big Book Bus II

Catching a bus out of a Costa Rican beach town can be a trying experience.  No real schedule…as many people as I ask about the next bus is about how many different answers I will get.  One book just won’t do – I suggest taking two.  Feeling a slippage in my wit and wisdom meter the other day, I picked out The Wit and Wisdom of Mark Twain and The Wit and Wisdom of Oscar Wilde.  I think the text books for my self-taught course were wise choices.

I read when I’m walking…I read while I’m waiting for buses, horses, tides, and for the Philosopher Red to get out of his AA meeting.  Yes, the red-hooded one has finally realized that his insect eating habit has gotten out of control.  He has admitted he is powerless, and has decided to seek the help of a higher power.  Good for him…and really good for me.  Maybe meetings will help him identify a few other of the addictive problems he is overpowered by as well.

I thinks he’s feeling a little ashamed of himself.  He has told me that I should come along to meetings with him…that walking around reading two books at a time is an indication that I have a problem.  I don’t agree with that.  It’s a strategy I’ve developed over time, traveling or waiting or walking with two books, going back and forth between the two.  When the words and ideas begin to blend together they become a fuzzy blur…then they start to re-constitute in my imagination.  The wit and wisdom stay, but they start to come out my mouth in my own words, with little indication that I am standing on the shoulders of giants, two masters of biting, one-line social commentary.

A Book at PedroA bus did eventually come, and I hopped a ride down to Pedro’s Surf Shop, which is where the AA and NA meetings are held in this little sand box of a town, as The Philosopher Red likes to call my home for now.

So, I’m standing outside of the Pedro’s Surf Shop and Anonymous meeting complex, when an old friend, Maxie Khan, comes out of Pedro’s and tells me that the Anonymous group has invited The Philosopher Red to leave, and he’s obliged them with his absence.

I find this hard to believe, since my non-ordinary philosopher friend rarely obliges anyone, and usually breaks something if asked to leave anywhere.  Then Maxie tells me he’s here to fix a broken door, pick up some damaged furniture, and smooth things over with Pedro.  Maxie owns just about everything in this town.

Now I’m beginning to believe.

So, it’s off to find The Philosopher Red.  I might be able to calm him down enough to mitigate the damage he will inflict on my condo, if that’s where he’s headed.  Luckily, Maxie tells me that the insect addict was ranting about an ants’ nest he had seen on the way to the meeting, which gives me some relief…but how wild will he be once he gets a belly full of those ants?

I start up the road, skirting the horses of the cowboys still in the meeting.  Cowboys here  in Guanacaste work hard, they play hard, and they drink hard.  And they park their horses wherever they please.

 

A Big Book Horse

 

Hot, humid tropical countries are known for being laid back…for taking it easy…for going with the flow.  This is not how Maxie Kahn operates, and it’s certainly not how The Philosopher Red rolls.  I hope the two of them never get together, especially since the teenaged revolutionary Marie hijacked the red-robed philosopher’s revolution with her reincarnation of Feminists United to Suppress the Slaughter, or F.U.S.S., as they’re commonly referred to since last I reported on their activities.  People here are in fear…I can feel it in the air…I sensed it as I walked by the horses.  There seems to be no quarter or creature large or small that F.U.S.S. hasn’t thrown into a panic.  But I carry on, as I always do.  I figure if The Philosopher Red is down by the treeline rooting out a nest of ants, the easiest way to find him will be to sit down on a rock I know out by the tide line and wait…let him come to me.

 

A Big Book Beach Two

That’s the Mark Twain and Oscar Wilde effect kicking in…becoming wiser – wise enough to not go after the insect-eating maniac friend of mine.  And, hopefully I’ll be a little wittier when I do find him – witty enough to amuse him into not breaking up my condo, drinking and eating my refrigerator bare, or holding a F.U.S.S. action coordinating committee meeting on my porch while I’m trying to finish my books.  Good luck to me.

The giants whose shoulders I stand on are memorialized everywhere, in print, photographs, or statuary, or gravestone…

Cover of

達磨 Dharma-Zen Painting-

I’m beginning to feel the breath of mortality…and my red-hooded maniac of a friend is the cause of this, I think.  His views on determinism are not very encouraging.  And, if I know Maxie Kahn, like I think I do, I’ll end up in a piece of ground that he holds the title to.  And, if I know The Philosopher Red, like I know I do, he’ll be standing on more than my shoulders.  And he’ll be munching on one of his insect specialties, spitting the hard, crunchy parts all over the place, making my final resting place as much of a mess as he’s made of my condo.

I should probably take a personal inventory of my positive thought process…

Pura Vida, as they say around here.

The Sex Trade and Children’s Programs Share a Park in Costa Rica

English: View from Morazan Park or Bar Key Lar...

English: View from Morazan Park or Bar Key Largo in San Jose, Costa Rica (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Costa Rica has long maintained a reputation for leniency when it comes to prostitution.  In fact, the small Central American country has become a popular stop on the itinerary for the growing number of international sex tourists.  There are areas of the capital city of San Jose which cater almost exclusivly to the pleasure-for-pay clientele which is an important source of income for a country that lives or dies by tourism.  Parque Morazan, close to the infamous Hotel Del Rey, Bar Key Largo, Hemingway Inn, and other known fleshpots of the Barrio Amon neighborhood, turned into one of the hot spots for prostitutes and their customers any time of the day or night.

It wasn’t always so.

Parque Morazán

Parque Morazán (Photo credit: cnflcr)

Parque Morazan is home to the Templo de Musica, an open-air rotunda that was built for concerts in the park and other cultural events.  It was intended to be an  attraction for families, a place for workers to take their lunch, to meet, socialize, and talk over the events of the day.  But, being so close to the Barrio Amon, it evolved into a hangout and meeting place for prostitutes, many underage and banned from the sex clubs and review bars of Barrio Amon, and their cruising clients, looking for  something a little more exotic than the run-of-the-mill sexual encounter with male, female, or any of the sexes in between.

Sometimes things change…

Nearly a decade ago now, San Jose mayor Johnny Araya Monge set into motion a sweeping set of initiatives aimed at cleaning up the streets of the capital of Costa Rica, including improved garbage removal, a recycling program with specialized containers, regulating the street vendors to cut down on the filth and refuse that built up around the fruit and vegetable stands, and finally, a push toward making public areas such as Parque Espana, and adjacent Parque Morazan in Barrio Amon more family friendly, at least for parts of the week.  Those efforts included cracking down on the underage sex trade, and concentrating those efforts on the area around Barrio Amon, including Parque Espana and Parque Morazan.

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Costa Rica seems to specialize in adapting – being flexible.  Instead of denying a problem exists, Costa Rican officials always seem to come up with some sort of plan or policy that accommodates what is with a their ideal  vision of reality.  Now that the underage prostitutes – many of them illegal Nicaraguan teens, or sex slaves – have been driven out of the area (and into some underground establishment, no doubt), Morazan Park hosts a schedule of family friendly activities on the weekends, including cultural dance reviews, musical groups, a tented area sponsored by one of the national banks where art supplies and teachers are available, as well as the usual collection of street performers who show young aspirants how to walk tight ropes, juggle, or perform magic tricks.  This is all very informal…hula hoops gyrate around hips…flaming batons are twirled…streaming ribbons are hung from trees for acrobats…and clowns twist balloons for or paint the faces of young Costa Ricans.  And the following weekend the cast will change, with a whole new array of performers engaging in a whole new array of entertainments.

And more than often, things stay the same…

Barrio Amón

Barrio Amón (Photo credit: Amareto2011)

But, the beat goes on in Barrio Amon, like it has for decades, and like it will for as long as it is profitable for Costa Rican women to sell their studied affections to mostly foreign tourists traveling the established route of the sexual tourist.  Small hotels openly advertise rooms for rent by the hour.  Intimate apparel shops abound, along with tiendas that specialize in sexual paraphernalia, and no end of establishments with the word “club” in their name.  Here’s a clue – their not really clubs, at least as most people would take the meaning.  It is a sort of disconnect that the family-oreiented and child-friendly activities in Morazan Park are taking place within walking distance from Costa Rica’s – and maybe Central America’s – most notorious center of totally legal prostitution, the fuel that makes Barrio Amon’s economic engine run.  And it’s not as though this is some run-down, seedy area of vice such as areas of the United States seem to morph into.  Barrio Amon remains an attractive draw for tourists not lured by the promise of sex.  It is clean, safe, and a must see for anyone interested in the concentration of stately old mansions, offering more examples of Spanish-flavored architecture than the rest of San Jose’s barrios put together.

tamarindo estuary playa conchal atenas 183Parque Morazan was one of our first introductions to Costa Rican culture when we moved to this peaceful, little country that has abolished its military and focused on creating a stable, lively, and livable nation for all of its citizens.  And, if sex tourism is one of the industries that will make it possible for the people of Costa Rica to live as well as they do, then so be it.  My wife and I were enchanted with the area of Barrio Amon, especially Parque Morazan and Parque Espana.  We took a stroll through the neighborhoods where the sex trade is prevalent, and we both found more amusement in the behavior of the self-conscious mongeres than anything else.  And, after our little stroll on the seamy, steamy side, we easily made our way back to the park for Culture de Caribe Day.  Roots, rock, reggae…