An Essay on Clouded Cerebrations of a Fuddled Fuddy-duddy

In less than one month, we will be traveling back to Texas for a while. So, as I sit here on a lazy afternoon in Atenas, Costa Rica, 
completely fogged in, 
wind gusts ruffling palm fronds, 
steel drum tattoos of hard rain on the roof, so loud, you can’t hear any other sounds, with the possible exception of throaty crashing, clashing, rumbling rolls of thunder, 
while the pool water jumps nervously one foot high 
in a transient pattern of spikes, 
I’m thinking, 
how much I enjoy being here, 
in this rain and fog and noise – 
with the possible exception of those throaty rolls of thunder robbing me of my poise!
Some hours later, as is usual in the tropics, night has fallen early and the storm has lessened somewhat. As much as I already anticipate my future longing for what I have right here, right now, dripping wet and dark and ominous as it is, with moaning monkeys roaming the jungle deep down in the gorge, just a few steps past a tropical version of a boxwood hedge, which provides not much more than an illusional barrier between me and the unknown wilderness beyond, I’m equally anticipating with some excitement to be back in Texas again. Wildlife abounds in either place and nature is powerfully forbidding, even dangerous, yet beautiful here, as well as there. All hours of darkness are filled with sounds of animals prowling, small & large and I’m grateful for the protection of screens in windows and doors, especially against the slithery night hunters. Our two home locations differ in their degrees of darkness, though. At least at those times of the year, during which we live in Costa Rica. 

We will leave here before the summer season takes full hold of a country exploding into riotous colors of trees blooming in yellows and oranges, presenting gleaming neon focal points dotting the landscape as you gaze across the valleys and mountainsides. And in our town of Atenas as well, of course, as this picture of the municipal cemetery shows.
Because our schedule is ruled by my need to escape the brutal summer heat of Central Texas, we chose to live in Costa Rica during the rainy season, also called winter, when the skies are weeping and daily thunderstorms drench lush greenery, so much so that the creek down below us, the one no-one has ever seen, because of the density of the jungle canopy rising above it, roars like an angry bear. Thus we relinquish the Christmas and New Year high season and the whole Central American summer through April to our snowbird guests. They enjoy clear, crisp nights with twinkling stars, rivaling the sparkle of the city lights across the Valle Central to our South.
We do get these views also, only rarely under a clear sky. While we’re in residence, we’re much more likely to be engulfed in gently swaying mists, illuminated not by stars, but by the orangy glow of sodium vapor street lights below.
Blooming Yucca
night view through a window, Mountain Home, Texas

In contrast to Costarican streetlights and swirling fog, we experience true darkness at our ranch in Texas. There is no ambient light since we’re far removed from settlements. It’s truly pitch black on the ground, while a universe of uncountable lights cradles us from above. When stepping outside to enjoy the nightly scenery in either location, one better keep a sharp eye out for hidden hazards lurking. Terciopelo or Fer de Lance, as the Costarican pit viper is called by North Americans and Texas’ Rattlesnake – neither are agreeable company and you learn quickly to indulge in a roving eye … for reptiles!

And speaking of agreeable company. I wish, I knew how to be a shocking kind of company. Not offensively shocking, but witty and clever, as opposed to my usual weak smile and glazed expression, when people share their misguided thoughts with me. It happened to me recently again at a very nice fiesta, when a male person sitting opposite me at the communal table, insisted on telling me at length, how Ticos consistently exploit Americans. By Americans he meant exclusively US citizens, rather than the entirety of the population of the American continent, which would have included Ticos, of course, thus rendering his pronouncements even more nonsensical than they already were. His more outrages opinions included his proud tale of boycotting the weekly feria, our local Friday morning, outdoor farmers’ market, because, he claims, the farmers have separate, higher prizes for North Americans. At nine AM, he said, its ‘Gringo Hour’ (his label), when prizes double for foreigners. This is wrong on so many levels, yet I just set there, mutely staring over his left shoulder toward the lovely buffet, smiling like a Stepford idiot. My mind boggled to a degree that I couldn’t articulate an appropriate answer, not even to suggest, he might circumvent this problem by getting his lazy ass out of bed before mid-morning (we have daylight at 5:30h) and doing his shopping at seven, like the rest of us. But afterward, oh, how I managed to formulate a lengthy and biting response! I was going on and on about my personal observations and other, well published anecdotal evidence of prize graduation in many countries worldwide. I was raving about the perfectly sensible practice, in my opinion, of wealthier people like him paying more than poorer people. I could have told him of the well established, multi-tiered prizing scale practiced in Bangkok, or was it Bali? There, I learned that Japanese have to pay the highest prizes, followed by Australians, while Americans and Europeans have to settle for interchangeable third & fourth placement. Would it have upset him, to learn he’s only third best? I should at least have taken a stand for the vendors at the feria, who are required to post the prizes for their goods in writing. Granted, not all of them do, but one knows, who they are, doesn’t one? I might have pointed out to him, right then and there, how amusing a scene it would be, if at the chiming of the ninth hour from the Catholic Church tower, the vendors, exchanging sly glances and little anti-gringo smirks, simultaneously whip out their fake gringo prize tags, thumb-tack them surreptitiously to the front of their stands and then quickly shoo all the Ticos away, to make room for the patiently queuing norteamericanos. What bull. Unfortunately, I delivered my scathing rejoinder to my innocently loitering husband, since the stranger had long since disappeared. This kind of delayed-action mental hyperventilation, or mentylation, happens to me all the time lately. If I can’t fall asleep and events begin to bounce through the varying levels of my memory circuits, it’s suddenly so easy to come up with a smashingly elegant dialog of highly intellectual integrity, laced with quirky witticism and a measured, but deadly dose of sarcasm. Those happy moments of verbal exhilaration no longer happen in real time, or what my phone likes to call FaceTime. I may have had more presence of mind, when I was younger, but I fear, these lightning fast and immensely satisfying bursts of repartee have been sucked into the same Black Hole of HyperMaturity, which previously swallowed my ability to effortlessly balance on three-inch heels and to make a gentleman swoon, simply by fluttering my eyelashes. Now, it seems, I’ve entered my personal Birkenstock Era – comfortable, flat and utterly unexciting. Yuk.

Hiding behind ever-changing veils of fog …


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