Where Are Whelks When You Need Them……?

lucia-sector-barrio-chino-lunes_LNCIMA20130917_0148_5 It is the rainy season here….it comes every year….it is not a one off event.
This photograph from the Costa Rican newspaper ‘La Nacion’ shows a flooded street in San Jose, the nation’s capital.
Tut, you might think. Isn’t it about time the council got round to doing something about this?

Well, the council had got round to upgrading the street in question…the whole area was disrupted for months recently while they messed around with the old Paseo des los Estudiantes to turn it into – Barrio Chino.

ww. skyscrapercity.com
ww. skyscrapercity.com
Most of the old shops are gone, forced out by high rents and shortage of customers thanks to lack of access.
Pardonable while works were underway…unpardonable when cars were banned even from loading and unloading.
My favourite pawn shop is feeling the pinch….the shops either side have gone already.

And what do we have in its place?
Tawdry shops offering prime junk from the factories of China…knick knacks, decorations for Christmas – yes, already – and restaurants where the menu is only in Chinese script and the dose of monosodium glutamate is enough to turn you dizzy.

China Town as in London’s Soho it is not.

But I digress.
When upgrading, the street was laid with patterns of differing coloured paving…most attractive..but underneath the paving there was something missing.

Drains. Proper ones. Fit to cope with the annual rainy season.

When I was growing up drains were only mentioned in connection with houses – as in were the drains working properly – or with London’s Great Stink of 1858. It was taken for granted that towns had drains and that those drains worked.

Clearly when planning Barrio Chino great attention was paid to street furniture…but not much to drains. The council insist that they exist…they might as well not.

The council official responsible for drains – existent or not – states that it is all the fault of:

A. Cars driving too fast through rainwater on Avenida 4 thus sending ripples of water into Barrio Chino.
Good try sir!


B. A drainage outlet from a neighbouring barrio, blocking the drainage of Barrio Chino.
I know that medieval Europe had the habit of hanging animals found to be guilty of causing human death and begin to wonder if we shall see council officials solemnly stringing up drain pipes from the neighbouring barrio at the junction of Barrio Chino with Avenida 4 in a sort of municipal auto da fe.

They would not have been able to do this until just recently, as at all interjunctions high domes had been built in the centre, buses and trucks tilting sideways to negotiate them, faces peering in alarmed fashion from the windows.
The domes have since been removed.
Presumably someone who matters had bust his car’s suspension on one of them.

But help is at hand!

A Study will be made…another pernicious habit picked up from the European Union no doubt….and a solution will be found for the summer of 2014.
It has not been stated whether this will be part of the summer beginning in December 2013 and running until May 2014 or the summer beginning in December 2014 in which case those making the study will have had the advantage of being prepared by taking a look at the rainy season of 2014 falling between the two.
Just don’t drive too fast along Avenida 4 next year or you’ll drown the experts and the whole thing will have to begin again.

The results of the study will no doubt be some solace to those who frequent the Parque Central across from the Cathedral where large rats…flushed out from the flooded drains which are their normal habitat…have moved uphill and are enjoying al fresco lunches on the food waste thrown out by local restaurants.
If the Muni doesn’t do something soon they’ll acquire squatters’ rights.

In the meantime the school near my house in San Jose is facing foreclosure.
Yes, you did read that correctly. A school is facing foreclosure for not paying its municipal taxes for the last goodness knows how long and the Muni is getting tough.

Why hasn’t it paid its municipal taxes?
Because the San Jose Board of Education – body responsible – hasn’t coughed up.
Its administration budget seems to have disappeared down the plughole…probably single handedly responsible for flooding Barrio Chino.

Who appoints the San Jose Board of Education?

The Muni. The San Jose council.

We are coming up to Presidential elections next year. The mayor of San Jose…who has now stood down in order to concentrate on his campaign…is a candidate.

I suggest that, as a preliminary to the elections, all potential candidates are asked to undertake a fitness for purpose task.

There are two methods known to me, but the first, organising a piss up in a brewery, is out. Brewing is a state monopoly.

This leaves the second.

Running a whelk stall.

But there are no whelks in Costa Rica.

So no doubt the mayor will be elected President…all for the lack of a whelk.


31 thoughts on “Where Are Whelks When You Need Them……?”

  1. I don’t know about now, but when I lived in the U.K. shellfish stalls sold them on saucers in vinegar.
    Then I went to France and found them served with mayonnaise as a first course.

    Costa Rica doesn’t seem to have them.

    If you think this is mind boggling I’ll post some tales of French local government that will curl your liver.

  2. Let’s hope that by the time you figure out the season the town isn’t flooded off the face of the earth. Sad that the shops are going by the wayside. It’s one reason we like to support our local small town merchants.

    Do you think there’s too much water, too much rain, for the whelks? Just too much…you know…

  3. I liked the little shops on the Paseo de los Estudiantes….and I don’t like the Chinese tat shops which are replacing them.
    In fact I don’t like the Chinese owned and staffed pulperias (corner shops) either which are infesting the areas around…staffed by miserable buggers who couldn’t give a toss about customer service.
    Nothing like the Chinese caffs and shops I knew in London – family businesses with cheerful and helpful staff, and no substitute for the old established Costa Rican shops where you were sure of a joke and a smile with your purchase.

    I thik I’ll have to introduce whelks…or a kindred species which can tolerate warm water…if only to clean up local politics.

    1. It has always puzzled me…when it is so simple to get it right, how do they (globally) manage to cock it up?
      But then I always forget to take into account that the more complicated it is the more fingers can touch the loot.

  4. Rain is such an unusual phenomenon, how is a body to prepare for the eventuality of flooding? It’s like winter and ice in the UK – Oops – there’s snow, now what do we do.

    I have said something similar before and say it again: when are you going to stand for top boss? I’d vote for you, even without a backhander. Under your leadership there’s be drains that work and Chinese quarters would only be allowed to sell red ducks without MSG.

  5. Oh don’t talk about drains . They don’t seem to exist here. I know we don’t get a rainy season as such but we do get too much for the non-existent drains to cope with. What a shame all the local shops have had to make way for this “China town”

    1. It’s not so much as have to make way…as being priced out. Old buildings are coming down…landlords selling out to developers…and the place is going to become slick and without soul…as is happening on Avenida 2 opposite the Teatro Nacional.
      San Jose had some horrible 60s buildings…but with a bit of an eye a lot could have been made of the older individual ones.
      I near;y had a fit on my first (holiday) visit to San Jose to see how high the pavements were…then the first cloudburst showed me why!

  6. To pinch one of your wonderful phrases, I could feel my liver curling as I read this – despite sniggering at the way you tell it. Just unbelievable…how is it possible that such folk are in charge?

    1. Look at any form of government at the moment and you ask the same question.
      How is it that we allow these goons to have charge of a halfpenny of public money?
      Answer….the party system and the financial barriers to independent candidates.

  7. The thought of someone who can’t even run a city running the whole country must give you nightmares, Helen. what do you think his chances are?

    As for the Barrio Chino debacle, it strikes me that the refugee rats in the park could learn a lot from the human variety who infest the bureaucracies that make life so difficult.

    1. Makes me think of the Bairnsfather cartoon …the better ‘ole.
      They – both rats and bureaucrats – have found one and it will take a fair few shells to dislodge them.

      At the moment he is well in the lead…the opposition parties said they were going to join forces but have left it too late to do so, quite apart from putting up the same old same old as their candidates.

    1. Google Reader dying the death has made things difficult, hasn’t it?

      I was wary of the whelk in the U.K. – inevitably served as an overboiled lump of india rubber – but grew to like it in France with mayonnaise….only to lose it here.
      I didn’t come across it in Spain but next time there I shall seek it out.

      Your most recent post has given me a lot to think about – one thing leading to another.

      1. If I may butt in with a thought for Mark, I made the transition to Feedly as my reader and it works very well for me. It’s different from Google Reader but does the same job. If you want a Google Reader lookalike, try The Old Reader.

        1. I remember you saying something about Feedly in your blog…so I hope it helps Mark to keep track.
          I have the WordPress Reader but for other systems I have a different method…blog hubs – yours being one!

  8. Ugh. Whelks. Always made me think of very old men’s big toes. :

    Nothing to do with rain in Costa Rica, but last night we were treated to a spectacular deluge, which first of all dripped rhythmically through the roof onto the dining room floor, and later burst through the bottom of the hall wall and turned the hall into an indoor paddling pool. And then came the baby salamanders, less than 2″ long, splashing around in the water. We managed to find and relocate a dozen of them before they were trodden on by dogs or careless feet. Later, there was an invasion of hornets to round off an interesting evening.

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