Head in the Clouds


This the view from the balcony this evening…..somewhat subfusc, you might think; not at all your idea of Costa Rica.

But this is the rainy season, and we are up in the clouds.

We have been in and out of San Jose all week for hospital and legal appointments – with a bit of light relief at a meeting of a writers’ group – and with impeccable timing just as we have alighted from the bus the heavens have opened, the Central American version of Thor has made a nuisance of himself and by the time we have reached the car we are like two drookit hens – and just about as voluble.

The road – the back road – to the house has become a river: two vast piles of hoggin dumped by the council in a gesture designed to mollify local residents sit just where they were a week ago as the council bulldozer has gone down with the lurgy yet again.
By the time the machine recovers from its latest malady various enterprising persons will have half inched the hoggin for their own purposes and the ritual dance will begin again.

Residents apply to the council for road repairs.
Council, sucking its collective teeth, declines to make extraordinary provision.
Residents – in greater number – apply again.
Council, relying on an old favourite of an excuse, announce that the bulldozer is out of action – again.

Now, each time the bulldozer is out of action it apparently costs forty million colones ($80,000) to have it repaired, and it breaks down every time it is put into service.
Thus, announces the council’s lawyer, it is best not to use the thing at all.

Residents, rising in their wrath, point out certain irregularities in council proceedings and payments to councillors.

The council produce the bulldozer.
It breaks down.

The dance resumes.
As a participant, you feel rather like Mr. Pastry dancing The Lancers…

There is something that you just don’t seem able to grasp…

Still, given the power of blackmail, things might improve.

The council has been showing its less attractive profile just lately.

One of its members took exception to the Peruvian couple who regularly play their pan pipes in the corner of the park by the taxi stand.
We remain in ignorance as to the origin of the incident – perhaps he had asked for and been refused a performance of the Magic Flute, who knows?…but the taxi drivers assembled in their shelter nearby saw him grab the Peruvian lady by the arm and in turn be felled by a well placed kick from her husband.
He was carted off to hospital with a broken leg.

Then the council’s lawyer published a letter on the council’s Facebook page announcing that those who wanted the installation of a Walmart in the town were thinking not with their heads – but with their livers.
This apparently curled a number of said livers and the lawyer has retreated under heavy pressure which centred on his relationship with a member of the family running the local supermarket monopoly.

And to cap it all it has been discovered that:
A…one of the councillors hasn’t attended a single meeting since her appointment:
B…said lady denies ever being a councillor
C…the witch hunt is up for who it is that has been pocketing her allowances.

The bulldozer might yet make a miraculous recovery.

We have had to leave the puppies rather longer than is desirable in terms of their socialising routine…..

But they have clearly made their own arrangements and who are we to quibble..

The older dogs are doing a good job on the pair, working on the principle that if older dogs can’t do that there ‘ere, then neither can two upstart puppies

Yet some fine tuning remains to be achieved….
They happily accept collars and leads…but insist on carrying the leads themselves…
But they follow the terms of employment in the collier brigs sailing out of the Tyne as recorded by Hervey Benham, maritime historian of the East coast of England

Duff out
Dumpling home
Poop in the cabin foul weather.


74 thoughts on “Head in the Clouds”

  1. Ahhh! The joys of local governance – here in Turkey, after the local elections earlier, all the councils have been reshuffled. Many have disappeared (along with evidence of malfeasance), absorbed into larger groupings. Each province has morphed into a ‘Metropolitan’ something-or-other that has taken over things formerly controlled at a village level as well as much else. That which was is no more and that which wasn’t is – or will soon become ‘is’ once the troughers get their act together.

    1. Yes this has happened to our village. Milas Belediye have taken over. On the plus side our water bills (once read by the Muhtar and scribbled on a piece of paper) are now read by the Belediye and are a fraction of what we used to be charged. On the down side although rubbish is collected by the Belediye vehicle now instead of the Muhtar’s brother’s tractor…there are only a handful of bins at the bottom of the village and none for the many occupants up the hill. Ah well

      1. . . this is true – some services have most assuredly improved, with others we wait to see. Before, when a leak in the village water system was reported it was attended to by the bekci in no time – now they gush for days before the ‘metropolitans’ turn up. There are many good things that seem to be happening as a result of the shuffle about and a growing list of those that don’t.

        1. If you don’t mind I’ll do a reply to both of you….
          Friends in France tell me that their local government reorganisation has resulted in whopping local taxes as two sets of officials are now to be employed by the same body…

          Here, central government seems keen to remove certain initiatives from local government….

  2. I think that local council is another way of saying organized local crime, isn’t it? Having said that, our is actually remarkable good, much to my surprise. The pups look like they own the place – which of course they do. Drookit is a delicious word which isn’t used enough – I must add it to my weekly vocabulary – God knows I’ll have plenty of opportunity,

    1. Our last local council in France certainly was….and this one is spectacular!

      The pups run the place as they see fit…thus the paraphernalia with which they have chosen to surround themselves….

  3. A glorious tale, has no one thought of turning your local goings-on into a soap opera? All that’s missing is graphic sex, but I’m sure that can be arranged too, what with hinted at (and probably locally well-known) affairs?

    I’d love to know why you chose to live in C.R. “All human life is here’?

    1. Graphic sex not a problem…only have to nip up the hill after dark and count the taxis assembled on the top road…

      Why Costa Rica?
      We went there on holiday, bought a place in which to escape the French winters and then decided that we preferred it here.

  4. I have to admit that I had not realised that living in costa Rica had so many downsides. Admittedly, they are dramatic ones. I can’t imagine you are ever bored!

  5. My first reaction was not subfusc. Interesting how the mind works. I loved the photo and the black and white was reminiscent of some of the rather good old time movies. That aside, I hope the visits for medical/legal are something serious, particularly the medical. And please sent some of that rain our way. p.s. that puppy looks pretty comfortable. Cute photo.

    1. Medical good news…Leo has an initial diagnosis of Parkisnsons but
      A it isn’t
      B his doctor can sort it.

      Legal – the water development scheme goes on…and on…and I have the time to go and sit in government offices.

  6. It makes the local governance of my lost corner sound positiviely slick! Thank you for Mr Pastry …. how I laughed and how I needed to 😀

  7. We’ve had some pretty torrential rain here too so I feel your pain.

    I wonder who’s been pocketing that non-councillor’s dosh. Heads are due to roll… hopefully (if metaphorically…).

  8. We can only hope the bulldozer is repaired before the hoggin becomes an immovable mountain. I wish I understood why governments can operate only incrementally, and the gears are personalities. Our front end loader needs new rear tires, the last ones being ten years old. One trustee balks at purchasing tires made in, god forbid, China or India, as were the last set of tires. And she drives a Toyota. Go figure.

    1. Motes and beams come to mind in respect of your trustee…and no chance of that hoggin solidifying…not to judge by the amount of wheelbarrows appearing in front gardens…

  9. I must say I respect the purported lady councilor who, given the opportunity to wield authority, waves it away. It’s that lack of desire for power that would possibly make her a decent councilor.

    Alas, too many of the people who want office shouldn’t be in office and too many of those who might do a good job don’t want anything to do with it.

    1. Alas,it appears that she didn’t have the chance to wave it away….her name was used without her permission….and the hunt is up for the person collecting her expenses…

  10. Once again I am convinced you need add only two poodles and a high wire act to complete the Costa Rican council circus. Still, the prospect of maybe getting the bulldozer franchise is intriguing – how much would that license cost, do you suppose? It would seem to be an annuity and if the rains continue you may need the machine to clear the pup poop from the casa.

    1. Perhaps it could be paid, as Dinahmow suggests above, on cojones…in which case there are a few no, many, local officials who will need to be heading for the hills in short order.

      Two poodles and a high wire act would be a welcome breath of sanity to council meetings…apparently I missed a humdinger on Tuesday with councillors repelling the press…

      The pups aren’t too bad….but they draw the line at taking their sacred persons outside in wet weather, so if i don’t want to be shovelling shit I’ll have to be shovelling puppies through the doors at the first sign of a lifting tail…

  11. An Animal Farm is the same the world over, it seems.

    Those two dogs look as if they are experimenting in finding the most uncomfortable positions in which to sleep. 🙂

  12. Ah the joys of council operation!
    The dogs appear to be happy so what’s to worry?
    The last video alas does not work in Essex, just like half the people.

    1. Indeed they are…but for some reason I cannot resist poking them with a sharp stick: their lies, prevarications and the variations thereon never cease to fascinate me.

  13. Our road was sprayed with tarmac before the local election. I’m now wondering just how many potholes will join up before the next local election to turn it into a canyon. We might have to zip wire home.

  14. What would drive me mad drives you to write in a way which helps to preserve what sanity I still have. Such amusing corruption I have never seen described. Is it because you are above it all that you can look down and laugh? Or do you credit your self-packaged puppies and their self-led parents? (The video didn’t work for me, either. Did it show them?)

    I was previously unfamiliar with Mr. Pastry–thanks for introducing me 🙂

    1. The video must have contracted the same lurgy as the bulldozer…it is a music hall song ‘ You can’t do that there ‘ere’…somewhat risque in its day…you might like to look it up on Youtube.

      Glad you liked Mr. Pastry….innocent fun.

      It might drive me mad had I not spent twenty years in rural France where corruption and inefficiency would have been better mottos than liberte, egalite, fraternite.

      And those who think it doesn’t happen in their bailiwicks should take a closer look….

      1. Any time an organization grows to three people, it begins, from “lowly” school PTO to church committee to the local chapter of the antler-headed Big-Boys’ club. Back-scratching devolves to back-slapping and back-stabbing to reward shameless grabbing. I do think the devolution occurs more quickly and in a more fiscal direction, in more sizable sums, when the groups are comprised of all males, but that is merely my prejudice colored by the facts speaking.

          1. The loud grinding sound you hear? My brain’s gears being stripped as I read up after googling. Be back later. Who knows how MUCH later…

          2. I don’t think he made the point about it being worst when men are involved…but when he was writing about what he was observing it was mostly men involved.
            What he missed not being able to participate in the Ladies’ Sale of Work Committees…the Womens’ institute….

          3. I was co-chair of an all-female PTO comprised of native-born Americans and of Korean non-Americans (with one exception). We would meet, discuss, vote democratically, smile, share cookies, leave. Then, the Koreans would have the REAL meeting, where they would re-discuss, re-vote, and reverse whatever they felt like. We non-Koreans did not know for some months this was happening, and were bamboozled at every turn.

            Actually pretty funny.

            Their “voting” was interesting: It worked by surname. The surnames that indicated money (e.g. “Park”) held the status, and called the shots. These women chose the winner of school’s Science Fair even before the children did their projects. The boy was a Park.

          4. Okay. I’ve got the meat from Pamela S. Tolbert’s summary. She’s just described why my condominium Board members are a bunch of sh#theels (other than the fact that they were sh#thheels before they took their positions on the Board).

            Thank you. It’s good to have another reason to be misanthropic and pessimistic. Because there just aren’t enough of these already.

          5. It’s one of the problems of our society…if you want to make a point it seems that it will only be accepted if someone has made the point before in print…
            That might be all very well if we are dwarves standing on the shoulders of giants…but more often we are dwarves standing on the shoulders of midgets.

          6. Funny: How WOULD one make your statement in the P.C. way?
            “acromegalic little people standing on the shoulders of non-acromegalic little people”?

          7. Here we would say Emily Post, but I get your meaning and laughed–once I’d looked up the reference, d#mn you! And with that, I’m off to write letters and watch mindless entertainment until falling asleep before it. Have a good whatever it is–Good gosh–what are you doing up–time for bed, or are you on Madrid social time, gadding about beginning your fun at midnight? Good night, Helen. Thank you for the taxing stimulating fun!

          8. Madrid social time…I wish!
            Off to bed once I have flea powdered the pups…bet Madrid can’t beat that for excitement.
            Thanks for the fun…quite woke me up!

          9. Given my tagging along, I’d say any excitement was provided by your self-stimulation more than anything else, but that would sound rather (c)rude.

            You are welcome for my small part. Now, go. Take a powder.
            “no poor pun left undone.”

  15. The bulldozer’s out of order/ is too expensive to repair/ won’t do the job anyway. We don’t get imaginative excuses like that here. It’s just a question of organising the necessary work – which could take a few months.

    1. The problem is that Costa Rica is tacking on EU ideas to its own rich blend of obstacles to actually doing anything…before we know it we will have to have a ‘study’ done before each bulldozer repair…

      Oh, and the council workmen have refused to beautify the park as the bulldozer doesn’t work so the centre is full of tottering walls of paviers and huge heaps of hoggin….I await the CCTV scenes of wheelbarrow work at night…

  16. Having googled Michels Iron Law of Oligarchy, I’ve filed it for future bedtime reading. Your blog is very good for filling gaps in my education, Helen. 🙂 I thought there were enough shenanigans in UK and French local government, but it looks like Costa Rica, as in football, is playing with the big boys and doing well.

    Than ks for the clip of the delightful and skilful Mr Pastry. That took me back a very long way.

    1. I too was glad to rediscover Mr.Pastry….not a swear word in sight and no nudity…must have been a different world.

      Costa Rica does not differ very much from France in my experience so far…but it saddens me that the U.K. has declined so far over the last thirty odd years.

      I have often said that the comments section is the most interesting part of the blog!

  17. Some interesting local gov decisions in our parts too…..4 years of promises to fill in the trenches( they were pot holes 4 years ago…now they are trenches) in our road….they were waiting for a man to finish building his house on one side of the road…that was finished 3 years ago, I have no idea what the excuse was then next year…now its lack of funds…..but in a nearby village ( not ours…so funded separately )…they are moving the war memorial 50 metres down the road and re guilding it, establishing lighting around it and some fountains……oh well….. some residents are questioning what the hell is going on .
    Hope your drookitness doesnt cause too many problems. Jx

    1. Just check for any family links between the maire and the firms doing the work…and clearly your maire doesn’t live on the road in question….

      The rains have let up – it would seem that the ‘little summer’ is coming a bit early….

  18. Wow—a real party in your comments section…once again re-affirming that politics the world over only varies from scary to stupid…Glad the pups are well and hope you are too.

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