Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon

IMG_2830The pressure cooker hissing gently; dogs snoring; a warm and heavy head on my feet; catching up on the Great British Bake Off – peace at last.

Bunter – on the right above – is sleeping under my worktable, snoring happily. Black Tot is sleeping on top of the washing machine, curled up on her blanket. The other dogs are sleeping in the office.

The morning had been its usual hectic self…whatever were we doing to take on two more pups!

One, Stein – on the left above – has settled down since he came to us four months ago, but the other, Bunter, remains a pup.
A huge pup.
A huge loving pup full of energy.

After breakfast on the balcony he bounded into the kitchen, ready for action.

He played with a plastic bottle, waving it like an indian club…he reduced yet another cardboard box to flat pack status…he leapt on the garden chair and bounced it round the kitchen….he found the chayote, threw them in the air and chased them round the floor.
He supervised stripping meat from the duck carcass. At least this required him to sit down.For at least one second at a time.

After twenty minutes of high octane performance he went to sleep…flat out, relaxed, snoring fit to bring down the walls of Jericho.
Relaxed as only a pup can be, happy in the knowledge that it has fulfilled its obligation to keep you entertained and on your toes.

Two loads of washing went out to make the most of the sunshine.

A young man we know had called to see if we wanted a quantity of heavy duty fencing wire. His price was very reasonable and included delivery. Tonight.
All his deliveries take place in the hours of darkness but as yet none have been followed by a visit from the police.
As he also has available several tons of asphalt, however, his delivery methods may have to change.

Friends called to collect tilapia to start their own fish production: they stayed to a lunch of St. Omer beer and home made pork pies. The latter were a bit lop sided…but then weren’t we all by the time lunch was over.

We fed the sheep, fed the ducks and chickens – and watched Bunter’s matinee performance.
Much as before: minus the chayote but plus a box of fifty packs of spaghetti which I thought I had stored out of his reach.
And we all know what thought did.

Two loads of washing came in as the sky darkened…this is the rainy season and the afternoons are almost guaranteed to be wet. Soaking wet.

Two loads of washing which were not immediately ironed….there are limits!

The rain came down heavily so it was time for a cup of tea…and time to talk, brought on by something we had noticed last night.

We had had supper early, sitting out on the balcony as the sun went down over the hills between us and the Pacific Ocean…the sky pink and grey after an afternoon of violent thunderstorms.
As the light faded, the street lights appeared, one for each house….none to the right at San Antonio – the hill had been bought by a consortium who wished to develop it, unsuccessfully. No water.
On the left, however, creeping out from the town, there were lights where there were none when we bought the finca…and more to come. There are signs of construction on all the ridges.
The council has even given planning permission for houses to be built around the spring which feeds the river below us…

In front of us, however…no street lights.

That part of the Three Valleys remains, if not pristine, then at least rural, agricultural.

And that is what had led to our chat.
Had we done the right thing…moving here…not just to Costa Rica, but here?

It had been our holiday house before moving…but when we moved we walked into the nightmare of a local fight against a well connected developer.

As it all happened just as we were moving there had been no time to consider whether or not so to do: it was a case of just getting on with it.

We have had unpleasantnesses – galore – but also much kindness and the chance to gain a full speed ahead apprenticeship into the workings of the country which might otherwise have taken several more years to achieve.
We now know where we are with a number of people locally….and they know where they are with us.

Armed with what we now know, would we come to Costa Rica again, as it were?

Yes: like a shot.

Not just for the climate and the beauty of the place, lovely though it is, but for the culture of mild anarchy which prevails…and the fact that there is always a way round things.
A winding way with many turnings…but always a way.

No country is a paradise, either for its own people or for immigrants: there are always downsides.
All depends on whether you can live with them.
After life in France in the last years before our move we certainly can.

There is a whiff of change in the air…a conflict of generations and a conflict of ideas…a possibility of political realignment on the international economic scale.

Would we come not just to Costa Rica but here, this little place, again?


It’s a small town, the one up the road, and while we’ll never be ‘of’ the town we’ve progressed beyond the jokes at our expense to being part of the general joke scene, something I’d not come across before, where once in town your progress is one of constant greetings, involving insults, innuendo – and real kindness.

When Mantequa asks why you’re alone…is it that you’ve lost all your money and can’t afford to pay your chauffeur… it is de rigeur to ask him how come he is standing on the street corner when he is too ugly to attract any passing trade let alone that of women with money.

At which point old Rigoberto will pop his head out of the bar alongside and advise me not to talk to Mantequa

But then, senora, you were not to know that he is ‘maricon’ (homosexual).

Exit stage left at surprising speed for one of his age pursued by Mantequa threatening vengeance and both to be found in the bar together a few minutes later.

Yes, but when you drop in to see your lawyer after doing your shopping you’re exchanging jokes about the influence of Napoleon’s sexuality on French and – by derivation – Costa Rican law.

The town, like the country, resembles the horse from Surtees‘ ‘Mr. Facey Romford’s Hounds’, Multum in Parvo…a lot of horse in a little skin…and, like that celebrated equine, when the town or the country has one of its ‘going days’ there’s no holding it.

I saw the attempt to use riot police to disrupt a peaceful demonstration in the last presidency..and saw the city and the university turn out to put them to flight.

I saw the unknown candidate elected as president this time around…here, the people still have a voice.

And, speaking of voices, here comes the young man to deliver the fencing….the dogs awake in a cacophony of barking, the ducks protest from afar and the trees in front of the house deliver a shower of water as the birds roosting there rise in their indignation.

Not set in stone, our lazy Sunday afternoons, as is this:

And does anyone remember this one?


33 thoughts on “Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon”

  1. A great telling of an ordinary Sunday with dogs, chores and inevitable reflections on life’s journey. Loved it. I’m curious…is Bunter named for Mervyn Bunter of the Dorothy Sayles novels? He certainly looks like he could be a handful and not at all like his solemn and dignified name sake.

    I enjoyed your funny discussion of the subtle and not so subtle changes that occur as one moves from being the strangers in town to becoming a local, an experience many experience when moving to Hawaii. I’m glad to know that, despite challenges, you are still happy with your decision to make Costa Rica your home, in no small part because those challenges have provided great fodder for your blog.

    1. Bunter started as Buster…that being what he did best..but sheer awe at his food intake had him renamed for Billy Bunter, the fat owl of the remove in a series of public school tales popular in the inter war period.

      Now I have to look up Mervyn Bunter. by Dorothy Sayles..which as I am on the hunt for new books will be a pleasure.

      We have moved from being yet another couple of gringos to being accepted in some strata – but not in others.
      Just like rural France….

    1. Yes…the Kinks…Sunny afternoon! Goodness only knows when that came out.These days it seems that the taxman just gives them the loot for the delight of their presence in the U.K.

      As to dog and washing machine…I load up…place blanket. Dog ascends.
      When load is finished entice dog to descend with a piece of meat.
      Unload and reload.
      Replace dog follows. Repeat ad infinitum. has its downsides…but much better than France!

  2. A lovely picture of your Sunday. I often ask myself if I would make the decision to move here now after almost 18 years, and my answer is also yes. I think we always have to try to look for the positives rather than dwell on the negatives of anywhere we find ourselves. No country is perfect but as long as it’s almost perfect for us, then that’s all that counts.

  3. . . the pleasures of not being part of the ex-pat scene, of being accepted and, yes, loved by our local community means that, despite the brick walls that crop up from time to time, we made the right decision to live where we do. As for the mild anarchy, here in Turkey it manifests itself in the form of drive-by shootings on dictatorial road signs that get blasted by shotgun and pistol – revenge is sweet!

  4. That was a Sunday when life just happens when the shops are shut. I find that I have no real reason to know what day of the week it is and that we fill our days with doing, or not doing stuff. How we managed to fit in work I don’t know.
    Those Small Faces do look sort of cute now but in ’67 they were top of the pops, I wonder what they are doing now. Here we go again, off on another (pointless) internet search!

    1. I haven’t looked them up….but did once meet a former member of the Bonzo Dog Doodah Band who had metamorphosed into a schoolmaster…

      The shops are open here on Sundays…but I’ve usually done my town shopping the day before when the feria is open so can sit quietly at home.

      The advantage of Sunday shopping is that the council goons who give out fines for those not paying their parking ticket don’t work on the Sabbath…

  5. That’s always a worry, isn’t it, when you move house. Will the house turn out okay? Will the new neighbours be okay? Will the neighbourhood be okay? etc etc. We’ve had our share of ups and downs in that respect (neighbours who had all-night parties twice a week, a flat that was freezing cold, areas with mind-boggling crime levels) but on the whole we’ve never regretted moving and always enjoyed wherever we happened to be. Your particular location sounds wonderfully eccentric and unpredictable. Which is greatly preferable to being in some sleepy, deadbeat suburban oasis.

    1. You’re right…you can do all the research possible and still find that your neighbour is an axe murderer at the full moon….

      There are moments when a suburban oasis appeals…but the neighbours would never tolerate the sheep….

  6. Maybe it’s just me but I fail to see any ‘lazing!’
    The dog alone would ruin that, let alone several.
    Corrupt politics, we don’t have that is this country……what? Oh!

  7. Are you one of the fortunate ones who can say they’ve come home?

    Assuming that you’re no spring chicken does that mean you’ve given up on the Wanderlust? (Oh, I just saw mention of Nicaragua. It’s enough to make me dizzy.)

    1. Never say never! And with Leo’s itchy feet – who knows! He’s always liked Nicaragua, but when we made the move there was only one hospital which could treat him and that was in Managua – too hot and sticky to be livable. But health provision has improved, so, who knows…we could yet be shifting our menagerie up to the Honduras border…

      More like an old boiler than a spring chicken these days, I’m afraid..but there’s a hop in the old bird yet.

  8. Wonder if our Sunday afternoons will turn into Friday afternoons in the near future? Never can tell what will happen when one ups sticks and moves .. That’s why we like it.

  9. Well you have all the elements I need for a joyous any day … dogs, anarchy and pork pies so I had to love this – throw in the Queen clip and the fact that I worked for them a thousand years ago and this was my perfect anecdote to a bluesy rather than blousy feeling that I thought I couldn’t shed. Thank you 🙂

  10. Those aren’t puppies! They are Giants. But tan cute. Lovely faces. I would have taken them too.

    I like anarchy. Our neighbour once said our village was a pueblo abandonado. Everyone just gets on with life, working, eating, sleeping, and for the women, shopping and cleaning. Everyone knows who everyone is, and we look out for each other. A nice simple life. As it should be.

    Nicaragua? We were only saying today how we did not want to move again. Not for the move per se, but the real drag of finding out where to get things done, where to buy things, all that tedious sort of thing, that you don’t have to bother with when you’ve been somewhere for long enough. Plus we’re not into long distance travel these days. Having everything on our doorstep in Gib has def spoiled us.

  11. I like quiet anarchy…rural France was like that when I first lived there so it’s nice to find it again.
    Moving? Leo always has itchy feet…and he positively likes finding where to buy things…how it works….so i’m not relaxing my guard just yet.

  12. In a slightly less exaggerated way, I do so recognise your thoughts, musings and observations here, Helen. Apologies for being so behind in my blog reading …I suspect it’s because my children hog the computer and whilst my phone is great for Facebook, it really doesn’t work for reading and commenting on ‘real’ words.
    Your reflections ring lots of bells. Our village is teeny weeny but full of odd characters. They call my Spanish husband ‘El Ingles’….we are most definitely ‘incomers’ – but on balance, I love it – the fact that my children enjoy living here too is definitely what absolutely tips the scales.
    Your ‘pups’ look full of mischief….
    And thanks for sharing both pieces of music – know and love them!

    1. We did wonder whether we were doing the right thing in moving…and certainly wouldn’t have done so had we not had the house as a holiday house for a while and begun to get to know people….but despite odd yearnings for fresh crab it has worked out.
      Yes…the pups are indeed full of mischief…anything in the washing basket is fair game but i can’t be annoyed with them…one look at them, sleeping, relaxed and happy makes everything fine.

  13. I’m so glad i didn’t miss this in all the kerfuffle of our return to Wales. It was worth waiting for – gentle and funny and quirky. I don’t think life chez toi could ever be dull. 🙂 I’m glad you have no regrets about making such a big move. I’ve certainly never detected any in your posts. However, if i were you, I’d try to distract Leo from any plans to move again until you’ve had your money’s worth from the new house.
    Thanks for the clips – they took me back as did the Kinks.

    1. The house is approaching the habitable….there has been a long break as Danilo’s mother was very ill for some months before her recent death and it was obviously more important for him to spend time with her while he could.

      I am now the proud owner of a bath cast in concrete – yes, rely on The Men and a photo will follow in due course – and intend to use it before being whisked away to the wilds of the Nicaragua-Honduras border!

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