Travelling? Not Just Now…


We have both been under the weather lately and the weather seems to have been under the weather as well….

Normally at this stage of the rainy season we have sunny mornings followed by cloudbursts and thunderstorms in the afternoon and evening so there is plenty of time to go shopping and get the washing out in safety.

This year we have three volcanoes blasting their socks off, rainstorms for which cloudburst is a totally inadequate description giving of their best at all hours of day and night, thunderstorms creeping up on you unexpectedly at which point you beat  Usain Bolt to get into the house to pull out all the plugs and when rain and thunder take a breather you find yourself living in the clouds – an  occasional glimpse of the top of Grifo Alto being vouchsafed to you when a breeze shifts the white world enveloping you.

And with the rain comes landslides and with the landslides comes an absence of telephone and internet until the men from the electricity board struggle out to do repairs.

Oh…and powercuts. Not many, but neatly timed to catch you when you are cooking supper after dark.

Thus anything involving the oven takes place before lunch: evening recipes favour items which can be stirred with one hand while holding a torch in the other.

Still, at least it is warm, though we must be acclimatising as we found ourselves grumbling this morning at 5.30 am when the temperature was only 21°C which is 69° Fahrenheit for those who have never come to terms with Celsius.

Give me 21°C in the U.K. and I`d probably be shedding the cardies at a rate of knots which would astonish an exotic dancer…here and now I am wondering where I put the woolies.

Not only have we been under the weather…so have the dogs.

Poor Sophie was run over: a visit to the vet sorted her out, but although she came out all bathed and beautiful with a red ribbon bow round her neck she also brought with her a bug which laid her so low that only Leo`s devoted nursing pulled her through.

He sat with her through three days and nights, keeping her hydrated and warm until the little thug returned to herself, by which time the bug had spread to the others, manifesting itself in seas of vomit and diarrhea – just what you need when getting washing dry is not high on the weather`s agenda and washing the floor means going over it with a dry cloth afterwards unless you fancy it being a skating rink, given the absence of breeze to dry it.

Deep joy.

So our  travelling plans have been put on hold until we and the weather are on top of ourselves again….which may be some little time.

Not that we have been entirely confined to the house….

I went to San Jose a couple of times to retrieve documents from the water board and, returning, called Danilo from the bus to meet me at the bus stop nearest the house – now accessible again after three years as the bridge has now been repaired.

As usual, I said I was at Los Abuelos and asked him to pick me up at the Maravilla.

In so doing, I had fallen into the nature of giving directions in Costa Rica… where vital points are not all that they seem….

Los Abuelos was a big family style caff on the main road to the capital….it closed three years ago when the electricity board discovered that paying its bills  had become a very low priority.

La Maravilla was a depot which closed down two years ago.

Danilo obviously knows where both are….but without local knowledge you would be sytmied.

Looking for a government office in San Jose some years ago I was told to follow the railway line and turn left at La Luz.

Railway line…yes. La Luz, however, turned out to be a caff which had disappeared some twenty years ago.

Street directions which involve the Los Pinos depot…which has been closed for ten years  leaving no trace left behind…

Turn right at the fig tree…yes, you`ve guessed it. It is now a six lane roundabout…but you still turn right.

Go past the German`s place and turn left at the football pitch. The German left years ago and the football pitch is now a bus depot.

But, thinking back, indirect directions are not new to me.

At one period in France we had a house in a road called the Rue de la Francmaconnerie; in reality a tiny alley in the centre of the old town.

However, as I was to learn, no one seemed to call it that.

It was referred to as `la venelle qui mene ver La Biche`: literally the alleyway leading to the doe.

Eat your hearts out, Costa Ricans! Make sense of that!

In fact the alleyway, after a few twists and turns, did indeed end up opposite an old door with a doe`s foot serving as a knocker.

pied de biche

But why was the doe`s foot knocker of greater importance than the official name of the street?

Because the door was the entrance to the oldest of the men`s clubs of the town…a place where everything was settled over  a few hands of cards and rather more glasses of wine. It had an official name, but everyone called it the Pied de Biche.

So, just as in Costa Rica…you had to know!





51 thoughts on “Travelling? Not Just Now…”

  1. I hope you all soon get over your various maladies Helen. I also hope the weather starts behaving itself so you can have your drying mornings back.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

    1. The dogs are now fine and we are improving….more to the point Danilo says the Little Summer will soon be upon us at which point everyone will be complaining of drought so things are looking up.

  2. So very sorry to hear that both of you, and the dogs, have been so poorly on top of the dire weather.

    Wishing you all a speedy and complete recovery.

    1. You know how it is…everything happens at once.
      The vet did a wonderful job after Sophie was run over…how the little beast survived a two ton vehicle bashing into her is beyond me….but the bug she picked up in the vet`s kennels was a potential killer. We thought we had lost her twice, but, being a thug, she pulled through thanks to Leo`s constant care of her.
      She is currently stalking a duck which wishes to take up residence on the balcony…

  3. Pied de Biche…smacks of those not-fooling-anyone names for establishments that are not what their signs suggest.

    On this side of the Pacific it’s a tad chilly.Well, until about 10am when we enjoy a few hours of sunshine. The sun is still shining , but I’m cooking curry tonight And if it dips to THREE frigid degrees it’ll be bloody curry for breakfast,too!

    1. Curry for breakfast! Bliss!
      I had an ex merchant navy who had grown accustomed to curry at breakfast when at sea….staying with him and his wife was a delight as there was a different curry on offer every morning.
      The official name for the pied de Biche was Circle de lÙnion which is just about as enigmatic…

  4. The weather is a wee bit mad here too. It was 37°C yesterday. Mid-June.

    I hope the dogs all recover, everyone comes out from under the weather, and the weather itself returns to normal. Good news that the bridge has been repaired though. I hope they made it landslide-proof this time.

    1. Thanks…we are all recovered or on the mend, thank goodness.
      The bridge is a post in itself: enough material as delivered to build the Aswan High Dam…not much of that appears in the finished structure which is, though, solid enough to support a major road rather than a country track….
      The rumour mill has it that though the developer was thwarted another chap is trying to get permission for a tourist centre…for which read swimming pools, massages and brothels.
      Thus the bridge…obviously expecting heavy usage…

  5. Sorry to hear that you are all under the weather, four and two legged alike. Hope that you are all soon back to normal – what ever that may be!
    Directions there sound a bit like what SA was this time on our visit. Things had vanished that were well known points and new things had appeared. We knew Joburg, and surrounding area, like the back of our hand when we left in 2002, but suddenly we could not find our way around anymore! As for Mafikeng where we lived for 5 years it was a bit like the Bermuda triangle, not only could you get lost in the small town with very little problem, you could disappear down a pothole never to be seen again, a work of art to stay on the surface.
    We have never got used to the European weather, but thankfully in general Charente is very much warmer than the UK. Last night our bedroom was 23C and Nigel was complaining it was cold!!
    Get well soon both of you and take care. Hope you have a better week Diane

    1. Oh yes…to go back to a place where you lived and find that it is not there, as it were, or if it is you can`t get to it…!

      Do they put branches in the potholes as they do here…or is it just a nasty surprise?

      We are all on the mend, thank you, but not a period i would like to repeat!

  6. You poorly clan! I AM sorry to hear that you have all succumbed to various malaise in the grips of a maddened rainy season and all it’s attendant inconvenience (sorry, couldn’t think of a stronger word but you can multiply that by as many factors as you wish to get to a more apt descriptor) … I hope you will all be spry again very soon. Le pied de biche is a splendid name for a Gents Club … in every way 🦌

    1. We have brken the back of the illnesses…if not the weather – though this morning has dawned bright and clear. No doubt some large grey clouds are lurking behind Grifo Alto to emerge as soon as the washing is on the line…

      Yes, I always rather relished the Pied de Biche…and I was invited inside. Those genlemen do themselves very well.

  7. What suffering in one post!
    Leo sick yet keeping the dog alive, the dogs sick keeping you active though not fully functioning, then comes the rain, the belssed rain! I suppose the volcanoes must be affecting the weather? Not that the area requires help from volcanoes at this time. I can see you stirring the pot with one hand while holding a torch, too save money I might do that myself later…
    Ask any postman re giving directions, once given they will not believed even on a straight road! Nobody, especially women, believes you! Weatherwise we might reach 69% today while I hide in the museum. Too hot for me but lovely at night when warm evenings arrive.
    I hope all the animals Leo and you are now well!

    1. Thank you…things are returning to normal…if only the weather would behave.
      If you consider energy saving then I suggest a miner`s lamp on the brow would be better than having to hold a torch in one hand as a stirred pot can sometimes take on a life of its own and head for the floor…

      1. I forgot to congratulate you on the bridge!
        Will they demand a toll each time you cross?
        Will the neighbour claim ownership or destroy it?

  8. What a hoot (apart from the dog’s vomit, of course)! There are similar happenings here in Turkey. Turks always want to be helpful so, even though they have not a clue where the place you are looking for might be, they will give you directions with utter conviction and certainty. Addresses are another thing – even vast commercial enterprises like vehicle manufacturers and oil refineries (well, maybe not refineries) will show their address as, for example, 16 kms from Ödemiş on the Denizli to Ayden road opposite the Petrol Ofisi station (and that’s an easy one), and the petrol station may well have been demolished by an eight-lane highway.

    1. I always thought that Turkey and Costa Rica had a lot in common….those directions sound all too familiar.
      The San Jose council have tried to improve things by putting back all the street indicators which had been stolen by light fingered gentlemen in the past: the council feels that they will not be interested in plastic plaques….

      I feel that my address in San Jose will have lost a lot of its mystique when it becomes 104 Transerval 19 instead of al frente American Bar, a lada de Escuela de Chile…

  9. Phew. Don’t know how you manage to sound so sane when so much madness is underfoot and overhead. Slightly worrying, the volcanoes… That’s one of the worries I have to put to the back of my head along with meteor strikes and nuclear holocaust as too big to cope with – what if? No, just worry about the daily big things and support CND!
    Really sorry to hear you are under that appalling weather – get well soon – and tell those dogs to get well soon too!

    1. When we bought here we decided to keep well away from volcanoes…it struck me that they were either hurling stuff at you or preparing to do so….
      This area has more of a problem with earthquakes… the 90s one walloped the local town, half destroying the church. Friends tell me, reassuringly, that if the house wobbles like a jelly there is no problem….it is only when the quake is percussive that you ahould think about heading to the hills.

      All on the mend…and this morning the sun is shining…so out with the washing while it lasts…

  10. From one sick person and mangy dog, I send you all my sympathies.

    A torch and stirring? Must practise that. Although we normally eat salad at night.

    No rain here, low twenties at night, upper during the day.

    1. I`m sorry you are in the doldrums too….
      I suppose you could try tossing the salad by torchlight…but might need three hands for that.
      I had hoped to be in Spain next month…but best laid plans and all that….

  11. Everyone in this township lives in a house named for some previous owner. I was no exception. Worse yet, directions frequently include the names of houses gone since the seventies. Even the daffodils in the front yard have petered out.

    1. Those sort of things are fine while the community stays small and restricted….not so good for someone knowing nothing of the soical context…..
      But next time i hear an American expat moaning I`ll bring your comment to mind and inform them of it!

  12. I hope by the time you read this you and Leo are feeling better and so is Sophie. I’m beginning to get an inkling of what must’ve been the goings on when the expression “when it rains it pours” came to be. And up here we can’t shake the drought. I wish we’d get some of your weather. It certainly shows in the beautiful lush country but enough is enough. Take good care.

    1. The vet did wonders with Sophie…but what the blazes happened to catch such a virulent bug in the kennels?
      Sunny this morning, thank goodness, and Danilo says the Little Summer will soon be upon us, so things must be on the up.
      I can imagine how you feel about the drought…by the end of the summer here we are longing for rain…but not quite in the quantities delivered.

  13. Good lord. Life is never boring for you, is it? I can relate to many of your travails, with weather and leaking dogs. I hope everything clears up soon: the rain, the clouds, the ailments. As to street directions, I believe a city of 20 million people came to a stop some 15 years ago when Sao Paulo decided to get rid of all of the billboards in town (really a blessing, however). Prior to that, people had given directions based on the signs: turn left at the Sony and continue to the Hortifruti, where you turn right. It was insane when we lived there and tried to give directions because streets had names such as Rua Antonio Macedo Soares, which on any sign could be simply Rua Soares or Rua Macedo S. or any combination thereof. Thank God for GPS! a lifesaver in Brazil! (We especially loved selecting a flat Midwestern narration voice on the GPS and hearing her try to pronounce the Brazilian names!)

    1. I did like your voice selection on the GPS…that must have put fun into the process!
      Road names here are similar…thus the grid of calles and avenidas…which is fine until the chaps took down the metal signs for scrap…let`s see if the plastic ones last any longer.
      Out in the country you just have to rely on asking at every junction, with varying results. Thus we have seen many places we had no intention of visiting…

  14. The illness all round and the weather sound ghastly. I’m glad to hear things are improving. Loved the story of the Pied de Biche! Those deer leg door knockers and bell pulls are very firmly on my list of crap not to buy at brocantes.

    1. I do like a not to buy list!
      There was a particularly hideous cut glass vase which appeared at every village vide grenier…every year someone must have bought it, realised how hideous it was and put it back up for sale…
      With Leo illness can strike at any time….this time it was a new pill which was supposed to stimulate the nervous system. It did so wonderfully for three days and then completely paralysed him on the fourth…

  15. We’ve been having a lot of wet weather and not the usual pattern either…Your poor dogs! Apparently there is a canine flu going around that is very nasty and spreading. I’m glad to here things are improving!

    1. Things have certainly improved! I am just so cross that poor Sophie picked up this bug at the vets place…we thought we had lost her twice but she pulled through.
      Weather seems to be funny everywhere…mother was complaining that it was miserable in ~England…

  16. I hope you’re all fit and well again soon.

    We understand about changes in temperature – a sudden drop and you feel cold even if it’s logically still hot. The body doesn’t cope well with sudden changes.

  17. What a star Leo is to have nursed Sophie after her collision. Thank goodness she survived – how even more awful it would have been to lose her to a bug after surviving the truck.

    It’s a strange thing that we have so many connections with Sophies. A few years ago we didn’t know any. And now we have a granddaughter and three friends all named Sophie.

    Keep getting better, all of you.

  18. Let us hope all your Sophies have as much luck as has had this little girl.
    She is currently munching on an ancient bone she had secreted long ago and keeping everyone at bay with bloodcurdling growls…
    Leo is super with any animal in need: he was not well himself but he kept her tucked up to him and made sure she could take water a sip at a time…

  19. Sorry to hear you folks are under the weather both literally and figuratively. Have you considered the possibility that The Neighbour has taken up voodoo as a hobby? Wet dogs…ah there’s a fragrance more​ memorable than Chanel #5. It all sounds like my stint on Guam including the directions that always included, “Turn left at the coconut tree, no, the third coconut tree.”

  20. Now that is a strong possibility! He has tried just about everything else….
    He has been in court again recently…I was called as a witness. I suspect his lawyers suspected that he was not going to pay them as they asked the sort of open ended questions which allow witnesses to wax eloquent on his many qualities and talents. The poor judge was looking shell shocked…and there were any number of witnesses still to come.
    Luckily the dogs no longer need corks at one end and buckets at the other and Leo is able to get about again…but after a brief sunny interval we are back in the clouds…

    I liked the precision of those directions on Guam…if only people here would learn to differenciate between the first and the third palm…

  21. Here in Northern Ireland people do tend to give you up-to-date directions. In fact if you name something that no longer exists, they’ll smugly inform you that it’s gone. Of course the main characteristic of directions here is that a number of pubs will be involved. Turn right at the Rose and Crown, turn left at the Smuggler’s Arms, keep on past the Castle Tavern etc. I guess one advantage of that is that pubs tend to stay put for decades due to a plentiful supply of heavy drinkers.

    1. Here you are likely to be told to turn left at Freddys Bar….you go to the area, find three bars, none of them Freddys. Enquiry of the inevitable old lady watching the world go by reveals that Freddy died over twenty years ago and she thinks…but is no longer sure…that Freddys bar is now the pulperia (corner shop).
      Except that there is no left turn by the pulperia….

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