Ah Maun Dree Ma Ain Weird

Because, as one says in Scotland, ‘Whit’s fur ye’ll no go by ye’ so you are obliged, in the best Calvinist tradition, to submit to your fate.

Which in my case has meant various health problems which have rendered me less than that which I was…no longer up and about from dawn to dusk, forced to lie down, tired for what would once have seemed nothing.

Clearly, it is nothing in comparison with Leo. He is reliant on a wheelchair, struggles to breathe at times, and is easily exhausted….but he keeps buggering on and so shall I.

I am just not used to it.

We have taken on a part time worker to fill the gaps…and he has been a treasure. He has green fingers, is a skilled painter and decorator and the dogs love him.

Thus, for the first time today, he and Danilo wash the dogs. All ten of them.

I had my own system…shut the bedroom doors, assemble the shampoo on the balcony, get the hose set up, coax the thugs into place with biscuits and shut the doors to the house. Then the fun began. Trap first dog against the balustrade with the knees, soak dog, shampoo dog, rinse dog, release dog…repeat until complete.

Carlos and Danilo have another method.

The hose is set up under the orange tree in front of the house and the dogs are transported, one by one, to meet their fate.My contribution is, once again, to shut the bedroom doors and stand by at the front door to prevent re entry by wet, shocked, traumatised dogs intent on shaking off the whole experience in the house.

The two big boys, Einstein and Bunter, are no problem. They love being washed and once it is clear that no more water is forthcoming leg it down to the sheep shed to roll in the bedding there….

Podge is caught in a moment of distraction….chewing the centre out of a cushion to make a nest under the baleful eye of Black Tot, who had been keeping that cushion for herself….and is whisked off for summary judgement by hosepipe. Black Tot removes the remains of the cushion into a a safer place under my desk and sits on it. I sweep up.

Two black pointy ears and an indignant face appear at the door. Podge is displeased.

The others follow….no problem with most, except for Scruffy, the little mum, who hides under the sink and has to be pushed out with a broom, and Napoleon, who has to be taken in a rugby tackle as he scoots across the room….but the group outside the front door is growing, damp and despairing. What feels like scores of reproachful eyes are fixed upon me.

Traitor…..abandoner of animals…..Cruella Deville…..

I take refuge in the kitchen area…only to find two cold wet noses pressed against my leg and two wet bodies jumping up. Auntie and little Zuniga have made it into the house!

But the front door is still shut…..

They have used their…or Auntie’s…. initiative and have crossed the garden, descended to the pasture, ducked under the wire and emerged by the swimming pool, upon whose narrow wall they have made their way to the small balcony and thus to the large and into the house! Damp tails wagging…very pleased with themselves.

Perusal of the swimming pool reveals that the big boys have followed them…but only as far as the wall of the pool…..they do not trust themselves on the wall itself and sit, mournful, under the jocote tree, well adorned with the straw from the sheep shed.

Eventually I relent and let in the remainder of the tribe……apart from Podge and Napoleon the rest have managed to adorn themselves with mud and other substances obtained while rolling in the garden post wash……so next time, it is back to the balcony…but it will be someone else’s knees trapping each dog against the balustrade.

And I find that very hard to accept.

Still….the brain is still working, the memory too and, according to privileged observers, the voice is far from stilled…..so the lum is reeking yet!

Being Seriously Bullied By The Canal & River Trust Ltd to Cruise More during a Pandemic, from Neighbourhood to Neighbourhood…

Messing about in boats is great…but messing about those who live aboard us something else….the post that follows is, I think, self explanatory. One man’s exasperated end of tether response to a threat to ruin his life.

The Diesel-Electric Elephant Company.

The Canal & River Trust Ltd tell me that I may have “trouble renewing my boat licence” because I haven’t cruised enough in the period May 2020 to December 2020… Trouble from them that is.

In seven months of restrictions because of You Know What I’ve cruised nearly seventy miles over a twelve mile range (between three local service areas/my support bubbly-group marina chandlery). Had they but been polite enough to wait out the full year they would have had their silly, self-declared, unilaterally decided, wholly arbitrary minimum and much more, this in spite of the &etc, but no, they insist that their “spotters” have only clocked me less than 3 kilometres distant in that whole period and it’s threat threat threat. This would be the “spotters” who have either been on furlough (to save C&RT money) or who have been on reduced rounds because the pandemic legal restrictions meant…

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Nae Haggis the Nicht?

Burns Night, the twenty fifth of January, is upon us again and Scots at home and abroad will be gathering to toast the Immortal Memory of the Ayrshire poet whom Scots have elevated as the exemplar of the national virtues…..the love of freedom, of equality and amity.

We don’t always live up to the ideals, but Burns Night, like Hogmanay is the reminder that we could do better!

So all over the world, Scots foregather to celebrate in song, poetry and whisky while awaiting the piper to lead in the national dish, that epitome of hamely fare…the haggis, accompanied by its neeps and tatties.

Haggis On A Silver Plater

Apostrophised as ‘Great Chieftain o’ the puddin’- race’, it is ritually disembowelled by the master of ceremonies and divided among the faithful, who fall to with a will.

A word of warning. If you do not know what goes to make up a haggis, do not ask. Should you do so you run the risk of being subject to a very old Scots joke involving King James IV, a miller and the Scots dialect of the time, known as ‘Wha’s intilt?’

Furthermore, if of a delicate disposition it is best you remain in ignorance.

I wrote ‘ all over the world’, but, post Brexit, the haggis can no longer penetrate the defenses of Stalag Europe – unless tinned.

France, as usual, is at the bottom of this dastardly deed.

So keen to punish the U.K. for its departure from the E.U.’s protectionist bosom that it forgets its history in respect of the Scots.

We used to have reciprocal rights of citizenship from the reign of Francois I until 1903 when the French revoked it…..we were their fifth column in their wars against Emgland….are they grateful? Non!

All that is in the past, one might say, but, anecdotally, in my time in France being a Scot gave one kudos….we were the auld alliance. How much that survives among younger French I have no idea but it is clear that it survives not at all in the mind of President Macron and his clique of macronies.

We are an obsolecence.

.So what is a Scot in France to do?

Make it yourself? Need access to sheep, goodness only knows how many regulations, inspections and forms unless ignore all of above and bugger on regardless until denounced.

Buy the French versions? Tripoux d’Auvergne? Pieds et paquets? The dreaded andouillette?

I don’t think so.

Remember the later verses of the ode to the haggis…

Is there that owre his French ragout,
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi perfect scunner,
Looks down wi sneering, scornfu view
On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him owre his trash,
As feckless as a wither’d rash,
His spindle shank a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit;
Thro bloody flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!

Seems to sum up President Macron in one…who would not appreciate the song that should be the national anthem in the place if the dirge that is Flower of Scotland.

Rip Off Costa Rica

Many and various are the rip offs in this country…mostly institutionalised and designed to rob the average citizen to the advantage of the government. Nothing new there….

However, there is another type of rip off which really annoys me…

Foreign goods from non Spanish language countries being sold in Costa Rica require an additional label which describes the contents and, of course, its dubious nutritional value.

Fine.

Heaven forfend that the native population should buy a food item in ignorance of its nature. Despite the fact that to import any foodstuff into Costa Rica requires bureaucracy beyond belief, it is still a good idea that the housewife knows what she is buying.

Not fine, however….

At the application of labels institution…wherever that is…and by whom or by what machine it is done, why is it that the additional label inevitably covers the instructions for use?

Not only that…but the label is particularly adhesive…..

You can try softening it in water…no chance.

Then you try to scrape it off using a knife or your nails…..delicate work and likely to take away the underlying label, the one with the with the instructions, at the same time.

Eventually you either give up altogether or, if of a persistent temperament, try to decipher as much as you can,and then either abandon all hope or open the jar anyway and make the best fist of it that you can.

We do not buy much by way of jars and cans, but Leo had spotted a jar of Jamaican curry mix which he fancied trying, so into the basket it went and, in due course, was exhumed from same to enliven some chicken which I planned to use for lunch.

Then followed the ritual of softening and scraping until I could just about work out that you did not use the whole jar, though quite how much remained concealed….that you browned the chicken and then added the sauce….and by the fact that that was the last line visible indicated to me that you added no water.

Chicken browned, about a third of the jar’s contents added, stirred, covered and, after a bit of thought, cooked on low heat.

On the table, rice served and finally the chcken curry….the sauce thick about the meat.

I thought it would enliven the chicken…..it certainly enlivened us!

Ye Gods and little fishes! It all but lifted Leo out of his wheelchair!

After a mad rush for dry bread to subdue the blaze and a mango to calm things down Leo said

‘I think we’ll look for a jar where the sticker covers the front label next time….We might not know what it is, but at least we will know how to cook it.’

Lang May Your Lums Reek

Here we are at the ending of a year that has brought pestilence and pain to many, has revealed the shaky foundations of our liberties and left us wondering when the next blow will strike.

Best it is buried deep, but not forgotten.

Its message being that we should take care to whom we surrender the power to direct our lives because the answer to the question ‘Quid custodiet ipsos custodes’ is no one but themselves. They can lie, cheat and steal with impunity if so inclined…and most of them seem to be on a pretty steep incline!

Still, a new year dawns and its hope brings us together, even if only virtually – preferably with a wee drappie o’t to ease the rough path ahead of us.

And now we’ve partaken of the clochan dichter – the penultimate glass – to warm the cockles of our hearts, we’ll prepare to set off to face whatever shall befall us in the coming year, with the deoch an doris…the parting glass itself.

To blazes with clean air acts….keep those lums reeking in the year to come!

They Seek It Here, They Seek It There……

And still the hunt goes on.

Amidst all the vexed questions of the day – the virus, the collapse of the main road to the coast, the strange case of the hostel for ex criminals which either does – if you have eyes – exist or – if you are on the council payroll – does not, the failure to produce an annual budget …..well, you name it, the local council haven’t done it – our lords and masters have but one thing on what they are pleased to call their minds….

Where is the Christmas tree?

It was there in the park last year….but now that Christmas is upon us yet again it seems to have disappeared, leaving no bauble behind to mark its passage.

The deputy mayor has announced that no stone has been left unturned in order to find it…which might explain the total inaction of said council and staff on other matters, though cynics aver that no one employed by the council would consent to turn over a stone and that their union would have demanded that contractors – related to union officials – be hired to undertake so dangerous an occupation. Other cynics hold to an alternative theory…..that were you to turn over stones in the council building you might find where the bodies are buried and no one involved in local government can contemplate that possibility with equanimity.

Dark suggestions have been made that the disappearance of tree and ornaments coincided with the departure from office of the last mayor, a member of the PUSC party whose name to an anglophone conjures up images of badly wrapped bandages over running sores, which quite accurately describes its general policies. But it seems unlikely…even here, people would notice if he put up a towering, luminous monstrosity in his garden and questions might be posed.

As the suggestions appear to emanate from the incoming party – Liberation – it might be thought that they are disappointed at having been robbed of the chance to liberate the Thing for themselves, but they are really scraping the barrel if they hope to smear the ex mayor with the disappearance of a Christmas tree when there is so much else with which to hope to smear him. The only problem being that to set up a proper smear campaign might remind people of the last time Liberation held the office of mayor.

There could be confusion.

So the tree it is.

There is a Costa Rican tradition of businesses contributing to the public good….in emergencies following earthquakes and floods their local shops take collections and their lorries make deliveries where needed.

They also contribute locally….currently one business is busy transforming a building in the park from what had once been consecutively an aquarium, a police post, a drug dealers’ bunker, boarded up, to a public loo – a much needed facility to those who spend most of the day on the benches in the shade watching the world go by.

Except that the trees offering the most shade to the benches have been cut down and the park has been closed off since the virus struck, leaving the park bench brigade to assemble on the benches on the streets surrounding the park in promiscuous disregard of distancing advice and at grave risk of sunburn now the rainy season is over.

And the work was begun under the aegis of the previous administration and only now is it ‘discovered’ that the appropriate building permits were not in order….and, horror of horrors, the firm concerned had their logo clearly visible on the bandstand, which they had also renovated without the appropriate permits….

I have a theory that they also donated the Christmas tree and have decided not to erect it this year in view of the ingratitude of the current administration, but that is only a guess. I have no inside information as social life has declined thanks to this blasted bug and the telephone and e mail are no substitute for the person leaning forward over the table to say

‘Don Freddy tells me that…’

Mark you, even the telephone, etc., would not have helped as the local development committee decided to sort out the back road into town and managed to take out my telephone lines in the process. Then the telephone repair man could not get through, thanks to said committee’s JCB blocking the road so he reported that he could not gain access to the property and messed off. Only by using my mobile ‘phone to ask when the work was to be done did I discover that officially the ticket had been closed and that I would have to open a new report and wait three more days for someone to show up.

Still, there are ways of passing the time.

A puppy has been inserted into the household….I had forgotten the delights of a puppy’s presence…beating it off with a loo brush while trying to pull up the knickers which it has seized in its razor sharp teeth….hopping on one foot to recover the shoe for the other foot which it has taken to hide under the bed….disengaging it from the curtains….trying to find the loo brush which it has dragged into the garden….

With or without a Christmas tree, but with a puppy, it’s a great life if you don’t weaken.

Not our puppy……but similar…..

‘I have to follow them, I am their leader.’

A quote attributed to Ledru-Rollin, opponent of Louis-Philippe, King of the French, and whose inflammatory speeches at workmen’s gatherings were influential in bringing about the overthrow of the latter in the Revolution of 1848.

Supposed to have been said as he saw a mob passing in the street during the unrest in Paris, thus inducing him to climb out through the window to join them…’Il faut bien que je les suive, puisque je suis leur chef.’ An early example of false news, as it was related by an opponent when Ledru-Rollin was in exile in England – ironically, as he had published a book ‘De la Decadence de l’Angleterre’ – and could not easily respond to the mockery.

Needless to say, once in power he crushed the hopes of the working class..les bourgeois c’est comme des cochons…..and became a peripheral figure, distrusted by all sectors of political opinion.

We have about any number of would-be Ledru-Rollins in Costa Rica at the moment, anxious to

A…harness to their chariots the popular protests at government proposals to seek a loan from the IMF and the fiscal consequences of same

or

B…crush said protests by pretending to lead them.

In brief, the Costa Rican economy has been a basket case for years. Whereas in Ledru-Rollin’s France one hundred families were said to run the country, here some thirty families do likewise and the result has been tax evasion on the grand scale, failure to develop the country’s natural resources, and clientism on a scale undreamt of by the Roman Empire.

Like France, the country is controlled by an unholy troika of big business, the public sector unions and the government, sucking on the teat of the tax payer and producing solely excrement.

The last president tried to reform public finances but was stymied at every turn by the National Assembly and was eventually ambushed by the cement monopoly, setting up a fake supplier of Chinese cement whose products were granted priority in import by the President, only to be revealed – by the monopolists – as a scam, which brought his period in office to an insalubrious close.

The current incumbent, coming to office on the promises of his party, promptly set up a ministry of all the lack of talents from his own and other parties in what was said to be a government of national unity…more like a government to guard the interests of the troika.

It has finally dawned on the government that its expenses exceed its income…mostly because the various lockdowns have managed to close any number of the small businesses whose tax payments covered the bloated public sector..the clientism referred to above. Since the 1970s, the public sector was used as a means of gaining votes…the more posts, the more perks, the more votes for the incumbent governments. The public sector unions will not give up these perks willingly, neither will a government, established as it is, force them to do so.

The protests began when the President announced that he was seeking a loan from the IMF, and, in order to pay it back, he was proposing further tax measures.

Well, people have had enough of ‘further tax measures’ recently…the imposition of Value Added Tax, for example…..so this was not a popular measure…less so when it was revealed that in addition to the local property tax, the double of that tax would have to be paid directly to Hacienda – the Treasury.

Imagine, it…three times your property tax. And, unlike local government, Hacienda can confiscate your property for non payment.

And then it was discovered that Hacienda was uprating the value of properties…..

Spontaneously, people began to block the major roads – the traditional form of protest from the ground up.

Immediately failed politicians moved in to become the self proclaimed leaders of the movement….some only to denounce it as being fuelled by the drug mafia…the same mafia effectively tolerated by the government. Others pushed for links with the unions – another mafia – while the government ordered in the police with tear gas to disperse the protesters

After weeks of blockades and confontation the government agreed to hold talks…but with whom?

With the troika, of course…..

But there must have been representation from the people?

Of course there was.

In one area a Vice President assumed the voice of the people…in another, the First Lady….

Current democracy in action.

Begone Dull Care, Forever Be Gone From Me

This song came back to me as we sit out the progress of the bug that governments have allowed to paralyse the world. It came from the song book we used in junior school, containing all sorts of stuff which is now probably banned on the grounds of – pick and mix at your pleasure – race, gender, imperialism, disability, cultural appropriation and having a tune.

We have been at home, have had limited contact with people, have not gone out much, the height of wild excitement being a trip to the wholesale fish market – plenty of fresh, if fishy, air and wide open spaces.

Have we been bored? Are we driving each other up the wall?

As it happens, no.

Given Leo’s illnesses we are used to shutting ourselves away whenever there is a ‘flu outbreak so doing so now has not been traumatic and life has carried on much as usual. All we did was to buy another freezer to stock up on food for the dogs, even though we have had to refill it a number of times since all this started. Fifty kilos of chicken carcasses and the same of offcuts does not go far between ten dogs…nine of our own and Danilo’s dog who uses us as an hotel since she is an old lady and does not like walking home in the rain. Even the refills have been easy….we ring up the day before, fix a collection time and the chap meets us on the pavement to exchange carcasses for money. No need to go into the shop. I go to the feria each week for veg…almost open air and well regulated…and that is about it.

The downside is that regular hospital procedures have been ditched so my cataract op has been postponed – probably until the Greek calends – which has proved to be a real pain in the proverbial and promises to be more so when the summer sets in in about a month’s time…a hat and dark glasses do nothing for my comfort, let alone my appearance. Think the Mafia crossed with Jemima Puddle-duck.

Mark you, having a garden makes a difference. In the morning we can have breakfast on the porch on the sunrise side of the house……but you have to make haste as there is a pecking order as the sun rises in the sky. It does not do to keep their lordships waiting…

We like the plants…they like a warm table top

Here is a close up of one of the gingers…the emperor’s staff

And if we had had any sense we would have transferred this to the breakfast area too…

By the way, can anyone spot the fine example of Costa Rican carpentry work in the top photograph?

But life is not all isolation, books and the internet….the gossip still reaches us – by e mail, by ‘phone and by long distance shouting.

The Neighbour, he of the crisp white hat with a curly brim, has surfaced again after a long period of recovery from his five day marriage. He had not been seen in his usual watering holes even before the bug hit the country, but it appears that he has not been idle.

Having failed to interest the local car mechanic’s wife in a brief encounter for fifty thousand colones he found it best not to get out of the car on the approach road to his lane – the mechanic having cousins living the length of said road – so had to spread his net wider. As far as the next little town, in fact, to attract the mother of our local Transito policeman – public enemy number one of all those without the appropriate licence, papers or plates for their vehicle. Of which there are many.

There are advantages on both sides…she is lonely as people avoid her because of her son’s reputation, and he is persona non grata in more places then there are personae…

I knew no more than this until Saturday afternoon. The sheep were kicking up long before feeding time and as I changed into my outdoor shoes to go down to investigate someone was klaxoning at the gate.

it is quite a trek…not helped by uncooperative knees which do not care for downward slopes..this photograph is taken at about the halfway point between house and gate.

A figure in black and white waited at the gate on his motorbike…theTransito.

What the blazes did he want?

After the ritual polite exchanges he came to the point.

Did I or anyone in my household, have a motorbike?

No….only electric wheelchairs.

They are not involved, senora.

Did I have friends with motorbikes?

No…not to my knowledge.

Then why has someone on a motorbike entered your property?

I have no idea…..did you see them do so?

No, but where else can it have gone?

I pointed to the assembly of shacks over the road where my neighbours carry out their nefarious activities. Fat chance of them letting anyone in…

What about there?

Could I check that it is not on your property first?

In case the rider is going to rob me?

No, I have no jurisdiction there…that would be a matter for the investigative branch.

In which case, senor, no.

Grumpily he heaved his bike over the road and I went in to see what was up with the sheep, to find that I had an extra member of the flock….a young man who had pushed his motorbike behind the trailer full of sugar cane destined for the sheep’s afternoon tea and was tucked up in a corner away from the road.

I knew him by sight…he works at the property at the end of the valley whose owner harbours dreams of opening a tourist attraction complete with massage parlours and tarts, dreams which are on hold as the bug has decimated the tourist industry…even that sort of tourist industry.

His bike, of course, had no number plates and propably neither he nor it had the appropriate papers.

He apologised for scaring the sheep and said he had to escape the Transito as he could not afford to put things in order on his pay and needed the bike to get to work.

But what is he doing down here?

Memo and the woman sit on their balcony with binoculars…they can see both roads from there and they call the son if one of us moves. Luckily he can’t always come…..

The police motorbike started up and pulled away.

Now he’ll wait at the bridge and get one of his mates to wait at the top of the back road….

Then you’d better leave the bike here – you can lock it to the trailer – and go home on foot. Better a long walk than having the bike confiscated. Pick it up on Monday.

The which he did. The traffic policeman had indeed been waiting for him as he had predicted.

Now, I know that the regulations help to keep unroadworthy vehicles out of circulation and I know too that the gangs of kids on souped up bikes render some neighbourhoods unbearable in the evenings…but in these times of economic hardship I think the government would do better to lower the fees for papers and plates and expand driving test programmes rather then coming down hard on those who need the transport to get to work.

I wonder if The Neighbour and his inamorata are on commission….

We Do It Our Way

Tour de France riders, eat your heart out. Forget the water bottles and snacks handed out from the cars, do it the Costa Rican way…find a passing cow and help yourself! You need to know what you’re doing though, or you might risk a hefty hoof in your derailleurs which would leave you looking more jaundiced than your jersey – but at least you can be sure you’ll pass a dope test.

Not that Andrey Amador, the only Costa Rican riding in the Tour de France, will be looking for a handy cow.

A long serving Grand Tour ‘domestique’ he is riding for Team Ineos this year and Costa Rica will be keeping an eye on his prowess – something to keep minds off the blasted bug which has hit the country.

In which respect, the wheels have fallen off the campaign to contain it.

All went well in the early days. Existing hospitals were reorganised, a special hospital set up and the populace told to keep themselves to themselves to protect the vulnerable. Those presenting with symptoms were treated with the hydrochloriquine and zinc cocktail which produced excellent results save in the case of those with grave pre existing health problems. Then the WHO banned that treatment, so the hospitals turned to the use of dexametasone and steroids (anti inflamatories), oxygen therapy – including EMCO which is an extracorporean oxygenation machine – interleukin inhibitor and antibiotics -when the patient is reinfected by other pathogens. Not so effective…..but funding depends on WHO approval.

It also depends, it appears, on the numbers of cases reported.

Initially, when the cases began to spike, it was put down to the number of Nicaraguan ‘informal’ workers coming down for the fruit plantations’ picking and packing campaign. The Nicaraguan government deny there is a problem with the bug – even hold fiestas at which attendance is strongly recommended should you wish to keep in good odour with said government – and encourage their nationals to seek care in Costa Rica. Care which Costa Rica will provide nomatter the status of the person seeking it

No doubt the influx is a factor. Imagine a couple of infected people arriving and living in the squalid, hugger mugger conditions provided…or who go to visit family living in Costa Rica…

But the numbers have jumped…have high jumped….and anecdotal evidence is that when one person is tested positive, all those in their household are counted as positive also….inflate the numbers and increase the funding.

We had had confidence in our health service…and their management of the situation.

We still have confidence in the dedication of the medical staff – even if they cannot use the most effective tools.

We no longer have any confidence in the way in which government and the management of the health service are handling things.

Contracts for masks which are useless handed out to some tart running a communications business….numbers inflated to drum up funding…which ends up in whose pocket?

Good treatment banned, leaving staff to do their best with what they have….

Government ministers giving their statements all masked up…then being filmed mask free in close bikinied company on a yacht off the Pacific coast….or tucked up in de luxe hotels on the beach – mask free, of course.

Vehicle restrictions which all would accept in the cause of reducing infection, but which have turned into a money tree as traffic police impose fines for all and any infraction, hitting hardest, not the fly by nights, but the hard up guy who depends on his unlicensed motorbike to get to work to feed his family. Why it does not dawn on government that the high price of getting a licence, and for keeping a vehicle on the road hit the most needy hardest is beyond me…but Costa Rica prides itself on being eco friendly, so the poor continue to pay while the country flaunts its green credentials.

And now, having been so slow to close the borders, we are to allow tourists back in. To be fair, as a tourist, you stand little risk, unless you decide to visit the shanty towns around San Jose, the shacks housing the workers in the banana and pineapple plantations or the hospitals, but the risk to the local population of allowing tourists to enter with minimal restrictions is something else…just so that the largely foreign owned tourist trade can recoup its losses.

Tourism counts for only some eight per cent of GDP…but it has clout…and doubtless the transfer of funds from one pocket to another.

And in our little town, the reported case of one of the employees at the Walmart outlet has been made much of….whereas the absence from service of staff at the locally owned supermarket has been passed over in silence…

This virus has been presented as equivalent to the Black Death, which is nonsense. We have the means to combat it if not to utterly defeat it.

But perhaps the consequences mght be similar…..either people submit to the ukazes of their increasingly detached governments, or they strike out to free themselves of unjust restrictions in search of a better life for themselves and their families.

I fear that it will be the former…I would hope it would be the latter.

In my short time here I have seen the changes…worried about the future for my friends’ kids and grandchildren…it was an oligarchal society, but one which recognised that social justice reinforced its rule.

This virus has ripped up the underbelly of that society….but will people submit…or react?

Costa Rica was never a paradise…but it was socially stable….will our friends’ grandchildren find that they didn’t know what they had until it was gone?

And will this virus be the catalyst?