Election Fever and Marriage a la Mode

CR presidential candidates

Election time in Costa Rica!

On Sunday people will be voting to send deputies to the National Assembly and electing a President.

There is plenty of choice…thirteen candidates….and no real way of knowing how people will vote on the day.  The polls show that an increasing number of those who intend to vote are not at all sure for whom to vote…..though there is a suspicion that those who intend to vote Liberation are afraid to say so, linked as that party is to institutionalised corruption, but will vote green and white, the party colours, once in the privacy of the booth.

Liberation’s candidate, despite being a front man for the Oscar Arias tendency – think mining concessions in protected areas – claims to be ‘a man of the people’. Well, given that his family let out offices to government institutions on the grand scale I suppose he is a man of the people who let out tower blocks…

The defeated Liberation candidate, an ex President who thought it wise to sit things out in Switzerland for several years after his term of office ended, obviously felt sour as he has been financing a noisy demagogue from a tiny party made up for the elections who wants to rule with a firm hand and is notable for announcing that female judges could only get advancement by giving senior male judges oral sex.

An indignant retort from senior female judges rebutted his claim but, as has been noted, only in respect of oral sex….no all embracing rebuttal has been forthcoming.

Then we have the evangelical whose wife speaks in tongues…the video on Facebook has been removed but not before it had gone viral…and a horde of more mainstream candidates.

No Screaming Lord Sutch for Costa Rica.

The local internet groups have been infested by paid ads from those wishing to represent local people in the National Assembly…an ex mayor proclaims that it is time for a native son to represent the canton, forgetting that people have far from fond memories of his mismanagement of its affairs when in power.

What has he done for the canton? Filled in the holes in the athletic track, apparently. So that’s where all our taxes went…

Another bright spark is using the slogan which brought the retiring President to power  – despite representing a rival party – in the hope that people will think it is more of the same….

And the omnipresent candidate for Liberation is promising water for all.

Water is a sore subject here. Thanks to dire mismanagement and neglect there is a water shortage, incredible as it may seem in an area alive with springs and rivers. So we have been treated to photographs of said candidate standing in front of waterfalls and crouching in front of water tanks…when asked on a ‘phone in exactly how he intended to provide water for all he said he would have to study the question with the Water Board, the very people responsible for the mess up….

But people here have other things on their minds…that public nuisance The Neighbour, he of the crisp white hat with the curly brim, has surfaced again.

He had been quiet, not to speak of invisible, for quite some time, given his problems with the various local Mr. Bigs  after losing their money in a casino, but he has emerged to public view once more…on the arm of a lady in her thirties who had consented to marry him.

To general astonishment as she is

A, half his age and

B, generally held to be in possession of her senses.

He had been seen a couple of times, driving round the Three Valleys in her company, but he had installed himself in her comfortable house on the other side of the town while waiting for the ceremony, following which, totally pie eyed and full of himself, he brought her on another tour to introduce her to those who were still on speaking terms with him.

A distinct failure of judgement on his part as she thus learned that the farms he had pointed out to her as being his were, in fact, those of the people whom they were visiting…

It is possible that the atmosphere had chilled somewhat after that, but The Neighbour, of course, had to excel himself.

A couple of days later he was eating the dinner she had prepared when he took a telephone call on his mobile from one of his barfly friends.

Yes, he bawled, he was set up for life now! It was like  having a free pass to a brothel with the food thrown in….

The food might have been thrown in, but The Neighbour was thrown out, on the spot, on his ear and his possessions thrown after him.

The marriage lasted five days.

The lady is breathing fire and loaded for bear.

Much more exciting than some bald bugger crouching in front of a water tank…!

Danger! Men at Work!

The view from the cafetal
The view from the cafetal

This will be the view from the terrace of our new house up in the cafetal. At the moment only the foundations have been laid and the whole project will take some months to complete as it is an ‘in-house’ job, but it is advancing at a steady forward creep, having overcome the usual administrative hurdles whose purpose might best be expressed as ‘you can’t do that there ‘ere’.

Well, you can, but only after jumping through the usual hoops and parting with extravagant amounts of money in order that your own plans should be signed off by a real architect, who estimates the building costs and takes a fixed percentage fee based on his own estimate….
But exorbitant though that fee might be it’s a damned sight worse if you are rash enough to get him to do the plans as well.
Apart from involving a delay of several months while he takes a holiday on the upfront portion of the fee, then recovers from the holiday, then it’s Christmas and New Year with the family at the beach and only when January ends does he run short enough of money to think of completing the job.
Together with all the others he has been sitting on for months.

You have to be careful, too, that the house does not run the danger of being considered – for tax purposes – as ‘luxurious’ which would bring it into a higher tax bracket.
The money raised from this tax is supposed to be applied to improving the standards of housing of the poor, but as the body supervising this process believes that charity begins at home and is busy rehousing its relatives on the proceeds, both from a fiscal and moral point of view it is better that the house is not classed as luxurious.

We had thought to build a house here before – and then changed our minds. Luckily…. as the Italianate villa with a tower that we had first had in mind would have seen us paying enough annual tax to enable the supervisory body to house the entirety of its sisters and its cousins, whom it reckons up in dozens and its aunts.

We like our original house, tucked in as it is under the hill, but despite adding a balcony and extra bedroom it is bursting at the seams and we need something larger, if only to house the books.

There is, too, the fact that we are not getting any younger and it would make things easier to be on flat ground.
While indoors is fine with the current house, going out involves walking steeply up or downhill to get to garden, stables or pool.
Up on the top, with a bit of leveling, we have a flat area all around the house and on a lower level, another flat area on one side for housing for the sheep, cattle and poultry and on the other side somewhere flat for the veg garden.

Planting on the approaches
Planting on the approaches

A house, however, is nothing without its surroundings, so we spent part of the last rainy season transporting the plants Leo had been growing on in pots up to the house site, to give an avenue of palms interplanted with gingers in the short term…to be ruthlessly hacked out should they start to run amok. Thugs they may be, but they are beautiful when in flower.

gingers in flower
gingers in flower

Not that beauty was lacking to start with….
arriba 018
This tree gives the pink fleshed guavas I use to make jelly and I love its shape.

But the guava now has company.

unluxurious residence for tax purposes...
unluxurious residence for tax purposes…

This bijou residence is where Danilo spends the night – and will continue to spend the night while materials and tools are on the site, as the entrance from the road is now wide open and he worries about theft.

Down towards the road
Down towards the road

He is not alone. He has his two dogs for company, Calamardo and Rowley.
Calamardo is a black and tan specimen, rangy and intelligent.
Rowley is a brown pit bull type, stocky, half blind and single minded.
Both are lovely dogs once you get to know them, but while getting to know Calamardo is easy, approaching Rowley makes the etiquette of ancien regime Versailles look like a picnic.

You have to be accompanied by Danilo as master of ceremonies: you do not arrive on foot – if you wish to retain same.
On arrival, Rowley will hurtle towards you, to be intercepted by Danilo. You may then open the car door – and leave it open for Rowley to sniff you and the car. He circles you widdershins several times and then pees on a tyre.
You are now accepted at court.
The next time you arrive Rowley will hurtle towards you and give you a lick. Half blind he may be but his sense of smell is acute.

I have not discovered what happens if he does not pee on a tyre…but having seen him demolishing the thigh bones of oxen with consummate ease I prefer not to contemplate the prospect.

So far no attempts at theft have been made….but Danilo has had other visitors.

Further along the road is a spot much frequented by those seeking a little privacy for their romantic interludes and not willing or not able to pay for a couple of hours in one of the many ‘pay by the hour’ hotels, the car windows open to the warm night air.
You can estimate the usage by the number of takeaway boxes and cans of soft drink thrown from said windows into the hedge alongside.

Well, the top photograph shows the view in daytime…at night too it is a beautiful spot under the stars and the wide open entrance has, of course, attracted business from the hedgerow.

Danilo reckons it takes just a few moments after the car starts bouncing on its springs before the couple realise that they are not alone….Calamardo at one window, Rowley at another, breathing heavily.
Collapse of stout party guaranteed.

He was telling us about this over coffee this morning when Don Freddy called in.
He looked grave.

You should take a few precautions, you know…

The dogs won’t hurt them….they’re only curious.

No no…you should take a torch and pencil and paper.

Whatever for?

To note down the number plates of course! Don’t you see…you could look them up on the Registro Nacional the next day and threaten to tell their wives!
You could make a fortune!