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….