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.
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.
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!