December 22, 2006

It's In The Upper 70's in Costa Rica Right Now...

Since the real purpose of a blog is to whine about what's going on in your life, I'll whine about the weather here. Here's a picture of my poor car being consumed by snow yesterday morning. But now it's out and the four wheel drive on the ol' Boobaru is kicking some ass. Unfortunately, the two wheel drive on all our neighbors' cars is kicking my ass, since I keep having to help dig out and push their cars to the main roads.
Whine whine whine. Oh well.
Stay inside and enjoy the weather from the comfort of your own home, if possible. And cancel the "mayday" from my previous posting--I got the tonic water and limes just fine.

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December 20, 2006


I'm stuck in a blizzard and may only have a minute or two of internet time. If you read this posting, please come over right away and bring either tonic water and limes, or Kahlua. I have plenty of vodka to share, and we can both reap the benefits while watching Friday The 13th or Day of the Dead (thanks for loaning them to me, Dustin and Sam...hope you're both safe from the cold and less bored than me). We can also play LEGO Star Wars!
I also have chips and some peanuts. It's a veritable party, and all that's missing is you!
Or, you can also call me. It's pretty boring here, and I was even thinking of doing something situps or something. Please save me from myself!

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December 19, 2006

Thank You Very Mooch

This posting is to publicly announce an ambitious project that I have embarked on that will change the way we perceive the world. For the whole month that I'm here in Colorado, it is my intention to not make a trip to the grocery store to buy food. That's it; let the game begin!
The night I arrived, as well as the first day here, I had enough leavings in the house from when I left in August, although they were of a canned and/or frozen variety. The next day was looking up, as my sister had a Christmas party in the evening. I "helped prepare and clean," which mainly meant I washed some cookie trays while eating random food-y objects. That also covered dinner, as well as breakfast the next morning. The afternoon meal was provided to me by my dear friends Dustin and Sam, who bought me a burrito as big as my upper arm, in exchange for helping them move. Yesterday was a mooch's dream, since I was able to get a free brunch by driving to Denver to eat with my grandma and relatives in the mountains. In the afternoon, I went to my friend Martha's house for the famous Pierogi Sunday, where (free) tasty Polish food ruled the day. Finally, today I still managed to live off the food I commandeered from my family's house, as well as part of a frozen pizza at Dustin and Sam's new house (thanks guys!)
So, please wish me the best of luck, and keep me in your thoughts and prayers as I embark on this historic mission.

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December 15, 2006

Back in the U.S.S.A.

So, I'm back in the US for a month or so to visit family and friends and enjoy the weather before I head back to the barren tundra of Costa Rica.
The trip here and everything was OK, save for a layover in Dallas, complete with a shitty and slow immigration process (but is there really another kind?). Dallas airport also gave me a few more reasons to dislike Texas, as if anyone really needed more. First of all, the pilot didn't blast the theme song from the 80s show "Dallas" when we were flying over the city, which would have helped its cause immensely. Secondly, the airport has a convoluted tram system. And finally, on said tram system, you have to hear innumerable disturbing conversations in Texas accents. I actually heard a lady say (and this is an exact quote): "After being pregnant for years and years on end, the only way that's coming off is with a scalpel and thousands of dollars." They stepped off the tram right after that, so one can only really speculate at what they were discussing, but let's just assume the worst.
Anyhow, so summarize, Texas can ram it, Colorado is still OK, and you should call me if you want to hang out while I'm here.

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December 7, 2006

Christmas Is In The Air?

It's weird to think that it's December. For my whole life, when December rolled around, there was cold to roll in with it. Actually, in Colorado and Germany, the cold often began to roll in as early as September. If the weather in Colorado in December can be described as "shit," then the weather in Germany was more like "colder than shit." But here, there's not been snow since...ever, as far as I can tell. I asked all of my students if any of them had seen snow, and in each class, maybe 10% had seen snow in real life. And for some reason, most of them had seen it in New Jersey.
In any case, the weather here now is pretty warm and generally getting warmer and sunnier. And there are palm trees on the street, the leaves of which never fall off due to autumn arriving. I'm very concerned about heading back to Colorado next Wednesday, although I've been assured that the golbal warming is working and it's pretty toasty in Colorado right now.
Still, it's hard to find traces of Christmas if you don't know where to look. Especially since I've not heard the incessant and repetitive playing of Christmas carols so common in the fatherland.
I know, I hate Christmas music, so I must be a Grinch or a Scrooge or a Communist. Well, bite me, because most of the Christmas songs you hear at department stores suck. I especially loathe the "hip," "modern," or "rocking" Christmas music, such as traditional "favorites" like "Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree," "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer," and--especially--"Jingle Bell Rock." All those songs can come up to Grinch Mountain and kiss my ass.
God has been quite merciful indeed, then, by sparing me from those songs, but he has saved a special treat to punish all my life's sins so far: the song "Feliz Navidad." If you've ever heard me rant about music, you know that this is at the top of my list of most hated songs, and now that I've heard numerous renditions, remixes, and distortions of it while living in a Spanish-speaking country, I can really say with conviction that this is probably the worst and most annoying song ever written.
Just so you don't consider me a total asshole, though, let me say this: I am a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to my celebration of Christmas. I pretty much like all the traditional songs sang at Christmas Eve church services, where the songs are sang they way they were written, and not whispered out by Amy Grant, distorted by a 35-piece bell choir, or disgraced by Jingle Dogs (here let me apologize to many various members of my nuclear and extended families). I also really like how here many houses make a big deal out of putting up a nativity set in their front yard. Although there are still gaudy inflated Frosty The Snowman and Santa Claus knock-offs, one gets the feeling that here they actually DO remember the "reason for the season," as one so often hears in the U.S.
As a final note, let me say that I have always hated wind. I always associated it with negative things, like Wyoming, or a tree near our house that continually thumped the roof when it was windy at night. At least it did for most of my childhood until the family finally decided to cut it down. So when the "windy season" started here a few weeks ago, I was a bit annoyed about it. But two nights ago, I was talking to a taxi driver on the way back from Berlin, and I mentioned how I didn't mind cold weather, but I really hated wind. He said, "Oh, I really like wind." I asked him why and he replied, "Well, it reminds me of Christmas. They even call them the 'Winds of Christmas' here, and it helps you get into the spirit of the season." So, I guess my lesson for today is something like "When in Rome, there are different strokes for different folks." And now I don't hate wind quite as much.

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December 6, 2006

Another Ass-Related Posting

My brother Paul took this picture when we were in Switzerland this last summer. I always liked it and wanted to post it, so hopefully he won´t get pissed if I do.

I posted it cause a lot of streets smell like shit here. Not like European shit smells, but still kinda bad. It´s weird how sewers and trash smell different in different countries...
Anyhow, I´ve already plugged Paul´s blog, but it´s still good, and since I´m ripping off his picture, I figured I´d do it again:

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Give It Some Gas

Hi there,
I don't often post links to other websites, in case the address changes or the link doesn't work, but I'm hoping this one will. The title was "Flatulence forces emergency landing."
Weird shit.

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December 1, 2006

Some Berlin Pictures

Here are a few photos that I took when I went to Berlin last weekend to hang out at Ángela´s place. It was the first day that I´ve been there that didn´t involve fog and/or rain. Before, I had always joked that it was like going into some magical misty mountain kingdom, since every time I went up the mountain, I eventually was met with a wall of fog. But finally, after a few months, a clear day:

Here´s one of Ángela surveying her domain: mountains, far-off fog, and spiky plants.

If you ask anyone from San Ramón about Berlin, most haven´t been there, but most know about the radio and TV towers, since you can see them from the city. Here they are in all their glory.

Here´s some tree that I think is cool. Her niece´s boyfriend told me about three times what it was, but like many Spanish words, the name was lost almost immediately to my vacuous mind.

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November 28, 2006

A Crock of Diles

Gracias al Dios, 'cause the school year's almost over. Only two more days, and one of them is teachers turning in grades and tidying up, and the other is a party. A party which will include another humiliating soccer game of teacher vs. student. Hopefully more humiliating for the students this time, and less for the teachers. Specifially me.
Anyhow, after a meeting this afternoon I was getting a ride back home from my fellow teachers Sofie and Lilly. Lilly is from Quebec and teaches French, and Sofie is Belgian, so they usually speak to each other in French. Which is fine, cause it allows me to space out in the back seat. Until Lilly yells "cocodrilo!" and points out the window. Which is not so fine, cause it´s in a little field/swamp-type-area just a few blocks from my house. Evidently she´s even seen other crocodiles there, too.
When I moved to this country, I was pretty sure that my fear of snakes would be sufficient to cover my paranoia/phobia needs, but now they had to add crocodiles to the quickly growing list:

(In order of likelihood and scariness, from least scary and least likely to most scary and most likely)
-Soccer field implosion into another dimension
-Abuela poisoning my morning rice and beans
-While in shower, slipping and falling on ironically slippery non-slip mat
-Receiving shock from electrical device connected to shower head (see photo in Sept. 14 post)
-Getting attacked by crocodiles, apparently
-Microbus crash
-Coffee overdose
-Snakes. Lots and lots of snakes.

When I was with Ángela and her niece this weekend, I was saying how I wanted to get a machete to protect myself against snakes. It seemed like a good idea, especially since everyone walking on the road to school seems to be carrying one. Somehow, me being here and owning a machete can´t be wrong, because it just seems so RIGHT. Anyhow, they said a good machete might only run me about 7 bucks, so I may even get two--one for each hand. After my Christmas bonus, I may even consider ways to attach more machetes to my legs and/or some broomsticks, in order to avoid getting close enough to look a snake in the eye before cutting it's evil head from it's demonic body. And I don´t want snake blood on my face. That alone might kill me.
But then they told me about how Ángela's grandmother had found a snake in her bed one night, and how snakes come indoors a lot during the windy season, seeking shelter. The windy season is starting right about now. Add that one to the list, I guess.

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November 21, 2006

I Wrothed Some Grapes

It´s been windy for the last 30 hours or so, and since I hate wind, I decided to read a book. When I was in Florida, I picked up John Steinbeck´s book "Travels With Charley: In Search of America." I just thought I´d mention that this book was really great, and that you should read it if you´re looking for a good travel-themed book. Although the book was written in the early 60s, it´s surprisingly not very dated, and it´s very interesting. I especially like the author´s observations while in the southern U.S., which was already beginning to erupt in racial tensions when he visited.
I´m not sure why I´d not really read much by Steinbeck before. I know that he´s considered one of the Great American Authors, but then again, so is Faulkner. And after reading about half of Faulkner´s "The Sound and the Fury," I wanted to dig him up and reanimate his corpse just to beat him with the shovel I used to dig him up.
But all joking aside, I do seriously remember reading Steinbeck´s book "The Pearl" in either elementary school or junior high and not liking it. I´m not entirely sure, but I think that the main character might have died at the end, and that´s one thing I kind of hate in books (Oh God...if only I could warn Little Elementary School Ryan Sitzman that if he was looking to avoid books with depressing endings, he should probably steer clear of studying German Literature full time in graduate school!). Plus, "The Pearl" was likely assigned reading for an English class. That pretty much condemns any book to being hated by schoolchildren, no matter how good a read it is. It also makes me wary when choosing reading for my 10th grade students, lest they trash one of my favorite books.
Hmm...what the hell was I talking about? Ah yes, Steinbeck. So, it turns out he´s a great author! I believe my friend Brad From Iowa recommended me this book around 8 or 9 years ago when we were exchange students in Germany, and I have meant to read it ever since. So if you´re looking for a good book that you can get through as quickly as something from the "Young Readers" section at Borders, check out "Travels With Charley." And post a comment on the blog telling me what you think of it.

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Heir Plug

I just thought I´d promote my brother Paul´s blog for a moment, now that he´s cleaned it up and it´s appropriate for the whole family (making it a healthy alternative to the fattening and profanity-laden Sitzblog). You can read his blog at:
He´s in Australia for a few years "studying," and his blog is really good. It´s only eclipsed in humor and wittiness by this very blog you´re reading now.
-The Management

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November 20, 2006

Earth-Shaking Events

From the title of this post, you might be expecting some major big news, but in reality, this posting is literally-named: Indeed, I experienced my first earthquake this weekend! I was pretty damn excited! I was eating lunch at Ángela´s house in Berlin, and all of a sudden the room started shaking a little bit. At first I assumed the washing machine was just off-balance, since the same sensation happened a few times a day in my old apartment when people would do laundry. But after a moment, it occurred to me that her family doesn´t have a washing machine, and that this must be the real deal! It was a pretty small earthquake, and Ángela immediately took the wind out of my sails by proclaiming it a "temblor" as opposed to a "terromoto." I guess that´s the difference between "The Big One!" and "An Earthquake For Pussies." Still, whether it was a tremor or an earthquake, I was pretty excited, since the closest I´d come to an earthquake before was when I was living in Regensburg. One morning while I was sleeping there, I felt rumbling in my room. However, it turned out to just be a delivery truck revving its engine outside of my frail, medieval building.
Not much else has been going on of note, though. I am still playing a bit of soccer most Monday nights, but I won´t be able to tonight because some of my damn 6th graders were cheating on their final, and now ALL of them have to retake the exam (which I, of course, need to re-write). So I decided to make it so hard that when they look at it, their eyes will start bleeding! Ha ha ha!! I guess I´m getting a bit annoyed with some of the tykes and their end-of-the-year restlessness. I was proctoring an exam for my 4th graders, and I told them if they didn´t stop talking, I´d cut off their lips and throw them to my dog...
Vacation, anyone??
Anyhow, no soccer tonight, which is sad because there was this one dude named Orlando that kind of adopted me last week. He sort of looks like Costa Rica´s answer to Iranian president Mahmoud tennis shoes. He had finally learned my name, and kept shouting, "Ryan!..." followed by some unintelligible shouting in Spanish about what I should do with the ball. Bless his heart, because even if I could have understood what he was saying, I probably wouldn´t have had the physical aptitude to actually carry out any of his suggestions. Oh well. At the end of the game, though, he said I played "excelente!" I´m still learning Spanish, but I´m pretty sure that means "Not bad at all, friend...not bad at all."
So until next time, be "excelente"!

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November 11, 2006

The 11th´s Hour

When I wrote the descriptions of my various classes the other day, I felt like I was short-changing my 11th graders. Then again, I only had them in my class for a month. They stopped coming to class because they had to take their standardized tests in order to graduate. But then the very night I neglected to mention that class, something very interesting happened involving them.
I had gone to bed at around 11 or so. For some reason I had very quickly started feeling like crap about a half an hour before I went to bed. Even before laying down, I felt a huge chill come over my whole body. I couldn’t stop shaking for around 20 minutes, so I got up to ask Abuela for another blanket. She gave me one, and I went back to bed, still shaking and feeling nauseous. I was really tired from a long day, and shaking and shivering like crazy, so I decided to pray a bit before I went to sleep. My thinking wasn’t too clear, but I believe my logic was that I should be sure to pray in case I died in the night. I admit, I probably should have DONE something to prevent dying if it was really that serious, but like I said: I was tired.
I managed to fall asleep, apparently, because after a while I began to have a really strange dream. I was hearing acoustic guitar, and a group of singers singing in Spanish. During the verses, I heard my name being shouted: “Ryaaaaannnn! Ryaaaaannnn!” That was kind of weird, but I just figured I was misunderstanding the lyrics…after all, I always thought that on “The One I Love” R.E.M. was shouting “Ryan!” when it was actually “Fire!” or “Riot!” Either way, it wasn’t Ryan. So hearing my name this time didn’t strike me as odd. But then there was a pause in the music, and I woke up. I was in my dark room, and I wasn’t sure why I had woken up. Then I heard a voice call again: “Ryaaaannnn! Wake up!” That really confused me, because I already WAS awake. In my stupid and fevered state, I was convinced for a minute that I actually had died. The fact that everything was still dark was more confusing, though: I couldn’t figure out whether I’d made it to heaven or hell. But the voices kept calling my name, and another song began.
Then the obvious, although strange truth occurred to me: the voices and singing were coming from outside my house. I got up, still very confused, and walked to the front door. The earlier shivering had led me to put on shorts and a shirt, so I wasn’t wearing just underwear, which is what I usually sleep in. This was fortunate, because when I opened the door, my nine 11th graders (plus one guitar player) were standing in front of my door singing a song in Spanish. I was majorly confused, especially since the song was a romantic ballad that talked about the need to buy a gun to protect your heart and shoot a woman if she hurts you. Very strange. Anyhow, when the song ended, I think they sensed my complete lack of comprehension, so they explained to me that when 11th graders finish classes in Costa Rica, they go door-to-door to their teachers’ houses and serenade them! I laughed and congratulated them, and left them all with a handshake or a kiss on the cheek, since I had no idea what else I was supposed to do with a group of students singing to their barefoot teacher at 1 in the morning.
They headed off on their merry way, and I went back inside, by this time not feeling sick anymore. When I passed by Abuela’s room, which is right at the front of the house, I had expected her (and the rest of the neighborhood) to be very annoyed, but I just heard her say “Que simpaticos!”—“How nice!” I told her good night and went to bed again. How nice indeed…

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More Goofy Pictures

They don´t really celebrate Halloween in Costa Rica, but for some reason Naomi still had an Incredible Hulk mask when she came to visit Abuela one day. So, we took a few pictures:

Here´s me with Ángela.

Here´s Naomi looking like the Incredible Sulk.

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Goofy Pictures

Here are a few random pictures taken a week or two ago. I took them when Naomi, Abuela´s great-granddaughter, came by the house. She is a fun little girl, and comes over a few times a week. Anyhow, this evening she was putting yarn on our heads and calling it a wig, so I took a few pictures because I thought it was funny. Plus it looks like spaghetti.

Here´s one of Naomi.

Here´s one of me and Abuela.

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November 9, 2006


Not that anyone asked, but I figured I´d mention a bit about my teaching job here. It´s a really good gig, and it´s one of the major reasons that I´m staying here in Coast Tasty another year. As you may know, I´m teaching English to 4th, 6th, and 10th graders. For a month or so I was teaching 11th graders, also, but then they graduated. I generally like all my classes, especially on an individual-student basis, although they all have their occasional pain-in-the-ass moments.
The 6th grade class is especially interesting. Apparently, some time between the end of 5th grade and the start of 6th grade, all the students´ minds melt and they are rendered nearly incapable of functioning as normal human beings. They can only communicate in shouts, punches, and taunts (preferrably in the form of an "oooooooh!" that the whole class can take part in). The kids turn into concentrated balls of confusion and budding hormones. This gives them the instinct to try to be cool, which is directly countered by the latent nerdiness of their earlier years. At least that seems to be my observation of my class. Plus, they are really moody. At first I had thought that my 6th graders hated the shit out of me, since they always were whining, distracting, and talking in class, and doing their damnedest to not do anything, if at all possible. For the first week or two, I´d come home in the afternoon and have a ringing in my ears that was strangely reminiscent of the shrill cries of this class.
However, after a while, it ocurred to me that all my students were really nice to me in the halls, and the class itself as an entity was just a pain in the ass. That´s when there was some sort of transformation. I guess you could almost say I stopped caring, but more accurately, I just stopped taking their crap personally, and now we seem to get along grandly. The girls like to taunt me with giggles and a thumbs-up when they see me with Ángela, and the boys laugh when I frown and tell them not to drink beer. I have no idea why, but these two approaches to communication seem to work with them.
As for my 10th graders...well, they´re just a great class. They´re all really smart, and their English is pretty great all around. This is a problem for teachers that don´t speak English, apparently, since they use it as a "secret" language that their other teachers can´t understand. But with me, they always participate in discussions, and they like talking about stupid crap like celebrities, too, so we can discuss things like Good kids, and I´m hoping to teach them next year when they´re in their 11th and final year.
Finally, you´ve got the 4th graders. The teacher who I replaced resigned due in a large part to this group, and when she did so, her re-cap to me of the status of the 4th grade was simply, "Good luck with them. Ha ha!" Well, somehow, this group is my favorite. It´s a group of 24 inattentive spazzes that really doesn´t like to speak English that much, but for some reason, they seem to like me, and I like them. They are the ones that run up to me in the hall and try to talk to me in English, or else try to hang on my arms or push me over. Of course, this group can still bitch and moan with the rest of them. Yesterday, their desks were covered in varnish in the middle of the day (a long and boring story in and of itself), so I had to find a different room to teach in. Which left the dining room. Class was after lunch, so we went into the now-empty room. There was still a lingering smell of plantains and rice, but the kids made a huge deal about the "stench," saying it was going to make them throw up. I got really annoyed because it was the same room that many of them had been eating in just 10 minutes before, and it´s not like it was even a bad smell, either. But still, they were covering their noses and making as much of a scene as if Professor Hitler had moved that day´s Torture Seminar to a rotting horse carcass filled with dog shit. Basically, they managed to whine about that for a good 15 minutes, so class started incredibly late. Which, if I think about it, was a pretty commendable move in the history of Stalling the Teacher. Well played, my little fourth graders...well played. I´m really excited to teach them next year.
Anyhow, that´s about all there is to report about my job. But in case some of you were wondering what exactly I was doing here, now you know. Teacher Ryan out.

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October 27, 2006

Keep On Rockin´ In The Third(?) World

Back when I was in Argentina in May, something--possibly a gigantic pothole on the freeway--led my friend Andrés to yell something like, "Hijo de mil putas y la puta que te parió!! This sort of shit is why we´re still a third world country!"
Since then, I´ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be in the Third World. From what I understand, the First World was comprised of the countries that were aligned with democracy and "the west" in the Cold War. The Second World was all the Communist countries. And the Third World was made up of the leavings. That may be completely wrong, but I believe I read it somewhere, and if I do find out it´s wrong, I probably won´t change it.
But any case, it would appear that the whole "Worlds" system is now antiquated and doesn´t really apply, yet people still constantly talk about the Third World. So what does it mean to be in the Third World? Is Argentina--or, more immediately useful for me to understand, is Costa Rica--a Third World country?
When I think of the Third World, I basically think of little kids with giant, malnourished stomachs; an over-representation of warlords, druglords, and possibly even gaylords; chaotic and possibly even deadly traffic; random violence; crappy buildings that sometimes don´t have four walls; and, most importantly, potholes in the streets. Where does Costa Rica fit into this rubric, then?
As for the little kid/big belly test, Costa Rica is passing with flying colors, from what I´ve seen. In fact, there seems to be just about as many chubby, over-indulged kids here as in the US or Germany. And if the kids are looking at a future in which they eat as much as Abulea serves us in our house, then they shall likely never lack for nutriton nor sustinence.
Test two: Warlords, druglords, and gaylords. Costa Rica doesn´t even have an army, so there´s little likelyhood of a warlord rebellion. Then again, without an army, I suppose someone with a few big guns and a few even-bigger dreams might be able to take over the country, if he really set his mind to it. As for druglords, I haven´t seen any evidence that there is a major drug problem here. That seems to be located more in the other Central American countries, as well as South America. I have heard that there is an abundance of drugs in Costa Rican tourist locales, but I´ve not really visited any of them. As far as Costa Ricans, the majority that I know seem to have a lower permissiveness than Europeans and even Americans when it comes to matters of sobriety (or lack thereof). And gaylords...I´m not even sure what a gaylord is. I guess just someone who is really, really gay. I mainly put it in the list because lists are more powerful and attention-getting when they´re grouped in threes. But there also seems to be a lower acceptance here of homosexuality than in Europe and the US. Although I´m not sure whether we should chalk this one up to the Catholic Church, the macho culture, or the fact that leather chaps would be too hot in Costa Rica´s climate.
Chaotic and possibly deadly traffic, anyone? Here´s our first real Third World point. There doesn´t seem to be much traffic in terms of congestion, but in terms of chaos, this place can hold it´s own. The roads of Costa Rica combine potholes that often take up a whole lane in a two-lane road, cliff-side roads, high speeds, lack of seatbelts, screaming kids, and blind-corner passing. And that´s just in the microbus I take to and from school! I swear, that bus is a little piece of Mr. Toad´s Wild Ride at times. One day Luís, the wonderfully nice and infinitely-patient driver, will swerve to avoid a person standing in the middle of the highway, and the bus will careen off a small cliff near the school. All that will be left by the charred ruins of the little Toyota will be the gaudy, ostentatious Transformer knock-offs and Strawberry Shortcake backbacks thrown from the wrekage.
Speaking of driving stories, I can segue nicely into the next category: random violence. Most of the houses in the cities here have window bars, gates, spikes, broken glass, barbed wire, or any combination of the above elements to keep out intruders. Cars are similarly protected. A car that Ángela borrowed from her brother or father had a giant lock to secure the shifter to the chassis, a huge metal bracket to bind all the petals together, an electronic-equipment disabler that needed to be activated with a chip on the keychain, and a machete in the backseat. Apparently there´s a breathtaking amount of property crime here. Someone even stole a park bench from Abuela´s porch last year, which they had to lift OVER her metal security fence (with spikes). Needless to say, her new bench is chained to the porch. Still, in general, I feel very safe here for some reason, and I simply found a place to hide my paycheck in my room since I don´t have a bank account. But then again, I´m retarded.
As a quick machete-related aside, I´d like to say that on the bus ride to school this very morning, we saw a guy walking down the highway with a machete. He was even carrying it in his hand, chop-ready, with the case in the opposite hand. If the road hadn´t been paved, one could have perhaps expected that he was going to clear a path on his commute to work. But there was certainly a road. Still, for some reason, a machete doesn´t seem so out of place here, and I´m finding out that pretty much anyone I talk to that´s been here a while seems to own one. It´s like Costa Rica´s answer to America´s battery-powered, talking bullshit trinkets that most houses seem to have (see Ho Ho Ho Santa or Bigmouth Billy the Talking Bass for more information). Nonetheless, here when you see someone with a machete, you think, "He´s going to cut something down." If you see someone in the U.S. with a machete, you think, "He´s going to cut someONE down!"
Anyhow, in terms of crappy buildings, Costa Rican houses and businesses are generally pretty solid, but at times they´re missing a wall. That´s generally not due to neglect, though, but rather to climate. I didn´t really make notice of it until I´d lived in the house for about two weeks, but the hall off Abuela´s kitchen is completely open to the outside world, with no door to keep out the elements (or lizards, cockroaches, and even a random crab, as we found two days ago). The open-ness is generally good, though, as it allows the free circulation of air. Plus, especially compared to Colorado, it doesn´t really get too cold here.
So what about potholes? Hell, yeah, there are potholes. Lots of ´em.
Anyhow, it seems that Costa Rica is only scoring about a 40% on the Ryan Sitzman Third World Index. It´s my conclusion that I´m not in a Third World country, but at the same time, I´m not sure where that leaves me. All I know, though, is that I´m loving the shit out of Coast Tasty! And I also know that it´s coffee time, so I´m gonna get home ASAP for some of that black gold!

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October 22, 2006

Update 3 - The Other Berlin

Recently I´ve been heading up to a wonderful little town in the mountains called Berlin. It´s pretty much diametrically opposed to the Berlin in Germany, but it´s still awesome. The "town" is more of a collection of houses on a little strip of road on the crest of some lush, green mountains. I´ve been going there to visit my girlfriend Ángela, who is simply incredible. She works at the school I work at, teaching Science classes in English. So she speaks English, she´s very smart and sweet, and she´s also beautiful. She´s caring and considerate, and--get this!--her family has a COFFEE FARM! I didn´t even know that there was such a thing as coffee farms! It´s like saying her family owns a Unicorn Ranch or an Enchanted Forest. I mean, obviously coffee has to come from somewhere, but I always assumed that God just made a personal delivery every week to some docks in New Jersey or something. But wow--a coffee farm! Anyhow, Ángela´s probably the Most Amazing Girl In The World, and in my opinion, we make a great couple. The place she lives is great, too. On clear days, you can see both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts! The picture above is of a sunset in Berlin, taken from her driveway. Maybe you can see the Pacific ocean and the Guanacaste peninsula...

Here´s a picture of Ángela posing in front of as far as the eye can see!

The hills are steep in Berlin, so the all-terrain cows are equipped to deal with the topography.

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Update 2 - Sissy Stuff Like Butterflies and Flowers

So I also did some interesting stuff in Costa Rica recently. Including going to a butterfly farm. I went with my friend and co-worker Catalina, and it was a day filled with butterflies, flowers, and snack food. We then went to a town called Palmares to visit another friend and co-worker, Melissa. We ate more snack food and watched Saw and Saw II. The two horror movies were a perfect compliment to a butterfly farm, if you ask me.
Here´s also a picture of an orchid I took at the butterfly farm:

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Update 1

It´s been a bit of time since my last entry, and my "fans" have been knocking down my door, wondering what I´ve been up to. That, of course, is complete crap, but at least it provides a segue into a couple of new entries. I´ve been pretty busy, and I´ve taken a couple of pictures, so this will have to be two or three entries, since Blogger only lets me post three pictures per entry.
First of all, one thing I´ve been up to in general is reading blogs. One of the best ones out there for my money (be they dollars or colones) is by my friend Heidi. She´s in the Peace Corps in Mauritania. That´s in Africa, and there´s no shame in admitting that you didn´t know that (no one does). She´s very funny and erudite, and it would behoove you to visit her site post-haste. It´s called "Sahara Shantytown Surveyor," and the address is:
What else have I been doing? Well, I also went to the US for about five days. I had to renew my Costa Rican visa, and that required me to leave the country for at least 72 hours. It seemed like an ideal opportunity to also visit my friend Tori in Florida, who I´d not seen in about a year. She was doing quite well, and it was very nice to see her.
When I was in Florida I tended towards slothfulness, which meant catching up on sleep and eating lots. Also, I watched around 30 episodes of Scrubs on DVD while Tori was working during the day. Good times. Also, I got to see a few movies and eat some ethnic food, both of which are relatively scarce in Costa Rica.
At the same time, though, even though it was good to be visiting my mother land, I began to miss Costa Rica quite a bit. I´m really liking it here, and I´m planning on staying at least one more year. Let´s hope the school agrees with my plan. Even when I went to dinner with Tori and her boyfriend, I kept bringing up Costa Rican stuff. I even drew an illustrative graph about the Chupacabra.
In any case, here´s a picture of me eating an assload of seafood on the Florida gulf coast:

Yes, I´m allergic to fish and stuff that swims, but when it comes to the cowardly, shell-wearing, despicable crawlies of the sea, I´m all game. But this platter was huge. I ate it (yes, I ate it all) when Tori and I went to Cedar Key one day. It was a nice little drive.

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October 1, 2006

¿¿Are You Ready For Some Fútbol??

Ah yes, Fútbol. The world sport (in all the world but the US). As many of you know, I used to play "semi-pro" fútbol back in Colorado, with a little equipo I like to call The Unnecessary Umlauts. In fact, everyone liked to call them that. Mainly, The Unnecessary Umlauts was a sort of Capri-Sun-drinking, halftime-cigarette-smoking juggernaut, but occasionally we also played soccer, when the need arose.
Unfortunately, they take their soccer here more seriously. I am not sure how God fanangled it, but I somehow played soccer TWICE last week. Both times I nearly exploded from over-exertion. The first time, on Monday, I played arena soccer with Adrian, a friend who owns an internet café here in San Ramón. The second time, I played "microfútbol" on a cement court at the bottom of the hill that my school is situated on. It was some hot shit. The game was teachers vs. students. A rag-tag group of five of us teachers grouped together to get our asses handed to us on a gilded platter by those little fuckers. Fortunately, two of the five students were in classes that I teach, so at least I can flunk them. Anyhow, here are some "action!" photos from the game, taken by my co-worker Catalina:

This is the train that hit us. In the back row, at far left, is my tenth grader César. Two people to the right of him is Manfred, from my 11th grade. Curiously enough, they will both be getting F´s in English this semester...

Here is me on the court of battle. This picture demonstrates three of my Five Tactical S´s of Fútbol:
1. Standing 2. Squinting 3. Sweating 4. Squinting 5. Swearing in German

I love this photo because even though it´s real, it totally looks like someone Photoshopped me into it. Also, it looks like I´m doing some sort of Kung-Fu shit. Also, the Kung-Fu shit appears to be completely ineffective, as the ball is long behind me.

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September 22, 2006

Everybody´s Workin For The Weekend

As Jon Bon Jovi once said, "I´m feeling like a Monday, but someday I´ll be Saturday night." Right now it´s Friday, so that may not make any damn sense, especially since right now I´m feeling quite Satuday night. But I just wanted to use that quote to segue into the topic of the day for this blog. A few people have inquired: what do I do in my free time in Costa Rica?
Well, I hang out a lot. I haven´t really travelled much around the country on the weekends, mainly just because I have a five-day work week. Man, it´s a pain in my ass. But still, I get plenty of down time.
Sometimes I watch a bit of TV, because Abuela has cable...sort of. There are around 25 stations, and three don´t come in at all. Another five have major reception issues. There is also a channel that shows old operas, and it plays on three stations. There are then about two or three decent channels, including a local one that plays an hour of dubbed Simpsons at 8. And another channel shows a fair number of movies in the evenings.
But sometimes the dubbed Chuck Norris movies can be a bit much (as they were last Friday night, when Forced Vengance and Delta Force were playing at the same time). When that´s the case, Pablo usually comes around my room and convinces me to go to town with him and some people he knows. The people we go out with always seem nice, but it´s hard to be sure, since we usually go to a "dance club" called Secretos. Secretos is so damn loud that even yelling over the music is basically a futile undertaking. To make the loud music even more perturbing, some fucker with a microphone is usually yelling machine-gun-speed Spanish gibberish OVER the music every 14 seconds or so. And I put "dance club" in quotes because by around 10 o´clock, it´s so packed you´d be lucky to be able to shake your ass just a tad, let alone get your grove on completely. It´s a pretty mind-dumbing experience, but a bottle of beer is around a buck 25, so we keep going back.
Finally, I also just hang around the hacienda a lot. We (meaning me and/or Abuela, Pablo, Katie, etc) often hang around, chat, or watch a bit of TV. Tonight, there is even talk that we´ll play a pirated version of "Monopolio" I bought at a local convenience store. I bought a bottle of wine and some popcorn for just such an occasion.
¿¿So, when are you coming to visit??

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September 18, 2006

Independence Day

This last Saturday was Costa Rican Independence Day, so on Friday there was a big parade downtown. I went there early in the morning, because some of my fourth and sixth graders were in the parade, and they needed teachers to help. I didn´t actually DO anything, but I enjoyed some icy treats and took a few pictures:

Here´s a picture of the guy that was making a shaved ice thing. He cut the ice off the big block, and then added all sorts of sugary shit to it to make it delicious.

Here he´s topping off the sugary shit. The layers, from bottom to top, were: Ice, red sugar liquid, ice, powdered milk/sugar, red sugar liquid, sweetened condensed milk. It was awesome!

Speaking of awesome, here´s a guy watching the parade with an iguana on his head.

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September 17, 2006

Quickest PhD Ever...

It occurred to me recently that I am a Professor here in Costa Rica. Not like I have a PhD or anything, but in Spanish, the word for teacher is profesor. So I´m either Teacher Ryan or, better, Profesor Ryan. Which I like.
Back when I was living near Hannover, Germany in 98-99, some fellow exchange students dubbed me Professor. I think it all came about when we were at a Zoo one day, and I was the one that was able to decipher signs like "Elefant," "Bär," and "Delfin." Basically, I didn´t earn the title then, and I didn´t earn it now, either. But I still kind of like it. It´s good for a power trip.

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September 14, 2006

One Thing That Scares Me (Besides Snakes)

Here´s a picture of my shower head here in San Ramón. I am very happy that I am able to shower with hot water and all, but still, this kind of looks electric chair-y. Especially the part on the wall with the switch. And the random green and yellow wire sticking out. But it´s actually a pretty common set-up in these parts, if you want hot running water (which Abuela doesn´t have in the kitchen, for example).
When you take a shower, it heats up the water right then. And it makes the same sound as those water cookers popular in Germany. Like I said, I like having the hot water, but it´s probably good that I´m really groggy every morning when I get into the shower at 6.30 am, because if I wasn´t, I´d probably be afraid to even get near the water coming from this thing.

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September 10, 2006

Belligerent Bear?

Every time I walk to town, I see this sign with this bear. I still think it´s hilarious, especially with a bit of imagination. See, Bimbo is a brand of bread, and the sign says "Aquí está su pan"..."Here is your bread." The bear is sort of a mix between the Downy Bear, the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, and Chef Boyardee.
For some reason, though, I imagine two frowny-lines above his eyes, and he kinda looks pissed. And instead of Spanish, he speaks English, with a New Jersey accent. And he grabs his fluffy crotch and says, "I got ya fuckin´ pan right heah!"
Good times...good times.

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My First Soccer Game

Here´s a picture from a soccer game that I went to in San Ramón this afternoon. It was the first live professional game that I´ve been to (not counting the games our German Department intramural soccer team played, which made us look like professionals). It was pretty fun: San Ramón won, and there was even a lot of angry yelling and some quasi-violence. Some asshole threw a three-foot piece of jagged metal toward the line judge. No real good reason, either, except that he seemed to think the line judge was very "puto" or "maricon."

Just to put some faces with the names, here´s a picture of Pablo, on the far left, and Abuela at the soccer game. The other guy is some friend of Pablo´s.

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Schoolroom With a View

Like the volcano picture, this one´s not terribly interesting, but I still thought I´d throw it in. This is a view from the school I work out. There´s a porch around the entire building, and it looks out on these hills. It´s really cool to watch the rainstorms roll in from the horizon in the afternoon, and the fog gets so thick it almost looks like smoke, and you can sometimes hardly see 20 feet in front of you.

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Here´s a picture of the Volcano I saw in La Fortuna. It happened to erupt this morning when I was eating breakfast. It´s got clouds all around it, but I thought it was still cool nonetheless.
Also, last night I went to a hot springs outside of La Fortuna. It was pretty incredible. As you went up the mountain, you kept getting to warmer and warmer pools. One had some chairs built in, and you could lay back in the dark and watch lava spill out of the volcano. Pretty awesome, I have to admit!
Anyhow, I´m back in San Ramón now, and will go back to the grind tomorrow...

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September 8, 2006

Today Was A Good Day

Like the title says, today was a good day. It was "Dia de los Ninos," or Children's Day. When I was a kid, I always asked my parents why there wasn't Kids Day, but they said every day is kids day.
Anyhow, they have it here. So I didn't really have to teach. I just hung around the school with my fourth graders for about four hours. That grade is pretty cool and pretty funny. Some sang karaoke, and then we played Dance Dance Revolution on the Play Station (I handed their asses to them). Then I joked with a little girl about taking her water balloon, and that eventually turned into me chasing about 12 of my fourth grade girls all around the school grounds. I'd hide, jump out from a corner, and yell "BWAAAAAAHAHAHA!!!", chasing a pack of screaming girls away. It's pretty much what usually happens when I talk to girls, I guess, only this time the girls are a lot younger...And it was hilarious.
And now I'm in a little town called La Fortuna. I'm hoping to see a volcano called Arenal tomorrow. But if not, I'll just hang out in my hotel room (12 dollars for three beds, a bathroom with hot water, and free internet access!). And to get here I took a nice, winding, three-hour bus ride filled with good music on the ipod.
So like I said, today was a good day!

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September 7, 2006

A Few Random Things

Things are still going well here in Coast Tasty. I finally had a chance last night to write another music review, so if you want to read it, I could send it to you. Unfortunately, I won´t be able to put it on any time soon, due to boring technical limitations. But if you´d like to read it and didn´t get it emailed to you, send me an email and I´ll forward it to you.
Now, without further ado, here´s a picture of me driving a bus like four years ago. The people in the back are employees of the vet clinic I volunteered at in Boulder:

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September 4, 2006

Stupid Address

OK, I thought I had my address correct before, but I forgot an important word, and without that word, anything that might get sent this way would get sent to a San Ramón on the other side of the country. That word is "Alajuela."
Anyhow, my revised address (and I´ll change it in my previous entry to make that correct, too):
Ryan Sitzman
c/o Doña Nidia Sandoval
Tres Marías Dos,
de la primera entrada,
25 metros al norte.
San Ramón, Alajuela
Costa Rica

Hopefully that will work. Like I said before, I´m not holding out too much hope that anyone will write, but a postcard is always nice...

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September 2, 2006

A Comment About Comments

Hey there...
So, I thought I had set up the blog to take comments from anyone, and it did. The thing was, is in Spanish here, and I didn´t realize that I had to moderate the comments before they got posted. So, if you made a comment, it should be posted now. Thanks for reading!

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Last Picture For Now

Here is a guy trying to adjust a Virgin Mary on a float for the Día de San Ramón parade. Since I live in San Ramón, the day is a pretty big deal, so I got the day off of school. There was a large parade downtown with a procession of saints, each one being carried by representatives from different neighborhoods. It was pretty cool.
That´s all the pictures for now. It´s kind of a pain in the ass to get them up there, since I have to go to an internet café to do so. Eventually, there´ll be a Costa Rica picture page on, but that probably won´t be until I get home and am able to use my web design software and my own computer...

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Another One

Who´s a pretty bird?

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Another Picture

Here´s one of the three kids in the family I first stayed with. They are Alejandro, Fabian, and Valeria. Valeria is in one of the classes I teach (sixth grade), and the other two go to the same school.

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A Few Pictures

Here´s a picture of me at the volcano Poás. I went there in my first few days here, when I was staying with the Quesada Aguilar family.

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September 1, 2006

Third Wheel Surprise

I think that sometime in the past, I may have mentioned the kind of subtle, happy surprises you come across sometimes when you´re new to a place and you´re just a stupid tourist with no idea what´s going on. Well, at this point, I guess I´m fixing to be a bit more than a tourist, but there are many times that I nevertheless still don´t have much of a clue as to what´s going on.
One of those times was last night. I went out with my housemate Pablo, and we met up with his friend María at a sort of Costa Rican beer garden. Well, at lest it was a place and it served beer outside. So, they were playing music and all that, and after a while Pablo´s Colombian blood must have got boiling, because he led María out to dance. In a sort of deserted parking lot. Which is fine, but it also left me sitting alone at the table. While they danced about and made out a bit. Now, I´m not much into dancing, and even less so when there´s literally no one else to dance with, so I was unsure what to do. It turns out that you can only recross your legs, stretch your arms behind your head, or stare off into space in thought for so long before you realize you need to do something else besides just sitting around. That length of time--for me, at least--seems to have been about five songs. So, not wanting to make things awkward, I decided to head for the bathroom to have a whiz. At least that would kill a few minutes if I took the scenic route.
So, as I went inside the building, I was stopped at the door by a burly lady bouncer. She wouldn´t let me in at first, but then I explained to her that I was looking for a bathroom so I wouldn´t have to pee in the parking lot like a lot of people were doing (the same parking lot that Pablo and María were dancing in...yet another reason to not take up dancing). The bouncer let me in, and I got really excited because they were playing a Guns N Roses song, which was a welcome change from the cumbia stuff they were playing outside. As I walked in, I noticed that every table and chair inside the building was faced in one direction, and when I looked toward that direction, there was a lady dancing on stage in her underwear. Her very small underwear. An announcer was yelling something unintelligible over a microphone, and it seemed to be some sort of loungerie dancing competition.
The lady, as well as the next one that came out to "Livin´on a Prayer," was somewhat plump, but not overweight (that seems to be the way they like them here). But I´m not sure if they were local girls or what. Anyhow, after appreciating the strangeness and awkward-ness of the whole situation, I went back to the table and told Pablo and María about it. They each went to the bathroom themselves about five minutes later, and I guess the place had cleared out and was completely empty when they went in.
So, I´m not sure if the surprise was that I walked in on a random exotic dance-off, or that I walked into a random GHOST exotic dance-off. Either way, it was weird.

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August 30, 2006

"Cada Cabeza es un Mundo"

This is something that I´ve been meaning to write about for a few days.
Like I said, I´m living in a house run by a sweet lady named Nidia, who goes by Abuela. There is also a girl from South Carolina named Katie, and a Colombian soccer player named Pablo. All that´s missing to make it the cast of next season´s Real World is a gay cowboy or an angry, African-American woman.
But we also have a fifth housemate. At least we did until yesterday sometime. I never really caught her name, because she was there for less than a week. But the impression that she left on all of us was...well, impressing.
This lady knew Abuela in the past, so Abuela agreed to take her in. She´s a lady in her mid-40 or so, and although she´s Costa Rican, she´s been living in the USA for a while. Which means that when she speaks Spanish, even with Abuela, she peppers her sentences with English words in absolutely pointless places. She does it to make herself sound smart, but she just sounds like a moron, really. This lady has been a subject of our curiousity since she moved into the house about a week ago (directly after coming here from the US).
This lady is really, really hoochie-fied. She spent one breakfast putting on makeup at the table for about a half hour, and didn´t actually eat anything. Her room, which was adjacent to the kitchen, was always very perfumed. Actually, every time she opened the door to come out (which wasn´t often), it smelled like a brothel had exploded. And she had shoes. Lots and lots of shoes. One day a suitcase arrived in the mail for her, and it was full of shoes that she had sent herself from the United States. Abuela counted over 30 pairs in the room at one point. And over 20 watches (she offered a Rolex to Abuela for free). And mind you, this lady was still not settled in to the house.
She still wasn´t settled because she was waiting for her own house to finish being built. That was actually the reason that she was in the house with us: hers was almost completed. But lest you think that these are all the charming antics of a merely eccentric personality, let me tell you more, dear readers. This lady has an 83-year-old husband in the United States, as well as two kids. She told them that she was coming to Costa Rica for her health (apparently in the same way she went to Colombia for a 25,000-dollar plastic surgery operation for her health). Because the trip is for her health, and because she lied to him, her husband keeps sending money her way, and she keeps spending it extravagently.
What does she spend it on? Her boyfriend. THIS is the kicker. There´s this smarmy guy that´s come around a bit recently. He´s got spiky, grey, brushed/greased-back hair, and he´s probably in his mid-50s. He is always chewing gum with his mouth open, and he reeks of cologne. Also, he´s wearing the gratuitous shirt with one-button-too-many opened, in order to reveal his obligatory douchebag medallion. This tool apparently was the Mystery Housemate´s boyfriend 20 years ago, and they are now going to get married. Actually, they were going to get married a day ago, but they left the house after 5 pm, so the marriage place was closed. So they´ll have to try again tomorrow, I guess.
In the end, this lady is probably crazy, and I should probably feel sorry for her, but when I think of her lecherous deeds and her abandonment of her children and their father in the US, I just can´t get the sympathy vibe going. One good thing, though, is that if she marries the Douchebag, she´ll lose any chance at inheriting her American millionaire´s money. Which is cold comfort, really.
Anyhow, as Abuela said, "Cada cabeza es un mundo": every head is a world. And boy, is her head a world that has never been tainted by the exploration of rational thought.
She moved out her shit yesterday, and as far as I´m concerned, good riddance to her. Although the house will be slightly less interesting for the coming future.

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August 28, 2006

My Address

I have figured out what seems to be my definite address here:
Ryan Sitzman
c/o Doña Nidia Sandoval
Tres Marías Dos
De la Primera Entrada,
25 metros al Norte
San Ramón, Alajuela
Costa Rica
There you go. It also makes you understand why "Address" is called "Dirección" in Spanish, because it is more directions to my house than an actual address. Yes, Costa Rica is what U2 was singing about in "Where The Streets Have No Names."
So anyhow, I dont expect too many people will write, but if you want to, you are welcome to. A postcard would be great. I even bought some tape today, so I could potentially hang up any that I did get. But more than anything, I am just a bit curious to see if the address works.

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August 25, 2006

A Bit About Abuela

Like I believe I said before, I am in Costa Rica now, teaching English. It´s going pretty well, although the kids are loud as hell. At least in the 4th and 6th grades. But I told them that since I don´t speak Spanish (OK, I lied...I do, but they still don´t know that), every time I hear them speak in Spanish, I translate it to ´We want to copy sentences from the board!´ Which they hate. Slowly, they´re coming around. Altough the 4th grade is notably smarter than the 6th grade in this respect...
I´m also living at a house that an older lady runs, and she has people call her Abuela (grandmother). There are a few cool things about Abuela:
-She has a secret peanut butter stash. She eats like a bird since she had a stomach operation, but her vice is the old P.B. She has to hide it, though, since it´s rare here and Americans bring it to her when they visit. Also, if it were in the open, she says her grandkids would eat it all.
-She does 25 pushups a day, and not even girlie style! She´s 73! I´d be hard pressed to do that many myself, and I think I still fall into the category of Strapping Young Lad.
-She has a dog named Canabis. You have no idea how hilarious I think this is. See, it´s a big husky, and she says it already had that name when she adopted it. She told a story last night about a time Canabis ran away, so she was standing on her porch yelling ´Canabis! Canabis!´ I guess the neighborhood watch people had a talk with her because they thought she was a drug dealer trying to sell product!
More later, hope everyone is doing well, wherever you are.
Also, if you need to get ahold of me, my number is 445-5575. There are no area codes in C.R...

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August 21, 2006

Anti-Rodney Dangerfield

I played Monopoly last night with Fabian, Valeria, and Alejandro, the kids in the family I´m still temporarily staying with. I would have totally kicked their asses, if he hadn´t stopped early to play XBOX 360 racing. Where I lost. But at least the kids are calling me ´Teacher Ryan,´so I´m finally getting some respect.

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August 20, 2006

Family Fun Time

I´m in Costa Rica now. I got here a day or two ago, and was picked up by the Quesada Aguilar family. They are a mother and a father, plus three kids. The middle child, Valeria, will be in my sixth grade class, so I have been trying to not let them know my weaknesses (ie, snakes, LEGO Star Wars, etc). Today we went to a freaking volcano, of all places. It was really great...I was going to post a picture, but the capability to do so eludes me at this point. But rest assured it was cool and smelled like egg farts (it´s an active volcano). We then went to a zoo and saw all sorts of injured Costa Rican animals that had been rehabilitated or unable to be re-released into the wild.
So basically, things are going well here. In case you read my posting the other day about the guy who claimed to be a prophet, I wanted to add the crazy thing that he said that blew my mind. I could not decide whether it was freaking brilliant or just a crazy pile of shit. He said that there is no sin in being a thief, if that´s what you´re meant to do in life. He said that you are just stealing something that was never there in the first place, that never belonged to anyone, and that will no longer exist in the end, anyhow. He said God creates the theives, also.
Damn crazy people.
Anyhow, I am only staying with this wonderful family until tomorrow, when I move into my new place. I will try to keep this crap updated, but there won´t be internet at the new place, and I don´t know how often I´ll have access to it. But thanks for reading, still. Until then...

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August 17, 2006

Another Thought for the Day

Here's another quote from the "Off The Map" by Mark Jenkins, the book that I quoted from the other day. The quote, by the way, has some strange phrasing and ungrammatical sentences, so I didn't mistype. But, since I'm headed to Costa Rica to teach for four months, this quote from page 187 seemed pretty poignant:

“There is something about long journeys. You’re lucky if you manage one in a lifetime, and by the time you’re done you’re swearing by God never I’ll never do it again. But then some evening, months or years later, while you’re browsing through the atlas, whistling or humming or eating, whop! A few weeks later you’re gone. And if you somehow find yourself on just one more long journey, something gets in you, like a worm gone up through your feet. From then on, somewhere inside every unbearable trip (because there will always be another trip), you’ll swear up and down this is it dammit God damnit this is it, period. But then you’ll find your way back to your own warm bed and clean bathroom and beautiful world and discover they’re just as they were when you left, and after another month or two or six, this thing inside you will start to swell and throb. You’ll become restless and sore as if your bed were too soft and your bathroom too bright and suddenly your beautiful world has again grown moldy with mediocrity. So you’ll pull out the atlas and fall into it and the next morning buy an airplane ticket and just when everyone thought you were finally figuring it out, you’re gone.”

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Add Your Two Cents' Worth Of Mustard

I had a bit of a get-together last night, and I found out that people actually do read this blog. Zach and Bobby, for example, said that they'd have posted comments, if only they didn't need to get a blogspot blog to do so. So, I've tweaked the settings, and now anyone can post a comment.
But if it's crappy, I can still delete it, since I'm a fascist like that.

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August 15, 2006

Thought for the Day

The following is a quote from the book "Off The Map," by Mark Jenkins. My friend Rachel loaned it to me, and it was really good. It's a dude's recollections of riding across Siberia on a bicycle. Hardcore stuff. Anyhow, there were quite a few passages that I liked, but two especially stood out. I'll copy one now, and the other one later. Here's one from page 175:
“Sometimes you meet someone you know.
You have spent nights together. Night upon night for years talking and talking. You have camped together beneath the sky and sung songs together and drunk beer in each other’s homes. You have hugged and cried and laughed together. And you have never met.
There are few such people, but they are the ones you will always know and who will always know you. They are in parts of the world where you haven’t been. They are living lives you cannot know. They have sisters you have never met whom you’ve danced with on the porch and brothers you cannot see whom you’ve wrestled in the grass. They have kitchens with bright windows you can’t imagine, where you had coffee a thousand times. These are the people you meet, and know, before you speak.”
Think about that. I like it, and I hope you do, too.

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August 14, 2006

Crazy...Like a Fo...OK, Maybe Just Crazy

So I'm near Philly now visiting my buddy Chris. He lives near a halfway house, and most of the people that live there have some sort of mental issue, as well as a semi-criminal background. We were standing outside last night, and one of the guys came out and talked to us. You know how people say that there's a thin line between crazy and brilliant? This guy was square on that line, and it was freaking me out. When crazy people are at least ranting bullshit, it's one thing, but when they admit that they're crazy, plus have command over a staggering vocabulary, it's rather disconcerting. Plus, he was claiming he was a prophet, and some of the things he talked about were things that I'd been thinking of on my own. Like the idea that there's something in the air these days, and there's a big change coming.
Oh yeah, and he had pictures of demons on his cell phone. One was really freaky.
So that's what I'm thinking about these days.
Pennsylvania is cool, also. We went to Atlantic City to see Laura, toured the QVC studios, and went to Amish country.

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August 6, 2006

Off to the "Tasty Coast"

I don't really think anyone reads this, but if you do, I wanted to say that I took a job in Costa Rica for a few months. I'll be gone from August 18 through December 13. So if you call the house between now and then, you'll probably annoy my roommate Aaron McGrew. Which could be kind of funny. But in the end, you'll still not be able to talk with me.
I'm not sure how email or telephone contact will be in Costa Rica, but I might not be able to update the blog easily from there, so there could be quite a few gaps in service, so to say...not that I've been so hot about keeping things posted anyhow.
Before I leave, I'm also going to Philadelphia for a week, so it'll be some busy times between now and then.
But not so busy that I can't waste some time. I've posted the pictures from Mexico City, Argentina, and Europe on, so check them out if you want to. I was going to post a tantalizing picture as a preview, but seems to be acting like a dick tonight, and pictures aren't working. Anyway, there's also some new crap in general on the site.
So take care...

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July 30, 2006

Hipster or Hippie?

So tonight I went with my brother Paul and my roommate McGrew to see "An Inconvenient Truth," the movie about global warming. I thought that it was really well done, and I'd recommend it to anyone that had a chance to see it. If it's not playing near you, you can still check out
That's the site that has information on the film and its subject matter.
As for the Hipster/Hippie thing in the subject line, I was just trying to come up with a clever title for this posting. I'm still not sure what a hipster is, even after we talked about it for about an hour in our office one day. I think that the only consensus, though, was that I'm not a hipster.
Probably not a hippie, either.

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July 27, 2006

Damn Germans

I know I just posted something today, but this topic has been on my mind for about 5 or 6 years: The German Harry Potter. There's no universal Harry Potter, and in each country, they commission different artists to draw the cover. Now, I'm not even the biggest Harry Potter fan in the first place. I like the books and movies, but I'm no rabid fan. But is it just me, or does the German Harry look pretty lesbian-y? Check it out:

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R.I.P., Sammy

So yesterday I got Sammy the Cyst cut out of my arm. He was a good cyst, as cysts go. I remember when I was in Argentina, back in May, and Jose said it was probably just a zit. Then about a month ago, when Susanne from the German department diagnosed Sammy as a cyst, she said that it'd come out with a quick snip and a stitch. Turns out she was right, although the quick snip turned into a mini-bloodbath, and they had to cauterize the hell out of the wound. Smelling burning flesh is bad enough, but when you smell your own burning flesh, it really sucks. And stinks. But they pulled that little marble-sized guy out of my arm, and it was all red and bloody. They wouldn't let me taste it to see if it was cancerous, but instead sent it to a lab to do some sort of quack, voodoo procedure called a "biopsy." Whatever, doc. Just cross your fingers for me that I don't have arm cancer.

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July 13, 2006

Free N' Easy

I'm visiting relatives in Denmark now. It's a nice little stopover of calm on an otherwise very busy trip. I still have no idea what I'll be doing in the future, though, so that causes occasional flare-ups of stress or concern.
I went to a beach in a place called Tisvildeleje yesterday. I'd have to say that it was hands-down the nicest beach I've ever been to. It was wide, long, and and had dunes and all that, and the sand was great. The water was only 20 degrees Celsius, but the sun was nice and warm, so it didn't feel that cold. Mainly I just walked around a lot and finished reading a book. But when I was walking around, I stumbled on what was either officially or de-facto a nude beach. That's the thing about nude beaches: they always sound so awesome to guys like me, but when you get there, it's mainly just unattractive, overweight, burnt-to-a-crisp old people. But it was still a pretty deserted part of the beach, so I decided to find my own little corner and settle in to read and chill out. As the saying goes, "When in Rome, get nekkid." It was strange at first, and in the end I got a pretty bad sunburn on my shoulders (which isn't that bad, considering the alternatives). But it was worth it sitting on the beach, wang in the sun, watching the old uglies walk by. At that point, I didn't worry what I was going to be doing in the future, because the present was pretty damn good. In my mind I paraphrased Andy's brother Matt and thought, "I'm not to worried about it...I'll be fine."

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June 24, 2006

I'm in Switzerland. It's thoroughly Swiss and Euro-Disney-esque. I was sad to see Mexico go down against Argentina, though, so this post goes out to you, Jose. Sorry, though, Jose, that I can't figure out how to do the Spanish-style accents on this keyboard.

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June 21, 2006

Fly Like An Eagle

Whenever people think of "cars" and the 1985 blockbuster movie "Back to the Future" in the same thought (bear with me here...), they surely think "Delorean." The time machine in that movie was made out of a Delorean, and, let's face it: Deloreans kick serious ass. They're made out of stainless steel, man! You couldn't rust that shit if you tried! But at the same time, "Back to the Future" also had another classic gem of a car, albeit one that was a bit more prone to rusting: THE AMC EAGLE! That's right, the car that Jennifer's dad is driving in the photo above.
Remember how that scene goes down? Yep, Old Man Jennifer's Dad comes rolling up in his wood-paneled masterpiece and honks the horn, interrupting Marty McFly and Jennifer's necking session. He yells something like "Jennifer!", indicating she better get her appliqued-vest-wearing ass in that awesome car, like pronto, otherwise she might be forbidden from hanging out with that slacker McFly anymore. But what's the point here? The point is, when you drive an AMC Eagle, You can do whatever the fuck you want! You can act like a dick in front of your teen's boyfriend! Jennifer's Dad could have ran right over Mayor Goldie Wilson while shouting "The Eagle has landed, motherfuckers!" and no one would have done a damn thing, because that little coche of his had four-wheel drive. You simply can't argue with that.
I'm getting a bit off topic here. I'm supposed to be talking more about the AMC Eagle, which I actually think is a sweet ride. Here's another pic:
This picture is of me, in my dreams. I'm riding in my super-rad custom Eagle, and my awesome, fashionable friends have stopped by the hood for a chat.
By the way, I got these pictures from the internet, so they're not mine. Please don't sue me.
Thanks for reading, and I apologize if I gave anyone a warm sensation or a huge boner by talking about this HOT car!

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May 9, 2006

X-Ray Goggles

So yesterday I went to see the quacks at Wardenburg Health Center. My back has been hurting me for about four months, but I figured that it was worth putting up with the pain, as long as I didn't have to go to the health center, which I hate. It was.
In any case, though, the doctor that was examining me ordered up X-rays, so I went to the X-ray room. I filled out some paperwork and then was led into a changing room. At that point, the lady said she'd let me alone to change. She gave me a hospital gown that was supposed to "close" in the back, and told me it was OK to wear my shirt and underwear, but that I should take off my pants and shoes. Then she left.
I undid my belt and dropped my pants, but when I looked down I couldn't help but utter an "Oh dammit!" I don't know how I'd not taken into account that I was going to the doctor when I dressed myself that morning, but there it was: my pair of Dr.-Seuss'-Cat-In-The-Hat plus hearts underwear that my mom gave me for Valentine's Day around a decade ago! To make things worse, I was also wearing mid-calf length black socks with a gold toe, which nicely complimented my facial stubble which hadn't been tended to in a few weeks. Ugh.
Anyhow, I was able to tie the gown and pull it together in the back, and I took off the socks and smacked around in my now-sweaty bare feet, which at least considerably reduced the chance I'd be mistaken for a sex offender. Still, I was not so hot. At least the lady running the X-ray had an eastern European accent, so if she did happen to notice my drawers, they might have actually been tasteful and classy compared to some of the Eurotrash man panties that most European guys wear...

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May 3, 2006

Two (More?) Reasons I'm A Bad Person

It occurred to me while I was driving the bus today that although I like pretty much any type of music, there are at least a few songs that I absolutely loathe. And loathing two particular songs probably makes me a hateful, evil person, but I don't care. One song is "One Love," by Bob Marley, and the other is "Imagine," by John Lennon. I know, they're the last generation's two biggest anthems of love and inclusiveness and other shit like that. And I'm all for those things, but let's face it: those two songs have had the shit co-opted out of them over the years, and it's nearly impossible for me to hear either song and think of its original message. From any random charity organization or heartfelt television montage (for "Imagine"), to dip-shitted college students and even the Jamacian tourism board's commercials (for "One Love"), the overuse of these songs have made them musical shadows of their former, shining selves.
Plus, musically-speaking, both of these songs kind of blow. occurred to me just now that these two musicians both died within six months of each other. Maybe the widespread love of these two songs is just due to the public's need to make sense of the artists' untimely deaths. But both artists had much better songs. John had "Instant Karma and...oh, I don't know, how about all the songs by THE BEATLES??" And Bob had so many good songs it makes me want to crap my pants.
I don't know.
So I guess I'm a bad person. So be it.
Or maybe I'm just pissy because I have a big paper due in less than two days, and I'm beginning to freak out about it.
This verdict could really go either way...

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May 2, 2006

Neck Hair

I really hate the hair on the back of my neck. As a result, I try to get it buzzed off frequently. However, I cannot do this alone, and require the help of a friend or family member. So this is just a shoutout to all those of you who have helped me do this thankless and kind of weird task. The Shaving of the Ryan is kind of like the Running of the Bulls, except that it occurs much more often than the bull thing, and even drunk college students don't enjoy trimming my neck hair.
The Shaving of the Ryan is a rite of passage that many of my friends have gone through, but the all-stars are quietly hidden among the masses, too humble for recognition--until now. You know who you are: Martha, Mom, Katie, Josh, Bobby, Andy--you've all made a difference, so I thank you.

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April 28, 2006

So This Is What It's Come To

You know one thing I don't need right now? A structuralist interpretation of Hans Chrsitian Andersen's The Little Mermaid.

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April 27, 2006

The Last Days of Disco

I've been thinking about my general mood these days, as well as the mood of the other grad students around me. It's pretty normal to have a crazy feeling in the air as the end of any semester approaches, but this time it's incredibly amplified by the idea that for those of us who are graduating, this might be our last crack at school ever. I think that realization has dawned upon many of us, and there has been an effort to get some last rounds of socializing, partying, and all-around good college fun in before we have to bow our heads in humility and enter the workforce, hat and balls in hand. Ugh. Anyhow, I've taken to describing the feeling I'm getting as "The Last Days of Disco." (These are not to be confused with the "Fat Elvis Days," which my friend Brian Worthen introduced me to...those are just a general gluttonous state of being usually associated with summer traveling, grilling, beer drinking, and lots and lots of lazy napping).
Anyhow, a good example of the Last Days of Disco happened last week or so. My officemate and dear friend Annie was having her thesis defense coming up, and she was incredibly stressed. I'm not sure what our line of reasoning was, but it was determined that she needed a good stiff drink. 10 minutes later, we were at The Sink. Annie got a vodka on the rocks, and I got some fried ice cream. We decided that it was like the sixties, maybe (Last Days of Hippies?), when a mother might take her child to the bar for a quick afternoon highball, while distracting the child with sweets.
One way or the other, it was damn good times, and Annie ended up kicking major ass on her defense. The fried ice cream was, as fried ice cream usually is, absolutely delicious.

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April 26, 2006

Vorsprung Durch Technik

So I realized recently that I had an electric toothbrush. My mom was really nice and bought it for me a few months ago, but I accidently tucked it away in my bathroom sink cupboard and forgot about it. My teeth rotted in the meantime. But I found it the other day when I was looking for a match. So now, it's all fancy brushing, concentric circles, and clean teeth. My electric toothbrush, or "Leroy" as I call it, is quickly eclipsing my car ("The Boobaru") as the most technologically advanced thing I own.

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Bus Driving Story

So yesterday I was driving the bus. I was taking a group of people from a hotel in Boulder to a private residence. Most of the people were international, as they were there for an international conference. There were two ladies in the front row, and they were initially talking in French to each other. As we drove towards their destination, one lady got out a camcorder and started filming everything: the road through the windshield, the bus itself, her friend, and me driving, as well. She was narrating the movie in Arabic, so that was kind of interesting. So I figure that now I'll either be featured in a new, edgy independent film, or possibly just briefly on Algeria's Lamest Home Videos.

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April 24, 2006

Unnecessary Umlauts Picture

Since the post before the last picture was so big, I decided to add another picture. You know, to make the blog easier on the eyes. Anyhow, this is a picture of the Unnecessary Umlauts, our soccer team. We're pinching our nipples because we had talked about making team shirts with a large "U," with the umlauts going where our nipples would be. But, we're all pretty apathetic, so it never really got done. Until this picture...

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Me and Paul in Mexico

This is my brother Paul and me at Teotihuacan, the big pyramids by Mexico City.

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April 23, 2006

Like something out of a country-western song

Last weekend I did two new things that I probably wouldn't normally have done. The results were impressively cool.
The first out-of-the-ordinary thing that I did was to pick up my first hitchhiker. I know, I know. One should not pick up hitchhikers. And I normally wouldn't. In fact, I often just scoff at them as I see them on the side of the road. My favorite hopeless hitchhikers were actually a trio that I saw a few years ago. They were on the side of Highway 36, the Denver-Boulder turnpike. And I don't mean that they were on the onramp or anything; if anyone would have wanted to pick them up, they would have needed to slow down from 65 mph to a stop as they were going up a hill and around a corner. But it's not likely that anyone would have wanted to pick them up, as the trio consisted of a man with dirty long hair (standard for hitchhikers), no shirt (putting forth a bit more effort), and tons of tattoos (now we're talking!). And a mohawk (let's not get carried away here). The lady was similarly attired, and they had with them a huge, mangy dog. And it was drizzling, and they had a sign that read "Denver or bust," or something like that. If there is a sight that would be more likely to make me think, "Just keep on drivin," I can't think of it.
So anyhow, the hitchhikers in these parts tend to be somewhat similar to those three, and I usually just drive on by them. But last weekend I was driving back from Longmont (aka Schlongmont) around 2 in the morning. I was about to get on the Diagonal Highway that connects Schlongmont and Boulder, when I saw a man running towards my car from the nearby crosswalk, waving his arms and shouting something. My first thought was, "Fuck no, buddy, I'm not looking to get stabbed." But in a split second it occurred to me that he might actually be in trouble, and may need help. So I stopped, and he jogged up to my car.
He didn't seem the murdering type, but then again, I guess they never do. But still, he was in his mid-40's, I'd guess, and was dressed in shorts and a button-up short-sleeved shirt. Neither clothing item was camouflage or standard-issue Psycho Black, either, so I didn't feel too creeped out. He came up to my open passenger window, and I asked him what was going on. He asked if he could have a ride to Gunbarrel, a town just north of Boulder. In hindsight, Gunbarrel is JUST the type of place a killer would ask for a ride to, but I didn't think of that at the time.
"Well, hop on in," I said, and he did. He smelled a bit boozy. But he was immediately enthusiastically thankful and almost apologetic. He said his name was Karl (I'm not sure if it's spelled with a "C" or a "K," but the "K" seems more appropriate for a half-drunk hitchhiker, doesn't it?). Karl told me that he'd been out to the bars in Longmont with his buddies way back from school, and that they don't get to hang out often. But then all those dumb fuckers got all drunk, and then they fucking tried to drive home drunk. So he said "fuck no," man, because you gotta just stand for what you believe in, you fucking know man?
I had to hand it to him, man...I DID fucking know. He was on to something. I could tell that Karl was just a decent guy who got pissed that his dumbass friends drove drunk just to avoid waking up their wives and in turn pissing them off. He said he'd been prepared to walk the 10 miles back to his home in the cold, but it sure was nice that I stopped and gave him a ride. We kept the conversation light, but he also mentioned that he had three kids, and whether I knew it or not, they'd be thanking me in the morning, because their dad would be able to get more sleep. So I even gave Karl a ride to his door, and told him to take care of his kids and his drunk-driving asshole friends. He thanked me and ran inside his house.
"Wow!" I thought, "That was kind of cool!" I would have normally doubted the intentions of some freaking guy running near the onramp to a freeway at 2 in the morning, but this experience completely took me by surprise. He was just a good guy looking for a bit of help, and he was incredibly grateful for the help I gave him. I felt like I'd been a modern-day, Subaru-driving Good Samaritan, and the feeling didn't cost me a dime. So it's not like I'll go picking up every hitchhiker I see, but I did learn a bit about human nature, I think.
So I know this is getting long, but that brings me to my second new experience of last weekend. I was in the Dark Horse restaurant and bar on Saturday afternoon with some fellow members of The Unnecessary Umlauts, our German department soccer team. We were celebrating an awesome game with an afternoon burger and beer. I was in an upstairs section of the bar with my friend and star forward Laura. We were having a chat at a table when a guy walked in to the room carrying a pitcher of beer. There was nobody in that particular room but the two of us and this new guy, and he looked like he'd come in to play pool. He LOOKED like that, at least, but we got a weird vibe when he sat down at the table with us, neglecting the 10 other empty tables in the room. He was sort of like a Mexican Karl: mid-40's, casually dressed, and bearing some manner of alcohol.
Laura and I finished our particular line of thought, and paused in conversation. We were almost making to leave and join the others when this guy motioned to the pool table and asked/gestured in Spanglish whether we'd like to play. We politely declined, saying we had to meet up with the rest of our group. Laura said something in Spanish that I didn't quite catch, probably "Have a nice day!" He seemed to get excited that she spoke Spanish, but that emotion turned almost sad when he realized that we were still leaving. The rest of our group was on their way out, also, so we all went our separate ways. As I was in my car, about to turn on to Baseline Avenue, I must have felt a bit of a continued contact buzz from the Karl experience the night before. My mind said, "Fuck it. I'm going back and I'm gonna play pool with that guy." My body followed.
I went upstairs and introduced myself to the guy and asked in Spanish whether he still wanted to play or not. I said I was shitty at pool and Spanish, but I'd try my best at both. He seemed very happy, and he assured me he was also very bad at pool and English. He said his name was Angel. Seriously. And so we played pool. I could tell he was hardly trying, because he would have waxed the floor with my gringo ass if he'd wanted to.
After a bit of prodding in game two, he told me he was the number 1 pool player in Boulder five years ago. I think. Like I said, my Spanish needs a bit of work. He was damn good, though; at one point in game three, he took a cell phone call and proceeded to shoot in three or four balls one-handed. He was very cool and gracious about his talent, though, and he gave me tips and pointers throughout. And the strange thing was, even when I was certain an angle he was showing me would never allow a ball to go in, it always did. Angel was an angel of pool. I asked him more about his background, and he said he'd been working in Boulder 7 years. He came from the state of Zacatecas in Mexico, which also gave me pause for thought. Bobby and I recently discussed how many of our Mexican coworkers come from Zacatecas. I think we concluded that for so many people to come from one area, Zacatecas must be really shitty...kind of like the Nebraska of Mexico. Or maybe it's just due to the ganz gefaehrliche Colorado-Zacatecas connection. Who knows...
Anyhow, I might have gotten a strange vibe from a guy
in a bar on a Saturday afternoon that was twice my age, but not from him. Also, I guess he was flirting with someone on the phone, because around the time I left, a very large woman came in, and the two of them seemed to be together in some way. I guess she was his wife, because he also mentioned that his daughter went to Boulder High School. On my way out, he also asked for my number, so he could call sometime to come to his house when they were making supper. Pretty awesome, if you ask me (unless he's trying to set me up with his daughter).
I guess the moral of both of these encounters is that most everybody you meet has their own interesting story to tell. Deep down, I think that human nature must be more good than bad, otherwise humankind wouldn't be able to keep on keeping on. At least I think that's the moral of these two stories. But maybe the moral is simply "Always pick up hitchhikers. If you live, you might find out something interesting about yourself and human nature."
Either way, I hope you enjoyed the anecdotes.

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