Women's Lib, 80s Style, I guess. Enjoy!
July 29, 2009
July 27, 2009
pizotes. So we’ll probably have to go back on our own sometime to enjoy a quiet excursion and visit the Quaker-run dairy (yep, it exists).
It was also a big week in the sense that Angela ate her first hot dog ever! (The picture is one that I took at Chicago’s O’Hare airport about 5 years ago, and is for illustrative purposes only.) She had had hot dogs in rice before (sounds weird, I know), but never in a hot dog bun. When I heard that, we prepared hot dogs one evening, and we each promptly ate three of them. The purists would surely scoff, since they were chicken hot dogs, but at least we put on ketchup, mustard, mayo, sauerkraut, and jalapeños. Sort of an American- Latin- German fusion…on a sesame-seed bun. And, as the title of this post indicates, we’re indebted to my grandma for the boiled cooking process, since we have yet to get a grill (soon, though, dammit!).
I’ve also been watching all the episodes of Yacht Rock and methodically downloading the music featured in the show. Seriously, if you’ve not checked it out, you’re missing a lot. It’s pretty hilarious, and it’s like a having a syringe full of Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins injected straight into your heart. Thanks for rigging my boat to sail on the seas of smooth music, Chris!
Other than that, things are pretty calm at the hacienda. I’ve been watering the yard grass every night, moving the hose and our lame little sprinkler every 20 minutes. Two weeks after we put in the grass, sections of the lawn are barely hanging on due to our crappy luck with the rain. One would think that in the “rainy season,” there’d be at least a little drizzle now and then, but it’s been nothing but warm, dry weather and only about 5 minutes of rain in the last two weeks. But I guess we should be happy that the seasonal downpours haven’t begun to wash our new grass down the side of the mountain, either.
So that’s what’s new. I’ll try to do a few more updates through the week, and hope that everyone’s well!
July 19, 2009
"Sure," the girl at the counter said. "Hey, you're from some place like Poland, right?"
Good: Apparently, I'm starting to lose my American accent.
Not as good: I'm gaining a Polish one in its place.
Na zdrowie, and have a happy Sunday!
July 18, 2009
To break up these pictures, here's our cat Cucho being adorable and arm-wrestling with Angela.
Here's the side yard. On the left, you can see my rockwall and (sorta) see the chiflera sticks I planted, which are starting to send out buds.
July 17, 2009
But, I wouldn’t mention it again if I didn’t have something awesome to share with you. My friend Chris Sawyer (YES, like Tom Sawyer, you freaking Germans) sent me his fake CD the other day, and it’s so great, it may even be my favorite of all of them. It’s just such a good gelling of band name, CD title, and cover picture that it’s remarkable. Have a look at the band Kystvakten’s new CD, "Ecstasy at Your Feet":
Finally, as to the music itself, Chris mentions Roxy Music (at least because of the cover), and that the music is a sort of "new wave Scandinavian yacht rock." Brilliant, my good man!
July 16, 2009
There are also taxis, as well as the option of attempting to constantly bum a ride from someone going down-mountain, but of those two options, the former is very expensive and the latter just plain sucks. Indeed, the only real workable solution to living in Berlín seems to be to buy a car. In the past, we had a RAV-4, but after seeing how expensive maintenance, gas, annual inspections, registrations, and especially insurance was becoming, we decided to sell it and downgrade to a cheaper sedan or coupe.
As I mentioned in a previous post, Costa Rica seems to be a strange sort of twilight zone for car depreciation values, in that the values of many cars here go up, not down, and the result is a terribly skewed pricing system in which a 1985 jeep-style Land Cruiser sells for $11,000, and in general the prices of most cars are about twice what they would be in the U.S. For a nominally poor, third-world country, I’m not sure how they can maintain this system wherein many families’ cars cost more than their houses.
The upside of this strange arrangement, though, is that I was able to sell the RAV-4 for quite a bit of money, even while offering it a bit below market price. I also barely lost any money by reselling it two years and thousands of kilometers after I bought it. (In fact, here I sold my 2001 RAV-4 with around 110,000 miles for about the same price I sold my 2005 Subaru with only about 10,000 miles in the U.S.…like I said, it’s weird.)
Once I sold the RAV-4, though, I didn’t have a car. My father-in-law Honorio graciously let us use his Land Cruiser for a while, but we didn’t want to take advantage of his generosity. We began looking for cars, but found a market inundated with expensive crap. Around the same time, I found some statistics in the paper regarding car sales in Costa Rica. Here is a breakdown of the most commonly-sold cars in the country, according to their percentage share of the market:
For me, this is very interesting. I’d like to see a breakdown of how these figures look in the U.S., just to compare, but I’m sure it’d be quite different. In any case, you’ll notice that with the exception of Geo, there’s virtually NO presence of American cars here, and a glance around on the street confirms this. On a recent trip to my old job, I made it my task to count all the American cars I saw. An hour later, after I’d counted about 5 Geo Trackers and one Ford Ranger truck, I finally saw two Ford Fiestas as I was pulling into the commercial park where I worked. I know I’ve already mentioned this, but to me it’s incredible that Costa Rica, with its close relations and dependence on many American things, can have virtually no American cars. Especially considering that it’s got to be much easier logistically to import a car from the U.S. than from Japan or Korea, this whole idea doesn’t really speak to well to the image or quality of American cars here.
But I digress. After searching for a few weeks, my goofy friend Luis called randomly to say that he’d found a Nissan Sentra that we ended up liking. We bought it a few days later, while our friend Annie was visiting. The car was unfortunately named “Campanita”— or “Tinkerbell” --and it had a totally lame sticker on the back window to confirm its handle. I scraped it off with a razor blade one evening while Angela was at work, much to her dismay. Hey, I know that Tinkerbell was kinda hot, and that guys often name their cars after girls, but I don’t think this is what they had in mind when they started this custom.
In any case, our car now has no name, but it’s been serving us relatively well, especially considering the sort of inclines it has to go up in order to get from Palmares to Berlín. And the best thing of all: It’s not a Hyundai.
Now all that’s missing is a Sad Jesus Head sticker.
July 10, 2009
In any case, in the meantime I've heard about two new up-and-coming fake bands, and I wanted to share them with you.
First of all, we have the band fronted by my buddy and ex-coworker Roberto Monterrosa (yes, that's his real name and yes, it is that awesome):
When he sent me the pic, he asked if I knew what the cat and bird represent. I was a bit unsure at first; perhaps a sort of racial tension? Two of the bandmates? A cat and a bird?
But, of course, I was a dumbass. The white cat represents cocaine, and the green bird represents money. Duh! How could I have missed that?
In any case, Robby describes it as a sort of rapcore band, but better!
Next, we all knew that my brother Paul made movies (check out two of the newest ones here and here... in this second one you can actually see Paul; he's the guy in the backseat who apparently has a camera in his crotch). But aside from movies, Paul's been producing his debut album with his new group Ocrad:
In any case, thanks to these two great gents for their contribution to the fake music world, and I wish them the best of luck!
Keep on rocking!
July 8, 2009
It mentions all the best and the worst of this verdant land; in other words, it's got the hidden beaches but also the junta de agua de Berlín.
July 7, 2009
It’s a great book, and for a 19th Century Russian society novel, it’s pulled me in with surprising force. I’ve read and quite enjoyed books like Pride and Prejudice, so I’m no stranger to foofy, old-fashioned stories of debutantes at balls, unrequited love, swooning, and all other that crap. However, I can say without pride that my prejudice lies on Anna Karenina’s side. While reading the book, I intercepted this discreet note from Tolstoy to Jane Austen: “My dear lady, you seem to have dropped your ass. Please allow me to hand it to you. Sincere Greetings, etc, --Lev “Leo” Tolstoy.”
Yesterday evening, in fact, I had time to consider the book more during my “Girl’s Night In,” as I called it in my mind. I only named it that 'cause I realized while it was going on that it was a pretty girly way to spend an evening.* But as I was reflecting on the book over a homemade quesadilla, I seemed to remember that during my Tolstoy class in college, my professor noted that one of the author’s main interests was trying to answer the question “How should one live life?” I have also been grappling with this question of late, as I’m sure many of my friends and contemporaries are. And thus far, the answers have come out jumbled.
One would think that living with a beautiful wife in a foreign country, with a job I enjoy that gives me plenty of free time to--as my grandpa would say--putz around, that I’d be sitting pretty. And indeed, I am quite content with my life right now. But then again, there’s always that itch. What is it about human nature that gives us this striving for something new, something better, something—anything—different than our current position, regardless of how desirable our current state is?
I think I’m just concerned that if I’m not careful, life will pass me by, and that I have an obligation to try to live it to the fullest. Damn you, Ferris Bueller, you were right! But where does that take me now? Should I stay here and live for the rest of my life in this shit-kicking hamlet in the mountains of
I know that there is a certain urgency to these questions. As my last boss put it, “You gotta figure this stuff out; soon you’ll be 35.” Hmm, well, I hope he meant “30,” but with my hairline, the confusion’s understandable. 30, 35, even 25…whatever. He’s right. I do gotta get this stuff figured out, and soon, if possible. I guess that this confusion is possibly the root of human existence, and if we’re not asking ourselves these questions, we’re probably doing something wrong, or at least attempting to live obliviously in relation to life’s reality, the one, underlying fact behind it all: from the moment we’re born, our days or numbered.
Any suggestions from the crowd?
On a lighter, less wino-sounding note, today is mine and Angela’s second anniversary. At least I got the “essential companion” part of my life figured out. Angela, if you get to an internet café in the next three months and happen to read this, then Te amo! Gracias por todo el amor y todas las felicidades que me das cada día!
*Here’s how the “Girls’ Night In” evening went down: After working in the yard all day—Thank God I did at least something manly!--shoveling rocks and cutting stuff with my machete, I retired to the house. Angela was at work, so I poured myself a glass of cheap, shitty boxed white wine, drew a warm bath, and while listening to music I read through the new Martha Stewart Living that my mom sent me. I was going to read more of Karenina, but I wanted to be sure not to drop it in the tub and get it wet. Even though a lot of the music was stuff like Johnny Cash, Black Sabbath, or The Mars Volta, I still felt it a rather feminine way to spend the evening. All that was missing was a viewing of Angela’s copy of Sleepless In Seattle, a tub of chocolate ice cream, and those old sweatpants that only I like…
July 2, 2009
In any case, I’m not sure if they’re reporting this much in the
Now, we’ve all been in awkward situations like this, especially after a long Saturday night, but this has got to set some sort of precedence for weirdness. My particular interest lies with the Honduran military soldiers who kidnapped Zelaya: what did they actually do after arriving at the airport? Did they get out, talk to the guy who guided the plane to the gate with those glow sticks, and say, “Hey, here’s our President, do you mind watching him while we do some errands up north?” How did they address the radio tower? "Heads up, President coming in!"? Did they have to take him through customs or immigration—good luck, Mel!—since he probably didn’t happen to have his passport in his pajama pocket? Or did they just land without permission, open the pressurized cabin door with a whoosh, toss Zelaya out onto the tarmac, and then take off again? The newspapers are suspiciously silent as to the answers to all of these questions.
The day of his arrival here, Zelaya had a joint press conference with Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, who looked somewhat confused in the newspaper picture (although to be fair, Arias often looks a bit confused in newspaper pictures). Arias condemned the coup and demanded that
As the days have progressed, Zelaya went to a meeting of Latin American Presidents in Nicaragua and apparently continued on to the U.S. to talk to U.N. General Assembly or something like that (I stopped paying close attention to the articles around this point). He eventually plans on returning to
Anyhow, this situation is weird, and to paraphrase Brazilian President Lula* said, “We can’t permit right in the 21st century, that we have a military coup in
Maybe that’s what’s going on: Central America is suffering from 1980s nostalgia and trying to recapture some of the “romance” from that era.**
And everywhere I look, all I see are Land Rovers from the late 70s and early 80s, and Michael Jackson’s music is on every station!
It’s Political 80s Night here in the isthmus! Put on your Member’s Only jacket and come on down!
* Brazilian Presidents, just like Brazilian soccer players, have only one name.
* Brazilian Presidents, just like Brazilian soccer players, have only one name.
** I am obviously joking about this whole matter, and I hope I don’t offend anyone by taking it too lightly. My best wishes are with everyone in
July 1, 2009
For two weeks in June, our friends Dustin and Samantha visited us from Colorado. That's the main reason the blog has been pretty MIA of late, by the way. I've got some good stuff coming up, though... don't you worry. In any case, it was really great to have Deuce and Sam visit, and I wanted to put up a few pictures from their stay. Hope you enjoy them, and that you're tempted to visit, as well! (All but the first four are from Dustin's camera... I didn't ask permission, but hope that's cool I'm putting them up, Deuce)
Doctor's visits? Chickens in trees? Angela chasing cows out of the yard? How come all the interesting stuff happened when I was gone??
This cat kinda sucks in comparison to our other cat Cucho, to be completely honest with you.
Right after that, we saw another possibly homeless guy sleeping on a park bench. This would be not so extraordinary, except this second guy had taken out his false teeth and they were sitting on his arm as he slept. And the set of teeth was missing random teeth.
Man, Sam Ramón is pretty shitty.
Anyhow, that's it for the pictures for now. Hope you liked them, and maybe you learned something (certainly not).
Thanks again to Dustin and Sam for visiting, and we hope to have you come back very, very soon!