Monkey see….monkey do….do

This week has been a little bit more “low key”. Part of that was due to another front that moved in and we had rain for days.  One of the things that I have now discovered in the new house that needs to be changed, is our internet provider. We have satellite internet which apparently goes down every time it rains. This required a trip to the local restaurants a couple of days for us to use our laptops and get some work done. Not a “problem”…but definitely an inconvenience.

The first part of the week, we had a repeat customer (11th time fishing with our company) come down and fish for a day and a half. Was awesome to see someone who enjoys our captain so much and is loyal and generous to the captain. He is from the Atlanta area and has been coming to Tamarindo and fishing with this company sometimes a few times a year. Very cool to meet a loyal, repeat client. So many will only be here once…  Our captains have been with this company for over 20 years each and they are not only knowledgeable fishermen, but really great people.

One of the things that continues to crack me up is the number of people who don’t know where Costa Rica is or that it’s not an island. Now I can’t tell you that I could have perfectly outlined all of the Central and South American countries until a few years ago when I went to Venezuela, Belize and Costa Rica…but I DID know that Costa Rica was not an island. Many of us here have realized that many people (worldwide) confuse Costa Rica with Puerto Rico. People are constantly asking us (and the other Expats) “How is island life?” and assuming that we are in the path of the storms that hit the Virgin Islands, Jamaica and, devastatingly, Puerto Rico. As noted in a previous blog, we had one heck of a storm that hit Costa Rica the first part of October, but nothing as magnanimous and savage as the storm that hit Puerto Rico. But everyone thinks we’re on an island in the Caribbean… Not only am I not on an island, but we live on the Pacific Coast. FYI.


My Spanish is coming along.  Sometimes I even surprise myself. When one is forced into a “have to” situation,  it’s amazing how even an old, crusty brain can be forced into remembering crap you were “sure” you had learned but usually can’t remember. I still have difficulty interpreting what is being said to me. Reading…not so difficult….speaking…more difficult….interpreting/listening….UGH. Sometimes…I just need more time to THINK a little bit longer than they give me so I can figure it out. By the time my lightbulb goes off, they’ve changed the subject.

The other day I was in a group conversation. One of the locals referred to me as the “Jefa”. For those of you who watch shows like Narcos, Orange is the New Black, Dexter, etc… (or actually took Spanish) you know that jefe means “boss” and jefa is a female boss. “Jefe” is pronounced “hef ay”. Now remember, my brain is on 78rpm and the Costa Ricans are playing a 45rpm when they speak.  (For those of you not born or knowledgeable of the types of vinyl records we used to have…my brain is on slo-mo and they talk really fast.) So in this conversation I am referred to as the jefa. They say “jefa”. I  hear “heifer”. Now…I know that the humidity is supposed to be plumping out my skin and wrinkles..but I am experiencing a bit of a stunned moment when I hear this man refer to me as a “heifer”..   I know I looked at him with a bit of shock on my face. Again, by the time it registered, he had moved on in conversation and I had no idea what the rest of the conversation was about.

The wildlife is one of my favorite parts of Costa Rica. Whether it’s the dolphins, whales iguanas, monkeys, sloths (though not in my region) or just the regular horse and cow walking the streets, I love animals. In Virginia, I had a feeding stand in the backyard where I fed raccoon, opossum and foxes.  I have been hoping to get the monkeys on video as the howler monkeys make a noise that sounds like something from Jurassic Park. (which, I discovered after making this analogy that their sounds WERE used in the Jurassic Park series). The other day, while we were at the beach, the howlers had come down to the trees overlooking the parking lot.  There were a number of young people looking up trying to get pictures. Well Ellie Mae here, decided that her Dr. Doolittle skills were going to get the monkeys over to me (proving to the young people my animal savvy)so I could get a video. I start calling to the monkeys and while looking through my phone (as I want to record their howl for the benefit of my American friends) trying to find the monkey to record him..and…WHAT?..what is that? Yep…that’s monkey shit rolling down my arm, hand, leg….  you get the picture…and it’s not pretty.  To “save face” I stand there like a bump on a log acting like I don’t see it and it didn’t hit me, while trying to move discreetly over to the big leaf area to get something to wipe it off my hand and arm. Yep…showed those kids that I’m a “natural” with the wildlife. Also assumed that since I stood there stoically, as though nothing happened, that they wouldn’t  notice. You should’ve seen their faces when I turned around.  Yep…they saw.


Well…I showed them, or is it I gave them a show?

Do you remember the “Bo Derek” braids? (Don’t gasp, I didn’t do that.) Bo Derek wore these long, tight braids in the movie “10” years and years ago. Was the sexiest thing around at the time. Several years ago while in Mexico, my daughter and step-daughter got their hair braided like that on the beach.  One of the things I remember at the time was the lady who braided their hair that when we eventually took the braids out,  there would be a lot of hair that would come out. The reason for this is due to the lack of daily brushing of the hair and removal of the pieces that naturally fall out. When you don’t comb/brush daily, the loose hair will just hang there in the braids until brushed. Yes…I remembered that THEN. However, due to the EXTREME humidity here (did I tell you how HUMID it is here?)  I now wash my hair and then put it into a ponytail on the very top of my head. The following day, I just lean over, grab my hair and re-wrap the band, etc. No more brush, no more straight iron (what’s THAT point here?)…just wash and up. Well…I forgot that theory about not combing/brushing and the other day I decided to let my ponytail down and run my fingers through my hair. OMG. HOLY TOLEDO. For someone who has VERY thin hair…I was sure 1/2 of it was in my hands!  I thought something was WRONG with me.  Alopecia? Stress? New Diet? What the heck? Freaking out….I just knew I was on my way to bald…. Then I remembered. I actually brushed my hair last night.

Punctual / punctuality is not a thought or concept in Costa Rica. The expats (Gringos) refer to it as “Tico Time”.  Yep…”the refrigerator guy will be there tomorrow”. Nope. “The yard man will be there at 10am”. Psych. The gardener will be there on Sunday”. You meant Monday? It is crazy.  I initially tried to plan around these “appointments” and that only created frustration. But no one here is bothered.  It’s “normal”. The justification behind it is “something important must’ve come up”. Okay. Another aspect of re-conditioning when moving to Costa Rica. Everyone in the USA needs it “yesterday”. Here, you will get it “whenever”.  The locals are okay with that and it’s their way of life. It doesn’t “stress them out”….they don’t get agitated. Maybe they have it right….not sure. But if you can grasp the concept, it sure helps. Sure, you can get agitated by it, but it’s not going to change things. Embrace it? Not yet,  but what I do know is that I live in THEIR world now…



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