Thursday, May 26, 2005

Orchestra and Sit and Spin

Last Sunday morning Roberta and I went to the Teatro Nacional and saw the Costa Rican Orchestra. There were 100 choir singers on stage behind the orchestra and the sound was awesome. There was a lady sitting around us who was wearing some perfume that smelled like a a fishing tackle box that I had when I was a kid. I have fond memories of that tackle box.

Then after the orchestra we went to this Cultural Craft Fair at the old booze factory which is now the Cultural Center downtown. To get there we walked through the park that we are going to be playing music at next month. Nothing too interesting at the cultural craft fair but I got a great picture of some kids playing on something that was either a toy or an old industrial component.

Check out the pictures for more:

Click here for pictures

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

How many ways to say rain?

I thought I knew rain. You know living in Oregon my whole life. Nope, you don't know rain until you've lived in the tropics. Today around noon it started pouring down, really pouring down with big huge drops accompanied by thunder and lightning. Rain here is like a little baby: sometimes nice, clean and refreshing but other times screaming bloody mary trying to put out the fires of hell. Rain here is both a noun and verbo with more palabras (words) to describe it. Here's a few that I found:

lluvia - rain
pelo de gato - (cat's fur) a soft drizzle
garau - drizzle or sprinkle
aquacero - downpour
temporal - a storm that can last for days
granizado - hail
llueve a cantaros - raining buckets

Just naming a few. But luckily here it is warm when it's raining so you don't need to worry about hypothermia if you get wet. As I was walking home from school in 'llueve a cantaros' my legs from my hips down were soaking wet. This while using an umbrella for a 15 minute walk. Increible.

Luckily the mornings are the best. I do yoga on the roof, after shooing away the noisy parrots. Parrots here are like loud noisy seagulls.

Adios Roberta

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Evening adventure.

We went to see Star Wars III last night. After about 10 minutes into the movie the it stopped. After about a 5 minute wait they got it running again. The after about another 10 minutes it died for good. Then after about another 20 minutes they decided to move everyone from this huge theater into this tiny theater. At that point Roberta and I were like, lets go home and get some dinner.

On the way home we saw some people spinning fire at a stop light on a hugely busy intersection. We rushed home to get the camera and come to find out that the power is out in our neighborhood. We parked the truck out front of the apartment and Roberta ran up to get the camera. I was looking at this park ahead and kept seeing these bright flashes of light coming from within. It looked like someone running around striking a lighter. Then I realized that it was fireflies. Instead of glowing all the time they would flash for a split second. There were a ton of them out there. Too bad I don’t do mushrooms because with a lawn chair and a bottle of water that would be hours of entertainment.

We went and got some pictures of the fire spinners and then decided to go out for dinner since we don’t have power at our house and can’t get the car in the garage since the gate is electric. We went to this Mexican restaurant that still had power and there was the loudest mariachi band playing there that I have ever heard. I think that gets the point of our evening across fairly well.

Here are some pictures of the Fire Spinners. If you look at the top of the picture you will see the stop light. They are in the middle of traffic doing this:

Click for fire

Friday, May 20, 2005


Last night I went up and played music with Mauricio (Claire's Boyfriend) up at their house and had a great time. Leo (Claire's Son) records samples into the computer and makes songs. Then Mauricio on guitar and me on bass were playing over the top of it. It actually works.

We are going to start practicing 3 times per week because we have a show in a park during a French Music festival in about a month. Supposedly we might have a drummer, timbales, congas, trumpet, and maybe keyboards. Sounds like it will be 45 minutes of enjoyable chaos. Hopefully we will get the show recorded and I will post it up here.

The most enjoyable part of the evening was playing traditional Latin songs. Mauricio is very good at playing and singing those types of songs.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Some notes on Catholocism

A few observations.

I was riding a bus to Escazu and two nuns got on and the driver just waived them on. They didn't have to pay their .35 cents. It was funny because that same day I was thinking about how fun it would be to walk around in a nun outfit. See how people treated you and stuff. Now it turns out I have a financial incentive. Free bus fare!! I'm not sure it's worth how hot they look, so many layers. There are a lot of nuns here out in public unlike the states.

Second Observation. Now that I have a TV I watch it. I can't help it. I turn on the TV and say to myself I'm going to watch some spanish novellas (soap operas with good slang) and study spanish. Well I always end up changing it to some dumb English speaking station and watch it. Adam is getting really irritated with me, he hates TV more than big hairy spiders. But the obervation I am offfering is that every time I turn on the dam thing the default station is the Latin Catholic station. So I always end up watching some nun blab on in Spanish for a while. It's really funny in Spanish , it's even funnier when it's English that has been dubbed over in Spanish. Why is the default station spanish? I guess catholocism really is the nation's religion.

Here's my third observation, it's a link to a website with a lot of good content. This guy is an expat from the states in Costa Rica.

Ten derelictions of the late pope

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Up up up up... To Volcan Irazu.

We decided to take a small road trip with our slgihtly legal auto. We decided on Volcan Irazu which is about an hour away from our house at 12,000' on the top of a mountain. It is a really amazing drive up this winding road with an incredible view the whole way. Pictures to prove it:

Pictures of the trip

On the way back down we stopped at a farmers market to get some produce. Talk about cheap. There was this guy who was BBQing some chicken on coals that were in a hub cap. There was a line so it must have been some good hub cap chicken. Roberta had just got over some stomach problems so she didn't want to eat it.


Sunday, May 08, 2005

Bribery in Costa Rica

This is Roberta telling you her little exciting story about bribery and not passing a smog check. Adam, fortunately had to work, and did not accompany me.

I've been reading in Tico Times that the government has been trying to crack down on bribery, but luckily that hasn't happened in our case.

So in our previous blogs you may have read that we have successfully purchased a legal vehicle in Costa Rica. All is fun and games until you don't have that last little sticker. Well in Costa Rica there is an equivalent DEQ smog check, which the truck past last December, but never obtained the sticker for some mysterious reason. Here is the crazy scenerio of Thursday afertoon. You have to remember that this is in a foreign country and I don't know spanish that well, the whole time in my head I'm thinking "Midnight Express". Here's how it goes:

- Get picked up by the owner to go get the infamous sticker in Limon, about an hour and a half away. Realize that the sticker was expired.
- Stop by this junkyard where some guy owes somebody some money. Waiting in the car, kind of creepy...
- Head over to Escazu, an hour an a half away, where somebody knows somebody who can get us into the smog check that day because it takes a week to get an appointment at this place.
- Head over to the mechanic who will fix some things to get it to pass.
- Go over to this other guys house, pay him off to get us an 'in'. Paying off, is a quick 10,000 colones (~$20) in a shady like handshake. But, we have to take his cousin.
-So we drive another hour to get the cousin, who also happens to bring another sidekick who just wants to tag along for the ride.
-So there are four people in the car to go get this sticker. At this point I'm drinking Smirnoffs in the back seat with the sidekick.
-We get in, but somehow there is a hole in the muffler and we don't pass. Complete bummer. I guess you can't bribe your entire way here, by that time I was ready to pay. The mechanic friend is going to get this worked out on Monday, because Orlando the guy who was suppose to work this out is heading to Florida for the week.

We'll See...

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Discos, cars, lawyers!

This is Roberta bringing in her experiences of the previous weekend.

Well lots have been happening. Last weekend I went to a multi-level disco that was pretty cool. I can go to a club like that maybe once a year. Last year it was a club n Las Vegas. So I went to this club because Clair's son Leon was the opening dj for Anthony Pappas, who is apparently so famous he doesn't even have a website. Ok I guess it was pretty good house music as house music goes, but I don't think I digested enough drugs (any at all, alcohol doesn't count) to enjoy it that much. But luckily since I 'knew' the opening dj they let me back stage were I hung out with all of the cool people. But since I didn't know spanish and the music was blaring through my earplugs I couldn't hear anything anyways. We didn't even show up to the club until midnight and they main performer didn't start until 2:30 am. I guess since they don't have laws telling them when to stop serving that can start and end at any time. Here's the link to the clug website: But the best part about this club is that everybody is really nice and happy. I accidently bumped into this girl who had a drink, I said I was sorry in broken spanish and she just smiled back, no attitude complete niceness. People give you space to move about and there is none of the ego attitude that you get in american bars and pubs. The girls are not mean and snotty and the guys are gentlemen. Ok that's CR's only club scene, really it is the only disco in the country.

So Adam and I just bought a car. Here's the story: our friend Clair says she knows Pinky who knows a guy who imports cars from the states. I'm thinking in my head, Pinky? This sounds really shady?? But you have to remember in Latin American countries nicknames from childhood sometimes lasts a lifetime. I met a guy in Puerto Rico whose name was Coco because his head as a baby looked like a coconut, his sister didn't know his real name. OK back to Pinky.

Pinky takes a day or two, calls back and says he has something. Adam goes and looks at it cause I'm in spanish class up the street. I get back and the car and price has Adam's OK so we run around town trying to figure out how to wire money into Costa Rica without paying too much. We get that figured out but Adam has to work so I have to go to the lawyer (abogado) and put the truck in my name. !!Yikes!

I'm running around with two guys I just met carrying hundreds of dollars (just the money necessary for the lawyer and paper work signing) going to see a lawyer that was suggested by the seller. Guidebooks say this is not a good idea, we should obtain lawyers seperately. But I say to myself, this guy knows Pinky and Pinky knows Clair, what could go wrong....?

So I'm sitting in this lawyer's office, pretty fancy shmancy lawyers office that looks like a complete dump from the outside. I was really nervous going in. I know nothing about the process of buying cars, this was supposed to be Adam's responsibility. Well nothing went wrong, we got the money transferred, the lawyer paid off, some legal looking stickers in the window and a cherry red four door 91' Izuzu Rodeo for around $4,000 which was about half the price cars are going for in lots.

We got a good deal (for Costa Rica), a solid car and made some new friends. There's still some more stickers and documents to obtain but the keys and the car are in our hands. We were a little worried about getting ripped off but luckily we knew Pinky who knew Clair. It's a small world down here. The seller of the car also drove us around to four differenet mechanics trying to get us a seat belt replacement. He's still going to get one for us, which is better because all of the mechanics will charge us gringo prices but he will get a better deal cause he's Tico.

Spanish Classes, Whoohoo!
They told me to just show up on Monday and they will get me into a group. Well the groups are so small there wasn't one for my level so I have a personal spanish class for four hours a day. It is completely intense. You cannot daze out the window when you are the only student. Cripes the lesson is formed around the points were I have difficulty, which is hard. I'm use to excelling at classes, not having my difficulties pointed out. Oh well I'll get better at this sooner than later at this pace.

Funny things we saw today:
Crazy man dancing in the middle of traffic, slapping his butt and having a good old time in the middle of crazy Costa Rican traffic. I gave him 100 colones (.25 cents) because I couldn't stop laughing. I never give money out the window (cause it's dangerous). Usually people try to sell you something or look pathetic. This guy was dancing hillariously for money. Gotta give props where props are due.

Some guy dressed in a really good Zoro outfit trying to advertise for the bookstore. It was funny because I don't understand the connection between Zoro and the bookstore, and the outfit was really good.

Here a couple crappy pictures of the truck:

Link to picures of truck

Monday, May 02, 2005

And the hunt is on.

We have been searching for a car for the past week and it is a royal pain in the ass. We drove around all weekend and hunted for a car. It was good to get out and see the terain that we will have to be driving over. The Pan American highway is really nice. Everything else is pretty damn intense. We decided that we have to have a small SUV. It doesn't need to be 4x4 it just needs to be high off the ground.

Enjoy these pictures from our weekend trip.

Link to pictures