Saturday, April 30, 2005

Screaming like school girls

That is what Roberta and I were doing last night. I came down the stairs to the kitchen to get some fresh squezzed OJ and Roberta wasn't too far behind me. When she gets to the bottom of the stairs she lets out this high pitched yelp. I look over and there is this huge cockroach flipped over on its back. I guess Roberta almost stepped on it. We opened the door and swept it outside. Disaster averted.

Then we sit down on the couch and start to study some Spanish/English flashcards. After a couple minutes of this it was my turn to scream like a school girl. I looked over and saw what I would consider a tarantula walking along the floor next to us. The thing was probably 4 or 5 inches across and moving fairly fast. We jumped up and got our wits about us and armed ourselves with a couple brooms.

I poked at it with my broom and it started literally jumping around which made both me and Roberta again scream like school girls. I can't imagine much worse than a large fast moving spider that has the capability to jump. We moved all the furniture away from its path to the door and started to nudge it out. Finally Roberta got her chance and swept it outside. Whew, disaster averted.

This all happened because we left the downstairs patio door open at night cuz Vida likes to go outside. We learned our lesson.

Friday, April 29, 2005

What do the guidebooks know anyway.

Last night we went out to the red light district and did some gambling. All of the guide books say in particular “Don’t wander around the red light district at night.” While walking around down there I had my leatherman in my hand and was fumbling with it so that people could see something metal and shiny. If someone attacked us I would have to ask them kindly to hold on while I open one of the blades into its full locked position. Hey, we made it. I didn’t feel any less safe than being on Burnside at night.

Prostitution is legal here so there was a nice mix of hookers and gambling. Roberta and I only partook in the gambling. We went into this nasty casino called the Horseshoe and hit the slots. We started off with $10 and walked out with about $24. That paid for our cab and dinner. Amazingly the drinks they served in there were really strong. At 9:00pm on a Wednesday the central square by the Grand Hotel Costa Rica was about as packed as Pioneer square during the day but by 9:30 it was dead as a ghost town.

Roberta and I are starting Spanish language classes next week. I am taking one on one lessons at the house and Roberta is taking classes over at the college. Hopefully this will help break down the language barrier. It is actually surprising how few people speak English in and around our neighborhood. That was exactly what we were looking for.

We had a really nice time last Sunday out with some friends from here. They are old time Costa Ricans and own a fair portion of the Costa Rican coffee production. They are potentially the nicest people I have ever met. They had about 12 people over and most people spoke at least 3 languages. People were mixing French and Spanish and English. It was fun to listen to but sometimes hard to understand. At one point I thought that everyone was talking about pasta but it turned out they were talking about the grass in the yard.

Here are some pictures from Sunday and some action photos of the cat:

Click link for pictures

Saturday, April 23, 2005

And I present to you..... Pictures.

Here are some pictures of our apartment and various other attractions in our neighborhood. Enjoy.

Link to pictures

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Ay de mi.

Two full days down in Costa Rica now. Things are a little different here.

I have never been so scared in my life. Yesteday Roberta and I decided to get a rental car so that we could see the city on our terms and find a place to live. Driving in Costa Rica is like riding a rollercoaster, except that you have a steering wheel and there are busses that will push you out of the way to get where they are going. None of the roads are marked so you are just kind of driving by feel. There typically aren't lines on the road so that means if there is room then go for it. Honking just means that the light is about to turn green.

I am finding it hard to describe driving in Costa Rica because it is so overwhelming. There are motorcycles going full speed between the "lanes" of traffic. Busses stopped in the middle of the road for no reason. Pedestrians playing a nice game of frogger. Nonexistent street signs that were supposed to indicate one way streets. Semi trucks driving towards you in your lane because there was room.

Today we used a map and found our way to an apartment that we were interested in. We drove during the middle of the day and it wasn't that bad. We found the apartment that we want to live in. It is three stories with the third story being a patio on the roof with a small city view and a nice view of the mountains. It is in a nice neighborhood called San Pedro located near the college in a quiet area. The apartment is about five blocks from Claire's cafe and surrounded by many nice restaurants and a large mall. Hopefully we can close the deal tomorrow and move in within the next couple of days.

All in all I love the challenge of living here. It is like relearning how to live. Roberta is kicking butt at speaking spanish. She talks on the phone with people who speak no english and she gets her point across. I am still limited to ordering food and telling people thank you. I did ask the room service lady for another towel and wash cloth though. I was proud of myself.

Wish us luck.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Hola Amigo/as! Que Tal?

The title means Hello friends, what's happening? I'm sure you all know that but for the linquistically challenged I thought I would provide a translation.

Let me tell you a little bit about the Gin and Tonics here. They use so much fresh lemon juice that you think you are drinking a lemonade. MMmmm good...

Ok back to business, finding a place to live. So I spent a good couple of days walking around looking at neighborhoods. On the west end of town I only spent a half a day, but that was enough to know I don't want to live en El Suburbio de los Americanos. For those linquistically challenged that means the west side is for the gringos (kind of like Portland).

Clair, the lady who has been so kindly driving me around (when I'm not walking) took me over to her friend's house who is an architect. She's having a new addition built onto her mother's house. She's going to make it all out of bambo and mud. Needless to say the architect was really excited to do something interesting like this. I guess there was some big earthquake in Central America and the only building left standing was the ones made of bamboo and mud. I think Clair's doing it for the novelty, there isn't one straight line in the plans, all the walls are curvy. But that's OK, Clair doesn't have an art collection but her mother does. I spent an hour or so talking to her mother about Central American art.

Evette, Clair's mother said, in the end she can discern art types and the people who made them and where they came from. She said those geographic lines closely follow the political boundaries that currently exist. She is going to take me to two of her favorite museums and play tour guide for me. She doesn't collect artifacts anymore because she is opposed to collecting art and disturbing ancient places, which I totally agree with. She showed me the two she had and now I'm going to be on the look-out for fakes to add to my collection. Should be a lot cheaper! I'll post another blog to let you in on what Evette shows me at the museums.

But, back to business - apartamentos y casas. I think I've seen over 25 places. The thing that is hard here is that nobody posts 'for rent' (se aquilar) in the newspapers here. They just post a sign outside, you happen by it, and than you just have to call them. Except if you don't have a cell phone or a car you just take down notes and directions to the place. BUT there are no addresses to get directions too. There are no street signs and there aren't any numbers on the houses or buildings.

For instance the address to my aparthotel is 200 meters south of McDonalds in Sabana. Luckily there aren't that many McDonalds here and the one referenced isn't even open. But, regardless of how not-helpful these addresses are to foreigners its really easy to get around. All you do is flag down a taxi, of which there are tons, and tell them 'Quiero ir a La Iglesia Santa Theresita' or some other major known landmark close to where you are going, and then just point to exactly where you want to go. This will cost about as much as a bus fair across two zones in Portland about equal distance as well.

That is the church of St. Theresa. For those of you who know a little bit of Spanish will notice the 'ita' at the end of the word. The Ticos (Costa Ricans) throw this in for everything. For instance Vida the cat would be Vidaita or Vidatica. This really throws your Spanish off if you are beginning. I'm a little better than a beginner and it still throws me off.

I've been hanging out in Cafe Expressivo, mentioned in an earlier blog. Well there is a guy here that is a 'witch doctor'. I said, great maybe he can cure my lingering poison oak, yes lingering poison oak from about a month ago. He thought I was crazy when I started pointing at all these red blotches on my leg. He's not a 'witch doctor' but he does read tarrot cards. So he read my cards. It was really interesting. It pretty much came down to I'm a strong person, I have adventures, I will encounter challenges, I will get through them with somebody close, there will be dancing in the end, and I will be a better person. This is all in broken English/Spanish too. Also interesting, most of my cards had knives or swords in them. I thought that was pretty cool. I'm going to pay for the reading by burning him a bunch of music.

Well kids, you'd think I had nothing better to do, and really I don't. But nevertheless I must say chaio, because everybody else here says chaio and that is just so European cool.

Chaio y 'sta luego

Monday, April 11, 2005

It's me Roberta in Costa Rica

So I'm hacking into Adam's blog to let you know what's up with me. Well first off, American's are the most anal-retentive people. While trying to get to Costa Rica, both airlines that I was travelling with were adament that I needed some additional documentation for the cat to enter. After some heated arguements they let me go through with the USDA approval form, the only form I needed. They were threatening Vida with six months in quarantine. Having taken a dog through quarantine in Hawaii, there is no way a land connected country like CR would be more restrictive than las islas de Hawaii, plus I'd done my research and knew otherwise. When I actually got to Costa Rica the officials didn't even take Vida out of the box, they just stamped the forms and said welcome to Costa Rica.

So I took me and by now stinky Vida to the aparthotel El Sesteo ( Here is the vision: me with two bags that each weigh about 100 pounds stacked with my oversized carryons with Vida's stinky box perched on top held in place by the one hand I wasn't using to push the heavy cart. I arrived at 8:00am in the morning and they were very kind and cleaned out a room within thirty minutes. Yes that was an overnight trip, and for the last four days I was frantically packing, cleaning and taking care of business while Adam is living it up with room service in Houston and New Orleans.

Anyway I slept for a day (literally about 16 hours) and than spent a lovely day with Evette and Clair, a mother daughter pair with a big mansion like estate up in the country. I guess they are coffee plantation owners, but I didn't see any coffee trees. They are goat friends of Adam's. We had lunch at their pad which was really high in the mountains about 30 minutes from downtown San Jose. There was also another guest Maurice who was on political assylum from Columbia. I guess the war 'goings-on' where very intense and all his friends and family are dead. He used to be a communications professor but now he helps Clair with their restaurant 'Exressivo'. A cool little restaurant with tons of local art which could have a happy home on Alberta St. as well.

I'm completely out of my home territory, hanging out with somebody with a terrible experience but am able to find commonalities, I'm going to learn a lot here. They were very interested in me and what I do (planning, mapping, etc) hopefully I have something to offer.

We checked out a bunch of apartments on our way back to my aparthotel. I don't think we will have any trouble finding a nice place to stay.

Well that's it, I'm going to spend the next day exploring a couple of new neighborhoods and than hook up with some other local friends that Adam's family know in San Jose. My spanish is improving by the minute, I'm starting to think in Spanish. It's helpful having people who are patient and will speak amazingly slow when asked, very nice people.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

New Orleans, Wow.

Made it here today and went for a walk around the French Quarter. This place is pretty damn cool. Lots of really old buildings all with balconies over looking the streets. Tons of cool little shops that sell all sorts of strange crap. It really reminded me a lot of the Country Fair in Oregon but more frat boyish and less hippie. Today was the French Quarter festival which didn't seem all that fratboyish. I loved how you could walk up to a storefront and get a beer in a plastic cup and cruise around and check stuff out. There were bands playing in the streets and such. Bet this place gets crazy at night. We will see.

Flat flat flat.

Just rolled in to New Orleans. The town has a great vibe to start off with. Lots of old historic character preserved. On the drive here I saw my first armadillo road kill. Looks like it would suck to hit one of those buggers. Then I also saw the aftermath of a cattle truck that rolled. They had this hug pile of dead cows and they were digging a hole with a backhoe right next to the highway. Odd to say the least.

Also just got word from Roberta that she made it into Costa Rica. She didn't give me any details but it sounds like it went less than ideal. I was worried about what would happen traveling with Vida. Hopefully Roberta and I can chat tonight about the details.

Well, I am off to the Cafe Du'Mont and Bourbon Street. Wish me luck.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

First full week down

You remember in my last post I said that I was eating like a king? Now I know why kings are so fat. I make the relation to a method of quiting smoking. Everyone has heard that a great way to quit smoking is to smoke a couple packs as fast as you can and you will hate it forever. I am beginning to feel the same way about eating. If I can eat enough for these two weeks I will never want to eat again. That will be my diet.

Anyhow, I am driving to New Orleans for the weekend. Never been there so it should be an experience. Everyone is telling me to go to Cafe Dumont. They say something about little cups of coffee and twigs. Hmm.... Sounds interesting. The sad part is that I forgot my camera at home. I will just need to create pictures with words in my blog.

Well I am off to eat a 60 ounce steak dinner and I need to get ready for the gravy pipe. Need to do some Yoga first to stretch out my stomach. Wish me luck.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

First full day down

Yesterday was my first full day in Houston working. I am getting my laptop up to speed and having meetings with the people who I will be working with. Seems like a nice group to start with. The NetIQ office here is much nicer than the Portland office. It is well decorated and has all the snacks and drinks that you can consume.

My hotel room is huge here. King size bed, walk in tile shower, living room, etc. All meals are paid for so I have been eating like a king.

Off to go set up a PO box so we can forward our mail.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Post-party reality check.

Oh yeah, I completely forgot that we were moving to Costa Rica until we had our Going Away party. It is funny how I still haven't completely come to the realization that we are moving to there yet. In two weeks I hope to be more grounded in the world of reality.

The party was awesome. Nobody broke anything or puked on our moving boxes. The group of people who showed up were the best of the best. I am starting to realize that a good party should start at 8:00 in the morning and go until 2:00 the following moring so that everyone has a chance to fully mingle. I always feel like I only have time for a few words with each person. As usual I forgot to get drunk.

Friday, April 01, 2005

La fin d'une ère

Today is my last day at work with Webtrends. I haven't counted the days exactly but it was somewhere around a five and a half year stint. Ups, downs, overs. It had everything. Layoffs, icecream socials, nerds. I made some really good friends and I learned a lot about software engineering.

The way that I got the job at Webtrends is a funny story. My friend Paul and I had went out drinking and then saw a show. We closed the place down and came back pretty well trashed. The day prior I had noticed that Charles Petzold, the author of my favorite Windows Programming book, was giving a talk at Powells Tech books in the morning. Needless to say I woke up 15 minutes before the talk was supposed to start with a raging hangover. Jumped out of bed and put on the clothes that I was wearing the night before and drove down to Powells.

His talk on the history of computers was very interesting. After he was done talking I turned around to the table behind me that had two complete strangers at it and asked "Are you guys software engineers?" The answer was yes. Then I asked "Are you guys hiring?". The answer was yes. They were Pete and Andy and that was how I got my job. Got in right before the Webtrends 100. It was nice to meet Charles Petzold and get his autograph. He is a nerd god.

Now today is my last day with Webtrends. How do I feel you ask? I feel like moving to Costa Rica.