Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Of Mountains and Con Men

I haven't posted in a while because of a few things. One of the coming changes with Google Ads means I had to make a big change to how I am posting at No Longer Quivering. I had to think about how I was going to accomplish this change and it took me a good month to decide how to handle the changes coming. I finally did come up with a new working model but I've not managed to update daily like I have been for years.

Truthfully I am going to have to decide if working as the admin over at NLQ is even worthwhile any longer for a number of reasons, like the new changes which are much more time consuming, dealing with a plethora of Russian trolls coming into the comments daily while attempting to use NLQ's comment space to build their reputation so that they will be able to post whatever propaganda they want later. All the email addresses are coming off a Yandex server, all don't post any original comments, they copy and paste someone else's comments in that same thread to garner enough likes to avoid the dreaded low rep/spamming.

I keep seeing this happen on many sites across the board, but damned if I'm allowing them to gear up for a promotion of anything. I had to alter the comment policy and make it an immediate ban if you copy and paste without adding to the dialogue.

This has been ongoing while I'm busy, that and some rather silly and stealthy attacks by the fan girls of another Patheos blogger all over social media. Yawn.

Here in Tamarindo I've been very busy. We are gearing up to have friends come stay with us from both the U.S. and the high school kids Jim taught here in Costa Rica are coming down from the mountains to visit along with their chaperones. I must be crazy to be hosting nine teens.

Jim and I are also in the stages of getting suppliers for our new online business, selling hand made things from Costa Rica. We've both talked to local artisans making things as diverse as pottery, hand carved wooden items and beautiful carved wood pipes and a pile of other items. There are so many clever and talented artists here that I'm excited to be opening an exporting business here.

I spent a pleasurable afternoon on Sunday sitting down with a local potter, a sweet very shy man by the name of Luis. His work is so beautiful and he's going to be supplying pottery to us.

Unfortunately not all people wanting to supply us have been entirely nice. Most are wonderful people, but somehow Jim has hooked up with someone that gives off serious con man vibes to me. He makes my inner 'Lost in Space' robot wave those dryer vent arms and yell out 'Danger, Will Robison, Dr. Smith'

His name is Steven (clearly not his real name) and I don't remember how Jim met him, but he lights up my inner warnings like the other con man in the States did. He pretty much straight up barged into spending the night at our house and accompanying us to San Jose the next day to pick up those wooden pipes.

Jim had been dickering with him over supplying us with the pipes like this -


The pipes are a mixture of wood, bamboo, clay and resin. This photos really don't do them justice.

Steve called up on Thanksgiving Day and said he would be in town the next day with a package of pipes for us, claiming he was working as a go between with us and the guy making the pipes. He showed up on Friday, no pipes. The story kept changing, now we were going to meet with a friend of his who had the pipes while he stayed to work in his mother's restaurant. Then the story changed again, Steve wanted to spent the night at our house and ride with us the next day to San Jose to pick up the pipes.

We warned him we were getting up and leaving at 5 am because we were due at the school Jim used to teach at far south of San Jose on Saturday afternoon. The kids were graduating and the school wanted as many of the teachers from that year at the graduation.

Steve shows up, and I scramble to set him up in the guestroom, hurrying to put sheets on the bed after an exhausting two days of cooking for Thanksgiving parties at several places the days before. I was tired. But I didn't openly grumble. I put the sheets on the bed, laid out fresh towels and told Steve to let me know if he needed anything before doing like I always do when put into the awkward situation of forced host, retreat behind my own bedroom door.

Steve over the course of the evening smoked copious pot, starting here in the house before I insisted he move outside with that stuff, telling him I was very uncomfortable with him bringing that stuff into our house. He managed to let our kitten outside three different times that night, which meant Jim and I had to run around in the dark trying to corral the poor scared kitten.

The next day went downhill. Jim and I slept through the alarm and were late getting out of the house. It's a good 5 hour drive to San Jose and we had another hour past that to the school. I gritted my teeth and didn't say anything as this young man kept calling me sweetheart and honey, acting so patronizing towards me the entire trip, actually becoming offended when I took over the driving when Jim got tired. Me, a mere woman, driving! I could not wait for him to get to the city and get the hell away from us. Bad, bad vibes.

We got to the city and had to have a slight repair to our car at the Honda dealership. Our radio apparently decided during the sea voyage to reprogram itself and it would not cooperate with our attempts to reset it using the owners manual. The dealership had to program in a code so that we could reprogram the thing. Took forever.

I hate, hate, hate driving in San Jose. The drivers are crazy risk takers, the streets are oddly laid out and numbered and the traffic is horrible. In the middle of all of that there are swarms of small motorcycles zooming around traffic and guys walking down the middle of the streets trying to sell things. This is why I prefer the bus when going into the city!

We get to Steve's contact to get the pipes and it's just another rip off the gringos souvenir shop, the guy wants full retail. He's not the manufacturer, he is just another middle man, just what we'd told  Steve repeatedly that we did not want. We bought very few pipes, Steve insisted we leave the pipes and he would take 'professional photos' for us and deliver the pipes on Monday, last Monday. We still don't have the pipes, I discovered he's broken a lamp and left a cigarette burn on the sheets. I'm not happen with any of this. Thank goodness we know of another guy who makes the pipes and will be dealing directly with him instead. We're out the costs of the lamp, the sheets and the pipes.

Live and learn I guess.

We went to the graduation and discovered that there were some problems with the lady who replaced Jim. The board had problems with her. She stayed just till the end of the graduation ceremony and hightailed it for the airport. Things didn't go as planned for her. I was afraid of that.

It was great seeing everyone at the school again and hanging out with old friends. The only bad part of the trip is that the mountain roads into the area are still very messed up from the October hurricane Nate. We had to traverse on at least ten places where the road was just gone between the small mountain towns and San Jose.



Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Long and Winding Road

We finally picked up our car on Monday. I'd left it at my mother's house for pickup to ship here to Costa Rica in late June. Discovered when I got to Mom's that my title didn't state that the car was free and clear so they refused to ship it until I got another title from the state of Virginia with a stamp and signature certifying that there were zero liens against the car to be sent to my mother. She was supposed to let me know when she had the new title and I would call the shipping company for a new pickup date.

The title took almost a full month to get to her. She and the shipping agent whose English is not the greatest did not understand each other so there was some delay and we missed the July date due to the misunderstanding. It finally left the port of New Orleans in late August - arriving at the port of Limon in early October.

Then we had that hurricane and had to go to the States for Jim's mother taking a turn for the worse, delaying pickup even more. Add in getting the needed import fees wired in from our US bank and the endless paperwork and money to get the riteve and marchamo paid. Dumb things like having the original car title take a plane to the import lawyer in San Jose/Limon and we didn't get pick up our old Honda CRV until Monday afternoon.

This is the thing about the experience that sort of blows my mind. We're out about a grand total of $5,500 bucks total for a car only worth about $2,000 in the States. Here the taxed value was a shocking $12,000. Yeah, I was blown away by that amount, but SUVs are worth their weight in gold in Costa Rica and I discovered why on my way home to Tamarindo.

Tamarindo is a good four or five hours from San Jose and to get the bus there we would have had to either hop the 3:30 am or 5:30 am bus ride, so we broke down and rented a car to take us to the import lot.

The drive down was largely uneventful and we had some errands to run before we left. We stopped at a restaurant named after Princess Diana for lunch. The place had typical Costa Rican dishes in a buffet line with a faded poster of the Princess tacked to the wall. This isn't the first time I've run into someone named for her down here. The funniest part is that I was so excited to see carrot raisin salad on the salad bar, got a heaping helping and prepared to have one of my old favorites from childhood. Took a heaping spoonful and discovered that their version had very hot peppers chopped up and mixed in, the kind of peppers I like to call Guatemalan Insanity Peppers. Burns going in, burns coming out. That's saying a lot considering I usually douse my food with Tabasco. The salad was very tasty even with the peppers.

By the time we picked up a new car battery and got to the import agency it was 3 pm. We finally met the older lady that handles all the import registration and paperwork and she was nothing like I imagined by her voice on the phone, a very sweet older lady who seemed more like someone's grandmother than a business woman.

Her office was right across the street from the airport and our car was being stored on the median near the big Holiday Inn hotel and casino. This stretch in front of the hotel and airport is one of the scariest intersections in the entire city of crazy drivers in San Jose, so we wasted no time getting the heck out of Dodge.

Jim took the rental car and I took ours. When we were on Route 1 headed back up north just at dusk I ran into an unexpected difficulty. A car with one flickering headlamp, no back lights just reflective stickers glued onto the back light lenses. The backseat was full of small children, at least four of them that looked under six or so.

I almost rear-ended the car because it's so dark on that road. No overhead lights and I feel pretty certain that the oncoming traffic wasn't seeing him either.

So I did the only thing I could do in good conscience, I got behind him, stuck with him the entire time I was on the road. At least others could see him while I was shining a light on him. He was driving so slowly that the entire drive took longer than I thought it would. But I just could not put those kids at any further risk.

Lately I've been thinking about just being helpful and encouraging as much as possible. At my old church one of my friends used to say when she got irked over something 'Thank you Lord for another opportunity to offer mercy and forgiveness!' While I'm not jumping up and down for joy to be doing just that I'm convinced that doing just that is the way to go.

Friday, November 10, 2017

When Comedians Are Just Creeps

I wasn't going to share this story any longer. But the Louis C.K. news and news of so many others being exposed as sexual predators has triggered me so badly that I'm vomiting up my tale of sexual weirdness with a well known comedian yet again.

My family knows it. They witnessed a fair part of this too. My eldest child who is now in her forties was involved in this episode too. Neither of us took it laying down. A tale from the late   90s/early 00s.

This was right around the time when I first started questioning what I'd learn at my old church, around the time of the yoga incident and the cracks were first starting to appear in my evangelicalism. How badly was I impacted? I'd gone back to work against all advice of our pastor and everyone I knew at church, not as a social worker, but I was working in the national licensing office in the D.C. area, working helping others obtain nationally recognized licensure.

One of the things that happened to me there was that the organization wanted to put up a website, making registration for the exams both available over the phone and online as well as streamlining and offering study guides and training for the tests on the website. It was decided that I would help out with that project and they paid for me to take classes in website design, coding, various internet things and yes, eventually I and several others did those things listed above.

I started to do websites for others as a sideline, on top of my regular job. Designed many local churches web presence including my old church. But around the same time I ended up connected to a couple of small indie film companies, even designing websites to promote films premiering at smaller film festivals. I started attending some of the smaller festivals. It was an ego-trip after the years of being ground down by my theology.

Still had not abandoned my beliefs, in fact I was still actively trying to have more children, rationalizing it that I would re-retire from working when I ended up pregnant and past the first trimester. Truthfully I was changing inside, and finding I was having less in common with those at church, while still spouting the party line. But I was starting to get some pushback for working and the trips to the film festivals.

At one festival I met a young film maker with a low budget and a cute comedy film he's put together on a shoe sting that needed social media help and websites a plenty. Saw the film, loved it and ended up helping him for very little. After I'd known him for about a year he asked me if I'd help out one of the actors of the film, who'd scored a television show that was soon to premiere, a 'clean' comedian. I did as he asked, setting up a Yahoo Clubs fan page for this comic, even if I rarely checked on it more than once a week to make sure the conversations were respectful and nice. Yes, Yahoo Clubs, you know that was a long time ago when that was state of the art social media. Cannot remember if My Space was around yet or not.

I forgot about the comedian mostly even after watching a few episodes of his show and adding in screen caps to the show. He contacted me, asking me to do screen caps from his highlights reel for a possible website. Did the screen caps and charged him very little since I was trying to help out someone just starting out. Exchanged a few pleasant emails, wished him success and that was that. I wasn't a fan, I'd done the club as a favor to someone that was a friend.

And then the trouble started. I got a private message followed by a pile of emails from the angry father of a teenage girl. This girl was a 16 year old of Asian heritage who'd joined the club and her father was claiming that this comedian was sexually harassing his daughter, begging for nude photos, asking for cyber sex and a host of other inappropriate things. I didn't believe him at first because this guy was billed as a clean comedian, but then the father sent me screen shots of the exchanges, I still didn't believe it was Mr. Comedian because the Yahoo ID this person was using could have been anyone.

The most disturbing thing was that the profile photo this person was using was a nude shot in what looked like an anonymous hotel room in a big city. The pasty white body was bent over, exposing glowing white buttocks, an anus and below that the scrotum and penis being pushed into view. I immediately messaged the offender to knock off the behavior and remove the profile photo or I would ban him/her. Saved screen caps of everything on my external harddrive, shrugged, thinking there's a new weirdo online born every day and moved on.

 By this time I'd left my job at the licensing agency and was doing website design and content provision full time from home. Everyone at church that had expressed concern seemed to be fine with me doing that, and I've done that in one form or another ever since, even with the fact that post-church I worked off and on outside of the house in my field.

A few months passed and I started getting a flood of messages and emails from underaged teen girls, all Asian, all under 17, that claimed they were getting sexually harassed online by Mr. Comedian through the Yahoo Club. I started investigating and found that whoever this was had returned, same profile photo, same modus operandi. Once is a careless mistake, over and over is a toxic pattern.

My daughter and I decided most meanly to Catfish this weirdo and try to figure out who he was. We both put up fake Yahoo profiles with photos of young Asian women and profiles to indicate we were high schoolers that liked Mr. Comedian. It didn't take long for the creep to strike, friending both of us, chatting for a few days before begging for three ways, cyber sex, phone sex, nude photos etc all the while claiming he was Mr. Comedian. I finally said I would have phone sex with him, having him call my business line. Time to find out if this is a random creep or really Mr. Comedian. The caller id flashed that the call was coming from Universal Studios in the Los Angeles area and I answered. It was Mr. Comedian..........

.......who was calling from his dressing room, telling me he was currently having cybersex with his girlfriend (now wife), but he really wanted phone sex with me. I made some lame excuse about my mother coming home unexpectedly and hung up. I immediately closed the Yahoo Club, called my friend at the indie film company to tell him exactly why I did it and that I wanted zero contact ever again with Mr. Comedian. My friend told me I was seriously mistaken because Mr. Comedian was nice, normal, kind blah blah blah! He couldn't be a predator on the internet of teenage girls! He refused believe me, even after I forwarded him all the screen caps.

One of the victims put up a hate page for him on Yahoo. I wrote about Mr. Comedian there and a couple of other places warning others he was a predator, posting up the screen caps. I got threats from fans and his management and had to take down the warnings. His manager was completely uninterested and unperturbed by his attempts to lure in teenagers for sexual purposes.

But interestingly enough I received many emails from women working behind the scenes in the industry with tales of Mr. Comedian's behavior towards them during movie and television projects he was in. His sexual harassment was in real life too, not just online.

So for years now I've gagged every single time I've had him cross my radar, when he appears on television I turn the channel, which is hard to do considering he's starring in a series of car commercials right before I left the U.S. for Costa Rica.

I am not going to name him here, in fact I am kicking myself that the external harddrive containing all the information is stored right now in our storage unit stateside because I would so out him right now. He's still out there playing the righteous good clean family man and I seriously doubt he's not still up to his dirty antics. I've met him at film festivals and the Improv in D.C. and I have photos to back up everything.

Hoping that someone who worked with him outs him soon publicly. He's not as famous as Louie C.K., but he's pretty well known now.

Karma is coming.


Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Unboxed Red Tape

On Saturday morning our possessions from the States finally arrived! Delivered by a nice Costa Rican man who spoke no English. Jim speaks Spanish pretty well, but I've still not far past my ugly American one semester in college Spanish. I can get around, I can shop, I can find the restroom, but not much beyond that. But between the three of us we managed to communicate plenty well enough while unloading the truck and putting the boxes in one of the spare bedrooms.

In a few minutes flat we had the 31 boxes of household things we'd shipped down. the largest amount being kitchenware and art supplies. I worked like a grunt all day Saturday unpacking boxes and washing the contents. I'd forgotten from our other overseas moves that the USA. some shipping by boat companies and other countries frequently insist that your boxes all be fumigated before they are loaded. Ours obviously were, and I reacted, it was wheezy day.

Pleased we didn't have more broken items. The ones that did break were a surprise. Both of my small crockpots ended up with the inner crock part broken to pieces even if I wrapped the crocks before putting them in the crockpot and overwrapping the entire thing in bubble wrap. There were a few plastic bowls that broke. No big loss. But I did discover that our microwave seems to be possessed or broken as it's working on low no matter what setting you nuke it on.

What is always interesting in an international move is what turns up missing. Let's not kid ourselves. somewhere along the line I always end up a few items short on these moves. This time we are missing a brand new toaster, I'm missing a fancy blowdry with some sort of op art motif on it in loud colors and I'm missing my turquoise blue Swingline stapler. They complete ignored the 1 Direction in drag lunchbox I keep drawing pens and markers in.

See?


Saturday and Sunday were filled with unpacking and putting things away but this morning we had to go take care of one of the more frustrating things to deal with here involving mucho red tape - simply paying our electric bill.

Remember last moth when I was so thrilled to have a sixty dollar electric bill? This months bill ran right around one hundred and sixty dollars and last week we had to go by the electrical co-op and ask why so much this month. It was a silly exercise in the fact that local Costa Ricans do not like to say unpleasant things that will upset you. They may jump in front of you in lines all the time, or try to shake you down for more money that the average Tico for the same taxi ride, but they will not usually stand up to you and tell you bad news.

First they had to write a report about our claims that our bill jumped suddenly and we weren't even in the house for the full month. Then I had to get a digital photo of the meter and email it to them. After that they had to come out and test the meter. We went back today to find out what they'd discovered and pay the bill. They claim that they found nothing wrong with the meter and have no explanation for the huge increase. I am wondering if we're suddenly paying a gringo price on the electric. It is still cheaper than any electric bill from the summer in our house in the States, but it's just the idea of the price jumping around and all the hoops we had to jump through last week just to get them to take  look.

Jim's still dealing with trying to get the car delivered to San Jose, and there's been some red tape, requests for more money that is starting to feel like bleed the gringo. I guess it's the price you have to pay to live near the beach.

On better note Negrito is doing well. He gets into every single thing. Even going so far as to chew the hell out of the top of the pineapple in our kitchen.



Tomorrow is likely to be a heap of red tape too. Jim has to send the car import people more money.

Anyone considering coming to live here in Costa Rica really needs to budget three times the money they planned to bring just to help with the red tape.

Friday, November 03, 2017

The Stinkster

Last week we got a kitten, a poor miserable tiny kitten who the vet named Negrito - meaning 'Little Black One'. His markings look like someone stood over him and poured black paint over his white fur. We got him at the veterinarian clinic that also does animal rescue across the street an down a little bit from our home here near Tamarindo.

Here he is the first day:

Silly little thing!

We'd met the vet and her assistant during Tropical Storm Nate hitting this area. As the rains got stronger and weaker and stronger again they showed up on our doorstep wanting permission to leave food out for strays on our spacious tiled porch. Of course we said yes, and got to talking about animal rescue, how I ended up involved in it by default when people started dumping stray animals behind my home in the States. We told her we'd already decided we had to have a cat when we get back from our trip.

Get back we did, and yes, I visited my new friend the vet, who had a crate of four kittens. This guy was clearly the pushiest, demanding petting and to be picked up. Jim loves himself a pushy obnoxious kitty, he picked Negrito.

He should really be called 'Tornado' or 'Hurricane' because he's the most high energy kitten I've ever seen. There's nothing he cannot climb, jump, bite, crawl under, undo, you name it. When he's not leaping tall buildings, biting my feet or climbing you to get to whatever it is that you are eating he's snugging up on you purring asking to be petted. Unfortunately that seems to be when he farts a lot too. We sometimes call him variations of the name 'Stinky'. So so tempted to change his name to 'Pepe' for 'Pepe le Pew'

The funniest thing about this little guy is that he 'talks' to you. When you come in the door he meows 'hi', when you get up in the morning and are stumbling around before coffee he greets you. When you talk to him he talks back. When Jim and I talk to each other he chimes in on the conversation.

The most heartbreaking thing is that when Jim and I were in the States the vet placed him with a family in the nearby apartments and they returned him to the vet after a week, said he was 'too rambunctious'  Makes me sad that Negrito has been rejected at least a couple of times. I could never, even if we have a crazy day with him like yesterday. If I didn't cut off his tail behind his ears yesterday I never will.

Yesterday morn I got up first, staggered out into the living room, cheerfully greeted by Negrito surrounded by a sea of plastic shopping bags, unrolled plarn, a partially unraveled afghan I'm crocheting for the living room, yarn unrolled and various and sundry things. The living room was a sea of crazy things. He murped and meowed proudly showing off his destructive handiwork.

I went a little nuts, yelling and tutting 'Bad kitty! Bad kitty!' unable to figure out how he had managed to get into the little drawer in the coffee table I store my crocheting supplies and in the cabinets I had the bags and other things in. I did a fast pickup and power clean of the living room before coffee

When Jim finally got up he told me that, oh yeah, he'd opened the coffee table drawer and cabinets to get a few things he needed this morning and must not have closed them. Negrito had human help.

If there is one single thing that Jim does that drives me absolutely nuts, that I've gone from mentioning with a smiling face all the way to shouting at him about is his tendency to NEVER close a drawer or cabinet door. I've walked into open cabinet doors in our house and given myself a black eye in the past. I've pitched my request for closed cabinet doors from most polite to scary mommy and it seems like after 31 years of marriage he sometimes still forgets to close those cabinet doors.

So I started the day on a cranky note, knowing that this must have happened during Jim's morning ramble before I get up. We have had such different sleep schedules for years now. I go to bed at 11 and usually sleep soundly till 7. I find I need 8 full hours or I am totally useless.  Jim, on the other hand, goes to bed at midnight or 1 am, sleeps till 4, gets up for  couple of hours then goes back to bed from 6 till 8. I don't know how he does it because I would be a freaking wreck sleeping like that. I'm after him to get a physical because I think his crazy sleep hours are affecting his functioning in daylight hours and his memory.

Around 9 am I'm folding laundry and Jim is watching the fantasy football report on ESPN when Negrito jumps up on the bed next to me, sits down, then gets up and jumps on me just as I notice a weird spot where he'd been sitting. Then Jim starts yelling that he put his hand in cat diarrhea and I can see a drippy little trail of poop drops coming out of the room with the litter box leading to the living room and on to the bedroom. By that time I realized I was going to have to wash the quilt on the bed, the quilt on the sofa and the sofa cover and mop everywhere.

As I was getting the quilt off the bed to wash it Negrito jumped up on the bed and started doing the booty scoot across the sheets. I was something less than pleased and hurdled a few more curses.

Later that day we had to take Negrito back to the vet for his worming appointment and I told the vet about that morning's disgusting diarrhea antics. Turns out Jim has been giving him the milk from Jim's cereal bowl in the mornings before I get up. Negrito got a clean bill of health and has gained weight!

I finally managed to de-poop the house and this afternoon as I was making banana bread he was up in it, watching everything I do closely as always. All is well. I guess I need to remember that you can always pick up things he drags out and the most important - poop cleans off so it is really not that big a deal. Life lesson - you can clean up poop.

From this afternoon. Negrito trying to get right in the middle of baking.



Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Getting!

We're getting our car and our boxes this week and I'm doing a happy dance! I've been living with a handful of belongings since 4 months ago. Imagining having only four or five outfits and one pair of shoes. I've been living out of a suitcase that long, and while it feels very refreshing not to be held back by possessions I cannot wait to get my stuff. I'll be able to paint again..mmmuhhahaha!

The hold up has been because of a couple of factors:
  1. Overseas shipping isn't cheap so I didn't book one of the services that brings your stuff to you in a week. I went with a cheaper alternative. I knew I would be okay living for at least a few months without our things. Jim used to be in the military and we did a few big international moves. Which remind me, when the moving company picked up my boxes they exclaimed over how perfectly packed everything was. I laughed and told them this was not my first overseas move rodeo.
  2. I shipped the boxes at the very last second because I was still using many of my things. They are shipped by freighter boat with lots of stops.
  3. When we got here we had lots of red tape with getting all our bank accounts linked between here and the U.S. That meant it took some figuring and straining to get the money here to pay the taxes, customs and import fees. Wire transfers can take a month.
  4. I have medical machinery I had to get permission from the government dept of health to import. Lots of paperwork, lots of hassle and haggling to get permission. 
  5. The hurricane and road situation
  6. Traveling to try and see Jim's mother before she passed.
Jim and I say that living in Costa Rica means every day is an adventure. One thing is for sure, between finalizing living here and Jim's tasks of taking care of executing his mother's will means that for every day over the last two weeks we've been in and out of the local print shop to print, fill out and fax forms around and that has been interesting considering doing these tasks in the States is pretty easy. Here? Not so much.

Thankfully I have a printer and office supplies coming because those things are pretty expensive here.

But the other day was a perfect illustration of how more casual and how different the culture is. The import company handling importing our car needed the original title to our car and didn't tell us this until that day, the day before the car needed to clear customs. We discovered that none of the shipping services here over an overnight delivery option like the post office or Fed Ex does in the states so our only option to get it there overnight was to go to the Tamarindo airport and put it on one of Sansa Airline's planes to Limon. So Jim sat out to do that after the taxi driver dropped me at the house from our trip into town.

It was an experience according to Jim. First of all, the road from the main drag of town into the airport is washed out, so the taxi had to take Jim on a long backroads way out to the airport, driving through a field and coming to rest at the end of the lone runway.

Jim said there was another taxi waiting there, with a guy sitting in the backseat. Jim had been told that he needed to follow the runway to the terminal to get the letter sent by plane, so he gets out of the cab and starts trudging down the runway, even as a plane takes off just overhead. By this time Jim can see and hear that the guy in the other taxi has gotten out, is trailing behind him and is busy weaving an invisible tapestry of obscenities in English. Jim cannot figure out what this man's problem is, so he goes into the tiny terminal and makes arrangements to fly out the car title.

The other man turns up just as Jim is preparing to traverse the runway again to get back to his taxi. Apparently that plane that had just taken off was supposed to take this man, and he's missed his flight. He's still cursing like he thinks he's Andrew Dice Clay, stranded in Tamarindo another night.

Never a dull moment that's for sure!

Saturday, October 28, 2017

The Rest of the Journey - Cliff Notes Verision Finale

Upon reaching my children's condo I slept in hard the next morning, sleeping so hard that I missed a couple of phone calls from Jim. When I called him back around 11am he told me that while sleeping at the Fort Lauderdale airport around 2 am he received a call telling him that his mother had just died. Thanks to Mrs. Satan and TSA he didn't get there in time. If they had just said sure come on over two weeks before, or agreed to help him get from the airport somehow to the nursing home (way too far for a cab, over and hour) he could have seen his mother before she passed.

Ran through my errands, getting stuff for Costa Rica and taking care of banking and investment tasks before myself, our son and daughter got on a plane for San Antonio. We booked a hotel for the week after taking care to make sure all three of us had funeral appropriate clothing. Telling the kids was hard, I think our son took it the worse, he was struggling not to cry.

When we arrived in San Antonio Jim met us and we heard the rest of what happened. He picked up his rental car and headed to his mother's home about an hour away in Texas Hill Country, but when he arrived he was told that he'd missed the mortuary picking up his mother's body by literally two minutes. Yeah, they knew he was on his way, on the road in the rental car, yet they couldn't hold back the pick up an hour or two?

So Jim never did get to see his mother at all. At all.

There was no funeral or memorial service. Jim's brother and Mrs. Satan insisted that they didn't want to hold the service until December or January and the only reasoning given was that it was too short of notice to do it this week even if we were all there from quite some distance. Keep in mind my Maw in Law arranged and prepaid all of this many years ago, right down to leaving lengthy instructions on what she wants. All that went out the window. The brother in law was insisting Jim tell no one in the family beyond us and post nothing about it on Facebook. It was very odd.

Mrs. Satan is handling the entire memorial service and kept saying that she wanted to do the memorial service on Dec. 30th, ignoring the first six times I told her that would not work for us flying in from Costa Rica because that holiday week is THE week of High Season where it is impossible to afford tickets. Back when I was toying with renting out our Costa Rican house for the week and returning Stateside just to make a little money I'd discovered the unpleasant truth on what airline tickets run from Thanksgiving to mid-January here. Told her upfront it needed to be either that week, or sometime in the first three weeks of November or the last two weeks of January. I get home and get an email with the date being fixed of January 10th. Just had to email and explain it was not happening for the reasons stated above.

The kids and I tried to make the best of a long strange bad trip, there was drinking, there was the occasional touristy thing done. I had great fun telling both of them of the misdeeds of LBJ in the LBJ museum. Mostly I tried to keep my temper under control around Mrs. Satan and tried to keep her and her husband from taking advantage of my husband. I drank an almost  liver killing around of tequila that week.

Turns out that they started being really, really nice to Jim before I got there. Jim's brother told him how jealous he was that Jim had commanded a lot of the family attention growing up. I'm so tired of Jim's brother continuing to bring that up, I was so tempted to tell him if he's that mentally unhinged by his childhood at 62 he needs therapy.

Mrs. Satan explained her hateful snubbing of us that Christmas by saying she'd been 'stressed out' by caring for the Maw in Law (who they only saw 2 or 3 times a month and prevented us from having her move near us. We volunteered to take over her care many times). Not one word of apology for that hateful fake list of a dozen things I'd done to offend her. I'm still steamed even if Jim has decided to let it go.

I finally figured out towards the end of the trip why they were buttering Jim up. They (well, mostly Mrs. Satan) does not want the will going to probate, they just want to liquidate all her accounts and split everything down the middle 50-50. The Maw-in-Law did leave a will, Jim is the executor, so I urged Jim to make sure that was actually legal since there is a will and he talked to the lawyer holding the will.

We get home and the assets situation gets very hinky again. Mrs. Satan sent my husband a paper for the insurance company she filled out for him, expecting him to sign with zero questions. Then she insisted that her name be added as one of the recipients of the big investment account. Why? She said in case Jim's younger brother died suddenly. I was put off by that, wondering if she was planning on bumping the brother off suddenly because it's a most odd request. Jim's brother has children from a previous marriage who would be more entitled to that money than she.

Jim has talked to the lawyer and started the process to honor the will. Assets are being chased down and dealt with legally. I just have to keep a straight face and not go off on Mrs. Satan one more time, at the memorial service in January and then I never have to ever see her again. That fills me with joy.  I'm still friends with Wife #1, who was not a manipulative controlling fake.

There are so many things that happened with Mrs. Satan that I could talk about, like the time on this trip she tried to press me into service polishing her flatware and other weird random tasks, but I'm going to forget them and do like I did then, smiled and walked away without a word.

We're back in Costa Rica now...