Monday, October 28, 2013


For eight years, Marilyn and I taught English as a second language in Phoenix, AZ, where life is lived with one foot on the gas pedal. We arrived in Grecia to start our new life on October 2.  Our car is supposed to arrive here this week, but it’s not here yet (we just learned it will be next week). We have gone three weeks without a car. But this pitiful little hardship has turned out to be a blessing. We have discovered the joy of riding the bus. 

This is a country in which 50 percent of the population does not own a car, so buses are an absolute necessity. They are clean, on time, and run hourly day and night, even up on our little mountain road four miles from downtown Grecia. (Last week, they raised the fare from 415 colones to 420 colones; or from 83 cents to 84 cents.) Today, we will shop for groceries.

 At our bus stop, a yellow line painted on the asphalt, we see the familiar faces of neighbors, whose names we will learn in the months to come. But for now, a smile and “Buenos” suffices. Since we live near the end of our bus line, the bus is empty and we have our pick of seats. The driver is a handsome man who clearly loves his job and the people he transports into town daily. He makes change from his money tray without missing a beat. (I am muy impressionado. It seems like in the U.S., the ability to make change has gone by the wayside, with high-tech cash registers doing the math for the clerks.)

Costa Rican coins are mostly gold-colored and come in six sizes: 500, 100, 50, 25, 10 and 5 colones. The 5 colones coin is stamped in aluminum with the thickness of a disposable turkey roasting pan. 


As we progress down the road, the bus fills with Ticos, many of whom greet each other with little pecks on the cheek.  Young people offer their seats to the old folks, all wizened, wobbly and bent over. Down the mountain we go, past the local bodegas and countless free roaming dogs. Now and then the driver hits the horn to say hello people working in their little yards by the road. In the US, the bus would be quiet and eye contact would be avoided. Here, there is no fear. School age boys and girls ride the bus in their uniforms unaccompanied by parents.

 The clouds are gathering in the east as we arrive at the bus station. The sidewalks are bustling with people on foot. The doors to all shops are open. I don’t mean simply open for business; I mean open to the outside world. This is normal here where the climate is generally in the 70’s and insect free- especially mosquito/fly free. For Norte Americanos, strolling down the side walk is like a trip back to the 1950’s in the US.  You  pass a pharmacy, an appliance outlet, a dress shop, a bank, an ice cream parlor, a café, and a variety of little stores selling men’s clothing, jewelry, fabric, shoes, hardware, and cell phones.  (As in the US, everybody has a cell phone.) This vitality is not interrupted with silent parking garages or vacant lots filled with empty cars waiting for their drivers.  This small city has not been repurposed for the convenience of cars. Cars park on the street. (There are no parking meters, by the way.)

 A delightful hodge-podge of human activity is present here. A delivery truck double parks, and the driver unload appliances to the whirr of the hydraulic lift. A man in a Hawaiian shirt disappears into a produce store with a huge bunch of bananas on his shoulder. An attractive Tica in tight blue jeans and high high heels crosses the street pretending not to notice the stares of all the men. But her splendidly exposed cleavage and heavy eye makeup leave no doubt that stares are welcome.  Traffic lights are few, and stop signs are no more than a nuisance; but somehow people and cars get along without injury.

 A block away is the town square shaded by massive trees who spread their grandmother arms over the Ticos as they have every day for a hundred years. Here is where young couples stroll, moms sit and chat watching children romp in the grass, old men nose through the morning paper, various hombres doze on the cement benches while others just sit on the corner watching all the girls go by.  A sprinkling of gringos snap photos. They try to fit in, but somehow, like us, they stand out. 

 Facing the park is the Cathedral de la Mercedes, a towering, deep red structure constructed of steel plates. Its doors are always open for people to wander in and out. Here, during the noon day hustle, a few people kneel or sit quietly in meditation before ornate wooden statuary carved by skilled local craftsmen. It faces west as apparently all Costa Rica churches do, and we can see its twin steeples from our patio four miles away.

While we are shopping, the rain begins, hammering on the tin roof above the open air market.

We have three shopping bags of food, so I can’t hold the umbrella. Outside, people are huddling under the overhangs and in doorways of the shops.  Many have umbrellas since this is the rainy season, and downpours visit each afternoon. There is a lot of smiling and joking. Though it’s late October, the rain is warm and friendly.  We have 45 minutes to kill and so dash down the street to an open air café for coffee and a pastry.

 Totally drenched and happy, we sploosh into an open air café, The Café Delicias. We order café con leche and two cinnamon rolls. Feeling like two characters in a Woody Allen movie, we watch people dash through the puddles and between cars. We can’t help our idiotic smiles. With five minutes to spare, we lug our three grocery bags a block to the station and climb aboard the bus for El Cajon, our neighborhood up on the mountain ridge. I dig out 840 colones for Marilyn and me ($1.68 US), and we head home.

Out of town the bus make a hairpin turn right, and the engine slows. The driver downshifts and downshifts again as the pavement begins to rise steeply. The windows are fogged up, perfect for drawing silly faces. Up front, our driver is joking with the passengers.  We wipe away the steamed-up glass and watch for our stop by the saddle maker. We get off and walk down Calle Echoes, our little street, which descends steeply. We are the fourth house, the last house, before the road disappears steeply into undergrowth. Our new family member, a sweet little stray we have nicknamed “Mama dog”, runs up the road to greet us, tail wagging.  At our driveway, we hear Lily and Charlie barking excitedly. This is it. We are home, soaked and smiling.


Sunday, October 27, 2013

ICE ON ICE by Marilyn

Getting Reliable Internet Service: A Tale in Six Acts
(Plus Some Finales and Encores Because That’s How Long It Takes to Tell This Story)

Act 1: Solutions … Temporarily 

ICE (eey – say) is the Costa Rican government’s internet service provider. When we moved into our house, Jenny (our landlady) told us that the internet was already set up and ready to use. But if we wanted WIFI we’d have to get our own universal WIFI router. “For now, all you need is a cable,” she said.

We didn’t have a cable. Jenny made a phone call. “The ICE guys will be out here in an hour or two,” she said. “They will be wearing yellow shirts and driving a yellow truck.” Pretty easy to spot, especially since no one drives down our road.

A few hours later, the yellow ICE truck pulled up and two guys in yellow ICE shirts got out. I jumped up and down on the porch like a little kid seeing the ice cream truck. Different “ice.”

We pointed them to the modem. In Spanish they told us something. In English we responded. Finally we got it. They were telling us we needed an Ethernet cable. We were telling them, “Si, comprendemos!”

They hooked up an Ethernet cable that was long enough to go from the modem in the spare room out to the dining room table, which, because we have no other furniture, is also our current office workspace.

Buenos and handshakes all around. They got in their yellow truck and drove back up the hill.

We had internet!!! We could contact our loved ones and let them know that we’d gotten on and off the correct plane and were now happily in our Grecia house. Our joy was relatively short-lived when the first thunderstorm hit. Jenny had warned us to unplug the computer and the internet during any storm. Even though we have surge protectors, I have a feeling that 3-pronged electrical outlets all over the house aren’t actually grounded—they’re more for show. At least that’s what we’ve heard from other expats.

So each evening for a week we faithfully unplugged during the storm and then replugged. Sometimes we got internet back but sometimes not so much. Then I would go into reset mode, unplugging the modem, restarting the computer, sticking a pen into the reset on the modem. For several days this system worked. Until it didn’t.

That’s when all the tricks stopped working and we lost internet connection completely. This happened at a very inopportune time, because we needed to wire funds to the people in San Jose who had received our 85 boxes of stuff from the shipping company. They were waiting to deliver them to us but they needed to be paid. I had previously emailed Betty, my very helpful and sweet delivery contact, to let her know that I would transfer the funds on Wednesday morning. But on Tuesday evening the internet stopped working.

Act 2:  Who’s Elise?

Wednesday morning came and Paul dialed the first of two phone numbers Jenny had left for us in case we had problems with the internet. He turned away from the phone for a moment with a relieved look on his face, “Press nine for English,” he said. Great, because it’s really hard to mime what you need over the phone.

He spoke to a nice lady who assured him that someone would be at the house either that day (Wednesday) or Thursday before noon. They would call first.

At about noon on Wednesday, the phone rang. Paul answered. “No, there’s no Elise here,” he said. “You must have the wrong number.”

I’d remembered that the name of the cleaning lady who used to clean this house was Alyssa. Maybe that’s who the caller was looking for. I started waving my arms at Paul so he’d look at me. “Ask if they want the lady who cleans houses,” Paul was being insistent that Elise didn’t live here. He finally noticed my flapping arms.

“Do you want the cleaning lady?” he asked, “she doesn’t work here now.” At that moment I had a rare insight en Español.

“Wait!” I shouted. “They’re not asking for Elise! They’re telling you that they’re el ICE!! El-eey-say!! The internet people!!”

Paul was just about to hang up. “Internet?” he said hopefully into the receiver. I saw him smile and nod. “Si, si, internet! So you’ll be here in two or three hours? Great!”

He hung up the phone. “Two or three hours,” he repeated to me.

Five hours later we were sitting on the patio. The afternoon rain had lulled. “They’re not coming,” Paul reported to me. Unnecessarily.

Act 3:  The Phone Number

On Thursday morning at 8 a.m. on the dot, Paul called ICE. Or at least what we thought was ICE based on the information Jenny had left for us.

He pressed 9 for English. A woman answered.

“What is the phone number?”

He gave her our phone number. She told him nothing was wrong with the phone. “I know that,” he said, “I’m calling about the internet.”

“The number you called is for problems with the phone,” she said.

“But I called this number yesterday and talked to someone about the internet,” he said.

They went around like this for a few minutes. “Maybe if I gave you the account number?” he asked.

“Yes,” she said. He gave her the account number.

“Oh, you’re having problems with your internet,” she said.

“Yes,” said Paul, “and the person I spoke to said that someone would be out either yesterday or today before noon.”

“We’ll send someone out before noon today,” she said.

“Great,” said Paul.

We were on edge all morning waiting for the yellow truck with the guys in yellow shirts to arrive. I was worried that sweet Betty who was holding our stuff hostage in San Jose was probably thinking we’d just dumped 85 boxes on her for the fun of it and she’d never hear from us again.


Paul made hot dogs for lunch. I bit into one. A crunchy fried plastic sleeve slid off the hot dog into my mouth. Apparently Costa Rican hot dogs are individually wrapped in plastic and then vacuum sealed to keep all the yummy hot dogs parts under control.

Paul had already eaten half of his plastic-grilled hot dog. I guess it’s a guy thing (and also a dog thing). After we peeled the nicely crisped plastic off our hot dogs and started lunch over, I said, “I’m gonna call again.” It was only noon, but I was beginning to be wary of the responsiveness of the guys in the yellow shirts.

Act 4: The Next Conversation

I dialed the number and pressed 9 for English. It was raining so hard I could barely hear. A gentleman answered. I got right to the meat of things. “Internet,” I said.

“What is your phone number?” he said.

I gave him the phone number.

“Do you have a problem with your phone?” he asked.

“No,” I said. “With the internet.”

“This is the number for phone problems,” he said.

I sighed. I don’t think he heard me sigh. “Here’s the thing,” I said, “we’ve been calling this number – and people on the line have been telling us that the ICE guys were coming but they never come and so I’m just calling back to make sure that they’re really coming.”

“But this is only the number for phone problems,” he said.

“How about if I gave you the account number,” I said.

“Okay,” he said. I gave him the account number.

“One moment,” he said. He came back on the line. “The account number you gave me is only for the phone. You don’t have internet service.”

I sighed again. I think he heard me this time. “Sir,” I said. “We’ve been calling this number and giving out this account number for the last three days. We were told that someone would come out to fix our internet either yesterday or today by noon. I was simply following up to make sure that they were still scheduled to come out. And now you’re telling me we don’t even have internet service.”

“That is correct,” he said.

“Then why did ICE come out a week ago to fix our internet?” I asked.

“They must have come out to fix your phone,” he answered.

“No, they came out and checked the ICE modem. They provided an Ethernet cable for my computer. I have been using the internet for a week. So I know that I have internet service.”

“There is only record of phone service on the account number you gave me,” he said. Was I in a Saturday Night Live sketch or a Twilight Zone episode? “Let me talk to my supervisor,” he said. He put me on hold. There is no “hold” music or adver-happy-jingles to help you distinguish whether you’re actually on hold or if he’s simply bailed on you. I chose to believe he was, indeed, conferring with a supervisor.

“We do seem to have an open work order for your internet repair,” he said when he came back on the line.

“So you do have a record that we have internet service here?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said, “they work until 4:30, so someone should be out before then. They have many service calls which is probably why they were delayed.”

“Why did it take so long for you to find out that I had internet service?” I asked.

“Because the account number you gave is only for WIX [that’s what it sounded like to me],” he said.

“What is WIX?”

“Your phone service.”

“What is the account number I should use if I have internet problems?” I asked.

“The service people will be out today before 4:30,”

“I am aware of that,” I said. “But in the future … should I ever need internet service again … is there a different account number I should be using?”

“The number you gave is the correct one,” he said.

I sighed. Or growled. One or the other.

“They will call before they come,” he said. “Who should they ask for?”

“My husband Paul or me,” I said, “I’m Marilyn.”

“What is your last name?”


“And your passport number?”

I considered asking “Why do you need my passport number?” but I quickly decided if I did he might cancel the service call and I’d have to start over again. I gave him my passport number.

“Do you want my husband’s too?” I asked.

“No,” he said, “that will not be necessary. Is there anything else I can help you with?”

“So they’ll really be out today …” I was eager, grasping.

“Before 4:30,” he said. There was a firmness to his voice I hadn’t detected previously. “Will that be all?”

“Yes. Thank you.” I was meek. “Buenas Tardas,” I whispered.

Act 5: Paranoia

I am absolutely sure beyond the shadow of a doubt that my passport number is – right now, before 4:30 – being filed with the only efficient part of the Costa Rican government – the Problem Gringo Blacklist Department (PGBD). I will never be able to get my pensionado. Paul will be allowed to live out his golden years in Costa Rica but I will be forced to return to the states and work in the circus (under an assumed name). We will never be able to communicate. Because he still can’t get ICE to come out and fix the internet.   

Act 6: Yet Another Phone Call

At 4:30, Paul called. It was obvious no one was going to show up. He had a long drawn out conversation with the person on the other end of the line, which I won’t repeat here because it was almost word-for-word like the one I had had earlier. The new information that he gleaned:  when the customer service people asked for our phone number, and like fools we gave them our phone number, what they really wanted was what Jenny had written down as our account number.

After checking with various supervisors, the customer service guy got back on the phone and assured Paul that someone would be out first thing in the morning.

Following is an approximate transcript of the half of the conversation I heard:

Paul:  I know you are trying to support my needs by telling me that someone will be here first thing in the morning, but I would really prefer honesty.

Customer Service guy says something.

Paul: You see, for the last two days, every time we’ve talked to a nice person like you, we’ve received assurances about something that, in the end, did not occur.

Customer Service guy responds.

Paul: I understand that you have no control over whether or not a technician actually comes to our house. Let me suggest that a better system might be if your department and the technical service department had some way of communicating? It seems to me that your job is to just make the customer feel better, even if it is not the truth.

Customer Service guy goes into a lengthy explanation. I know that because Paul said “Um-hmm,” and “I understand” a lot.

Paul: Well, thank you for running all over the building trying to get answers for me. I really appreciate it. (using his firmest tone) And I expect to see a technician in the morning, or we will be looking for other service.

Mi esposo spent many years as a corporate trainer. He helped companies with their communication issues. He was very good at it. I think, deep down, he’s expecting to receive a call from one of the jefes (bosses) at ICE who had eavesdropped on his exchange with the customer service guy. “Señor Hastings,” they would begin, “it appears you know much about efficiency. We would like you to consult with us as to how better to serve our customers, before they all leave us for X internet company.”

Paul would demure. “No es nada,” he would say, humbly. “I will be honored to work with you.” He eventually receives a medal from the Costa Rican government for helping to make their services profitable. I read about it online when the circus train stops at a Starbucks with WIFI somewhere in Nebraska.   

Finale (Or So We Thought)

On Friday morning, we were sitting out on the patio, having our coffee. “Wanna take a bet on whether they’re coming this morning.”

“They’re not,” I said glumly. “No need to bet.”

At 10 a.m. the yellow truck pulled up and a young man in a (very) yellow shirt got out. I could barely control my excitement.

He held a sheaf of very official looking papers in his hand (my deportation to the circus papers?). We showed him the modem. He sat at my computer and shortly took out the Ethernet cable. He changed the plug. He pinged stuff on my computer. He explained what was wrong in Spanish. We nodded understandingly (did not understand him at all). He added a third different kind of Ethernet plug. He jiggled it. The pinging report showed that one kind of jiggle make the internet work, while another kind of jiggle made it stop working. It was MY LAPTOP that was the problem – my big American Ethernet outlet was too big for the dainty Costa Rican internet plugs!!!

“When we get WIFI will that solve the problem?”

“Si, WIFI.”

Paul said, “Well, until we get WIFI, I can just hold the plug while you type.” I thought there had to be a better way. Masking tape did the trick. So now we have internet and we know what to say if we need to call ICE again. And no one from PGBD has shown up to haul me off. Yet.

Encore (But wait … there’s more …)

Remember a little earlier in this essay when I said that we were supposed to unplug all the technology when the rains came? One afternoon, we forgot. So ICE stopped working. I tried all the restart tricks I could think of, plus a few that I thought should be restart tricks (note to self: never, never do this again).

We called Jenny who suggested that cable would probably be a better option for us – and it was about the same price ($26/month). The cable company, TIGO, had recently installed cable at the top of our hill. On Saturday, the cable sales guy showed up. Jenny came with him which was great because he only spoke Spanish and kept trying to sell us the “premium package” which was for internet and TV, even though we don’t own a TV.

After we signed up for the cable (and I had to give out my passport number again), we were excited to see the installation guys show up early Monday morning. But our joy balloon soon deflated, when they came back from the hill to say that our house was 115 meters away from the pole, and the cable would only work within 80 meters. Great.

We called Jenny. She called TIGO. Someone at TIGO told her that those installers were probably “inexperienced” and didn’t realize that even though they were told that they couldn’t install cable beyond 80 meters, it would really work (pretty well, mostly) up to 120 meters. They would send more experienced installers. Maybe tomorrow.

Another Encore?

When “tomorrow” came we waited for a few hours and then made a decision. We would go with the third option that Jenny had told us about. An American-owned internet company that was more than twice as expensive, but apparently much more reliable. Reliable was going to be worth the $60/month (still much less than we were paying in the states). The next day the installer from the company, CRWIFI, showed up and, with only a few speed bumps, got everything working.

What is interesting is our attitude about this entire experience. Yes it was frustrating to be unable to communicate online for nearly a week. But I think back to our stress level in the states if we had problems with our internet service provider. There would be pacing, teeth clenching, elevated blood pressure … (lots of) foul language. None of that showed up this time.  In Costa Rica we are trying to allow the spirit of place to color our reactions. It is getting easier every day.   



Just hangin' out. Click for video:

View from the Patio in Grecia

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


A diffuse light teases the sheer bedroom curtains. Rooster greets the dawn. Charlie’s wet nose nuzzles my ear. After three weeks here I no longer need to look at my watch to know it is 5:10 a.m. The day has started. A little too early for Paul, but when he hears me rustling in the kitchen, making our coffee, he’ll be up too.

I make the coffee with the Melita – a plastic cone that fits a filter and makes one mug at a time. While the water heats on the stove, I set the Melita on my travel mug. Whenever possible, I’ll use my travel mug; it makes drinking my coffee a leisurely activity – no matter how long it takes me, the coffee will still be piping hot.

Now that we’ve unpacked, though, Paul prefers what he calls his “Cindy mug.” Years ago my sister Cindy gave Paul a handmade mug for Christmas. It’s square on the bottom and round on top decorated with a moon and stars. He wrapped it carefully in bubble wrap and was delighted when it emerged unscathed from one of the “miscellaneous kitchen” boxes.

Paul wanders into the kitchen, drawn by the smell of fresh coffee. As we embrace, we murmur “I’m so happy here.” “Me too.” The dogs will have none of it, and fuss at our ankles, anxious to check out, with the 5 million scent cells in their noses, what enemy dog might have dared enter our property while they slept.

Until yesterday, we had to drag two dining room chairs out onto the patio every morning and drag them back in at night. But now, Jenny and Tim have given us two white plastic deck chairs – Christmas in October. Sitting outside each morning at six we marvel at the scene unfolded below us. Each day dawns slightly differently but we always look out on lush green fields and rows of coffee plants. Here and there a blanket of black shade cloth protects what will become the fabulous Costa Rican brew. Red-roofed houses dot the landscape. In the distance we can see our town, Grecia, the prominent steeples of the church looking expectantly to the west, as is every church steeple on every town square in the country. 

As the dogs romp on the front lawn or sun themselves on the patio, we breathe deeply. Each breath of clean mountain air feels healing, cleansing, life-giving. Some mornings, before my second mug of coffee, I need to stop my reverie to hang out the laundry that I’ve washed the night before. It’s important to get it on the line as early as possible, ever hopeful that morning sun will win out over driving afternoon rains and I’ll be able to pluck dry laundry off the line on the same day I’ve hung it out.

This doesn’t always happen. Sometimes I miscalculate the speed of the clouds filling in the valley below or hiding behind the eastern hills. Then the rains come, and my laundry gets a second rainwater rinse, and I wait another day to let it dry. It was frustrating that for the eight years I lived in the Valley of the Sun (Phoenix), I never hung out any laundry except for our bathing suits and towels. Probably my job and volunteer work and hobbies got in the way, but also, there was the ever-present dust. So I used the clothes dryer, just like about 90 percent of the other desert dwellers.

Here, I have no choice. There is only a washing machine in the laundry room. Paul has offered to help me hang the laundry, but I’m a little obsessive about the how of it, so I decline his assistance. Going back to my childhood days on Augustine Street, I had to hang the laundry in very specific order. Never would a facecloth be hung amongst the underpants. And if you were a t-shirt – you would get hung in a neat row with the rest of the t-shirts – in color-coded order, from the hem, all facing the same direction.

And so the sunny morning goes. After laundry and a second cup of coffee, there’s maybe some writing or art, sometimes a Spanish lesson, but first the daily sweeping and mopping. Again, I am loathe to share these chores with my more-than-willing spouse. He is master of the dish washing, and that is fine by me.

I might add flour to my sourdough starter or start a soup for the evening’s meal. I have time now to indulge all my joys of cooking. But mornings are also the time to do anything related to the internet. As we’ve learned firsthand, when the rains come, often with them comes lightning, and all of our technical equipment has to get unplugged. Just the other morning, Paul was screwing in a light bulb when lightning struck – fiercely. It burned his finger and, possibly unrelatedly, caused Lily to throw up. The sound was something like a Mac truck crashing into a moving freight train, if you were in between the truck and the train – only louder.

So even though all of the outlets look like they’re grounded, they’re probably not, and we have no internet now to prove the point even further.

Once the rains come – and this could be anywhere as early as noon or as late as 6 p.m. – the mood changes. Grey skies darken all of our large windows and the sound is deafening. I might need to throw on a sweatshirt and some socks. It’s in this damp chill that I remember why I’d decided to make soup for supper. The afternoon darkness is the perfect excuse for a nap, and the dogs have usually beat us to the bed.

When I awaken, there might be a break in the rain and I let the dogs back out to run off steam, chasing each other. Charlie patrols the perimeter of the property, re-marking all the bushes that the rain may have rinsed clean of his earlier manifestations. Sacha pops out from the little house we’ve made for her on the porch and politely requests “up” into my lap. As I nuzzle her, she makes tiny little growling noises – if dogs purred, this would be purring.

 Lily lets me know it’s “ball time” and I retrieve her big orange ball from its hiding place in the laundry room. She had gotten fat and lazy in Phoenix, where it was too hot to go for proper walks. Outside for her meant finding a good sleeping spot, so she could continue the nap that she’d started inside. Now, she’ll run up and down the hill playing catch for as long as we’ll play with her. All of this exercise is trimming her up, but sadly, there’s probably nothing that can be done with the excess skin that now flaps from her belly. I don’t think they make Spanx® for dogs.

Before the next rain, Paul gets out the binoculars and we watch the buzzards on their daily mouse hunt. They glide gracefully over the valley, swooping and soaring. With their long necks tucked in, they resemble hawks. It’s not until they rest high in the dead tree at the edge of our property that their ugly heads emerge. It’s as if the tree and the buzzards are one, waiting for Edgar Allen Poe to wax poetic about them.

When the rains come again, I go into the kitchen to finish making supper. Now that all of my kitchen equipment and supplies have arrived safely, I feel I can be my creative best. I’d packed all of my spices in a shipping box and they are now safely stored in a kitchen cabinet. I don’t know if it was legal to do that or not, but I was bereft without them in the two weeks before the boxes arrived.

We eat supper in the glow of one of the three lamps we shipped. All the Gringos we met or read warned that lamps are in short supply in Costa Rica. One of the three didn’t have a good ocean crossing – it broke in several places. Rather than toss it, Paul is rebuilding it. It’s one of my treasures from my Crafts Report days, so I’m glad it will live to see a new day.

After supper, we either download a Netflix movie or play a game. We shipped Scrabble and Power Yahtzee, which are good for the times when the internet is down and we can’t get to Netflix. On clear nights, we can see the lights of Grecia from our windows. We haven’t seen many stars yet – or the moon for that matter – they will have to wait, I guess, for the dry season that starts at the end of November.

In this time of no furniture, of 85 boxes in various stages of unpacking, projects yet to be done, we are healing. We are healing from the stress of the last year of working – for me it was largely physically challenging; for Paul, more emotionally draining. We are healing from planning the move, packing and, finally, moving – an overwhelming experience which I’ll write about eventually – there are many lessons-learned in our process.

After the evening’s entertainment, we have reached maybe 7:30 or 8 p.m. I turn in to the bedroom to read – we only have two options for sitting right now – the bed or the dining room chairs (oh, I forgot that we now have the plastic patio chairs). Paul has constructed both a desk and a keyboard stand from shipping boxes – his office now looks like a giant Lego-land site. He’ll either write at his computer, play his keyboard or, if the internet is working – watch old comedy shows. My favorite way of drifting off to sleep is listening to Paul play the piano. He always played when we had the piano in Wilmington, and now that his keyboard is in the room next to the bedroom, I love having him play me to sleep. When I was a little girl, my dad played the piano every night after the news and I have that same warm, safe feeling now.

So are our daily rhythms, with minor changes from day to day, as we settle in to our new life here on our mountain. As we begin unpacking our art supplies, as Paul moves his workshop to the Tico house (behind our house) and I plant my garden, get chickens and a horse and maybe goats, these rhythms will change. We may find opportunities to volunteer in the barrio of El Cajon where we live; we may want to connect regularly with expats nearby. But that’s still in front of us. For now, these are our days, and we are happy.




Friday, October 18, 2013


It’s four AM on Friday morning in Costa Rica. From our mountain ridge, the lights of Grecia twinkle in the darkness. We’ve been here for a week with the same four straight-backed chairs, one dining room table and a bed; furniture that was here when we moved in. We have been reading a lot. I just finished Studs Terkel’s Race, another of his powerful oral histories, this one about “how blacks and whites think and feel about the American obsession.” (Read anything by Studs Terkle. He died a couple of years back, but his oral histories The Good War (about WW II), HardTimes (about the Depression) and many others are timeless. In my view, it’s the only way to really understand the human impact of those events.
Anyhow, back to me and our Spartan living conditions. Luckily, I brought my guitar with me on the plane, plus I have a fat book of LA Times Crossword puzzles. Unluckily, our internet has been out for two days, so communication with others has been temporarily interrupted. Without that great time hog, we spend leisurely hours sitting on the patio with our coffee, taking walks with the dogs, riding the bus into Grecia and finding our way around a bit.  I am getting restless, but I have found new parts of myself emerging to take up the slack. Lots of reading, guitar playing and staring at a blank wall wondering, “What is a wall, really?” These Zen moments are enriched by the mama doggie who has befriended us and whom we welcome in our laps as we absent-mindedly stroke her and stare at the valley below wondering, “What is a valley? Is it really there? Or is it merely an image imprinted in my mind? Perhaps we are really on spaceship earth, and the valley is merely a digital image projected on the wall of my cabin. Where is it taking us? Will there be refreshments?”
Anyhow, back to me and our Spartan existence here in Grecia. Our shipper informed us that our eighty five boxes of household and personal stuff would arrive Monday, early evening, from the warehouse in San Jose. Goodby bliss. Hello corrugated cardboard. Now we must face some practical issues. First, the Tico house behind our house was to be a space for my workshop and storage. However, it is full of junk right now, and the landlord is in Canada for another week. We don’t have a key anyhow. So, all those boxes will have to be stored in our little house. Secondly, this is the rainy season. Starting in the afternoon and into the evening, the rain pours down with no regard for who is moving in or out. Third, our house is the last house at the bottom of a steep road (that’s why we have the wonderful view) When our landlord returns, many of those boxes will have to be stored in the Tico house, which is up the hill. We couldn’t find space for my hand truck, so we had to leave it in Phoenix. (We’ll have to buy another one here.) And finally, all that stuff once unpacked will need to be put in or on tables, cabinets, dressers and shelves, none of which we have. Our Subaru will not arrive for two more weeks, at which time we can begin considering what furniture we need to store it all.
Okay, okay. We are not sitting in the dirt in Ethiopia with a bowl of rice for the day, I grant you. The challenges we face are of our own making. However, once again I confront the question of how much stuff does one need?  My friend Liese has assured me that once we have it all here in place, I’ll be glad to have my keyboard, my shop tools, my sculpting materials. She is probably right. I really AM getting a bit restless. But right now, those boxes are a monster in a Japanese horror film. Even as we speak, that corrugated mass is wading through the Caribbean and stepping ashore at Limon. It stomps inland and on Monday, will look down at our little house on the ridge.
“Ha, ha! What do I see before me? Can it be Paul and Marilyn and their pitiful little dogs?” The monster stares down at us cowering on our patio. “Did you think you could escape me so easily?”
“Enough with the rhetorical questions, already,” I reply. “What are you going to do?”
“You shall see, my puny earthlings. You shall see.”
So, the battle takes place on Monday. I think we will win in the end, but I don’t want to lose the clean simple, uncluttered mind space we had here for a week. La pura vida, as the Ticos 

Friday, October 11, 2013


Soon I will write about the trauma of getting our dogs to Costa Rica. But not today. Because I’m feeling very “pura vida” and I’d rather write nice things.

In June, when we first looked at the house we’re now renting, it was occupied by a young couple with two little ones and what appeared to be multiple dogs. Emily, the wife, told us that the mama dog had shown up on their patio and shortly thereafter, given birth to six puppies. Although the owner of the mama dog lived across the road, mama preferred Emily, who probably took a lot better care of her. Emily had gotten shots for all the pups and planned to have them and mama neutered as soon as the pups were weaned. When we visited, the pups were close to six weeks and all had been claimed by new owners except Coco, the runt.

Of course I fell in love immediately. “Would you be able to save Coco for us when we come back in October?”

“Of course,” said Emily, “he’s so tiny, I’d really prefer he’d go to a home with no little kids – they might squash him out of sheer devotion.”

I hadn’t heard from Emily after we returned to Phoenix, and I was a little bit afraid to ask because the last time we’d seen Coco, he’d been in the throes of an ear infection. He was so small that the fluid in his ear made him list to the left, so he could really only walk in circles. Of course Emily had taken him to the vet for antibiotics, but I just wasn’t sure he’d survived.


The afternoon of October 2 we arrived in Costa Rica. It was grey and overcast. After the van unloaded our piles of stuff, we walked the dogs up to Jenny’s to get the key. When we got back to the house, a little brown dog was sitting expectantly on our patio. I recognized the mama dog from this summer.

Now, in Phoenix, we’d had to keep our dogs away from other dogs. Lily had shown aggression toward other dogs at the dog park when she was very young, so we’d stopped taking her. When we adopted Charlie, he just picked up on her vibes. Their behavior got a little better after about nine months of “dog school,” but we’d always felt we couldn’t trust them around other dogs.

But now we had another dog on our patio, and she seemed to have no intention of going elsewhere. We kept the leashes on our dogs and even muzzled Charlie. MamaDog made tentative advances. Lily seemed to want to just sniff, so we let her come closer. And she just sniffed. Amazing. Charlie trembled and hid under a chair. I gave him a dose of Rescue Remedy. It eased the trembling but he still remained planted under the chair.

Soon Lily and MamaDog were interacting. And then playing. Running around together on the lawn. Lily still had her leash on and MamaDog sometimes grabbed it, pulling Lily around the yard. Charlie watched warily from the safety of the chair.


I’d put a water bowl out on the porch, but now it was supper time for the dogs. Lily and Charlie came in to eat. I got out a plastic bowl and put a scoop of dog food in it. Paul glanced over at me. “We’re feeding her now?” It was really less a question than a statement. Yes. We are. MamaDog is letting us live in this nice house; the least we can do is feed her.


Each day when we take the dogs for walks, Lily and Charlie on their leashes, MamaDog comes with us. She bounds ahead, visiting the local perros, letting them know there are two perros de Norte America in the neighborhood now. Then she scampers back to us to make sure we’re coming along.

On our walk, Lily is mostly calm when the other dogs come up to check her out (e.g. sniff her butt). Charlie is still in lunging mode, so we’re keeping his muzzle on him for the time being. Someone told me recently that the population of Costa Rica is 4 million humans and 6 million dogs. This is not hyperbole. In fact, most of them seem to live on our hill and most of them have stopped by at least once to poop on our lawn (not hyperbole).


We’ve been in the house a week and our morning routine is pretty set. Coffee on the patio surrounded by three dogs. We’ve since learned that MamaDog has an actual name, Sacha. Sacha, it appears, is now our dog. Waiting for the bus the other day, Paul was chatting en Español with some of the neighbor ladies. “Es su perro?” he asked, pointing to Sacha, who’d accompanied us to the bus stop.

The ladies laughed. “No, no,” they replied pointing to us, “es su perro.” Apparently the rule around here is: if you live en quarto casa dereche Calle Echoes, Sacha belongs to you.

So now it’s Day Seven. Charlie has finally figured out a few things. 1) If I don’t snap at the other dogs, I don’t need to wear my muzzle. 2) If I accept this new member of the family, I get to play on the lawn. We finally have some video of him romping like a normal dog instead of looking like an SS officer on duty. He still prefers the safety of hiding under the bedcovers (see red arrow in photo).

And Lily has discovered her true lesbian roots, falling head over heels in love with Sacha. Sacha has tried to explain to her in her best polite dog way “I don’t lean that way … not that there’s anything wrong with it.” We’ve given Sacha a bed and half the crate to hide in when Lily’s protestations of love (e.g. humping) get too much for her. But most of the time they are simply content to hang out together on the patio, just pals.  


I learned from Emily that while she and her family went away for a week, Sonya, the actual owner of Sacha, was supposed to be taking care of Coco, the little runt. One day Coco went up the hill and never returned. I hope that he found a good home, and if there are kids in it they don’t squash him. Maybe we’ll meet him on one of our daily walks.


Tuesday, October 8, 2013


I’d forgotten to buy salt on that first day coming up from the airport so we’d been eating salt-free meals like we’re cardiac patients. Fortunately, I’d purchased lemon-seasoned chicken so by stir-frying it with rice and veggies, we got by. But we really wanted salt.

“What day is today?” Paul asked after supper last night. It is quite easy to lose track of time when you have no particular place to be at any specific time.

“Thursday. Tomorrow the farmers’ market is opened in town.”

We decided to take our first bus ride to Grecia the next morning, find an ATM, and do some grocery shopping. I’d read several articles about the farmers’ market and we recalled nosing around it when we were here in June. We hoped to get as much of our food there as possible. Everything we’d researched, as well as advice from expats living here, was that avoiding “American”-type grocery stores was a key to living cheaply in Costa Rica.

The bus arrives at the top of our road every hour on the hour with maybe a few fewer stops on weekends. I readied my nylon shopping bag and stuffed my rain jacket and our one umbrella in my backpack. Having borrowed about 600 colones ($1.20) from our landlady Jenny before she left for Canada, we figured we’d have just enough for the bus before we withdrew more money from the ATM in town. “Living on the edge,” Paul calls it. But it’s actually pretty comfortable. Or it will be once we get salt.

As we locked the door and headed up the hill, a young woman carrying a sack stopped us. “Tamales,” she said shyly, holding out two freshly made packets.

“Quanto questo?” We were getting very good at asking how much something cost.

“Siete ceintos por dos,” she replied. That’s $1.40 U.S.

“Solo tengo colones por la autobus,” Paul said. “Later, when we come back.”

“Dos hores?”


She smiled and put the tamales back in the sack.

Shortly after we arrived at the bus stop, we were joined by two women from the neighborhood. There were “Buenos” all around while we waited. “Solo dos dias in Costa Rica,” we told the ladies. They smiled warmly. Everyone in Costa Rica, either genetically or by some government decree, smiles warmly.

Only a few other passengers were on the bus when we boarded. Paul handed the bus driver some colones and got change back. The fare into town, we discovered, is 85 cents. A lot better deal than paying more than $5.00 a gallon for gas. And much more colorful.

As the bus wound its way down the mountain, it filled to capacity. Each time an older person boarded, a younger person quickly offered their seat. I whispered to Paul, “Maybe you should offer your seat,” as an elderly woman shuffled down the aisle.

“I’m old too,” said Paul. Sometimes I need reminding that I’m married to a 68-year-old retired guy. I guess that’s a good thing. Needing to be reminded, that is.

Seeing our road from the bus is very different than glancing quickly from a car window. At each bus stop I peered out to see what kinds of outdoor furniture people had – much of it Sarchi-made (Sarchi is a nearby town famous for its furniture factories); I admired the profusion of blooms in front gardens; I watched women sweep porches and men plant fruit trees. Uniformed children hiked up or down the hill on the way to school, heavy with backpacks or dragging wheeled book bags behind them.

On the seat across from us, a young pregnant mother dandled a bright-faced baby on her knee. “Isn’t he cute,” Paul whispered.

“She,” I whispered back, “she.”

“How do you know it’s a girl?” he asked.

“Well, for starters she’s got gold earrings, pink Mary Janes, lace socks and flowered pants.”

“Oh,” he said, “I was focused on the short hair – no long banana curls.” The baby looked from Paul to me, wide-brown eyes serious, probably wondering what jibberish we were spouting in our strange tongue.

Only one man, a few seats ahead of us, looked to be Gringo, not Tico. I tried to catch snatches of conversation going on around us. I’m very good at picking up “tengo,” which means “I have,” but I never get what the speaker actually has. Oh well. More Pimsler Spanish lessons coming up.

After about 20 minutes, the bus pulled up—conveniently – right alongside the Grecia farmers’ market. Booth after booth of fruits, vegetables, seafood, cheeses and meats beckoned. But first an ATM. I’d remembered seeing one somewhere near the church, so we headed in that direction. One of the reasons we love Grecia is that it feels like the kind of towns both of us remember from the 1950s – towns in which you could buy anything you needed, from appliances to shoes, codfish cakes or cough syrup.


At the first bank we came upon, there was a long double line at the outside ATM. Then I recalled that the 3rd day of the month was Costa Rican Social Security day, and yesterday was October 3. The second bank had a wall of ATMs, but it seemed like you needed some kind of key to access them. I’d remembered reading that once one became a legal resident and were able to officially open a bank account, you were given a key – and there was a slot that looked like it took a key.

“We need to find a Scotia Bank instead of one of these state banks,” I said to Paul. “I’m pretty sure I remember that there’s one a few blocks away from the church. Having the large church and park as a guidepost is very helpful and every town in Costa Rica has both.

We walked a few more blocks and were getting ready to cross the street when a car seemed to try to sideswipe us. But the driver looked familiar. “Richard!” I laughed. It was our landlord from our June visit. He’d seen us leave the bank and had followed us. Richard jumped out of the car and gave us hugs. We explained our situation and he said we must be mistaken; he always takes his guests to that bank. And it doesn’t charge a conversion fee either.

“Get in,” he said and drove us back to the bank. He introduced us to his most recent guest, a handsome black man who said he was considering moving to Costa Rica. “Well, when Richard comes for dinner, he’ll have to bring you too,” I said. Richard offered to wait for us, but we explained that we had shopping to do and planned to take the bus back for practice anyway.

This bank was also crowded. We went inside, which meant one person at a time going through an airlock kind of security system. Once inside, a guard asked to check my bag, but all he really looked at was my umbrella and rain jacket. I guess I didn’t look very suspicious. I showed him my debit card and asked if I could get money. He called over another bank employee who escorted us past several lines of people to a teller, where she confirmed that, yes, indeed, I could get colones from the ATM. She then escorted us back to the bank of ATMs where I put my card in the slot with no problem this time. We “muchas gracias”-ed her and got our colones.


After picking up a few staples and cleaning supplies at the corner grocery, we headed to the farmers’ market. People swarmed every booth but no one seemed out-of-sorts or in any kind of hurry. And there were those warm smiles again.

I stopped at a produce booth. “Ajo?” I asked. The young clerk handed me a sleeve of very fresh looking garlic and took about 15 cents from my handful of coins. As I rounded the corner, I saw huge pineapples dangling from hooks. Got to get one of those. Same clerk took a 100 colones coin from my hand and brought back change. I think the last time I purchased a pineapple at the Sprouts in Phoenix it was $2.99 – and it was a Costa Rican pineapple.

At the next booth I pointed to what appeared to be a whole chicken, but it turned out it was only the breast – it was about as large as a whole chicken you’d get in the states. Paul found the actual whole chicken – which was really large – and we purchased it for about $3.00. At the next booth, a kilo of hamburger (2.2 lbs.) because it was recognizable in the meat cooler. We really need to practice the names of cuts of meat or we’ll be stuck eating chicken and hamburger forever. The seafood looked fresh so we’ll definitely pick some up next Friday.

By the time we got to the cheese vendor, our bag was strained to capacity. I asked for parmesan and the vendor reached past all his fresh cheese and held up a tiny bottle of grated cheese. “No, no,” I said.

“Block?” he asked. Or at least I think that’s what he asked. “Si, si,” I said. Would I really be getting actual parmesan from a block? One of the things I’d picked up on from various expats was that there were basically two kinds of cheese available in Costa Rica: mild and really mild. I peeked over the counter as he was cutting my “media kilo.” It did not look at all like parmesan. But it did look fresh and local and, what the heck? Who needs hard cheese anyway? I’ll wait until I get goats so I can make my own.

At the pet booth we passed cages of sweet bunnies (pets or dinner?) and chirping birds to buy some dog food. The dry food was displayed in plastic kilo bags. We only had room for one kilo, which wouldn’t last very long, especially now that we have a (sort of) third dog (more on that in another blog).

When we finished shopping, we’d purchased a week’s worth of meat, cheese, vegetables, fruit and dog food for $35. Not bad. We’re getting more comfortable with using colones and the vendors are quite accommodating. If you look like you don’t understand (apparently that’s a relatively common look on my face), they use a calculator to convert colones to dollars and show you the amount. But that only had to happen a few times. I was pleased that we could communicate enough in our 1st semester Spanish to get what we actually wanted and not come home with an entire pig’s head by mistake. Although I think I could manage to roast up a mighty fine pig’s head if necessary.

We had to buy another shopping bag to accommodate all of our provisions. Both my nylon bag and the new gigante bag were filled to the brim. We found the bus stop to go home with no problem and the bus was sitting there waiting for us. No driver in sight so we just climbed in and sat down among the other passengers. It was 11 a.m. We had boarded the bus to come into town at 9 a.m. Not bad considering all we’d accomplished.

At 11 a.m. on the dot, the bus driver emerged and walked up and down the aisle collecting fares. Paul had exact change this time. I was a little bit concerned that we might not be quite sure of a landmark near our stop, but then I saw one of our neighbors who’d boarded the 9 o’clock bus with us, so I knew she’d pull the cord at the right time. Once again, I tried to pick up different snatches of conversation and this time I learned that the guys sitting behind us were going to “comer algo” (eat something) soon. Good for them.

Sure enough, our neighbor pulled the cord for our stop, but so did Paul, who recognized the saddle-maker’s sign near our road. Leaving the bus, we “bueno”-ed our neighbor, introducing ourselves. She’s Sonia and she lives down a rutted trail to the east of our house. We’ll have to explore it the next time we walk the dogs.


Sure enough, at 12 noon, three hours after we’d told the tamale lady “tres horas” she showed up and I purchased two tamales wrapped in banana leaves from her. We had them with salad for lunch. They were delicioso with some of the ubiquitous Costa Rican salsa (which is nothing like Mexican salsa – it comes in a bottle and is tangy/sweet – I think they use it on just about everything).


The week before we moved here (actually, just about a week ago), I was so stressed about what seemed our unsurmountable moving problems that I said (to anyone who would listen) that my “vida” had lost its “pura.” After our bus ride into town, I feel like it’s come back to stay.


Monday, October 7, 2013


It is eight o’clock at night. Pitch black outside. I am sitting at the dining room table, on one of four chairs in our new house on a mountain ridge in Grecia, Costa Rica. The only other piece of furniture in our possession is a queen-size bed where Marilyn has conked out with the dogs.

It has been raining since two this afternoon; no wind, just a heavy, tropical downpour beating on the tin roof. Little wonder Costa Rica is so green. It is drunk on pure water.

We arrived just before the rain started from Miami with our two dogs, Lily and Charlie, both somewhat crazed from being caged in the cargo bay for the two and a half hour flight to San Jose. But they made it along with four suitcases, two giant duffle bags and my guitar, all of it passing easily through customs. When asked how long we planned to stay in Costa Rica, we said three months.  We thought it best not to reveal that we were moving here permanently, for fear that we had overlooked some immigration requirement that would stop us in our tracks.  I did not want to end up in a rat infested jail in rags raking my tin cup over the bars of my cell.  

None of that happened. Our Costa Rican contact, Barry, met us outside and arranged for a van to take us to Grecia, forty five minutes northwest of the capital, San Jose. Our driver, Rodrigo, was nice enough to stop off at a supermarket on the way so Marilyn could buy some food and get cash from the bank to pay our first month’s rent. Rodrigo and I chatted about a variety of topics including who had the best beer. I told him I liked Imperial, “la Cerveza de Costa Rica”, which pleased him.

The door was locked, so we unloaded quickly onto the covered patio, and Rodrigo was off to the airport again. We left everything on the patio, including the groceries, while we hiked a short distance up the hill to our landlord’s house. Jenny is a Tica, the nationally accepted term for the people of Costa Rica. She and her Canadian husband are leaving for Canada today with their son, Nathan, so she quickly ran though the essentials of life in our new rental house- circuit breakers, water shut off, keys and phone numbers. She added that it was dangerous to walk barefoot on the tile floor when there was lightening and that the computer should be unplugged from the wall, even with a surge protector.

Marilyn made a simple chicken dish which, despite the fact that we had so salt, was delicious. In Phoenix, I would have run a few blocks to the store and picked up salt. But here, we have no car. In fact, we have only what we carried with us on the plane.  We shipped the Subaru out of Ft Lauderdale yesterday and don’t expect to see it for two weeks. Our eighty five cartons of household stuff arrived in the port of Limon today. We think we might get them delivered in a week.

The house is a bit smaller than I remembered, but still well-made by Costa Rican standards with vertical walls, level floors, big windows, a water-tight roof, electricity and hot and cold water. Centered in the ceiling of each room is a single lighting fixture which casts sharp shadows on the blank walls. Only when darkness came did we admit how much we care about indirect lighting. It is not a Tico priority. However it is great for making shadow puppets on the walls.

It is getting late. The drumming on the tin roof shows no sign of ending, so I will go with the flow and let it drum me to sleep. My great joy is that we are here. Somehow, nothing else matters. The things we left behind, gave away and sold for pennies to the auction house. No esta importante ahora. Our new life has begun. We have a bed big enough for me, Marilyn, Lily and Charlie to cuddle together.

A Day in the Life

We awoke at 5:30 this morning. All that remains of the heavy rain of yesterday are mounds of cumulous clouds obscuring the mountain tops. The rising sun frosts the highest of these clouds with blazing glory, as if Michelangelo’s God were about to pop into view. We are sitting out on the patio on our dining room chairs enjoying the first coffee of our new life, too overwhelmed to speak a word.

The view is as spectacular as we both remember from our scouting trip in June. At 4600 feet, we overlook a broad valley with orderly rows of coffee plants on steep slopes, farmer’s fields fitted together like puzzle pieces and clusters of houses here and there along the winding roads. In the distance we can see the town of Grecia and the twin steeples of its famous red church, Iglesia de la Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes. Two neighborhood chickens wander the lawn in search of worms. A friendly Chihuahua approaches with wagging tail and lets us pet it. Lily and Charlie can’t figure it out. They watch. Lily relaxes quickly and begins to sniff. Charlie, our younger dog remains nervous and nippy. Leashed and muzzled, he watches confused.  

Later, I ask Marilyn what time it is, a hilarious question that gets us both doubled up in laughter. Finally, she tells me it is 6:15. We are so accustomed to thinking that coffee is what you drink in the morning before you tackle the day’s tasks. What tasks? We watch the dogs play. A hawk soars overhead. A little girl in her school uniform walks up the hill by our house with her mom. “Buenos” we call to each other. Marilyn and I tune into our new lives, retired and living in Costa Rica. The adjustments to be made will be profound and subtle; not so much about finding the right roads or keeping track of money, but about relearning, as Adam and Eve must have, what the possibilities of a day are.