Sunday, July 23, 2006

rain and sangria

According to the tourist guides this is the rainy season. But people here say, “oh wait ‘til the rains come”. They usually say this when I’m standing drenched after a torrential downpour, feet caked in mud and steaming gently under my plastic see-through poncho. Thus far I’ve smiled weakly and kept my mouth shut. But Friday was different. The rains began about 2:30 just as we were walking home from school. It had been a warm day after a night of rain. It started lightly with pulses of heavier rain. Barbara and I had gone for ice-cream – volcanoes actually, 2 scoops of local ice-cream topped with condensed milk, ground coffee and whipped cream.

We put off leaving as long as possible, but there was no sign of slacking. Ponchos are cleverly designed to direct all the water that falls on you to your lower third. Within 50 paces we were squelching mud through our sandals and weighed down by the 20lbs of water which was slowly creeping up our skirts. We got to Barbara’s house and I continued knowing I had a good 40 more minutes of walking. However as luck would have it I met Kris and we decided to have a coffee and wait for Katy. Our evening plans were to see some flamenco.

The bar we were meeting Katy at was the flamenco bar. We ordered coffee, hung up our raingear and wrung out our skirts. We sat by the open doors and watched the rain bounce off the tourists. The dampness had crept up to my thighs but the coffee came with cookies. Katy came and we chatted. The time passed, the rain didn’t. I wanted to go home and put on dry clothes, Kris left, Jesse arrived. Chico the owner brought us some sangria to try. He was experimenting and we tried a couple of samples. The dampness didn’t seem so bad anymore. It got dark, Barbara and Michael arrived and the flamenco didn’t show up. We drank more sangria and Chico put on early MTV videos. The interns arrived and we began ordering pitchers of sangria. All 7 new teachers arrived in Costa Rica together, we began the fairly serious business of bonding from the first night. A collection of people thrown together in a strange country soon develop a trust and fondness for each other. We shared stories, the typical ones: first kiss, first drinking experience, first taking of the parents’ car. It was great. I was really the only one who knew the 80’s music clips, but that was okay. The rain got so hard the bar was shaking. It finally stopped just before we left. My clothes had dried, though my sandals still squelched.

They chose to spread a fresh layer of dirt on the road Saturday morning. It was warm and sunny. Saturday afternoon the rains began and we slid home on the layer of mud which coated all the old mud. Kris found that the horse shit which litters the road gave better traction but my flip flopped feet didn’t seem to fancy it so I continued to slide all the way down the hill. On Saturday night, after more rain we headed back out to see a vibraphone player. Walking up the hill was a long and slow process as every step forward was balanced by a slide backwards. Though I have to say we were progressing so slowly I didn’t break into my usual drenching sweat. We were slow but not so slow as the taxis and quads which were wheel spinning and slipping in the mud. The night became clear and windy. And even though the taxi drivers refused to give us a ride home – knowing that the road was just slippery mush, we made it home quicker as the 3 hours of windy weather had dried the mud somewhat. Rainy season will start soon. I’m scared.