Sunday, February 25, 2007


down by the river

It seems like I’m spending a fair amount of time at the river. It’s different down there, flat, more open with teak, cotton, citrus, acacia, guanacaste trees. It’s about a kilometer down the hill, steep in places. The river itself is fairly wide full of rocks, a couple of tiny waterfalls and swimming holes. It’s drying up quickly, in another month or so it’ll all but disappear I think. I walked down there with Hoss yesterday morning. I’m losing weight but not getting much exercise so walking to the river is my latest idea: the walk back up is pretty steep, I can really feel it in my legs. Today I rode down on Donkey and we spent the afternoon, Donkey grazing, Hoss and I swimming. We went along the river and I guess we left Pachamama’s land as on a bend in the river we came across a little tin house with a fire blazing on one side. It looked like a cooking fire, the smell of woodsmoke was lovely. Didn’t see much else as two skinny black dogs came running out barking. Hoss put himself between us and the dogs but thankfully made friends. He was bigger but I didn’t fancy his chances against two. It looked like a house from a fairy tale, like a charcoal burners, I’ll have to find out who lives there.


It’s been a week since Norah left her body. Life for Hoss and I continues, life continues to be quite beautiful. Orion and his family left for Israel for 3 months, we had a children’s sweatlodge to see him off. I’ve never been in a sweatlodge before, so this was a nice introduction. The lodge is down by the river, we piled in the back of a pick-up and with Hoss running behind made our way down the hill, a couple of kids rode down on the horses. It was morning and the light came through the multicoloured blankets draped over the lodge, it wasn’t dark at all but had a really nice cozy feel to it. We started with a little ceremony introducing the children and parents to the tradition and then we began. Everyone entered and took their place, Qayla spoke and invited the fireman to bring in the first rock. It was hot! Glowing red, the incense smelled wonderful on it and at the steam everyone cheered. We sang a song and then the next rock came in. In all we had four rounds, four songs, four rocks. Everyone was dripping sweat, the children were glistening and slippery. We left and slowly made our way to the river. The water was so so cold. We caught snails and tiny fish and dead leaves, rolling around in the water with Hoss. Then ice-cream cake and after more play a blessing circle for Orion where we all took a turn expressing our hopes and wishes for him while he is away. Piled back in the pick-up and then up the hill, back in time for lunch. A nice way to spend a morning.

Saturday, February 17, 2007


Last night I buried my beloved cat. She was as glorious and vivacious as ever she was on Wednesday. Thursday morning I thought she had been bitten by something, she was lethargic and sluggish, Thursday night she could barely move and whimpered all night, Friday morning she died not in my arms, not at home, but at the vets. He thinks she had cancer. She was only 9 months old. I had been in Costa Rica for 10 days when Norah followed me. She was a tiny, tiny kitten, maybe 4 weeks old and was sitting meowling under a dirty bush near the center of Santa Elena. I carried her home balancing on my shoulder. Her stomach was swollen and hard and full of worms some of which she threw up that night. But she was so strong and feisty, she survived them and would go for dogs who came near the house. Then Hoss came along and she loved him, they slept together every night, he helped dig the hole we put her in. She was so friendly and would come to a whistle or her name being called, bounding down the path eager to trip us up or attack our ankles. Hoss and she would hunt together, she always let Hoss make the final move which he would invariably blunder and the prey would scuttle off with Norah again in hot pursuit. She loved to have her belly rubbed, she loved to bite one's nose. She was a kitten, full of all the energy, curiosity and love a kitten has and yet the grace and sophistication of a cat. She moved 4 times in her short life, each time adapting with ease and strength to every new surrounding, new challenge. She was friends with every cat she met, she showed great skill in determining which dogs she could approach and rub against. I love her very much and shall miss her intensely.

We buried her on the hill behind the casita, she liked to sit there just by the tree with the good birds in it with a full view of all the paths, close by the lizards and big spiders, where she can hear the sound of the ocean and the rustling of the grass, with nice soft earth to dig in. She was beautiful, Arohi and Michael who had taken her to the vets - a 2 hour journey - while I worked, brought her little body home last night and made her so beautiful: wrapped in a little blanket covered with red hibiscus flowers and surrounded by candles. She looked as though she was sleeping. She was so soft, so peaceful. She returned to the earth at 9:30 under a dark starry sky with the warm wind off the ocean, she loved the wind. I wanted to take so many pictures of her this week but never had my camera. On Thursday night I dreamed that I saw her jump off the edge of the casita and bound into the cashews, I think her spirit was gone to avoid the pain she was in. I shall miss her.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

the internet hut

It's a bit of a hike to where we get reception here, at least for me, after lunch in the jungle, it's a bit of a hike, especially hauling a laptop. But it's worth it. The hut sits on the side of a hill, through one window I can see the pacific, through another hibiscus, through another a howler monkey scartching itself. There are two fans blasting cool air on the 5 of us sitting hunched over our screens. All eager to connect with the world, all happy to be away from it.

Yesterday I finally unpacked a little. I put my hammock chair up in the casita, put down some mats, made my little altar space, found my speakers so my music can really resound through the banana and cashews. I swung in my chair until the sun went down listening to Blackalicious and then swung until Venus set about 7:30. She moved from white to red as she dropped down the sky, by the time she had gone my laptop battery was dead and I sat a little longer with the candles until I could hear the ocean behind the crickets. The armadillo was busy and Hoss, for once, didn't bark. I've been teaching here a month now, it's passed so quickly. I've been here for 2 months: time is different. The day swings in slow arches that disappear quicker than spilled water.
On Saturday we are going 'out': a shopping trip to Nicoya, milk, coffee, dog food, straw, perhaps some junk food. It will be interesting to see how the world looks, especially a tico town that doesn't do tourists.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

the beach

home sweet casita

sunday bloody nice sunday

Yesterday was a magical day, spent with horses and friends by the river. I went down after breakfast to bring the horses back up to their paddock. Some friends: Kelly, Sahib, Arohi, Lyor, Kavita and Guy had camped down there and were enjoying a very lazy Sunday morning. Morning became lunch, a lunch of coconuts fresh from the tree, some rice and seaweed, wine, papaya and corn roasted in the fire. Quite delicious. We swam in the river, talked and rode the horses. I had never ridden bareback before and was quite nervous, of course I snuck off to try it by myself first. Donkey has a nice broad back and he’s quite short, he’s also well behaved. It was surprisingly easy to get on and after getting my balance we walked around a bit. Then the little bugger decided to run and I was cantering bareback. I was gripping on for dear life though fully expecting I would jump off any second. I was too nervous and found myself inching up his back almost on his neck. I reigned him in and we walked, I was shaking. But I also knew that if it wasn’t for my nerves I would be fine, my body knew what to do it was just my brain that went into panic. We tried again and this time I concentrated on thinking how easy it was and let my body move with the horse. It was fabulous. I love the total motion of cantering, so much nicer than trotting, the rhythm just allows an easy flow. Cantering bareback is so much fun, you feel completely at one with the horse and the movement. We rode around for most of the afternoon and brought the horses back up as the sun was setting. What a day. Last night I dreamed I was a native American galloping across the plain. Oh what a fantasy I’m living!

bread and butter

I made my way home with a tealight in a tumbler tonight. Once again I forgot my torch, or rather, once again I was sure I’d be home at some point during the day and left my torch on the floor. So tonight I stumbled half blinded by the tiny flame half blind in the darkness down the hill across the stream, up the hill and through the bananas to my little casita. There was a party which I was thinking of going to, but Norah appeared at Aria’s and it gave me a bit of an excuse for coming home. I’m glad actually, I’m tired. All I did today was make a path through the kindergarten yard, but I’m tired. Now there’s a big moth on my screen. There was a large praying mantis just by the light in kindergarten. I took a picture, I’ll see how fuzzy it is in the morning.

Aria and I are getting low on bread. It’s a rare commodity around here. The kitchens are wheat free, rather healthy. Last week a couple of ticos appeared in a truck with ‘German Bakery’ written on the side. For some reason they seem to think that German bakers are the best and always call themselves that, maybe that’s why the bakers in Watsonville were always ‘German’. Anyway they drove to the kitchen, and that was their mistake, after some minutes of waiting they were turned away. Aria and I were waiting in the car park and flung ourselves in front of the truck. They opened up the back and it was like an Aladdin’s cave: cream cakes, cheesecake, sticky buns, doughnuts, croissants, bread. It was daylight robbery, but it was good. The cream cakes were topped with fresh strawberries and pineapple, the doughnuts oozed jam, the croissants dripped chocolate. It all tasted divine, whether through the skills of the bakers or through deprivation, no matter. Sheer loveliness. We have about 6 slices of bread left, it’s getting a little stale now, a little dry around the edges. But it’s still bread, still stodge, still white flour, still processed, still delicious.


It’s Beltane today and a full moon: quite a special day. I’m sitting in the kindergarten enjoying a supper of bread, butter, banana and coconut. The crickets outside seem extra noisy tonight, Hoss is out scanning the perimeter for those bizarre armadillos that simply ignore him thus encouraging him to bark loudly in a futile attempt to engage them in play. Life is good. I just got back from the river, we took the horses down there: Donkey, Peter, Berta, Honeybun and Vishnu. There’s a sweatlodge down there for the full moon. It looks wonderful, the trees are full of large decorated hoops, feathers and dreamcatchers, there are two big teepees and a large lodge right by the river. Drums and a fire lie outside; dogs swim in the water; children lie in hammocks and the horses graze painted with circles and markings. It’s really beautiful, peaceful, even magical. We had a good ride down there, I rode Donkey who’s my favourite, a square little horse who’s the boss, I led Honeybun and Hoss ran beside. Hoss was needing a good run and he really enjoyed it, plunging into the river afterwards then rolling in dried leaves. It feels so good to ride and even better with a dog running beside.

They put molasses on the roads yesterday. Seems a strange idea, but it works. A big lorry comes and spreads this thick, brown, burnt smelling sugar across the road. It holds the dust down and forms a sort of hard surface that should last until the first rain. It happens all over the country at this time of year, it’s so dusty. People sweat and then get coated with fine red dust, we look rather odd, maybe now we’ll get coated with molasses too. It seems strange to me that the sugar doesn’t attract more insects. The horses were trying to lick up the pools which had formed in the holes, why not a million wasps?

I work with a lovely tica woman, Irene. She turned 27 last week and is 6 months pregnant with her first child. She doesn’t speak English. This is good practise for my Spanish though it means that there is a fair amount of miscommunication: children ending up upside down and inside out – that kind of thing. This is my third week of teaching, though my first week of being without a mother in the room. Monday was a disaster: the kids were all stuck to their mothers and crying hysterically. Tuesday we had a half day and they were told to come as princes and princesses, Wednesday was a half day with a trip to the garden, Thursday was the first full day with just Irene and I though we had yoga with Umina, today I made a circus and we went all the way through. I’m pleased this week is over! The transition from parents speaking Hebrew to a teacher speaking English seems to be hard for the kids and it is taking time, but today was the most normal of all, Klil asked repeatedly where her mum was but she didn’t cry and Orion only cried once and that was when the puppet theatre fell on his head. I’m hoping by the end of next week we will have established some sort of rhythm which will carry us.

We found a snakeskin in here this morning, about 2½ feet, must have been shed last night. Snakeskin is transparent so I have no idea what kind it was, but I’m surprised because I thought it took a while to shed, at least a couple of days. But there it was. Quite a beautiful thing, soft, not hard or brittle at all. The kids touched it very nicely, the babies don’t quite understand gentle so it’s now in several pieces and has been returned to the forest. We had a tarantula in here on Monday, it was on the side of a mattress, Irene got rid of it before I could see it. Shame really, I would have liked to have seen one in semi-captivity at least. Tarantulas here are not dangerous and move very slowly, but they can give you one hell of a scare.