27 February 2012

Escape From Bitch Mountain

I actually forgot the password to this blog.  So it's been two years.  That has more to do with my surrender to Facebook than with me quitting my job, cashing in my meager contribution toward the retirement I would have enjoyed at age 87 or so, moving to Central America with my dog and nine suitcases, and marrying a Costa Rican socialist.
coffee fields around the corner from my apt. with requisite volcano in the background
Oh, please. Don't act so shocked, most of your asses are on Facebook too.  You've seen the status updates.

Maybe I need a new blog. Even the colors on the cowbell one reflect those years in Seattle.  The grey years.  Maybe my long cyber-absence and the idea of a new blog are just ways to separate myself mentally from that time, I don't know. 

So I've lived here now for seven months, and the mental transition ... let's just say it's a process.  There's a part of me that is still surprised to see the sun every day, that doesn't truly believe it will really come back in the morning.  A part of me that even on muggy days, when my deodorant has raised the white flag of surrender, still mentally pays desperate homage to the weather gods so they won't take it away.  I still avoid the shade, and am weirded out when I see Costa Ricans using umbrellas against the sun.  They probably think I'm an idiot, trotting down the sunny side of street like some clueless tourist. Dumb gringa. Never mind, even the tourists have the sense to walk in the shade with their visors and backpacks and Hawaiian shirts.  And maps.  They all have maps.

Which doesn't help much because there are no street names or house numbers here.

In Seattle, people literally call in sick on sunny days.  No, really.   Because you never know when it will happen again, and there's a kind of giddiness that hits you.  Hey, I'm talking about a place where you literally may not see sunshine for a month, and then only that fleeting phenomenon locally known as a "sunbreak" before you're back in the grey. 

It's really not possible to explain the effect of living like that. There's this irrational fear:  don't waste the sun, if you don't appreciate it, it will go away.  And once that gets inside you, it apparently can't just be switched off by escaping to a tropical climate.

In Costa Rica, summer runs from December to May, roughly.  What they call "winter" is really just the rainy season.  The idea of a rainy season struck fear into my Seattle-scarred heart, but it really just means it rains every afternoon.  You still get sun almost every morning.  Of course, "rain" here can mean torrents that wash your house into the river as opposed to nonstop drizzle, but I repeat: sun basically every day.  (That house-river thing happened about a five-minute walk from us.  Rain does not play here.)

Going through said rainy season with no car, no dryer, and no furnace sheds a whole new light on rain, but that's another story.

So in December these trade winds, vientos alisios, arrive and the Costa Ricans, or ticos, as they call themselves, get all nostalgic and happy because it signals the beginning of summer and the arrival of Christmas. (I know.  Still trying to wrap my head around that combo.)  They put Christmas lights on palm trees, and these nativity scenes pop up everywhere.  Even in the bars.  The manger itself stays empty until the night of the 24th when the holy plastic child makes his blessed appearance. Even in the bars.

You know how the first snow and that crisp smell of smoke from the chimneys make us feel all happy and Decembery?  The vientos alisios are like that for ticos.  Except with no fireplaces or furnaces against the cold that rides in on them. The winds are insane.  Laundry dries in half an hour, but holy hell, can it be chilly at night!  The esposo loves it.  "Ah, ¡quĂ© fresquito!"   I scowl and pull on my giant, fuzzy robe.  The one you all laughed at me for bringing.

I guess when you live your whole life where heat and sunshine are a given, every single day, those winds do seem refreshing, a relief, especially when they mean Christmas and summer.

It's hard to imagine ever feeling relief instead of dread at the arrival of cold winds or rain.  Even happy Christmas trade winds. I suppose someday I'll get there.  Until then, the sunny side of the street feels just fine.