Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Friday, March 25, 2011
Sunday, March 20, 2011
As my best friend Sunshine is half Costa Rican (her mother was from there) and she knows I love the country, when she, her daughter Cathy, son-in law
We stayed there until after 2 pm, just lyming and when we were taken to the hotel to check in, it was only to bathe and go back to dinner and to meet the rest the entire family, a very large family. The entire family is extremely warm, from very young children to the older folk...the theme was just tu casa es mi casa! I later discovered that Laura is a very accomplished artist as she paints and enhances her work with paper machet......really good stuff. Incidentally, she and her children speak English fluently, but her husband Alexander, doesn't. Anyway, she does not do art commercially as she says its time consuming but she has really nice stuff she has done for the home.
One Wednesday they allowed us to rest but by mid day, we had jumped on a local bus to go to Escazu in search of local food. We found a lovely place operated by an Iraqi but the food was Costa Rican and excellent and of course they had a full supply of natural, local juices. When we were at the bus stop to return to the hotel, up drove Alexander and we all piled into his vehicle. He and his family had been on the way to visit us at the hotel and to make plans for the rest of the week.
Thursday was a full day which should have seen us heading straight out to the eastern section of the country near the Irazu volcano. However, Harry asked if we wanted to go downtown to get souvenirs and do a mini tour, so off we went. Downtown San Jose is filled with pigeons and men make a living selling packs of corn to feed them and don't the birds swamp you when you open those packs! Cardiff enjoyed himself throwing corn over his wife Kathy so the birds could descend and land all over her.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
On the 15th March 2011, I made my third trip to Costa Rica (CR) with my friend Sunshine, her daughter Cathy, son-in law Cardiff and younger children Ariana and Amanda.This time I saw the country as never before for the Henriques family (Henriquez in Spanish) transported us all over the place.
In CR, they have 7 active volcano and Doka, has the worlds largest crater.....9000 feet. I have been there in the past. Near our hotel which is between Santa Ana and the large town called Escazu. The Santa Ana area has become the corporate centre of CR with a huge IT and call Centre industry.
Our hotel (The Alta) is a lovely boutique property five storeys but only 22 rooms. Because of the quaint and tasteful architecture, you would never know it was more than two storeys tall. And I did notice that high rises are not that popular there which is good for there is nothing worse than a cconcrete jungle in my book! Although the hotel is only 15 years old, it is built in rustic Spanish colonial style and looks very original.
San Jose seems to have developed quite a crime problem though for as we arrived at the airport a policeman was there giving out brochures with anti crime information for visitors to adopt and we were warned to stay away from the city after 10 pm . Interestingly, while we see a lot of security guards downtown, I rarely saw any police and even driving out into the countryside the lack of police activity was significant to someone like me who lives in Jamaica. However, everywhere you go, you notice that most houses in the better areas have electronic gates and some even have electrified fences to shock intruders.
The fruits here are just like in Jamaica but larger. You have to watch how you talk about guava there as that is some kind of bad word.... they call it guayabera. They consider March their summer as they say it is hot and dry at this time (I nearly froze to death as it hovered around 70 degrees most of the time) while during the real summer, July, August etc it gets very overcast and cold, so they call it winter! Well I am here to tell you that the only day that felt summer like to me was the Wednesday after we arrived and when we visited Jackie at her home near the airport. The Wednesday after we arrived, was the only time I was inspired to take off some clothes and jump in the pool and I am glad I did for every day after that I was adding clothes, not taking off. (Oh oh, we just had a power cut so now I really feel at home!)
I love how the streets in San Jose undulate sharply like in San Francisco so it is easy to get good exercise here as going around the block is like walking up Mountain Spring. I didn't see much walkers and joggers though but a lot of cyclists. Near the hotel there is reptile refuge where they care for sick snakes, monkeys etc and let them back into the wild when they get better. That I discovered from my first walk then later Ariana and I visited it. She went wild over the monkeys and has been nagging her mom for a real live one ever since.
But back to things I found significant in CR. I also notice that they go for mixed neighbourhoods, residential and commercial all co-existing happily and it works very well for them . The landscape is absolutely breathtaking and everywhere there is a proliferation of pink poui and a variety of colourful boganvilla and many other flowering tees which I had never seen before but which really brightens up the place.
There are some things in CR which I found very striking. For example, they have only one cell phone company, ICE, but no one complains about monopoly as the rate is kept very low I hear. The bus transportation system is also excellent and cheap. The other thing you can't miss is the fact that Costa Ricans are highly educated for as from back in the 40's the government abolished the army and ploughed the money into education. So education is free up to high school and if you maintain 90-100 percent averages, university is also free. However that does not leave out slower students for with grades under 85% they pay only US$20 every six months!
There was one aspect of life here that I found a bit disconcerting, to say the least. That is what happens after death! Apparently the relatives have to pay an annual fee to the municipality for the upkeep of the cemetery and if they fail to pay the fee for five years, the remains are dug up and removed to a mass burial site. A bit gruesome I found. Then there is well used term of endearment....negrita. Literally it means little negro or little nigger but it is used strictly for affection there. I wonder how the super sensitive Americans react when they hear it since they consider the so called "n word" and absolute no no?
Sunday, March 13, 2011
Friday, March 11, 2011
Ash Wednesday was a memorable day for quite a few fun and thrillers. Poor Richard had a terrible fall on the train line in May Pen and hurt himself badly. Alrick says he also fell in Old Harbour and hurt himself. Naomi told me she blacked out on reaching May Pen and Charles and Michael had some sibling rivalry which led Charles to take a minibus home thus missing the lovely breakfast etc.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Monday, March 7, 2011
Charles Simpson aka Charles the 1st, made an excellent choice. He had been insisting for almost a year now that we arrange and outing to Mountain River Cave, which is at Cudjoe Hill and which he had read about, but the powers that be had not been accommodating. Anyway, last Tuesday he finally got Charles 2nd, myself and Chuck to go with him to the location to make arrangements . So Sunday 5th March was the big day. And what a lovely day it was.
For more photos, see;
I suppose its the new age sense of “ couldn't care less” that allows most young black people to see nothing strange about their cohorts who bleach their skins. Actually, I found it quite significant recently when an immediate silence prevailed after a few people who claimed to have a problem with the issue were shut up by Vybes Kartel. He did this by pointing out to them that people who straightened their hair to try to look white or bought wigs to disguise their roots, had no moral authority to criticise him! The silence that has prevailed since his rejoinder is deafening! Or poor
You know all this reflection came out of an incident yesterday when I actually lost my temper to the point where I can’t even recall what I said! To most people, losing ones temper is a matter of course. In fact, for many years it was for me too until I started yoga some 40 years ago. In fact, I am here to tell you that if I have lost my temper twice in the last 30 years, that is plenty.
But I totally lost it yesterday.
This was at
Cudjoe had been a brave maroon leader and while most history I have seen about him places him in
Well I really don’t know how widespread it is, but amazingly the stark experience I had with was with an influential resident there, the employee of the Jamaica National Heritage Trust who organises tours to the cave.
At first, I thought she was making a joke as we set out to cross the river and someone made a comment about the size and slipperiness of the boulders that we had to walk on to get to the other side. Her comment was 'When I take white people here they don’t complain". I found the comment a bit out of sorts, but ignored it for Jamaica's history was replete with that type of attitude by menial workers in the tourism industry, but with training it became just that....history.
However, as we hiked further up the treacherous, rocky hillside, someone else complained about the steepness of the path. Again I heard her outburst “When I bring white people here they don’t complain.” Although I found it a bit annoying, I still said nothing for I have really matured and are less prone to be emotive.
However when we got to the top and discovered that the highly promoted cave was very small and the markings on the top were fairly insignificant and someone commented on this only to be rejoined by her third 'When I take white people here they don’t complain" I totally lost it! I know I gave here a good cussing on top of my voice and walked off back down the hill to cool off in the river, but I really don’t recall what I actually said except I know I cursed her for rude, disrespectful and suffering from mental slavery. I might also have called her an asshole. I hope I did!
What amazed me however, is that no one else in the party who heard these comments seemed to have a problem with it. Or if they had a problem, they certainly kept it to themselves, hence my musings about the values of my generation being passé. After all, people my age were nurtured in the 60's when black pride and the defense of our race was the ultimate purpose in life so no one could insult our race in that way and get away with it for our motto was 'Say it loud, I am black and I am proud." And being black and proud meant embracing all aspects of our blackness with pride. But now, bleachings, wigs etc have made such sentiments obsolete.
Time for you to get some cake soap Joan and chill out, compliments of Vybes Kartel et al.