Livin’ the Life

Last week, I went to the local TGI Friday’s for a salad and a drink. That’s right: we have every American chain restaurant right here in Escazu, including the new Subway that just opened up within walking distance of my house.

I went out with a friend who has an impressive capacity for beer. I’m pretty much a wimp now; one drink is about all I can handle. He talks about his girlfriend, and I’m fascinated by the cultural differences. This is a matriarchal culture, as are many Latin countries, and it affects the relationship dynamics. Tica women are very strong and often controlling; the men for the most part accept this and are respectful and affectionate. Yet, tico men also have that Latin machismo, which demands that they share lots of funny texts making light of how difficult the women can be. (For the record, my friend is not a particularly macho type.)  I was once advised by a long-time (female) resident that I should never criticize or correct a tica; even if well-intentioned, I would be duly punished. I have since discovered this to be quite true, and I have the emotional scars to prove it. In fairness to all, it’s never a great idea for any gringo to give advice to any of the locals, who appear to have a love/hate relationship with the US. This is not helped by the fact that many of us can be demanding and show our frustration when the world doesn’t behave exactly the way we want it to.

I am teaching English to an adult student in San José. We meet for three hours and seem to enjoy each other. I also have a skype interview pending to teach Chinese businessmen online for 10 hours a week. I have fielded dozens of offers to teach Chinese children, if you remember, with the puppets and the singing at 4:00 in the morning. The recruiters lured me in by claiming I could teach all ages, from elementary to adult, and then each time informed me that the gig was with very young children. I am hoping that this time things will be different, since the ad specified teaching adults. I have assured them that no one wants to be on the other end of a skype call with me at 4:00 am.

A quick anecdote: I was teaching a lesson on going out to hear different types of music. While explaining the category “show tunes,” I elicited from my student that he’d been to Broadway to see Ghost Opening. After several attempts to identify this mysterious show, I realized he’d seen Phantom of the Opera.

If this new opportunity comes through, I will be where I want to be—working part-time with a set schedule. This would also allow me to get a dog, which I haven’t wanted to do without being sure that I could walk him twice a day. Stay tuned on that.

I’ve been watching Netflix shows: Ken Burns Vietnam documentary is amazing; even though many of us lived through it, there’s a lot of new information and perspective. This should be required viewing for anyone in or aspiring to be in government or any other decision-making body. Also, the one-hour stand-up of Hannah Godsby, an Australian comic, is a brilliant and powerful piece of story-telling; don’t be fooled by the first half. Also, don’t miss Inside Einstein’s Brain, a one-hour explanations of Einstein’s stunning achievements. I finally understand what “space-time continuum” actually means.

I’m in habit of reading two-to-three books per week. Don’t be overly impressed…They’re short. I just finished the Old Man’s War (sci-fi) series by John Scalzi, and I’m now into Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood. I really liked his Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki, Kafka on the Shore, and 1Q84.

I’m planning on a trip to visit family in Florida in the middle of August. I know it will be hot and humid, but, hey, look where I’m living. I’m already fantasizing about working out in an air-conditioned gym.

Ciao for now.