The Wild Life

When I write about adventures, I try to portray my current country of residence accurately, for better or for worse. This next tale will present a challenge to me.

Let me begin by saying that, although Costa Rica is famous for its glorious variety of animal species, the more exotic live in the rain forests and jungles. The cities and suburbs are very modern, and there is no more wildlife roaming through the streets as there are in the towns and cities where you live. An occasional strange animal might make its way to the Starbucks parking lot, but I’m referring to what looks like a possum or squirrel. I remember more than once spotting coyotes and other wild animals in the Hollywood Hills.

I have had an ongoing problem with termites in my building. I spotted the droppings (aka frass) in my office closet and later in my upstairs entertainment room. My landlady sent an exterminator several months ago, who, contrary to my instructions, refused to climb a ladder to treat the wood. (I have extremely high cathedral ceilings upstairs.) Since his treatment accomplished nothing, several months later, I hired someone to come and climb up and soak the wood with the appropriate substance.

The upstairs smelled pretty bad afterward, so I kept my bedroom and office doors closed. I noticed, however, that, in spite of my efforts, I was sleeping terribly and waking up full of aches and pains. It might have been the flu, except that, after two hours downstairs, I felt fine. Clearly the chemical used was affecting me. And what was weirder was that my discomfort was getting worse every night.

In what turned out to be a fortuitous coincidence, one day my hot water heater stopped working. I say fortuitous because the tank is in a closet in my bedroom, next to the master bathroom. When I opened the closet door to check on the tank, which I hadn’t done in many months, I looked up and saw that the closet ceiling was completely gone. I could see the attic space and underside of the roof. I suddenly realized that something had eaten away the ceiling and that whatever was toxic in my bedroom was coming not from the entertainment room but from the attic.

I have heard stories from neighbors of squirrels and other small critters crawling into the attics and dying, which is what must have happened to me. So, although there was no detectable odor, I had been sleeping under a pet cemetery and being poisoned by whatever emissions were seeping into my bedroom. And, by closing the bedroom door to protect myself from the fumigation fumes, I had cut off the airflow and intensified the toxicity in my bedroom. Once I saw the problem, I sealed off the closet door (and its slots for venting heat) with masking tape, and I propped open the bedroom door. I’ve slept great and symptom-free ever since.

Once again, I have learned that whatever I think is going on in my life is completely different from what is actually happening.

As for the events in my life, well, I’m no longer working with my ex-Chinese overlords and I don’t miss them at all. The students were lovely, but the company was dysfunctional and the quality of the course-content often embarrassingly poor. I have a few private English students and I have my consulting contract with the school in California. I’m enjoying all of them.

I had my first Thanksgiving dinner since coming to CR, and it was great. My neighbors, a Costa Rican doctor and his American wife, made dinner for about 20 people. I made my famous New York Graham-cracker-crust Cheesecake without graham crackers. After searching in half a dozen stores forgalletas de graham, I gave up and found another type of cracker to pulverize. It turned out really well, as did the other dishes. The nationalities represented included tico, Nicaraguan, American and Bulgarian. Yep, Bulgarian. It was quite an entertaining evening.

I’ll be with family in Jacksonville, Florida for the holidays; two weeks in the US to enjoy loved ones and to see as many doctors as possible. I also got some great deals on Black Friday and Cyber Monday for a quarter of the price I would pay for them here. When living in the US, one often doesn’t appreciate the availability and relatively low cost of quality merchandise. Not to mention that one can actually return things.  USA!, USA!

Happy holidays to all.