I had a great time in the US with my family. The visit was incredibly busy and productive, and it was wonderful to be around loved ones. It was also novel for me to be able to walk into a room and find another human being there with whom I actually wanted to spend time.

I saw several doctors, and it appears that my health is fine. I learned that I needed to get prisms in my eyeglasses, which I had had many years prior (and forgotten about). Prisms help one’s eyes focused, particularly when one is tired or has been reading for a long time. When I had prisms and was young, the problem was corrected after a year or so. Now, I fear, it will not be fixed, but I will be able to see clearly with all the close work I do.

After a yearlong quest to get off of Seroquel, I met a psychiatrist (right out of central casting with long white beard and cap) who suggested an alternative. I’m in the process of adjusting. Apparently, a few days ago, I left a garbled phone message for a dear friend, who became concerned that I was losing my mind. I have had no such other such incident, so I must be OK now. (Famous last words)

My trip to the US reminded me of how much easier life can be there. My shopping went well, and I saved tons of money on things that I needed. Except for the nightmare of dealing with Verizon Wireless, a company with good cell service and the worst customer service, systems and website ever, it was a pleasure doing business. As for Verizon, I will not bore you with the details of the mind-numbing, 40-hour process (not an exaggeration). Suffice it to say that after having my order canceled twice, being refused the discount which I’d been promised, discovering that the mobile hotspot didn’t work, and discovering a mistaken $166 charge on the new bill, I learned that my new phone had been locked for security purposes and cannot be activated in another country for 60 days. (In this case, “security” means that no one can buy the phone, change carriers and skip out on the bill. Whose security, exactly?) It now sits in a drawer until 2/20/20, at which point I should be able to use it. Pray for me.

The flights were on-time and smooth, and I could spend an entire vacation in the Delta Sky Lounges. Of course, the power backups I brought back, along with the bubble-wrapped bottles of Tamari, triggered a complete and thorough search of all bags. I imagine that they looked like bombs and Molotov cocktails to the TSA x-rayers; at least I had sense enough to put them in checked luggage.

Upon my return to CR, I learned that my alarm had gone off every day at 6:00 am for two weeks and that my neighbors were, shall we say, “enojado”. In my defense, I must explain: I had to get up very early on my departure day in December, so I set my cell phone alarm, as usual, with my bedside alarm as a backup. I woke up and left prior to the second alarm going off, but I realized this on the way to the airport. I contacted my neighbor, who had keys, and asked her to go in and turn off the alarm. She did so, which I know because I saw on my cameras that she had entered my place. I thought all was handled, but, I learned after my return that she had not fully pushed the button. Thus, the alarm sounded daily for the duration of my trip.

What was most galling to me was that the guard/assistant, whose caseta (station) is 15 feet from my front door, after hearing the affected neighbors complain, failed to notify me or the property manager. He has my Whatsapp (free) phone number. There’s initiative for you! How he could just let it go boggles the mind. Needless to say, when he informed me that my neighbors were pissed off, I was mortified. I’m already a gringo and, by definition, arrogant and selfish; but knowing that I had been the source of annoyance and disturbance really upset me. And if this moron had had the common sense to report the problem, I would have called my neighbor with the keys and talked her through the process of correctly shutting off the alarm.

My latest battles are:

  • Finding a letter from Social Security, which was sent to my residence here where I don’t receive mail. while in the US, I gave them the correct post office box, so I’m hoping they’ll resend.
  • Receiving a new hub for my security system. I bought an upgraded camera in the states but was not told that it was incompatible with my existing system. I found one for free (with points) on, and I paid for two to five-day delivery. (I’ve never used amazon from here, which is, in fact, closer to the Amazon.) I then received an email informing me that my package delivery date had been moved from February 21st to January 21st. That’s the “rush” delivery here.

So on I go to fight another day. Life is quieter now, and I’m more prone to eat an entire bowl of guacamole by myself. My contracting duties and lessons are going well, and the weather is stunning. This is summer and high-season here, and it is glorious.

I hope your holidays were peaceful, joyous, fun and/or quiet, as you prefer. Happy 2020!