Another eventful morning! Yesterday I was contacted my a couple from Minnesota who are in Atenas for two weeks as a base for exploring. They came across this blog and asked to get together for coffee or a meal and how to get to the church I reported on last Sunday. So we met for the 8 AM service at Iglesia Biblica Atenas and after the all-Spanish worship walked the 7 blocks or so to Kay’s Gringo Postres, where everyone eating there was a gringo. It was a very nice American-style breakfast buffet with great omelets and all the trimmings plus lots of fruit and even a peach cobbler. Yum, yum!
On the way we picked up a group of Americans from Indiana looking for an American-style breakfast and just took them with us. We are all friends here! And it was fun getting a new friend from my blog meaning someone is reading it! 🙂
Two blocks from Kay’s we passed this small funeral procession, my first here.
First sighting of the Funeral Procession in Atenas January 11, 2015.
There were no noisy sirens, hired cops clearing the way, just a family walking behind the hearse (station wagon) with its lights on and flowers on top. Since it was approaching midday, several walked with umbrellas for protection from the heat. Behind them was maybe 5 or 6 cars following with their lights on, of course moving at a walk pace. Along the street locals stop what they are doing in respect to the deceased like we did in the old days in the states. It was solemn and respectful. Another new cultural experience today.
Tomorrow’s adventure is a trip to San Jose to see my local lawyer. I’m splurging and hiring a driver rather than the uncertainty of when the bus would get me there. Next time will be by bus. Pura vida continues in the happiest place on earth in the town with the best weather on earth! I am truly blessed! And then new friends pop up from my blog today! Wow! Pura Vida!
Su Espacio is located in that corner building by the white pickup. It is across the street from our only gas station in town which is part of the largest Super Mercado, Coopeatenas – an important intersection for me!
The Spanish words Su Espacio mean “Your Space” in English and is the name of the community center where I had my second Spanish lesson today, located in the building pictured above across from the closest super market for me and the only gas station in town also owned by the super market. Like in small-towns in the States, there are sometimes monopolies by one person or company, though Coopeatenas is technically a cooperative owned by local farmers.
“Your Space” could also be the theme for my first bus ride yesterday. I walked the 8 or 9 blocks to the bus terminal in Atenas and waited in line for the Alajuela Bus. It was packed with people standing. The 25 to 30 mile ride cost about $1.50 with multiple stops along the highway with people getting on and off. In the city of Alajuela, second largest city in Costa Rica and home of the San Jose International Airport, I get off at their bus terminal in central district and catch a taxi ($2) to Aero Casillas to deliver my last paperwork to make my Miami address work here. It was a notarized form from the U.S. Post Office saying I give Aero Casillas permission to receive and deliver U.S. Mail. One package and two letters are still in Customs waiting for this document before they will release the items. Thus I could not pick them up yesterday. A very nice clerk, the only one to speak English, said she would email me when the mail was released and ready for pickup, possibly by Friday. So I may make another bus trip soon! While in town I took a taxi ($2 again) to Walmart where I ate lunch and checked out the store aisle by aisle. It is pretty much the way I remember it from the August visit. I bought only 4 items: 2 cereals, a big towel, and ice cream on a stick, plus lunch in their cafeteria with typical Tico food. I had fish, rice and guacamole! Weird combo, I know!
After class this morning, I walked back to the apartment first so I could use my bathroom. The water line to Atenas from Grecia is broken, so no water in town meaning public bathrooms don’t work like the one at Su Espacio! Our apartments have a deep well and pump, so we always have water except from 10 PM to 4 AM when they let the pump cool off. Then I walked back up the hill to town to look at a house for rent and eat lunch. La Trilla (my plan) was closed with no water as was Antano. But fortunately the owners of La Caretta have a friend that stores water and they were still operating. I had a chicken casado (plate lunch) and met a couple from Iowa – snow birds! I then went by Coopeatenas and got three cardboard boxes for my move upstairs tomorrow. My friends from the August trip, Mark and Tina are moving to Panama tomorrow to try out that country for four months. I’m getting their 3rd floor end unit with better view, more air flow, more privacy, screens on windows, two balconies and no millipedes! 🙂 I’m literally and figuratively moving up in the apartments! And some of Phons family members are getting my downstairs apartment tomorrow night.
So I am packing the rest of today, plus friends are picking up me, Mark and Tina for Wednesday night church. I had quit going on Wednesday night in the States, but will start again here since that is the English service each week. I’ll normally walk, but Mark and Tina wanted to be picked up because they are going to finish their yard sale at the church. Me and some of the apartment neighbors have already bought a lot of their stuff. I got the printer, desk chair, bath mats and plastic coat hangers, all at garage sale prices! I let the ladies have the kitchen stuff. The younger couple from Switzerland was so excited to find the muffin tin. It is funny to watch American and European expats function in this culture!
In addition to learning basic Spanish, I’m learning local ways to say things. Only older people still say Buenos Dias, Buenas Tardes, and Buenas Noches. Most just say “Buenas” regardless what time of day it is. So I’m learning to do that. When asked how you are (Como esta usted) and you are just “so so,” as we say in English, you say “mas o menos” which is how Rudy the caretaker answered me today. That is opposed to saying “bien” (good) or “muy bien” (very good). And the teenager on the bus yesterday saw a friend, did a fist bump and said “mae” which is like “hey dude.” This is fun! And everyone is very friendly here, maybe like small towns everywhere. A good place to be and no regular tourists because we don’t have tourist sights here.
For those few, if any, readers who live in Atenas or are familiar with it, I should add that the rental house I looked at today is where the famous Kay of “Kay’s Gringo Postres”lives and I got to meet her and her husband Tom. They have been here 7 years, but health issues have caused them to move back to the states near their son in Phoenix which is why the house is about to be available. It was a fun visit and would be a good deal financially and space-wise, but simply not as nice as the apartments. So we will see what happens. A younger couple from Texas bought their restaurant and still operate it under the same name. I haven’t eaten there yet because it is a further walk, but I will soon! Well, got to start packing!