The banana caper

(To read El Gringo Feo’s Costa Rica Diary from the beginning, start here.)

Sunday, September 9

Survivors of the banana caper.

Strange noises in the middle of the night are routine here. That’s why I didn’t get too rattled when I heard a racket down near the kitchen as I turned out the lights to go to bed. “’T’is some visitor,’ I muttered. ‘… Only this and nothing more.’”

The next morning, I realized I’d been robbed. A massive bunch of bananas, which had been ripening on a table next to three mangoes and a pair of limes, had been decimated. There still were several bananas left, strewn about the concrete floor. The ground beneath nearby bushes was littered with banana peels. Total carnage. I also noticed the remaining rambutan (mamon chino) had been plucked from the tree.

I’m not sure who grabbed the bananas, but it was someone agile. I had a flashlight and several other items on the table near them, all undisturbed. Even the mangoes and limes were exactly where I’d left them. This was the work of a sharpshooter. I think if I lived here full time I’d invest in a trail camera. It would be fascinating to see who’s coming and going in the wee hours …

Speaking of night sounds …

I love waking up in the middle of the night to the roar of surf. It’s especially noticeable when the tide is up. It sounds almost as if I’m on the beach it’s so loud. The ocean is maybe a kilometer distant and visible from multiple points here at PurUvida, including the deck of the Treehouse. As the day sounds melt away and night grows so deep that even truckers have forsaken the road, surf sounds rise to fill the silence. What a great way to fall back asleep.

New (to me) birds

After a light rain halted Saturday, the birds came out. As usual, I was dazzled by the antics of the yellow flycatchers. But I also spotted two other birds that I was determined to identify. I have each of them narrowed down to a few possibilities.

The first, a predominantly black bird with red beneath, might be a Cherrie’s Tanager, or possibly a Red-Breasted Blackbird. The range for both includes Uvita. It reminded me very much of the Red-Wing Blackbirds who raise hell along the Hocking River back in Athens when I walk SunnyDog.

The second was aSlaty Antwren or Dusky Antbird. I need to get a closer look to determine for certain. What I saw was a female, which had a yellow/orange belly. Apparently the difference is that the Slaty has a light area all around eye. On the Dusky the orange/yellow stops below the eye. The male of each species is dark, with Dusky being closer to gray than black and the Slaty more of a — surprise surprise — slate color. Curiously, neither species eats ants. They “follow foraging army ants, which flush out hidden arthropods that the birds eagerly consume.” Watch out, arthropods.

The Book

I took a second run at the second chapter of The Book the other day and I’m a lot happier with where it landed. It’s definitely not done, but it’s progressing. I’m trying to tell the story through several first-person narrators, and I’ve been struggling with this one. As I listen to podcasts about writers discussing their work, they often talk about how the plot takes on a life of its own as the characters rise up off the page and become fully formed. That’s starting to happen here. Still a long way to go, but I’m making progress. I spent last night listening to fiction writing lectures on plot. Very helpful. Even if the entire thing crashes and burns, I think this will make me a more erudite reader.

I’m reassessing my view of Darkness Visible, the historical novel set during the Homestead strike. After a slow start introducing characters, motivations, etc., Trilby picked up the pace in the second half leading up to the actual strike. I finished it yesterday and overall give it a thumbs up. I shifted from reading it because I was researching my own book to reading it because it was a good story.

Blistering hikes

I’ve been bedeviled by blisters here, and I can’t seem to find the right footwear that facilitates my mega-treks without inflicting further damage. I brought Birkenstocks, Tevas and Merrill hiking boots. The latter two have served me well for countless miles in Athens, but here they crucify my feet. The Birks don’t cause problems, but they’re not great for walking long distances. I’m hoping a few more rounds of blisters and my feet will be able to handle it. I guess I’m a true tenderfoot here in the jungle. If nothing else, it’s taught me the Spanish word for bandages: vendas. I stopped by la farmacia yesterday to buy another box, and surprisingly, a four-mile trek in my Tevas didn’t inflict further damage, though I did have both of my big toes wrapped mummy-like in vendas.

While I was out, I managed to catch a G4 connection while eating at Sibu Cafe, which has WiFi that I couldn’t get into despite multiple attempts and clarifications of the password. But that G4 still was like jumping on a rollercoaster after chugging along on the G3 kiddy train out here near Playa Colonia. Damn. I miss massive bandwidth. I have about 12 app updates queued up on my phone. Even when I tap a wireless connection at a local restaurant, I’m lucky to get one or two apps downloaded during a meal.

Same sunset, new view

I trundled up the the shack yesterday with low expectations. A light rain had given way to general cloudiness, but I still got a show. At first, a sliver of orange zipper formed between the sea and sky, then the clouds caught fire. I shot a few of the usual views and noticed the scene was being reflected in the window of the gutted Suzuki 4×4 that’s sitting on blocks next to the shack. So that’s what I went with.

Sunset reflected in the Suzuki.