Slow and steady wins the race

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

Tuesday, September 25

Bananas are starting to emerge on one of the trees here at PurUvita. (At least I think they’re banans; also could be plantains.)

Yesterday marked two weeks since i sprained my ankle and I’m happy to say I’m making progress. It’s nowhere near 100% but the swelling has gone down a bit and the pain is easing. Several people have told me the biggest risk is re-injuring it so I continue to stay off it as much as possible.

I remain impressed with my doctor here. He reached out yesterday morning on What’s App just to see how things were going. The medicine he prescribed to offset the stomach problems from the anti-inflammatory is working like a charm and I was happy to report that things are heading in the right direction.

To top it off, Gian dropped of one of those yogurty gut bacteria things to help set my stomach straight.

I finished Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind and while overall I enjoyed it, the second half was much less compelling than the first. I found his writing on prehistory much more interesting than the sections on religion, politics, etc. At this point, I’m taking a break to put more focus on The Book. I outran my supply lines there, with files and chapters and notes scattered everywhere across my hard drive. I’ve been using a writing app called Ulysses, which I love for its simplicity, but that simplicity is turning into a liability. I’d downloaded a demo copy of Scrivener in 2017 when I decided to go with Ulysses so I revisited that.


There’s a bit of a learning curve. Normally when I get new software, I just launch it and start banging on it. But this time I used the tutorial, which was very useful in understanding how Scrivener thinks and organizes information. After about an hour I started loaded all the the myriad components of The Book into it. I’m jaded where software is concerned, but in this instance I’m smitten and intend to fork over the money for a license. I spent most of yesterday setting things up. Last night, I revisited several of the books I’m using as source material, including Myron R. Stowell’s Fort Frick, or the Siege of Homestead: a history of the famous struggle between the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers and the Carnegie Steel Co. of Pittsburg, Pa. I love that concise title. I’m also relying a lot on Arthur Gordon Burgoyne’s Homestead: A complete history of the struggle of July, 1892, between the Carnegie steel company, limited, and the Amalgamated association of iron and steel workers. Another to-the-point title. Both books were published in 1893, and they crackle with the electric charge of the battle. I’ve read several more-modern accounts, too, but Stowell and Burgoyne bring more of a reporter’s feel to the details since they were on the ground for the actual events. The prose tends to be purple at times, but that’s part of the reason I enjoy their accounts.

Burgh trivia: Apparently, Pittsburgh officially lost its “h” for a while there. In 1891, the United States Board of Geographic names mandated that places using “burgh,” a Scottish derivative, would drop the ‘h,” using the German suffix. So a lot of the source materials from that era, including newspapers, use the Pittsburg spelling. According to Wikipedia, that decision was reversed in 1911. I guess it’s another one of those “Burgh things.”

Finally, I went on a Neil Young binge yesterday, listening to all four of his albums that I have downloaded to my phone: Everybody Knows This is Nowhere, On the Beach, Tonight’s the Night, and Zuma. I’ve always been a fan, despite the inaccurate hippy history he indulges at times (his depiction of the Aztecs in “Cortez the Killer” is freakin’ laughable; they were every bit as savage as Cortez). And while some of the songs haven’t held up well over time, the gut-wrenching pain throbbing through Tonight’s the Night still resonates in today’s opioid plague. He released that album after Crazy Horse guitarist Danny Whitten and roadie Bruce Berry died of drug overdoses. Some things don’t change …

Another view of the bananas. Since I shot this on Saturday, there’s been even more progress.