(To read El Gringo Feo’s Costa Rica Diary from the beginning, start here.)
Sunday, September 30
Sometimes you just need to hunker down, get quiet and let the jungle come to you.
I was working in the bar area the other day when I heard the incoming buzz of a cicada. I hardly flinch now when they scream past, but this time a yellow flycatcher blew in right after it, missing me by about two feet and seizing the insect midair. It was astounding. I almost applauded as the flycatcher landed over near the banana trees to finish off the bug.
The bar area, in fact, is turning into my Mutual of Omaha Wild Kingdom. In the evening, I turn on the overhead lights, luring in a variety of insects for the house geckos to feast on. Add a soundtrack of Lee Dorsey’s funky take on Allen Toussaint tunes and Tim Maia’s psychedelic Brazilian soul and I’m as entertained as the lizards.
In the mornings, there’s almost always some strange visitor hanging out from the night before, from scorpions to frogs to chachalacas. And the agouti come out doglike, waiting for me to toss papaya scraps their way. They’re incredibly timid and it doesn’t take much to send them screaming back under the fence and into the jungle. I heard one screeching a few days ago and when I went over to take a look, a coatimundi had taken over, apparently running off the agouti. The coatis have a lot more attitude and don’t seem too perturbed by my presence. I’ve also been seeing black squirrels during the day eating the little berries that Uvita is named for (they look like tiny grapes, which is uvita in Spanish).
My one disappointment has been the green iguanas. They’re incredibly twitchy and bolt the second they become aware of my presence. A 4-footer lumbered up near the laundry room the other day but thrashed away before I could grab my phone for a photo attempt. I saw a smaller one escape into a hole on the hillside several weeks ago and I scan that area regularly but haven’t seen him since.
I’ll admit I was never a big Marty Balin fan, but I was really touched by Jorma Kaukonen’s tribute to his former bandmate, Now We Are Three. Hard to believe Jorma, Jack and Grace are all that’s left of Jefferson Airplane. Jorma’s blog, by the way, is definitely worth following, if for nothing else than the incredible drone shots he posts from Fur Peace Ranch and from various places across the country where he’s performing. I’ve met him briefly a few times and he comes across as the anti-rock star — quiet, unassuming and approachable. The tone of his blog very much reflects that.
Balin isn’t the only musician who passed recently. We also lost one of my favorite bluesmen, Otis Rush. I’ll be adding him to my play list today. Here’s a link to the New York Times obituary.
This quote in the obit, from Robert Palmer, sums up Rush’s work, I think:
His guitar playing hit heights I didn’t think any musician was capable of: notes bent and twisted so delicately and immaculately, they seemed to form actual words, phrases that cascaded up the neck, hung suspended over the rhythm and fell suddenly, bunching at the bottom in anguished paroxysms.