Drying out after the deluge

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

Saturday, October 6

This beauty emerged after the rain finally relented.

After five days of pretty much nonstop rain, the skies cleared last night in a spectacular way. There have only been one or two nights since I arrived here (almost 8 weeks ago now) that we’ve had clear skies in the evening.

As if to make a great situation better, the power went out, creating blackout conditions. I walked out into the parking lot to star gaze. There are few things more humbling that standing beneath the stars in pitch-black conditions. That almost made all the rain we endured worthwhile.

The lucky streak continued this morning with brilliant sunrise filled with bird songs and the distant sound of surf. I was struck with inspiration and awoke at about 4 a.m. and started writing. I do that pretty frequently. The sun rises here every day around 5:30 and I love to sit there and listen to the jungle wake up while the light starts to filter in through the Treehouse. After all that rain, it was wonderful to walk out into a sunny morning after I was done writing. I guess the bad news is the inspiration created more complication in The Book. I was running parallel story lines. Now I have three, including a retelling of the Joe Magarac tall tale. It’s coming together in increasing strange yet interwoven ways.

I read Flannery O’Connor’s short story “The River” the other day for the first time in years. What an astounding story driven by her typical themes of the Southern grotesque and redemption. Her ability to craft rich, complex characters is second to none I have an anthology of all her short stories and I almost kept reading, but her work is so dense I decided to move on to something else. So I picked up Conrad’s Lord Jim, which I made a run at once and ran out of steam. I’m faring much better this time but still believe he should have made it a novella, ending with the trial Jim is subjected to. I haven’t finished yet, but the tale of Jim’s years in limbo after the Patna incident feels anticlimactic thus far. I love the way Conrad works the pace of the story, sometimes entering the “ripping yarn” territory and other times slowing down to dive deep into the characters’ inner impressions and motivations. That quality always floored me when reading Heart of Darkness. If you just pull it apart and put it in an outline, it’s an action-packed adventure tale. But he intentionally retards the pace, forcing the reader to turn inward and focus on the motivations and subtexts behind the action more than the action itself.

Gian swung by on Thursday and took me out to a resort south of here where I booked a room for when Lara comes to visit in early November. She’ll be here for about 5 days and then we’ll return to the States together on Nov. 7. Initially, we were going to go the discount route, but it will have been almost three months since we’ve seen each other so I figured, what they hell. Let’s go 4-star. Cristal Ballena definitely is that. It has a wonderful view of the ocean. While I was checking out the room options it was raining, obscuring the ocean in a thick, misty haze that was every bit as stunning as a clear Pacific view. Vultures circled lazily and a pair of macaws squawked there way through the rain toward the ocean, disappearing into the murk.

I’ve decided to name my favorite agouti — he is now Fela Agouti after the late, great African music legend Fela Kuti. He joins Chuckles the Gecko as my constant companions here.

This week, I head back to the states for a business meeting, but I’m not swinging through Ohio. I return here late Friday night, but I have to admit, I’m greatly looking forward to being able to walk into a store and asking for something in English and being understood. I’m just hoping I can navigate the airports without a setback for my ankle, which continues to improve in its glacial way.

 

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