Back in Uvita

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

Sunday, October 14

Iguana crossing: There are several of these signs on the way from San José to Uvita. I kept my eyes peeled but didn’t see any actual iguanas.

I’m back in Uvita after several days in the States, and it really felt good to return here. I was dreading Friday, which was an airport gauntlet (Dubuque—>Chicago—>Miami—>San José), but the only real problem I hit was a minor delay on the San José flight. I stayed at the airport Marriott Courtyard Friday night and then my driver, Fernando, picked me up Saturday morning for the 3+hour drive down to Uvita.

Fernando doesn’t speak much English, and my Spanish is severely limited, but we get by fine. At one point, we were rocking out to Sweet’s
“Fox on the Run.” At first I wasn’t sure if Fernando was playing the local classic rock station in a bid to appease me or because he genuinely likes it. But when this tune came on, there was no doubt: He’s a fan. Credence was another band that clearly is among his favorites. Best of all, Fernando’s a very good driver, finding the right balance between speed and safety.

We did pass some downed power lines and trees when we went through Dominical, which is about 25 kilometers north of Uvita. Apparently, there were nasty storms last week while I was in the States. An American honeymooner  is missing and presumed dead after getting caught in a flash flood in Dominicalita. I think we’re in for another rainy week, but I’m not complaining. It was in the 30s when I flew out of Dubuque on Friday. We even had to de-ice before taking off.

Overall, the trip was a success. Best of all, my ankle did really well. I’m not ready to start hiking on it now, but I looked at the pedometer on my iPhone and I hit 5,000 steps on both of my travel days without substantial pain. It’s best described now as sore unless I turn my ankle while walking. I’m going to continue staying off it in the hope that I get get it almost healed by the time Lara arrives in less than three weeks.


During my airport purgatory, I finished reading The Golden Ass, which I enjoyed immensely. My only complaint is that some of Lucius Apuleius’ digressions became tedious at times, though it generally was bawdy enough to keep my interest even then. And the translation by Sarah Ruden was superb.

After the Ass, I moved on to George Saunders’ short story collection Pastoralia. Another winner. As Thoreau wrote in “Walden,” “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” This collection was Saunders’ effort to come to grips with that sad fact. There is some transcendence in there, but it’s largely existential angst.

Been So Long

Finally, I started listening to the Audiobook version of Jorma Kaukonen’s “Been So Long: My Life and Music.” I’ve been a fan for a long time, from Jefferson Airplane to Hot Tuna to his work at Fur Peace Ranch in Southeast Ohio, and I’ve met Jorma a few times and came away impressed at how grounded and humble he appeared to be. That comes through in the audiobook, which he reads himself. His range of interests is amazing. Everything from motorcycles to speed skating, and there’s plenty of musical discussion, including the details guitar geeks would crave about his guitars and how he gets his sound. My main disappointment is that he tends to hold back. He discusses Marty Balin’s departure from Jefferson Airplane in a few sentences. No insight into what drove it, and while I understand he might not have been central to that, he must have at least had an opinion or seen the impact on the band. There’s a guarded nature to the book overall. His shields are up, though he does drop them occasionally. One of my favorite anecdotes was his discussion of jamming with Janis Joplin in 1964 while his wife at the time, Margareta, was typing away in the background. It was recorded and became known as “The Typewriter Tapes.”

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2 Responses to Back in Uvita

  1. john baker says:

    I know what you mean about the Jorma book. It is not a tell all by any means. He doesn’t even mention Jack’s notorious suitcase! He kinda blow’s your false class consciousness take on the Airplane when he admit’s to being a spoiled brat that never went hungry a day in his life. I like that he even questions their rock and roll cred because they were employee’s of a Large Corporation. In the end it is a good story about immigrant families making it in America.

  2. Benz says:

    I didn’t want a tell-all, but a bit of candor would be nice. It’s also incredibly repetitive. And you’re right. No false class consciousness there. At least not from Jorma.

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