Day 4 Costa Rica Retroactive Diary Pt. I

3 Feb

The old man has really lost it. The first part of the afternoon was spent planting trees (50 of them) and grasping a machete, keeping my eye out for the King snake and the Fer De Lance.

I was hot and sweaty and itchy (these arms are on fire). Yet I enjoyed getting my hands dirty and getting to know the ranch hand, Efren. Innaresting guy. Had lots of girlfriends. Figured he must be a pretty charming guy to have pulled such a lovely woman like Vivian. We had a good time and decided to meet up for Boleta (Billiards where the 15 and 2 are in the side pockets) at 2 o’ clock.

In the mean time old Paul decide he wanted his fence painted. Not just any fence–the fence to his Tilapia pond. This wasn’t how I saw myself working on a farm. Painting fences like Tom Sawyer (or Nigger Jim?) for some smug jerk off from Maryland.

(I could hear my cousin’s voice in my head saying ” You dumbass why the fuck you wanna work on a farm anyway, slavery days are over.”)

“This will protect my fence from the rain.” He said.

What’s protecting the fish from the poison? I thought. Had to chase away the ducks to keep them from sticking their nosy beaks into the goods. I saw BP and Exxon spills all over again with every catastrophic stroke of paint.

“O que Bueno. Muy Increible.” The old fucker was doting over the job I was doing and neglecting to see the black paint dripping into the pond and creating oil puddles.

I finished the job as best as I could without feeling guilty–thinking about the tilapia lunch I’d had two days earlier.

Slept the night before with the knife under my pillow. Pauls’ steps around the house had become heavier and heavier. The skin under his eyes were starting to sag and once again–like the morning rooster, I awoke to him screaming “Shut the fuck up.” to the dog on the chain (that he said wasn’t even his).

Something else weird had happened the night before. Having only a couple of clothes to work in, I threw my clothes and sneakers into the washer machine and took a nap. Before I nodded off I heard some rattling, which gave me reassurance that my “Chucks” would be washed.

When I woke up to take the load out the washer, I noticed a note written in red marker across both the washer and dryer:

“Do not touch the machines without permission.”

Then again in Spanish:

“No toque las máquinas sin permiso.”

I scratched my head and wondered why Paul didn’t just tell me not to use the washer. He’d clearly seen me go into the back laundry room. Shaking my head I pinned up my wet clothes and wondered about the hot springs in Costa Rica.

I went into the kitchen to grab a drink and that was locked too with a posting of rules on the door.  None of the written rules were ever told me on the website or on the exchange of emails before I came. Even when I arrived I wasn’t sure what he expected. Now he was pulling this passive aggressive shit. Why couldn’t he have just come to my door and told me not to use the washer?

I thought about all this while we ate lunch in awkward silence. Paul sat next to me and he asked what I had planned for the day. I mentioned that I might take a walk into town (more like flee)and he said he might want to accompany me. I figured this might be the best time to tell him I was probably going to take off that evening. I couldn’t imagine spending one more night in my cabin.

I realized that it was close to 2 o’clock and I was to meet Efren at the stables to play Boleta. He and the Nicaraguan stablekeeper, Miguel were there already racking them up.

We played a few games and I was clearly the worst, but I was rather enjoying their company. I didn’t mind that they were making fun of my terrible billiards skills either. I just kept looking out at the beautiful countryside and taking things in. It was finally settling in that I was in Central America, on a farm, playing pool and talking in Spanish with a Tico and a Nicaraguan.

Time flew by and we kept playing game after game and I was cool. The rhythm of being on a farm was taking hold. I was getting used to the pace. Get up, get out and work, eat lunch and then work more until there is no more work. Eat dinner. Chill. It was quite a relaxing method of living. I could get used to it.

My thoughts were interrupted by yelling down the road. It was obviously a gringo and Paul was the only gringo in town. We thought he was going to come in and catch us playing (Efren said Paul would get angry and wonder why we were not working on something) but he kept on walking. So we kept on playing.

Finally Efren’s son Manuel came and told us that Paul was looking for me. I suddenly remembered that I told Paul I’d grab his work boots for him since he’d left them at the stable earlier in the week.

I went and got them for him and headed back up to the main house. It was locked. I went around back where the bathroom was and grabbed a stick and broke the lock. Then I took a shit. For a second I considered leaving an upper decker. I thought better of it though. good thing for everyone that 23 year old Robert wasn’t out on the farm. He definitely would’ve done it. Besides, it would have been Vivian’s mess to clean up.

After I was done, I went back outside, relocked the back door. And climbed up the gate to where my room was (I’m trying to explain the dimensions as best as I can–so bear with me this isn’t a Dickens novel).

I then went to my room and packed my clothes and decided I was going to wait on the front porch for old Paul to return. I was going to get my partial refund for what was supposed to be a week’s stay (most farms in Costa Rica you have to PAY to volunteer).

As I brewed over what my next step was (hot springs in San Gerardo maybe?) it started raining and I slowly had a sense of time, place and situation. How the fuck did things get so crazy for me?


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