29 November 2013

“See you down the road”

An indelible moment of an “intersection point”. At Tamarindo, a few days back, the girls were busy buying knickknacks from the street vendors and I was generally hanging out watching all the people.

Struck up a conversation with this lady who was waiting to cross the road. She was probably in her late fifties to early sixties by my reckoning. Found out that she was from Vancouver Island. I told her how my eldest daughter fondly remembers the sea plane ride to her island. “Yep”, she said, “both my sons work as sea plane pilots”!!

The girls were still busy haggling. My new friend – Marlene was her name – was in no particular hurry. I learnt that she had lost her husband a few years ago and had once visited Costa Rica with her ex-husband when he was on a project in Panama. Evidently, her husband always wanted to settle in Costa Rica.

She is now applying for residency in Costa Rica. (I further learnt that you can stay for 90 days only on a tourist visa). She wants to teach English for free in Costa Rica. I asked her how she was getting along with her Spanish. She let me know that she was staying with a Costa Rican family nearby to do a 30 day immersion into the language!!

By this time, everybody was in the tourist van again and were calling for me. I asked her if it would be okay for me to take a picture of her for my travelogues. She gladly obliged and I got the street vendor to take a picture of us. As she turned away, she said something that stuck in my mind for the rest of the day – “See you down the road”…

As I climbed back up in the van, I kept shaking my head thinking about her. Here is somebody at least ten years older to me – completely unafraid of change… after losing her husband, instead of staying closer to her sons, decided to move to an entirely new country… learn a whole new language… dedicate herself to a new profession. What courage!! What zest to live her life!!! What determination to travel the road less traveled! And how much I need to learn from her example.

I was so absorbed in her willingness to seize her life that I completely forgot to get her contacts. Now I am kicking myself. I am hoping her words “See you down the road” turns out to be very prophetic.

We certainly are all nomads in this long road called life. Sometimes, we do turn around a corner and run into somebody we had seen before…
As some poet had famously put it…

“Sitaron ko aankhon me mehsoos rakh lo
Bahut door talak raat hi raat hogi
Musafir hai hum bhi, musafir ho tum bhi
Isi mod par, phir mulakat hogi”


29 November 2013

Thanksgiving evening

Last year when I had written
“Thanksgiving evening: Sharmila Roy and myself sitting by ourselves with champagne facing the imposing visage of the Arenal volcano in the dark night and catching up on our life…
When visiting our traditional family involves a trip to the doctor for a malaria shot, invariably “family” takes a larger meaning in life. And for the last twenty years “family” has mostly meant the friends that we made in our journey thru multiple countries, states, cities, jobs….
To all those friends, we say Thanks!!Thanks for making the journey so enjoyable that we have seldom cared about the destination!!!
… rarely did I realize that exactly a year later, literally on the same day – Thanksgiving evening – Sharmila and I will be at the exact same spot at the exact same resort facing exactly the same imposing visage of Arenal – except this time with two of our best friends who have truly made the journey so enjoyable!!!

28 November 2013

Sugarcane harvesting

Learnt something new from our local friend Jorge. We were driving thru dirt roads into the countryside where we saw cantaloupe farming. First time in my life. But the more interesting part was how they were harvesting their sugarcane.

The simply set the fields on fire!!! Evidently the leaves of sugarcane are very sharp. Making it difficult to harvest by hand. And sugarcane fields have a lot of rats. Which invariably brings a lot of snakes. So, they just go ahead and set their sugarcane fields on fire!

What I did not know is that while everything else gets burnt, the sugarcane bark is thick enough that nothing happens to the sugarcane itself!!!

But now the sugarcane has to be transported and processed within 24 hours. The sugarcane is unharmed but very warm which will set in motion the fermentation process soon.

So, I asked Jorge “what happens if the farmer gets delayed, for whatever reason”
Jorge: “Oh! They make alcohol”

That was a simple solution!!! 🙂

I am quite sure in India though, I have seen farmers harvesting sugarcane with sharp sickles in their hands. I think Costa Rican farmers are too lazy 🙂