citylife.

17 October 2011 § 1 Comment

The notebook has gained my affection. I’m submersed in San José – neither wanting to leave or stay, but simply to Be here. To stroll about in the rain, with holysoled shoes and broken umbrellas, to the tunes of early dark in the big wide Central Valley, there’s peace in there somewhere, except in the Chinese restaurants – I wouldn’t try that again for a thousand colones a bite. For future reference, lechón is turkey, and I think that it is not supposed to be red. I’m going to be vegetarian again by the end of this trip, so says my digestive system. I don’t know about the guinea pigs in Ecuador. I thought perhaps, just for the experience… we’ll see how it goes.

The rain is high, and except for the constantly wet socks (I’ve reverted back to wearing sandals, embracing the water, instead of tiptoeing through ankle-deep puddles), I’m loving the cold. Everyone around me, including many of the Americans, are dressed up in hoodies and scarves and stylish cardigans. Or so they try.

I’m finally at the point where I’m not sweating every moment of every day, and having cold feet has its advantages. It keeps us moving 🙂

So my mamatica (my host mother, who diligently feeds me and gives me impromptu Spanish lessons when I ask about a word I don’t understand from La Nación – of which there are many – asks in astonishment how I can wear shorts and a light shirt in this freezing weather. I just smile. finalemente soy comodor. 

I doubt so often that what I say in Spanish is correct that I fear to say it at all. Better rather to act it out, or say it in English where I am comfortable and the listener gives me the blank look I’d otherwise be giving them. This morning I discovered true immersion, and noticed how rare it has been since I’ve arrived: sitting at the breakfast table, reading the local newspaper, listening to the Tico equivalent to Good Morning America – TV anchors and hosts carry the same tone of enthusiasm everywhere, I’ve decided – and speaking intermittently with maria, my mamatica, her father (who speaks no English that I’ve heard, so our conversations usually end right around “I’m good, how are you?”), and a couple of her kids all talking in the kitchen, my blubbering repetition of words I don’t recognize, and wondering what they mean well into the next topic of conversation. I was invisible.

Drinking tea for this obnoxious sort-of cold that I have (it showed up today with the cold, how about that?), and nibbling on bread and cheese – turrialba cheese – a constant, crumbly reminder of a town not far away that I have not visited, which is perhaps the best hub for whitewater in Central America. Next weekend, I tell myself. I’m not ready for the water again. Funny enough – in Alaska, my season would be ending right about now. I imagine the shows have come to the mountains, the white line creeping downward toward the sea, as the sun stays a little closer to the horizon for a little longer every day, and I’m so fucking glad to not be there this time around. Hitching to Talkeetna every weekend had its perks, even when it was a disaster, however, I did not look forward to repeating the downward spiral, as I’m sure I would.

A year ago I wrote in my notebook something like “you have to be out of here and traveling again a year from now, Sean. Doesn’t matter where you go, but go.” It’s nice to know I can at least keep promises to myself.

I feel like this day:

…still working up to the idea of street poetry in the depths of the city, where english is rare at best, and spoken begrudgingly by most. The park where gypsies unicycle in traffic intersections and juggle bowling pins between them seems a fitting place to start. good thing is that I’ve got a new piece down, and am fine-tuning it, perhaps too much, for performance. That was the point of it, though: I wanted to create a Slam Piece, not simply my version of whatever I feel like reading on stage in a coffeeshop somewhere.

There aren’t many coffeeshops here that I’ve seen. Which is strange, given that Costa Rican coffee is widely considered some of the best in the world – the kind of coffee Seattlite roasters are proud to fairly trade for skinny jeans and gauged earrings. They can always buy more of those. Just like they can always buy more coffee, right? We must be energized to last past lunchtime!

But hey, I go to coffeeshops to drink tea. So maybe they’re just avoiding me. Like Americans who come to Costa Rica and are thrilled about trips to Walmart, where they give away free liquor samples to the gringos for hours, who go back to their houses talking about how the party next weekend is at Walmart. I’m interested to know if Walmartians are truly the same the world over. Extensive evidence points to that truth within the United States, but have the aliens made it to Wally World with their elastic band sweatpants and chocolate-and-TV-dinner-stained Hard Rock café t-shirts (from, of course, a second cousin who took a trip to Las Vegas in the late 80’s), carrying obese and screaming, candy-and-toy-begging brats by the forearm and leading the others through the container aisles on leashes? I loathe to find out. But if this regimen of fruit loops and hot dogs for breakfast continues, I’m going to have to take some evasive action and actually find a coffeeshop to pass the rainy mornings by with less digestive violence.

I’m telling you, I’ll have my rabbithabit back by the time you see me again…

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