Too many ways to talk

One of the podcasts I listen too features John C. Dvorak, a tech writer for CNET. His intro for the tech segment on the podcast NoAgenda is something like:




Your phone should be a landline and it should be made out of Bakelite.



I used a phone like this most of my young life.

Last night was St. Todd de Cubbville’s birthday, so that warrants a call. Here were our choices to place an international phone call:

  • Facebook
  • Skype
  • WhatsApp
  • Viber
  • Magic Jack
  • Google Voice

There are plenty more options – too many we decided! I didn’t try them all… because we got through on Facebook and the quality was good.

Dvorak is right…

Honest Ticos: They Do Exist


We all complain about the Gringo pricing – where it appears that Gringoes get a different price than Ticos. And the car mechanics and electricians and property surveyors, etc . etc that have two sets of prices… it may not be illegal, but it sure leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

But it is apparent that there are many honest Ticos.

Here are a few stories from a recent Facebook post…

With the recent spate of robberies and all the bad news stories regarding the downside of CR living, I think a good news story is in order. Yesterday I went to town and stopped at the Coope in the afternoon for groceries. I was in a hurry to get home so I unloaded my cart and left the cart in the lot (I know….bad manners but I rarely do that). About 5 last evening, Steve got a call on his phone from a gentleman asking for Pamela Houston…all in Spanish so he gave the phone to me. My Spanish is passable, not fluent, but I gathered that I had left a card of some kind at Coope, even though I knew I paid in cash for groceries. He said he had the card at his home in Estranrillos. Thinking it as likely something minor, and not really being able to understand all he was saying, I took the man’s name and arranged to meet him Saturday morning at Coope and hung up. Then I began to wonder what the card could be and went searching for my wallet. Yup….no wallet. Now I’m in a panic….all my ID, credit cards, driver’s license, not much money but that was minor in comparison. I ran through my brain what I would have to do to replace all this, especially here! I checked the phone to call this man back and the record of the call said “no number”. So what now? Do I cancel the cards and go through virtual hell to get it all replaced? Take a chance that he would show up? After all, he called me and was willing to meet the next day. I knew I couldn’t wait overnight, so we got in the car and drove to Coope…maybe he is an employee who found my wallet and took it home for safekeeping. We got to Coope and to my great relief, saw Sylvia Spix at the outdoor café. This lovely lady put aside the work she was doing and agreed to help me and we spent some time going from employee to employee asking if this man worked at coope (no) and did anyone know him? (again, no). I have to admit, my hope was sinking. Finally we figured out where he might live (I was confusing the local name) and Sylvia made contact with a woman from the same neighborhood. By chance, she happened to be at Coope and came out to give directions to this man’s home. Off we went and sure enough, we found the house and the most delightful man and his wife returned my wallet to me, completely intact including even a ring I had removed and left in the change compartment. I had, apparently, left it in the cart outside. Such a huge relief and such wonderful people and yes, I did reward him. Thank you Sylvia, I could not have done it without your help. Above all, thanks to Antonio Cicada for his honesty and diligence, finding Steve’s phone number on a scrap of paper among many scraps, in my wallet…I hope this helps to restore some lost faith…Pura Vida!


Great people those Ticos. Funny thing is that the same happened to me some years ago. I put my wallet on the roof of the car to get my kid into the car. I forgot the wallet and somewhere on my drive to Los Angeles it fell down. All important documents were included in the wallet. Someone found it and, I don’t know how, she found out my phone number and called me. At this time my Spanish was barely existing and she got someone one the phone who could speak English. We met at Ferreteria Vargas and I got everything back. She did not even want a reward but I insisted.


I once lost my very expensive glasses on the bus from San Jose Sur. I spent the day looking and talking to the bus driver, etc. But, never found them. Months later I was walking in my neighborhood (San Jose Sur) and a man stopped me and said he had my glasses. I couldn’t believe it. They were at his house but he was on his way to work. When he came home and got off the bus he called me. We met up and I took him to his house and he actually had my glasses. How he even remembered me was amazing. Pura Vida!


When we first moved here Pete went to the Coope to shop (I was in the states). A few days later I noticed on the bank statement the charge was over $200 ! In checking he said it should’ve been like $20. Nine years ago the only person we knew we could turn to was Pablo Arias. Off he and Pete went to the old store-sure enough they had $200 in an envelope in the register with his name on it. They had accidentally overcharged him and did not know how to reach him!
Only in Costa Rica!


While shopping at the Escazu feria (farmers’ market), my wife, Jeni, noticed her purse was gone. She quickly retraced her steps through the market while I used FindMyPhone app to locate her phone and purse. I located her phone up the mountain in San Antonio, so we set out looking for it. As I approached the block where the phone was, I thought, this is stupid. If a criminal stole her purse, how am I going to confront them? Bust down their door? We met a friendly shop owner who called the police, and they arrived fairly quickly. More

‘Stand By Me’ was my childhood


The movie Stand By Me was released thirty years ago. Without the searching for the dead body, my childhood was reflected pretty closely by the movie. It was set in the summer of 1959 – I was twelve years old in 1959. Naturally, it is on my list of favorites – one I’ll watch over and over, even if I join it in progress I’ll watch it to the end.

Stand By Me starred Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman and Jerry O’Connell played the group of friends. The cast also included Kiefer Sutherland and Richard Dreyfuss as narrator. (Just so you don’t have to google “who was the kid that was a looney” or “which kid loved Cherry Pez?”

My hometown was 300 population. We had the small array of stores as represented in the movie. Ruby’s general store, Fidler’s Hardware Store, the phone company was owned by Carl and Wilma… (my home phone number was 45.)

I was a nerd. Gordy was me, I was Gordy – except I wasn’t as talented and my older brother hadn’t died yet.

We built tree houses – not as elaborate as the movie version of course, we never quite got to that stage. We would get a platform built. That’s all we needed: a place to launch potatoes at late arrivers or intruders.

There were older kids that were “hoods” that hassled us.

We played cards, hearts – at the Standard gas station across from my house owned by Louie and Hortense.

We smoked cigarettes that I could sneak from my mother’s pack. The wheat/corn field next to our house was a convenient place to light up.

And we had adventures… but nothing like the boys of Stand By Me. The one that pops to mind is the weekend we spent camping at a local lake.

We got there by tractor with a clunky old trailer attached. Sure beats walking like the boys of Stand By Me. 


The tractor belong Richard’s dad… it was his “garden” tractor so he allowed us to use it for the weekend. The trailer had high wood slate sides so we all hung off the back or on the slats. Top speed for the tractor was probably 8 mph so falling off wasn’t a big deal. Jumping off and running ahead was fun for a while.

In Stand By Me They had a handgun, we had a bb gun!

We didn’t bother with a tent. We threw our bedrolls and some canvas in the trailer because it was a hot steamy July weekend. Any rain would be a thundershower that would pass quickly.

Getting there was more than half the fun. Once we arrived at the small lake, we attempted to catch our dinner by fishing. After we lost all our fishing worms to clever fish or throwing them at each other, we spent the rest of the day screwing around with rocks, tree limbs, fire, and the bb gun.

floatingdockwithoildrumsEventually we grew bored and wanted to add to our adventure. We decided to swim across the small lake because there was a small store across the lake and up the road a little. Dinner!

Problem: Donnie didn’t swim. After a suitable amount of making fun of him and threatening to leave him/or throw him off the floating dock, Gary had a brilliant idea. We would unhook the dock from it’s anchor and push it -with Donnie aboard across the lake.

Yeah, those floating docks are heavy! And not steerable. After a few attempts which resulted in just spinning Donnie’s Dock around, we got coordinated enough to make forward progress.

Hours later we arrived at the other side of the lake and walked to the store –  we did pool our money just like the boys of Stand by Me to buy some crap to stuff down our throats along with some bottles of RC Cola which launched a massive burp-o-rama that could have been the basis for the barf-o-rama like the film.

We made it back to camp after dark, after many yells of “shark” and fake drownings on the swim back.

The thunderstorm came and went as normal, but our cigarettes and matches got wet so no relaxing smoke or campfire.

Next day we loaded up and chugged our way back home. Remember the end of the movie?

I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve.

Jesus, does anyone?



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