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Friday, March 25, 2011

Zen and the Art of Pura Vida!

When they warn you to have “patience, patience, patience” here in Costa Rica, they aren’t kidding. We’ve had a couple of object lessons on this motto lately and at least one of the slow-moving problems is still unresolved.

Manual labor builds roads
In a previous post, I wrote about the water problems here in Barrio Los Angeles: low and sporadic water pressure, then no water at all. We struggled through several days of having to lug containers of water down from the rancho to the apartment, eating out since food preparation and dish washing were difficult, unable to wash clothes and, worst of all, forced to take cold showers up in the rancho baño. For a few days, we assumed that the problems were related to roadwork on Calle Capre Verde, with gutters and pipes being installed in preparation for paving our little dirt lane. But additional research by our landlady Odie revealed that the city’s construction of a new water tower on the primary road leading to Los Angeles had disrupted water mains and service would probably not be restored until that work was done. Oh, great.

Our new water tower! 
Then, miraculously the water came back on, but only for a few precious days. Once again, last Saturday we were suddenly without water, except for a trickle sometimes at night. On Sunday evening, Odie informed us she had learned that the next day, water would be off in the morning but should be restored for good by mid-day. It seems that the new water tower had to fill up enough for sufficient pressure to push the liquid to us, but as people used what there was, the pressure dropped again. Welcome to the dry season. For a country with so much water falling from the sky, it doesn’t seem to be managed very well.

Another saga that tested our patience involved the television remote control for our cable service called SKY TV, a company that serves all of Central America. A few weeks ago, our clicker stopped clicking. When new batteries didn’t bring it back to life, I called the SKY TV phone number and was pleased to be connected quickly to an English-speaker in Customer Service who, after guiding me through a short test, offered to send out a new one. He said the replacement should arrive at the local post office in five days, perhaps less. We would need a copy of our landlord’s identification since the account is in his name. No problem there as Eduardo and Odie are always so responsive to our needs.

Always the optimists, we went to the post office on the fourth day and in my best Spanish, I asked if there was a caja (box) or paquete (package) from SKY TV for Eduardo Alexis Calderon. No, sorry. Check back in a few days.

After several more unsuccessful trips, I called SKY TV again and was assured that their records definitely showed the package had been delivered to the Atenas post office. Since there is only one post office in this small town, we knew we weren’t going to the wrong building. Take a deep breath and seek your Zen.

But after drawing still another blank at the post office, I called SKY TV and once more and spoke with a fellow who gave me a tracking number. This should do it, I thought. On our next trip, we were greeted with a knowing smile by Mario the postal clerk.  He checked in his computer for the number, but with a sad shake of his head informed me that it was not in his system.

Through all this, we had been able to use the television manually but suddenly, the picture froze and nothing worked. On the next call to SKY, I talked with Tech Support not Customer Service and guess what? By phone, they managed to fix not only the picture problem but the remote control as well! All the weeks of patience surely built character at least.

But hey! Things could be worse. Our friends from Central Oregon who were scheduled to arrive here last Sunday called early that morning to inform us that after driving to the Redmond airport at 4:00 a.m. in a snow flurry, they learned their flight to Costa Rica had been canceled! Now there’s a disappointment that would really challenge your patience. At least here the skies are blue, the breeze is warm and we have television and water! Hallelujah and Pura Vida!  

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