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Sunday, August 7, 2011

Angels and Pit Bulls and Saints! Oh My!

With all the desperately bad news worldwide, it’s hard to muster up the energy or happy state of mind needed to write a blog post. Even here in Costa Rica we’ve had some troubling headlines: a recent 4-day strike by Caja (the national health care program) workers amid word that the Caja is in serious financial straits, and we’ve seen an uptick in crime in Atenas in the form of one home invasion of a Tico family at gunpoint and a few burglaries. Good grief!

Our new home!
But at least we have some good news personally. After weeks of searching, we have finally found the new home we’ve been seeking. We put down a deposit yesterday and will move in September 1st. We can hardly wait to begin enjoying a bigger space with two bedrooms and two baths, the modern open kitchen and great room and our own swimming pool! It’s only partially furnished so we will have to buy some “stuff,” but we got the house at well under market value so we feel pretty pleased with the decision. Best of all is the location: walking distance to town (mostly downhill), on a frequent bus route, slightly higher (i.e., cooler) elevation and friends who live nearby. And as you can see, the place looks like a Mediterranean villa!

It’s very hard to think of leaving our home here and our wonderful landlords -- who have become friends -- but I guess we are somewhat spoiled Gringos and need our “comforts.” More importantly, we very much want to be able to host dinner parties, cocktail get-togethers and pool parties and that’s not easy in our small apartment here. So it’s on to the next adventure.

One of the many things we knew we would miss in moving from here is Roscoe, the friendly pit bull neighbor who has been such a consistent visitor to our front porch during the late afternoon cocktail hour. Lately, we noticed that he had not been around and we have become concerned that he has run off and gotten lost, was stolen or worse. Two young men came by yesterday afternoon with their own pit bulls on leashes and called out to us asking if a dog was missing from here. I said yes and called Eduardo to come speak with them. They talked in animated Spanish about Roscoe for several minutes, although exactly what was said we don’t know. We expect to talk with Odie, our landlady, later today and find out what has befallen him. We are heartbroken to think something bad might have happened. He is such a sweetie. We miss him and hope he comes home soon.

We had quite a surprise last Tuesday as we headed out on our morning walk to town. As we turned the corner onto the main road here in Barrio Los Angeles, Layne and I were surprised to find the street festooned with tall plants and white flowers and energetic Ticas were laying a red carpet up the steps to the church, then further on blue and white angels on posts stretched as far as the eye could see. 

We knew it was a holiday, a religious celebration honoring Nuestra Senora de Los Angeles, also known as La Negrita, the patron saint of Costa Rica. On that day, thousands of devotees make a pilgrimage to visit the Basilica in Cartago dedicated to this religious figure, some walking barefoot carrying rosary beads, or even crawling for many miles to pay respects to their saint. What we didn’t know is that because our small barrio is named for this “Lady of the Angels,” local Ticos go all out in decorating the nearby church and entire neighborhood to welcome the faithful who come here for the holiday instead of trekking all the way to Cartago. And apparently many from Atenas do just that because as we continued into town, foot traffic was all going the other direction, heading to Barrio Los Angeles. In our typical Tico style, we greeted each one with a “Buenos Dias” and a smile, but soon the sheer number of the faithful coming our way made speaking to everyone a bit much. We persevered, however, in honor of Pura Vida, our patron saint. We hope Our Lady of Los Angeles appreciated the courtesy to her followers. 

Update on Roscoe: We learned from Odie a few minutes ago that he ran off and, according to the two young men, is being held at a home nearby. We are hopeful that Eduardo will be able to rescue him when he goes there tomorrow. 

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