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Monday, October 1, 2012

Hasta Luego, Texas! Hola, Costa Rica!

All together now: Welcome home, Kat and Layne!

Muchas gracias, estimados lectores! (Thank you very much, dear readers.) It is indeed good to be back in Costa Rica. Despite this being the height of the rainy season, the sun is shining for us today as if in greeting. The palm fronds are waving hello and the cattle across the valley are faintly lowing, welcoming us back to our little Santa Eulalia paradise.

This year has found us out of Costa Rica almost as much as we've been in the country. First, there was the three-and-a-half month sojourn to our old home in Northern California to make repairs, renovations and refinance; then, almost as soon as we returned to Costa Rica I learned that my mom in Texas was sick and needed my help. So off I went for a five-week trip to nurse her back to health and help with projects around her house. Layne joined me for the last two weeks and we returned just last night.

Darrelynn, Tom and Yours Truly
Although most of the trip was devoted to caring for my mom, there was still time for a short weekend trip to visit old friends outside of Austin and San Antonio. My dear friend Darrelynn from high school has recently married a delightful gentleman named Tom and the two of them now live in his lovely home overlooking Horseshoe Bay, filled to overflowing with collectibles, artwork, unusual knickknacks and other beautiful furnishings. Layne and I spent a pleasant afternoon with them talking over old times and learning about Tom's fascinating career fighting fires in Kuwait and elsewhere alongside the likes of Red Adair, the legendary Texas oil well firefighter.

Philisse, Anastasia & Agatha
(Aurora was taking her "beauty sleep")
Philisse and Layne at the Blue Star
After a drive down to San Antonio we met the next morning with Philisse, an old San Francisco friend who has transplanted to Texas to be near her daughter Agatha and granddaughters Anastasia and Aurora. Layne and I have known Agatha since she was scarcely a year old, so seeing her with her young family is truly a joy. 

Soon with Philisse and Layne in the "pilot car" and me trailing in our rental car, the three of us took off for brunch at the Blue Star Brewing Company Restaurant, located next to the meandering San Antonio River, a trip through freeway traffic that turned into a major expedition with lengthy detours off Interstate 10 as we made our way to the Brewing Company. Ironically, we later learned an overturned beer truck was to blame for our delay!

A young caballero
My stay in Texas overlapped with Costa Rica's Independence Day on September 15th, a date celebrated along with other Central American countries for their joint declaration of freedom from Spain in 1821. With San Angelo's large Latino community, there were plenty of celebrations to attend, from the dances and food fair at the Paseo de Santa Angela to a horseback riding and roping demonstration by Mexican caballeros on the big parade grounds of Fort Concho. Although only a small crowd was in attendance, the efforts by the riders and their horses were well appreciated, particularly those of the smallest young cowboy and his pony.

Fort Concho itself is an interesting attraction in this West Texas town, a national historic landmark noted as the best-preserved 1880's fort in the United States, with most of the former U.S. Army post and some twenty-three original or restored fort structures still standing. (See my blog post on Fort Concho history here.)

In her younger days my mom was an active volunteer at the Fort, working in archive preservation and serving as an informed docent. She still spends many a Sunday afternoon greeting visitors in Officer's Quarters #1 and sharing her vast knowledge of the Fort's history, legends and ghost stories. One of the most entertaining and nostalgic evenings Mother, Layne and I spent while we were there was watching an old video that I made some years ago of Christmas at Old Fort Concho, a fabulous three-day living history event that featured Indian dances, military drills, rowdy cowboys on horseback, campfire poetry readings, ladies-of-the-night as well as laundresses and other more "respectable" women working their crafts in dozens of tents set up across the parade grounds. The finale was a grand entrance by the Fort commander Colonel Grierson and his family in their horse-drawn buggy coming to attend a Christmas party. Sadly, these festivities have been discontinued and Christmas at Old Fort Concho now consists only of a more commercial event with vendors selling their wares in some of the buildings. But in the video my mom was a fetching sight in her stunning turquoise taffeta and lace officer's wife dress, dancing the Virginia Reel along with other officers and their wives as they enacted a typical Christmas celebration in the 1870's and 1880's.

Check out Layne's book "Moral Turpitude," available for only $2.99 at

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