Cell phones are as much a part of Italians’ lives as pasta. They’re connected to their ears like a growth. Land lines went out in Italy about the time of chariot races and cells, or cellulari as they’re called here, have become their lifeline. Italians have the fourth highest usage per capita in Europe (If you care, Lithuania is first), with 1,346 cell phones for every 1,000 people. Yes, that’s right. Italians even have backups.
I became addicted to public markets during my first stint in Rome from 2001-03. Mercato Trionfale was a sprawling open-air food bazaar not far from the Vatican. I got to know the Cheese Boys. I fell in lust with the Olive Goddess. I chatted up the Pasta Princess. It’s a great way to shop. You go to one stand for your cheese, another for your sausage, another for your bread. Then you stop at a tiny alimentari and get a bottle of decent Chianti for 2.50 euros.
It’s an odd sensation driving with all your present and future possessions to your next home for two months. That’s not a long time but for a traveler it’s a lifetime. You become friends with the cafe owner and the cheese vendor, the newspaper salesman and your neighbor. Moving into an apartment sight unseen is like parachuting into a different planet with no escape.
Fortunately, no escape necessary. In fact, throw away the key. I’m home.
I’m not into omens much. Man determines his own fate. That’s why I’m sitting here in Rome, my life’s remains enveloped in the five bags that surround me as I await passage into my new apartment. An early retirement that has baffled friends and foes alike has taken me to Rome, site of the wildest 17 months of my life and hopefully home of many more to come.
A night out in San Jose and five bests and worsts about Costa Rica. I was watching the NFL Playoffs at Chubbs and went to Il Re to get cash. I noticed the screens were bigger, the bar was shinier and the women were cuter. I sat down to watch a quarter when a drop-dead gorgeous Colombian sits down and starts rubbing my leg. I looked around and realized this may be the only sports bar in the world at that moment where none of the men were watching the games.
We had no food – except for a few arms and legs. We saw the first one when its left eye emerged from the water and eyed us from about 30 feet away. Crocs aren’t hard to find. Their snouts form a kind of breaker through the water. You merely look where the water isn’t flat, where there’s a break in the pattern. Then you can see a long, scaly snout slowly moving through the inky river.
As we approached it, it didn’t move. It just sat there, floating. We came right up next to it, snapped a couple of dozen pictures. It was almost posing.
Skin is crawling but kayak down Rio Ora is a cure that doesn’t bite. Iguanas, macaws and monkeys accompany me down one of the laziest rivers in Central America.
For a change of scenery I decided to upgrade beaches. Samara’s beach is idyllic, something out of a travel posture or off a bottle of suntan lotion. But all the Ticos say it’s nothing compared to others north and south of it.
You can see one problem with Costa Rica by taking one peek at my ankles. Mosquitos are deadly here. I haven’t been typing much this morning because it’s hard to type when your hands are too busy furiously scratching bites.
THURSDAY, JULY 18 – SAMARA, COSTA RICA You’re not too old to take up a new sport at 57. Billiards. Bowling. Bocce ball. They all come to mind. Surfing, however, is not one of them. Before coming down to one of the great surfing nations in the world, I’d surfed before. That was 1976. I […]
Central America is a huge center for language schools and Samara seems to be one of the epicenters. Every non Tico I meet seems to be learning Spanish here. It’s a nice idea. You go to school for four hours a day and then use what you’ve learned on the beaches, bars and dusty streets of the village.
TUESDAY, JULY 16 – SAMARA, COSTA RICA I’m sitting on the apartment’s tiny balcony looking out over a Pacific Ocean that’s as flat as a pane of blue glass. The only white water I see consists of a few small breaks near the shore where I thought I’d try surfing for the first time as […]