Jungle Cats

Jungle Cats and the Old Revision Blues

 There it was resting among the other animals at the roadside stand. It looked as though it needed a home, and I happened to have had 15,000 Colones itching to get out of my purse. So our newest pet, a jaguar, carved from balsa wood by a young Indio-artisan outside of Cahuita, is at home here in Punt Uva. He seemed to enjoy the ride home and is now perched in a perfect hunting position atop our bookcase.

We stopped by the artisan’s stand while coming home from a day in town that had a fifty-fifty success rate attached to it. The norm here.

Our annual revision on the car is due this month, so we drove up to the center and sat in the blazing sun waiting for over an hour, even with an appointment. Once it was our turn we proceeded through the checks. I know the revision’s upside is to make up for all those years where cars had no inspection whatsoever, and often would sidle down the road at us like crabs, the suspension out of alignment. Or, perhaps it is because of the myriad of cars we have met at night, driving without any lights, or the thousands of trucks we have come up behind who have no brake lights at all. The new inspection is needed but, really, they have over-reacted. I told my husband I believe they are in cahoots with the banks and the new car dealers. Nowhere in the world, I think, do they check vehicles as thoroughly as they do Costa Rica.

The first station checked all of our lights, turn signals, seat belts, window cranks, wipers and washer, as well as the condition of the interior of the cab. Did we have the required fire extinguisher? Check. Did we have the required emergency triangle? Roger. Years ago they used to use a bush chopped and laid on the highway for an emergency flare; we are still cautious when we see a branch on the road. One never knows when they might revert to the old ways.

We passed the first station with flying colors. The second station checked the emissions of the vehicle. Perfect. They also checked the condition of our shocks. We drove over a little apparatus on the floor of the station and it vibrated the car up and down. To pass we had to have greater than 45% of our shock capacity intact. We passed that station as well. Next we proceeded to the breaks section of the inspection. Again we drove over a small measuring device and my husband was told to push the break slowly but firmly. Here is where we failed. The front brakes were fine, they said, but the rear left needed some attention. They sent us on through the rest of the inspection line.

The third station is like a lube pit and one of the attendants crawled under the truck to look for leaks and loose fittings. Bingo.

There is an item the 1987 Jeep Comanche Metric-ton pickup came stock with called a load leveling sensor. One year when Johnny Abrams was care taking the truck for us, he ran into a problem with it. Rather than fix it, or save it, he simply threw it away. We have been unable to find one– be it a new product or a junkyard item. Jeep has informed us they quit making them. The revision boys passed us last year and the year before without it. They want it this year. They even knew the name of it this year. I think they want us to buy a new car.

Once we got our failure notice we went back to Limon and had a wonderful meal at the Black Star Line, originally built by Marcus Garvey as a community hall, but now a huge restaurant. We had our usual casado- a plate of rice, red beans, stewed meat, and a little shredded cabbage salad. Once finished, we proceeded on to the National Insurance Office and paid our yearly fees for the workman’s compensation for our hired man, José. It was fairly late by then and we needed to head home. It’s only 35 miles, but it takes two-and-a-half hour to drive over the pot-holed road. Usually I never mention stopping at the little artisan’s shop I’ve been eyeing for some time now. Today I wanted to stop whether we were tired or not.

A very nice man gave us the tour of his complete menagerie including: macaws, crocodiles, anteaters, turtles, various other animals and a few insects as well. I swear I heard the jaguar whisper my name, “Sarita, take me home with you.” How could I refuse that?

So he sits atop my bookcase crouched and ready for an ambush. My husband is out under the truck working on brakes and a fake load-leveling device. We will give the boys at the revision another go in a few weeks. It’s alright. Almost everything here requires two trips to get
anything done. Maybe I’ll stop by the artisan’s shop again.