Let it Rain!

All went well on my return flight from Oz… until I arrived in L.A.

In Sydney, I waited endlessly at check-in but wasn’t concerned. Traveling is all about Being In Transit so it really didn’t matter to me if I sat on the plane, sat on a bench, or stood in line. At least in line I gave my derrière a rest. The check-in clerk was polite and asked how things were going. We had a brief chat about Obama and how the election created a sense of hope around the globe.

When we wrapped up he said, “Let’s check your ticket, shall we?” I agreed that that was what I was there for.

“Well,” he said, “it looks as though someone has upgraded your seat assignment. Let’s not look too hard into how that happened, shall we? I’ll just go ahead and check you in.”

My mysterious upgrade landed me in something Qantas calls Premium Economy, which turns out to be the equivalent of USA air carrier’s First Class. It was the luxe treatment: extra room to recline further, a foot rest, WIDE seats, a fluffy pillow, a blanket with a sheet stitched to the backside, decent food served with cutlery and linen napkins. The luxe! I arrived in L.A. 16 hours later, rested and ready for the second half of my journey.
The L.A. airport is a bit like the city itself; on first glance it appears glamorous but the further into the depths one descends the more tawdry it becomes. The bathrooms were–how can I say this?–grungy in a third world kind of way. They did have toilet paper on the rolls, but the whole place appeared to have been trodden down by thousands of human souls doing their business. And even though I washed my hands, I left feeling only slightly dirtier than when I entered. The kind of place where you check your shoes when you leave to make sure you are not trailing a piece of toilet paper behind you down the concourse. L.A.

At my gate (62) I discovered, along with my fellow travelers, that our plane was still in the hanger, having “repairs.” There would be an update in one hour. They would be happy to help with connecting flights but their computers were down so would we please form one line and wait. And, thank you for your patience. The woman in front of me had none, thank you, and badgered and bitched about the delays, went to other gates to demanded seats on flights, returning to bitch more to her husband, who seemed fairly unconcerned. She let all within earshot know that he *had* to be at a board meeting in Little Rock, Arkansas, at eight o’clock the next morning. No one seemed impressed.

The agents eventually called those of us with connecting flights to Costa Rica to come to the head of the line. YO! That’s me! Two of us sprinted to the desk and received tickets on the next flight out, allowing us about 40 minutes in Houston to dash to our connecting flight. And, so I made it. Home.

 And now I am stuck here.

Alan met me at the plane and that was grand. Never has a hug felt quite so complete. I always feel connected to Alan whether we are together or apart but I much prefer to be “next.” Next is where I belong. We stayed in San José for a day and met with our lawyer to catch up on the details of our legal situation here. Don’t ask.

We arrived home to discover it had been raining. I don’t mean a shower or a thunderstorm. I mean Rain, with a capital R. All the rivers coming down off the Braulio were swollen and had torn bushes and banks with them as they rushed toward the sea. They ran brown with mud. We bypassed Limón but heard that the storm surge had breached the sea wall, flooding the lower part of the town. Down along the Caribbean there were places where the sea had thrown trash up onto the beach, and in some sections, where the road is close to the sea, it had thrown debris across the road.

 Puerto Viejo looked like a mongrel dog. Wet and bedraggled, the muddy streets bore few signs of tourism. I imagine most of them fled at the first signs of bad weather. There were a few stragglers sitting in the bars, but not many.

It rained all night Friday night. The kind of deafening rain that makes conversation almost impossible. Our porches were soaked and we wrapped up the furniture and pulled in the cushions. Nothing to do but wait it out. The power went out about 7 PM and then was on and off all night. I have to hand it to the guys from the electric company, I.C.E.. They worked their asses off keeping us connected.

The next morning we had the electricity back. That was the good news, the phone was gone. Our potrero was full of water and it was still raining. The water was 50 meters from our house. Our house is raised on meter high posts so we weren’t overly concerned. One of the good things about listening to your neighbors before building in an area you are not native to. We heard it endlessly when we were thinking of building:

Never build your house under a tree. Never build your house next to a river. Never build your house at the bottom of a hill. Always build your house on post, and make it high.

Saturday we heard the bridge at the entrance to Puerto Viejo was washed out and one of the two back roads to Bribri was gone as well. The one left is only suitable for 4-wheel drive vehicles. The news today is of extensive flooding across the Caribbean slope. The footage showed people huddled on roofs of houses while they waited to be rescued by boat and taken to shelters. All vehicular traffic has been halted except for emergency use. We are at a stand still.

I am grateful for a solidly built house and a good roof. It is still raining as I write this, but it has subsided to a respectable drizzle. My dear father-in-law––rest his soul––would have called this rain, but he came from North Dakota and didn’t know rain from Rain.

Alan and I are cuddled up in our house, warm and so-far safe. Our phone lines are still out and there is no traffic on the road. We will know when they get the bridge repaired when we start seeing cars pass by. For now, it’s a bit like the “old days” when we went for days and sometimes weeks without light. It’s quiet and peaceful with only the sounds of the jungle and the rain. Like white noise it calms the soul and eases the mind, especially if you are dry.

I will give thanks on Thursday, and give food and clothing when I hear of an effort to do that for the homeless.

(my connection is too slow to post photos right now. Maybe later I’ll post a picture of the Puerto Viejo bridge that went out during the storm.)

  7 comments for “Let it Rain!

  1. Barbara Martin
    04/12/2008 at 2:48 am

    Sarah, belated Happy Thanksgiving as I try to catch up on back posts.

    I agree with you on the difference between rain and Rain. There’s nothing like too much rain.

    Hope you’re dry, safe and fed.

  2. sc morgan
    30/11/2008 at 9:53 pm

    The mysterious upgrade remains just that, mysterious. I have no idea how it happened. At first, I was sure my daughter and her husband did it with their numerous Qantas points, but they say no.

    It could have been the kind man at the ticket counter who seemed to have political views similar to mine, or it could have been random, dumb luck.

    Whatever it was, it was appreciated. But it’ll make it all that much harder to go back to the sardine can after that trip!

  3. Ruth D~
    29/11/2008 at 11:17 pm

    The life you live . . . full of drama. And I love reading about it. So many who need so much. Life is tough, but who upgraded your flight . . . I need to know?

  4. Ross Eldridge
    29/11/2008 at 9:06 pm

    I was obviously on your wavelength, Sarah! The Banapple Bread is delicious. I don't put nuts in it, but I suppose one could. LARGE EGGS … or an extra medium.

    Bitterly cold here today, never went above freezing, but on our walk to visit my friend Gavin, so many leaves on the ground covered in icy tracings, just BEAUTIFUL. And I didn't have my camera with me …

    Tonight it is truly frigid. Cailean took a very few steps, peed and leapt back inside and ran like a proton in the Large Hadron Collider to his bed, which is up against the radiator (he dragged it there this morning) and he's pulled all his soft toys, his blanket and throw pillow on top of himself. He'll be glad to get to bed … my bed!

    He loved his first snow a week ago. Then last Wednesday a sudden thaw and we went to the beach (up the coast on the bus) for the 6 hours of daylight … NOT in the water … but lovely walking, long lunch in a pub in Alnmouth Village, and pictures will go on the blog soon. I've been writing song lyrics in the shower, and the beach photos suit some of them. Oh, I dash out of the shower, dripping, scribble and dash back … not IN the stream of water. Though I could get the plastic board and waterproof pen deal … (My youngest brother is a musician and comes up with shite lyrics, so figured I'd send him some to play around with …)

    MUST get dinner going. Prawn & egg fried rice …


  5. sc morgan
    28/11/2008 at 8:01 pm

    Forgive the late reply, people. My Internet connection lasts for about fifteen minutes per day, so I am a bit tardy with my responses.

    ICE and JAPDEVA are busy working up and down the road trying to repair the damage from the storm.

    We ran into our old friend Juni Stewart yesterday when we went into town. He helped build our house back in 1999 and now has a couple of dump trucks and a backhoe. He must have contract work with the municipality during this mess. Alan asked him how it was going?

    “All I see wherever I go is disaster.” Good for business, though.

    Hatch–– thank you for dropping by my blog. I went to ATEC yesterday and dropped off the food and clothing I had. Thank you for the information.

    Ah, Ross–– Perhaps you should think about a vacation here this winter??? I don’t know about flights from London, but my flight to Oz was as cheap as I have seen them in five or six years. You’d be welcome here, and I promise I’d keep the snakes at bay. 😉 You could even bring young Mr. Cailean. I believe that Costa Rica no longer quarantines animals brought along as pets as long as their records are up to date. He could travel in the plane with you. Just stick him under your seat. What an adveture!

    I’m sure your weather is clamping down hard by now. I remember living in Alaska and it was round about the end of September when it began to freeze up and it only went one way after that. I sometimes miss the idea of winter… sweaters, I’ve always been fond of them; stews and casseroles, love them; cross-country skiing, that was fun. Then I come to my senses. Dark, don’t care for lack of sunlight; cold, I frostbit my feet and hands once and I’m miserable in the cold; closed houses and the smell of central heating, yuk. So I will stay here despite the rain. Actually it has been rather peaceful here since the hordes fled. No traffic to speak of, only the locals coming out periodically. We can actually stop our cars abreast of each other and have a conversation like we did with Juni. Soon we will be back to impatient tourists blowing their horns, in a hurry to get somewhere else so they can RELAX!

    Your banapple cake sounds intriguing. Would you send me the recipe or post it on your blog? I’d love to see a photo of the finished product, too.

  6. Ross Eldridge
    27/11/2008 at 1:13 pm

    Hi there, Sarah,

    And HAPPY THANKSGIVING to you and Alan. And after the travels, upgrades and the posts your casa is perched on, no doubt there is much to be thankful for, no matter your god or man.

    I have experienced severe rain in Bermuda hurricanes, though more of the horizontal variety, one huge storm in the Rockies that truly amazed me, and the rainstorm in this part of England on 6 September (worst in 200 years they tell us) that we are still recovering from. However, I think I could enjoy a brief stint with your jungle-rain … or do the snakes decide to look for warm houses in that weather?

    Just baked a banapple loaf, my own concoction. It looks good. I should take a photo! Listening to the Mozart Requiem, while Cailean plays footie all over the flat. I’m going to watch a DVD (The Wind That Shakes the Barley, stars Cillian Murphy) and then walk Cailean. It’s not the beach on the Caribbean, but we does what we can.



  7. Caribbean Hatch
    26/11/2008 at 7:57 pm

    Hi Sarah:

    ATEC is coordinating local relief efforts and will be posting information on their site and sending out a mass email.

    In the meantime, here’s some more details:


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