It wouldn’t be unfair to call me a city boy, with the implication that I’m not all that comfortable with nature. Insects, mice, and other creepy crawlies give me the heebie-jeebies. But I’ve left the city and I’m in the tropics now. There’s a lot of sun and rain down here, and where there’s a lot of sun and rain, there’s a lot of life. And that means insects and other critters.
Somehow the swarm of dozens of winged ants the other day didn’t bother me as much as a single roach in a Manhattan apartment would have. And when I saw this little gecko sitting behind my dish rack, my first thought was to take a picture, not to scare it away. So it would seem that exposure has bred acceptance.
In addition to the insects and reptiles, there’s just a ton of outdoor debris that blows in through the windows. Escazú is windy and not altogether paved, so leaves, twigs, and other fragments of nature blow in through the windows and doors, which are often open. The temperature barely changes, so there is no need for heating or air conditioning. It’s a bit like living outside, albeit in a very comfortable grotto.
Now, it’s easier dealing with insects, outdoor debris and whatnot when you have a maid cleaning your house every week. I’ve been living on a bit of a shoestring budget this year, spending very little on anything besides rent and intercontinental flights. Actually, I’ve been fortunate to pay very little in rent, so my overall expenses are ridiculously low, at least for your average hombre from New York City. That said, the maids here make about 1200 colones per hour, which works out to $20 per day.
Getting back to the kitchen, the maids not only clean the house, do the laundry, and make the beds, but they also cook. I’ve been cooking plantains every day, making guacamole, and preparing delicious black beans from their dried counterparts. One day I was making some arroz con frijoles negros*, when I realized I’d spent six hours in the kitchen without playing a hand of poker. This struck me as inefficient.
So, I got an extra maid/cook to come and prepare food a couple times a week. So far it’s been excellent and allows me to put in more hours on the e-felt. Given that I’m here to play poker and not to pursue the culinary arts, I’m happy with my decision. The maid gets an extra two hours of work at double her regular rate, and I get an extra five or more hours per week to work, not to mention some authentic Costa Rican cuisine, and a little extra practice for my Español.
* The Spanish rather offensively call black beans and rice Moros y Cristianos. As an atheist and a vegan, I object to eating Moors and Christians. When my dad was a vegetarian, he said he wouldn’t eat anything with a face. I guess I don’t exactly follow that school of thought. (Maybe he wouldn’t eat anything he could talk to. Whichever. You can talk to beans. They might even talk back.)