Costa Rica

Rats and Robbers – Part 8

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFireworks were at the ready for the big party in Nosara; not only was it July 4th, which is only meaningful to the U.S. ex-pats since Costa Rica’s Independence Day is September 15th, but it was my Papa Nuevo’s big Seven-oh! Don has been my “Papa Nuevo” (new dad) for the past twenty-one years. My new hubby is named Don also, so we call him Donny K among family.

Donny K and I were looking forward to the opportunity to escape to the palace on the hill known as “El Sueno de Mariana” – Marion’s Dream – for a couple of days away from our troubles. The house was full of relatives who had traveled from California for the birthday party, so arrangements were made for us to stay with family friends, Dane and Denise, who had just barely completed construction on a beautiful house on the beach at Playa Guinones. We were honored to be the first people to stay in the guest room, and happy to be the guinea pigs testing the shower, lighting and general functionality of the downstairs quarters.

As Denise was giving us the tour and general instructions, she showed us the bodega (secure storage room): “Be sure to put all your valuables in the bodega and lock all doors and windows. You know … robbers.”

I bobbed my head in acknowledgement: “You don’t have any rats, do you?”

“Not that I know of; at least not inside the house. If you hear scurrying noises on the roof, it’s most likely iguanas.” She flashed us a grin and said: “See you at the party. We’re going early to help. I’m the choreographer you know. Gotta keep the talent calm until show-time!”

The birthday party was spectacular; over a hundred guests showed up to honor Papa Nuevo, the huge American flag was hung at the entrance to the property, the Rancho aka “Margaritaville” was abuzz, Micki (mom) and her entourage did a Flash-Mob medley of three dances performed enthusiastically by over a dozen red, white, and blue-clad ladies, complete with glittering top-hats.  Marilyn Monroe, played by Diane Kennedy, did a breathy version of Happy Birthday while seated on the birthday boy’s lap. The only person that could have done it better would have been Marilyn herself! Diane, with the body to die for, did justice to the skin-tight, slinky dress, and the crowd demanded an encore after the first sultry song; she sang the birthday song a second time which gave the crowd an opportunity to take videos and snap stills. I’m surprised it’s not on Utube going viral! The food was plentiful, delicious, and varied with three separate eating stations, the most popular being Rolf’s barbecue station. Not only were there thick, perfectly seasoned all-American burgers, handmade by the hostess herself, there was tenderloin that melted in your mouth. It’s all in the cooking and nobody does it better than Rolf.

We returned to Dane and Denise’s for a peaceful night’s rest and awoke to the rich aroma of freshly brewed coffee. We were looking forward to breakfast by Denise, who had owned a restaurant in California that was twice featured on television. We were not disappointed! The fresh coconut juice, yummy home-fries, and perfect eggs were a treat; the camaraderie and conversation even better. As Don and I told the tale of our recent experience with the rats and robbers, Denise chuckled and said: “Look out the window. See that house across the street?”

“Yes. The white one with the tile roof?”

“Yeah. Well that’s a vacation rental. It gets robbed on a regular basis. The rental company never tells the tenants. When we see new people checking in, we warn them. Most of them don’t listen. They leave their cell phones, tablets, watches and stuff lying around and when they go to the beach, they get robbed. One guy pushes his eight year old son through the window above the laundry room and the kid gets the stuff and loads up his back-pack. The ones that listen and use the safe do better. Nobody knew how they got in until they discovered somebody loosens the window screws from the inside. Nice, huh?”

“That’s disgusting. I didn’t know it was so bad here. My folks don’t seem to have the problem up on the hill. Well, except for the time Don’s gold bracelet was stolen from his drawer; and the new hammock that I schlepped from Nicaragua that was taken from the rancho; and that one time the downstairs guest left his pants on the bed with money in the pocket; somebody took the money. At least they left his pants.”

“Dane and I just decided that we have to be prepared to live here with nothing. It’s just not worth having anything. Knowing that somebody is hiding in the bushes waiting for you to leave is creepy. We just leave everything of value at our house in California. We don’t have iPhones and nobody seems to want our Nokias. You get used to it.”

Don and I got quiet, changed the subject to surfing and the mood lightened considerably. I was thinking to myself: and we moved to Costa Rica because?  Alrighty then, time to get on the road. The party was over; it was time to go to Atenas and settle into our new home and tie up loose ends at the beach house. I figured we were good for one final run. We could pick up the remaining items, pay the house-sitter, gardener, and utility bills and call it good.

Jan and Reid had a magical time at the jungle resort, flew home to California with the rosy glow that lingers after being pampered in paradise. Don and I made that final run to the beach house and learned from Umberto, the gardener, the laundry room had been broken into and the washing machine stolen! As the owner said: “Oh well, it didn’t work anyway!”

After finding a suitable wall for the family portrait, we hung the wind-chimes that were given to us as a wedding gift from a dear friend in California. For lack of a better place, we hung it in a palm tree in the front yard at Esterillos, but snatched it down after only one day. Not only did it not chime due to the lack of wind flowing through the palm fronds, we worried about it being stolen. It’s no way to live.

As I write this, happily ensconced in our Atenas casitita, my laptop is open on the Guanacaste table on the patio which over-looks the quaint town, with the white steepled church glistening in the rain. I am confident my computer will still be here if I leave my spot for a snack or to do a load of laundry, or to spray-paint my flamingo’s feet.  I will admit I still have an unsheathed machete leaning against the wall behind my chair. Yesterday, I used it to chop some fast-growing weeds that were encroaching on the patio. It is the rainy season here in Costa Rica; everything is growing like … well, weeds! I haven’t given a thought to using it for anything other than gardening since I’ve been back in Atenas.

The wind chimes are gently tinkling. I am home.

8 thoughts on “Rats and Robbers – Part 8

  1. Omg Carole! Soooo ironic! I was just going to write and say, I am sure the wind chimes have probably been stolen by now. Can I send you another one?! Funny that you wrote about them. I love reading your updates and think you are so talented! Makes my day. When you talk to your mom, tell her Geni says hi! Hugs!


  2. Whoa!! That is something, Geni. I have been saving the wind chime comfort as a barometer for safety and well-being. I cherish them as a constant reminder of good and beautiful things, like you, Geni. They are safe here in Atenas, as am I. Thank you. Yes, I’ll tell mom! She always asks about you.


  3.   Your’e a great writer! y don’t you go VIRAL?                                             



  4. Great story!! This series really paints the picture nicely, and the conclusion was perfect, especially the final 2 sentences.

    This should be required reading for anyone that is daydreaming about life on the beach. There must be a lifestyle editor out there that would appreciate an on-the-ground perspective on all this, and I’d say why not try sending it out to some people?


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