Adventures of the Heart
Mary Zalmanek
Costa Rica - A flattened scorpion is not necessarily a dead scorpion

Tuesday, October 09, 2001


Hola Amigos y Familia, 

Shortly after our after-dinner Spanish lesson last night, I excused myself from the table to go to the bathroom.  As I was leaving the bathroom, I noticed an apparently dead scorpion behind the door.  He was flat, as if someone with a twisted mind had stepped on him with a big boot and left him for me to find. I grabbed my camera and asked Jim, the nearest twisted mind, to join me.  He passed the door over the flattened scorpion a couple of times and it was as still as a corpse.  Jim asked, "What makes you think he is dead?"  I said, "Well, of course he's dead.  He's a flat as a pancake."  I tapped my camera near his squashed little head to prove it.  Imagine my surprise when he puffed up his full-body attack armor with stinger fully erect and twitching and ran towards us!

I jumped back, then ran out of the bathroom in a single leap.  Somehow, and I really don't know how, I turned off the light in the bathroom as I fled leaving Jim alone in a darkened room with a frightened and angry scorpion.  Jim swears I did this on purpose, but believe me, there were no deliberate movements in that nanosecond other than self-preservation.  I couldn't even guarantee that it was my hand that hit the light switch; it could have been my knee or perhaps even the wings I must have sprouted to get me out of that room so quickly.  I was screaming louder than a howler monkey and Jim was as still as a church mouse.  Realizing that Jim was in far more danger from this demon at this point than I was, I timidly stuck my hand back in the bathroom to turn on the light, but Jim beat me to it.  I stood safely outside the bathroom while Jim went to the bodega to get something to scoop him up.  I am sorry to report that the last I saw of the scorpion, he was diving headfirst down the toilet.  Maybe we will be able to nudge the next scorpion back into its natural habitat, but in the heat of this first encounter, this scorpion didn't stand a chance.   

The first is a view from the second floor of the main building.  I was impressed Villa DeCary 2nd floor viewthat Scott or Stephen had seen the art in this view.  While I thought it was pretty, I never realized what a nice picture it would make. 

We met the owner of last week's runaway cows.  He was talking in very fast Spanish and waving a machete.  We knew he was friendly in much the same way we sense a dog's intention by the wag of its tail -- he smiled a crooked grin when we recognized the word "vaca" (cow).  His gestures indicated he was going to repair the fence.  When a man talks with his hands while holding a machete, it's best not to get too close. 

The first time I was offered a pejiballe, I took a big bite, fully expecting to like it since I like most foods.  The flavor was bitter and the texture chalky.  Mainor offered it with such pride; I tried my best to prevent my face from puckering in disgust.  I felt like a kid trying to hide my broccoli in my milk.  I had to get rid of it, but where?  Mainor was in the dining room, Mayela in the front yard, and Manuel was in the kitchen.  I discreetly went to the side of the house and threw it in the bushes.   

Elkin, our Tico neighbor, and his friend, Harold, came over to harvest some pejiballes from the palm trees at Villa Decary.  Using a long pole with a hook and bungee cord, he collected four bags.  Elkin is a vegetarian and said properly prepared pejiballes are his favorite food.  He took a small bag for himself and gave a small bag to Harold for his family.  He insisted that we take the two largest bags for the Villa Decary employees and ourselves.  When Nuria returns on Thursday, I'll ask for a cooking lesson and let you know if they are any better cooked.

It's not every night, but sometimes the beauty of nature gives a command performance.  I am helpless to resist, but then why would I want to?  I have no choice but to drop everything and watch the sunset though Maxfield Parrish eyes.  The white, rose and apricot clouds stand out against a brilliant and constantly changing blue sky.  The lush greens of the grasses and trees on the rolling hills of the distant shore are different in each moment as we watch them.  The light on the trees right outside the Villa competes for our attention.  In ten or fifteen minutes the show is over and we are released to go on with the task at hand. 

Flowering plantI am engrossed by the richness of the scene before me at this moment.  The mature trees are frayed with bromeliads.  The sky over Monteverde -- a cloud forest -- is cloudless.  It's one of the few times I have seen the distant mountaintops.  I'd like to transport myself there right now.  I don't want to drive; the conditions would surely change in the four hours it would take to drive there.  I need a time machine and I need it now.  In such an enchanting land, it's easy to dream impossible dreams.  

 Sandy took the picture of the cool plant right next to the driveway.   

Como siempre (as always),
Mary & Jim

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