Adventures of the Heart
Mary Zalmanek
Costa Rica - The gang's all here

Thursday, November 08, 2001

Hola Amigos y Familia,

I'm a little ashamed to admit this, but I purposely waited until after I knew Jim's family was en route and out of email reach before I sent my last email about the lobster-sized flying scorpion.  I didn't want to give anyone a reason to back out at the last minute.  I confessed my selfish action soon after Jim's dad (Jim Sr.), mom (Betty), brother (Charles), Charles's wife (Roxanna), and sister (Linda) arrived on Saturday.  As near as I can tell, I've been forgiven and no one regrets the trip.  Everyone had been further warned about those scorpions lurking in dark corners and on walls.

Shortly after everyone had said their first good night and headed upstairs to their rooms, we heard a loud but decidedly feminine scream, which could only mean one thing.  I handed the scorpion-fighting broom to Jim, the experienced scorpion warrior, and we both ran upstairs.  A large scorpion blending in with the dark wood was parked inches from the doorknob.

Roxanna's hand had stopped just out of stinger range.  When her first scream attracted no attention, she screamed a second, much louder scream that she SAID was solely for our benefit.  Since she's so brave, next time I'll give her the broom.

I find this very difficult to believe, but some of you have sided with the scorpions in this battle.  Dwayne wrote, "I'm a little concerned about the impact of your stay on the delicate balance between predator and prey.  Even scorpions have their place in the ecosystem and you seem to have done major damage to the scorpion population at the Villa."  When we were just on our second scorpion, we tried to move them outside rather than killing them.  Now that the scorpion count is up to six, I've decided the only good scorpion is a dead scorpion.

While watching the howler monkeys has not yet become commonplace for us, there is something extra special about sharing the excitement of a new visitor's first view of them, especially when those visitors are our loved ones.  It's like watching kids open their presents on Christmas morning. Being here has been wonderful, but being able to share it is better yet.

Things are hopping at the Villa Decary.  In addition to Jim's family, we had eleven other guests during the first four days of their visit.  The slow season ended overnight.

One afternoon when we were enjoying some time with the family, Nick and Jeanne, a delightful young couple from New York City, dropped by to see if we had any rooms available.  We hadn't even gotten them settled in their casita when Steve, a return guest (and now our friend), drove up looking for a room.  The employees didn't have enough time to clean the recently vacated rooms before they left for the day.  Jim and I scrambled to clean a room for him, but first we had to find where the cleaning supplies were stored.  We were six weeks into our inn sitting gig and cleaning our first room.  It was at that moment I realized how spoiled we had been by the efficient and dependable staff at Villa Decary.

Breakfast for eleven was easier than I expected.  ALL of our guests have been interesting, pleasant people, and meeting new people is one of the highlights of this job.  The only thing that surprises me is how many eggs, papayas, pineapples, watermelons, and bananas eleven people can eat.

Last week when we had no guests, we had 30 ripe bananas.  I made 4 loaves of banana bread and some banana cookies.  This week we have a full house and 40 very green bananas sitting in the bodega. (If you want to beat the monkeys, birds and insects to the bananas, you pick them while they are green and let them ripen out of nature's way.) Jim just made a trip to Arenal to BUY bananas.  With so many banana trees growing nearby, I never imagined having to pay money for them.

Five of our recent guests were from New York City, and we were eager to hear their stories.  Winston had been walking to his office in a building next to the World Trade Center Towers after the first plane hit.  When the second plane hit he ran away so fast he lost one shoe, and later saw his missing shoe on TV.  He said being in a beautiful, peaceful place like Costa Rica was exactly what he needed.

We will leave Villa Decary on November 13 and will return to the US on November 19.  Our time here has gone by very quickly.  We will be sad to leave this beautiful country and our new friends, but very happy to come home to our own beautiful country and our dear families and friends.  We've missed you!

Un abrazo y un beso (A hug and a kiss),
Mary

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