Here in Tamarindo, we’re at the northwest end of the Nicoya Peninsula, which is one of the five “Blue Zones” in the world. Apparently, these “Blue Zones” are the places where they have an unusually high number of centenarians – i.e. people over 100 years old.

Maybe being over 100 years old ain’t as great as folks think it is.

This old gentleman seems to live in a little tin shack on Playa Tamarindo. The other day, Ethel told me to look at him, but in order to do so, I would have had to turn around, and I just wasn’t feeling up to that right then. When I’m tanning, it’s a workout – it’s structured, and disciplined, and I’m supposed to lay on this side for this many minutes, and then turn to that side for so many minutes – I can’t just be turning every which-a-way just to look at people.

But some time later, I had occasion to turn over and sit up, and I saw this fellow, standing on the beach. Now, I say “standing”, but he was actually WALKING – but you wouldn’t have known it, unless you watched. He was moving each foot in the tiniest, two-or-three-inch shuffle, and then…..moving the other foot.

Now I was hooked. I had to watch.

He kept moving, if you want to call it that. Eventually he reached the place just above the highest waves, and then he kept shuffling, but stopped moving – it took me a few minutes to realize that he was attempting to “kick off” his flip-flops, by which I mean trying to generate friction between the bottom of his flips and the sand sufficient to remove the flip from his foot, while still moving his feet only a few inches at a time.

When he completed that task, he went forward down the beach – eventually entering the water. At this point, Ethel and I were watching close, because it seemed to us that any one of the larger waves would tilt him over, and that would be that. But it seemed that he knew what he was doing – he went out a ways, and then….sort of washed himself off, including rinsing his pants and shirt, while still wearing them.

Then he went further and even bent over and ducked his head into the waves. This was amazing and painful to watch.

Then he turned around. THAT….took a while; but, when he finished, he started heading back up out of the water, eventually getting back to the beach – and eventually getting back to his flip flops, at which time he started trying to put them back on. THAT took a while, as well.

Then he moseyed back up to his shack.

It seemed to me that this whole process took around a half hour – it was probably more than twenty minutes, and I suspect less than forty. And we wondered if this was something he did every day – combining his workout, his bath, and his laundry into this simple routine.

I know – or at least believe – that the survival instinct is supposed to be very, very strong. But I may be an outlier. I’ve never thought that just “another day above ground” was wonderful, or even sufficient. Being a depressive, I have trouble staying energized enough at age 62, when I can still sort of swim, bike and run and do some lifting.

Do I want to hang around long enough to live like this old man?

I think I’m gonna get the heck out of this Blue Zone before this happens to me 🙂

I think I’m getting hotel room fever.

It’s like “cabin fever” but it’s from staying in the hotel room. Now, please understand – I’ve been on the beach every day, and doing workouts at the gym and running on the roads. And, in the evenings, we wander around town and people watch and go to dinner.

But the rest of the time, I’m in my hotel room.

This picture seems, to me, to be just a little bit misleading. The sand isn’t this white, and the water isn’t this blue. Perhaps it was taken on a perfect day, which I just haven’t seen yet.

The water is lovely, and warm, and the sand is a soft sugary texture, but it’s grayer than this looks, or at least it is to me.

And it’s hot here.

That’s what’s giving me hotel room fever; when we’re not doing something specific, it’s too hot to just hang around outside. And by “too hot” I mean “sunny and in the low 90s, at least in the afternoon”.

We were on the beach yesterday, and I actually got a sunburn. I didn’t use to get those – back when I thought I was part Cherokee, part Mandingo and part Mexican. Now that my bloodline has been established as Pasty Anglo Saxon, I turn red. Another reason to stay in the hotel.

Today there’s no meeting, and since Ethel turned red yesterday, we won’t be spending time on the beach. So I reckon I’ll sit here in the hotel room.

Last night’s sunset looked, briefly, like the Castle Bravo H-Bomb test.

Well, that’s reasonable. After all, the sun is a continuous thermonuclear explosion.

No idea what we’re doing today, really, other than an AA meeting this evening. I’ve done a miserable 2.5 mile slog through Playa Langosta and some stretching. I am, unquestionably, in the worst shape of my life. I was in better shape when I was overweight and smoking. (Of course, I was at least 30 years younger then, as well).

It doesn’t matter. Keep pushing back on the darkness, even if it enfolds you.

Ethel’s really fallen in love with Tamarindo. Now, yes, of course, I think it’s great too – but now that she’s fallen for the place, I find myself falling back into a guarded, reserved attitude. At first I wondered if this was just Self being Self – you know, wanting what I want, but also wanting conflict and drama. Self is like that.

I suppose that it might be true. But I am open to the possibility that it’s simply Nature’s method of checks and balances.

If Ethel really wants to live in Tamarindo, Costa Rica, then one of us needs to be the counterpoint – the one who looks around and points out the negatives. And there are some – for instance, it’s hot. Not Arizona hot, but Alabama hot.

And it takes a long time to get anywhere. Costa Rica does a lot of things well, but superhighways aren’t one of them 🙂 It took a good five hours of just driving time to get here from San Jose, and when one does stop, the stops aren’t quick stops; there aren’t any Flying Js or Circle Ks here.

There’s not a good gym here. I have only seen one gym in Costa Rica that I would call a “good gym”, and they got $20 for a day pass, and they were in Escazu. I don’t actually know if there are any others*. And Tamarindo is not a town where a lot of folks are looking for a good gym, because a lot of them are surfers, and are twelve years old. Or seventy-twelve, in some cases. And surfers don’t look for gyms, I believe, because all surfers want to do is surf.

And I haven’t found a lap pool that I can use. There are many lap pools here, but they belong to expensive resorts, or to private homes. Several of the houses that we’ll be looking at on Wednesday** have their own laps pools, although I suspect that some of them are what my friend Mark calls “pony pools” – 20 yards in length.

It’s dusty and not manicured, and there are folks on the beach who don’t mind sharing their cigarette smoke and loud music – but it’s lively and light, and we enjoy walking around in the evenings. If she does decide to move us here, I suspect I’ll be okay with it – except, of course, during ski season, when I’ll probably whine some.

But if I do, I’ll walk down to the beach at sunset, and what the H-bomb go off.

*full disclosure – for the rest of my life, gyms will be compared to The Wave. And I’m pretty sure that none will measure up.

**I’m letting Ethel run that whole side of things; I’m just making helpful suggestions. There’s a home here that, at least online, we both really like – and some new friends who just bought here said that this home was their second choice. It’s selling for about half of what I can sell the Dog House for right now, and it’s 800m from the beach, and it has a palapa top that would take all of our exercise stuff, and it has what looks to be a 20 yard lap pool. Wow.

Yesterday, we drove from San Jose to Tamarindo.

It took a long time. Mostly two lane roads, and lots of trucks, and lots of traffic. And nobody, apparently, in a hurry.

When we got to Tamarindo, we decided it was worth it 🙂

The beach here is a gray sand – it’s not the white sugar sand of the Redneck Riviera. This makes the water in the surf look dirtier than I’m used to, based on Cabo and Cozumel. There. That’s the only negative that I can come up with, other than the fact that it is, indeed, hot and humid – but, then, it’s the beach and 10 degrees north latitude. It’s sorta supposed to be hot and humid 🙂

We’re staying at Ten North, a little boutique hotel right off the beach. Last night, we watched the sunset, ate down there, and came back up here. This morning, I went for a run, and Ethel went to the hotel office and moved us from a hotel room to an “apartment” with a kitchen. That didn’t take long.

Then we went to a meeting – our first meeting in Costa Rica. Yeah, it was kind of foofoo – but no more so than a lot of meetings. (I reckon the Baffled Lot group has spoiled me for a bit). After meeting, we attended a Zoom Ash Wednesday service with All Saints back in Whitefish.

Then came the beach, and some open water swimming. Then Ethel decided that she had to get out of the sun* so we came back to the room, making sure to get back to the beach for sunset – and I saw the “green flash”! I’d never seen it before and always thought that it was myth, or urban legend, or like a “snipe hunt”, but there it was.

We just sat on the beach for another hour or so, then wandered around town until we found something to eat.

Now I’m back in the room; Ethel is down in the office, negotiating another week’s stay here in this hotel. So it looks like we’ll be here until she’s ready to move on.

We’ve been talking about Costa Rica for years. We’ve also talked with other folks who have been there. I’ve often said that I’ve never spoken to anyone who went to Costa Rica and didn’t like it.

Well, I’ve been here eighteen hours now, and I hate it.

I got a two month rental reservation with Hertz for a great price.

We got to the airport in San Jose, Costa Rica, and not only did Hertz not have our Mid-Size SUV, they didn’t have any cars at all. And they were not apologetic about it. They did offer to get me a sedan from one of the other companies – for a single month, for almost FIVE TIMES the two-month price that they had promised me.

That’s a 10 to 1 bait and switch.

I didn’t take it. Instead, we took a taxi to the hotel, so that Ethel could do her best job on finding us a reasonable reservation. Now, that’s actually a simplification – my FIRST preference was to get on a plane and just go back to the United States. But Ethel wouldn’t do that – and, as she pointed out, we’d have to get a COVID test to go back. And we’d have to wait until today anyway, since no flights were leaving last night.

My SECOND choice was to go to Cabo or Cozumel, but Ethel won and we came to the hotel.

The hotel is also a disappointment. They say that they have “coffee in the room” – but what they have is a Britt sort of K-cup device that had two tiny espressos. So we woke up at 5:30 this morning to the tiniest bit of caffeine dose imaginable; the hotel didn’t have coffee until 7:15. The room’s not as nice as a comparably priced room in Cabo or Coz. And folks here are less bilingual than in those other destinations – also, they seem less forgiving of my own attempts at Spanish.

This is supposedly the upscale neighborhood of Sabana Sur, but the AM/PM has a beefy security guy at the door.

Ethel has procured us a car – a sedan, not an SUV, and at 3.5 times the promised price.

There are some normal travel woes – for instance, I swapped out rollers before we left the house, and left my HRM strap and phone case in the other suitcase. So now I have to find a Garmin store. And Ethel’s phone, for some reason, can’t make Wi-Fi calls. This could result in a hefty Verizon bill when we get home.

I’m still lobbying to go to Cabo or Cozumel. But SSMAS. She simply won’t do it. She wants to give this country a chance. I want to give this country a view of my behind. This doesn’t fit my idea of “vacation”. Vacations should have less stress, not more.

When we left Tucson in October of ’97 – moving to Vermont – it was sad, but easy to do in one respect, because that year, it was still hitting 100+ F every day right up until we left.

Montana is strongly suggesting that we go to Costa Rica.

I’m really looking forward to the trip. All the cool stuff to see in Costa Rica seems to be open and available. My only caution is meetings – I can’t tell that the meetings on the meeting page are actually happening. I’ve contacted a couple of the meeting contacts, with no response.

And, if there aren’t any meetings, then we can’t stay.

That’s got to be the way it’s got to be. No exceptions. We’re still alive after 30+ years in AA by not allowing exceptions. That what “principles” means – it means no exceptions.

If we have to leave Costa Rica, then, where will we go? Possibly to one of the British Antilles, so we can get church as well. Maybe Belize, which has Anglican church, and excellent diving, and isn’t very far – but I can’t tell that there are local airlines doing the short hops down there. It may be that we have to come back to the United States to go ANYWHERE, which would mean COVID tests and all of the associated bruhaha.

So I’m not going to borrow trouble. For right now, we’re going to be in Costa Rica for the next two months. When we get back, it’ll probably be raining. There may be mud. The ski hill will be closed, and the golf course will be open.

And it will NOT be sixteen degrees below zero 🙂

Got back my results from Ancestry.com. They were remarkably pedestrian.

My great grandfather was nothing but cheekbones from his eyelashes to his rib cage. I’ve always understood that he definitely had Cherokee in him. Apparently, according to these folks, no such luck.

And I’ve always assumed that we were standard American mongrels. My own coloration supports this notion; I tan extremely fast, and my skin tans ashen, not golden brown like the Nordic roots would suggest.

And I have to assume that they did, indeed, actually scan and process my DNA, since the closest match in Ancestry’s records is my uncle, and the second closest is my first cousin. So, there’s that. I’m just a boring white guy. Apparently, we’re God’s own WASPs. Heck, even my ancestry is Episcopal.*

We’re two days out from our 60 day trip to Costa Rica. We’re taking a lot of stuff – all of the allowed SCUBA gear, almost all of my swim workout stuff, and plenty of clothes. Since we’ll be moving around a good bit of the time, we can’t be sure of laundry, so we need to be able to go many days without washing. We’re both taking laptops and tablets, plus all the charging cables and suchlike – and an HDMI so that we can watch “Person of Interest” on the provided televisions.

I’ve never gone anywhere for two months before. That’s almost moving.

Although we’re NOT moving; that’s definite now. Ethel has determined that she simply has no interest in leaving the Dog House. That’s my punishment for extending everything – she wanted granite, I gave her waterfalls. She wanted gas, I gave her gas built-ins. She wanted an apron sink, I gave her a 14 gauge copper sink. She wanted hardwood doors, I gave her alder doors and trim. She wanted dog-proof carpet, I gave her silk carpet with a lifetime pet stain guarantee. She wanted a big bathtub, I gave her a huge, deep two-person Kohler.

Now she loves the house so much that she won’t leave, and I’m gonna die here 🙂

I wonder if that’s what the Big Book means by “we made decisions based on self which later placed us in a position to be hurt” 🙂 …sure, I could say I did it “for her”, but maybe I did it so that I could meet my own idea of how a husband and provider should behave. I can suspect that it must be “decisions based on self” because it backfired on me – unless God simply wants me to stay here? I’ve been praying consistently to have the selfish desire to leave, and the fear of staying, to be removed, and it’s possible that it’s letting up some.

So now, instead of a mixed-race mongrel wandering through the tropics, I’ll be a pasty white Anglo Saxon living in a suburban neighborhood 🙂

*The Norse stuff also suggests Lutheran, but Martin Luther a) didn’t like the Book of James, which is where a lot of the Big Book comes from, and b) said that “God made beer so that we could be happy.” I’d join the Taliban before I’d join the Lutherans 🙂

…didn’t happen. Again.

This morning, we had 6″ of fresh on the mountain.

Now, it wasn’t what a Utahn or Coloradan would call “powder”, but it’s the best that we’ve had all season.

So everybody tried to make it up the mountain – including a lot of folks, apparently, who don’t have 4WD or snow tires or any skill at driving in new snow. So they were sliding off the road, and stopping traffic

So I almost didn’t make it up the mountain in time for Dawn Patrol.

When I got to the Big Mountain Club, there was a frenzy of folks who all were late trying to get out the door in time for first tracks.

Then Eric came through with The Announcement.

Seems that the big buses from town, upon which the mountain staff commute, were still stuck in the long line of traffic – so the lifts wouldn’t be running for Dawn Patrol.

A lot of folks went ahead to go stand in lift lines and wait. I decided against it – I was discouraged, and didn’t want to be in crowds. Heck, that’s why I pay my club dues – to ski Dawn Patrol and avoid the lift lines. So I drove down.

That was a bit of an adventure – I sat still for a half hour, while the police and a tow truck pulled at least one of the mishaps back up on the road. Then I went on down.

And. I. Saw. The. Rest. Of. The. Traffic.

All the way down the mountain road….all the way back into town on Lakeshore and Wisconsin…and then, when I got to town, I saw traffic going as far as the eye could see down every possible feeder road…and drove all the way through town, and seeing all of the lines of traffic all the way back to my house.

So from my house to the mountain is nine miles – nine miles of bumper to bumper vehicles full of people going up there to get in line. And those “nine miles” are augmented by all the lines all the way out 93 West, and the doubling through town on Spokane and Baker, and however far it was going on 1st Avenue out to the east. All trying to get to the mountain.

There will be another good sized snow on Saturday night, but the temperature will be below 0 on Sunday and Monday mornings, so no Dawn Patrol then, either.

I’m ready to go. Somewhere. Anywhere.

Got home on Sunday night, did some swimming on Monday, and then yesterday I went skiing, and also skinned up the front.

Apparently, I don’t know how to do that appropriately.

I did my “here’s how you skin” intro with Walt the day I went active with COVID, so I felt awful later. I’ve now gone up the front four times – each time took over an hour, each time my heart rate stayed higher than it goes when I’m doing tempo runs, and each time, the next day, I was useless.

I’m useless today.

Maybe I should be skinning easier – but I don’t know how to go up the front easier. Just continuing to move uphill gets my heart rate up into the 160s. I’ve heard that taking the East Route might be easier; maybe I should try that instead.

Meanwhile – Montana is gray. Warmer than normal, much less snow than normal, grayer than normal.

A friend who sold his largest business this year disappeared a month or so ago – he went to Yuma. Dale has lived here all of his life, and he’s stayed every winter, even though he doesn’t ski. Now he’s in Arizona. I sent him a text, teasing him that he picked a very warm winter to become a snowbird. Dale said that it wasn’t the cold that sent him South – it was the “gray and overcast”. I’m right with you, Dale.

Our passports are in transit as we speak; they’ll be here any day. We now have the house sitter situation handled with multiple options, so we’re heading for Costa Rica shortly. I’m thinking a week from Saturday, but for some reason, Ethel seems to be reluctant to book a flight, even though she seems to be looking forward to going.

I’ve often noted that, as soon as Kim Puckett can have something, she suddenly seems to want it less. I remember dropping her off at the outlet mall in Park City and telling her not to get back into the car until she’d spent at least $500; she simply couldn’t do it. It never happened.*

My prescriptions are taken care of – I can be gone three to four months, if need be.

The longest I’ve ever gone on vacation was three and a half weeks, I believe, and that was just now, in Cabo. I think we’ve gone about that long twice in Hawai’i. But this vacation will be “going with a return ticket, but don’t really care when we return” – we may decide that Costa Rica ain’t where we want to spend all that time, so we may go to Cabo, or jump on a flight to the Caribbean.

Freedom.

I’ll be doing the odd workout, but not too worried about it.

Come to think of it, I’m not worried now.

*Yes, I did let her back in the car. Maybe it’s my fault, for enabling her to not spend the money.

We’re in Madeira Beach, at our favorite hotel chain (Cambria). Every one of these is different, but we’ve liked all of them so far.

We went down the coast from Cape Canaveral and spent some time in Ft Lauderdale Beach. While there, a friend set us up to go for boat ride – on the Miami Beach Marine Police boat, all around the Miami Beach area! That was pretty cool.

Then we made a meeting and sat in the park for a while.

I wanted to buy a place in Miami Beach, but Ethel wouldn’t let me. SSMAS.

Then we drove out the Keys – all the way to Key West – and back. I wanted to get a place on Marathon Key, but SSMAS. After spending the night in Homestead, we hit the Everglades for an airboat ride with the gators and the blue herons. No, we didn’t see any pythons. We didn’t even know that we were supposed to be looking for them.

Then we went to Naples, where Ethel thought that she wanted to buy a place on one of the 78 golf courses (that’s the actual number) but then remembered that she wanted to go to Costa Rica before doing anything like that. I see her point and support her decision, but if she decides that sun, sand and golf is what’s important to her, Naples is the place to be.

Now we’re in Tampa Bay, which is where she got sober. We’re going to stay here until our flight Sunday morning, unless she gets tired of being on the beach when it’s too cold to be on the beach. I’ll stay, I’ll leave – I’m not running my own life.