Posts Tagged ‘Costa Rica’

Doctora Lorna’s Amazing Tico Touch

July 8, 2014


There we were yesterday in Costa Rica on vacation, having a great time, white-water rafting on a beautiful, wild rocky river, careening through a fast-water sluice, when suddenly the force of the water was overturning my kayak-raft, and the next thing ya know I am suddenly out of the boat, in the water, but it’s no big deal because I have survived it and my glasses are still on, but then I felt something odd about the fingers on my left hand and when I look at the hand I knew something was terribly wrong.

It did not hurt and that seemed quite a mystery considering the contorted appearance of my left ring finger–the one that has never, in 34 years, been without the wedding band on it, no not even for one second.

We were very near the end of our white-water rafting phase of this day’s adventure, which had begun with a leisurely horse ride, and was planned by our guide/hosts to move nextly into the zipline and climbing/rappeling phases. After my injury, my expert rafting guide, Ming, accompanied me to see another guy, a supervisory person, who walked me to the spa where there was a gal there with some sort of medical background, but when she saw the finger she declined to intervene because of the possibility that a fracture may be lurking in that twisted digit somewhere.

So it’s off to the emergency room I go. That was their decision. Safest medical decision for this American guy’s well-being, as well as the hosts’ insurance and all that legal stuff. Now this was fine, by me, because I didn’t like the looks of the finger, but it still did not hurt. A few minutes later, I’m back at the breezy, backwoodsy reception building, starting point of our GoAdventures/Canon El Viejo escapade, which has turned out to be life-threatening. No, not really, just kidding.

José, the very friendly manager of the outpost, will be driving me the short distance, less than a dozen kilometers or so, to the hospital in the city of Liberia. While I’m sitting on the bench, waiting for José on the porch outside, I look down at my finger displayed against the black background of the seat cushion, and so with my other hand I snapped a little pic:


Now in all my 63 years I have never had a broken or disjointed bone, so this is all new to me. And I’m looking curiously at this distorted digit and it still does not hurt, which is mysterious. But still, in the back of my mind I’m wondering if I’ll ever play guitar again, which I’ve been doing since I was fourteen, and I have spent years in my youth pining away for music, writing songs and recording them in Nashville and Asheville and so forth.  The mind, you know, can whack out with fears and speculations about the dire implications of this unprecedented, state of the twisted finger. And then there are the three novels I’ve written, and the four hundred blog posts, including the one you are reading now, and so forth and so on and will I ever write on my little Mac again?

Nevertheless, José seems like a really nice guy, smiling and relaxed, and now he’s driving me to hospital and furthermore I’m a Christian and it seems that all is well in spite of the crookedness. It still does not hurt. Isaiah had said that the crooked shall be made straight. I hear this sung every Christmas season while listening to the tenor sing in the chorale, Handel’s Messiah: . . .”the crooked straight, the crooked straight, and the rough places plain.”

A little while later, José gets me to Hospital Enrique Baltodano Briceńo and we settle into the waiting room. My adventurous morning on horseback and white water raft has now become this:


But it’s okay. It’s all good, because I am finding that the Ticos (Costa Ricans) are very pleasant to be around, even in a hospital waiting room. Furthermore, I’m starting to wonder about those three ceiling fans spinning slowly overhead, because the place is cool and there is no air conditioning. Costa Rica is about 11 degrees from the equator, and this Sale de Espere is quite breezy and cool.

I was born and raised in the deep South of USA, where air conditioning is next to religion, nehis and moon pies in collective cherished memory and necessity. How do they it here, so cool without A/C? Part of the mystery, and my finger still does not hurt. All these people are waiting patiently. The are beautiful, gentle people, with good children and friendly, accommodating medical personnel.

There is something special about Costa Rica.

 After about forty-five minutes, my turn comes to go into the little adjacent room for the medical assessment and whatever treatment is indicated. Jose accompanies me. In the small examining room, about the size of a dorm room, a very lovely Doctora is sitting behind a desk. I notice also that she happens to me a raven-haired beauty. She asks to see my hand.  I lift the left hand so she can see it plainly, right in front of her, just a foot or so from her face. She looks at the hand with a clinical eye. Doctora Lorna touches the crooked finger gently, then glances at me, ostensibly to assess my reaction. She looks back at the the finger; then with no discussion or hesitation she very nimbly, minimally, grips the fingertip, with one hand, on both sides of my fingernail and moves the crooked part to its correctly aligned position. Voila! Nothing too it, like spreading butter on bread.

And it still does not hurt!


We were in and out of that healing room in five minutes. Doctor’s Lorna’s expert Tico touch was all it took. Neverthless, we were at the hospital for two and a half hours, because it is after all, a hospital. José was managing the various stops for admission to this that or the other department, or person-behind-glass for record-keeping red tape etc etc etc.

Next stop would be the radiology department, where the X-ray would, and later did, confirm that no fractures haunted my straightened finger. We ambled through a long, busy breezeway to get there. Concrete breezeways connect all the departments. Everywhere we go in this medical facility, breeze is blowing gently, pleasantly cooling the Ticos as they go from ER to radiology or urology or whatever.

After a fairly predictable quarter-day there, we managed to stroll through the whole hospital adventure, after Jose paid the bill. Here he is with the precious receipt in hand:


It had taken him an hour to get that receipt. I suppose Dr. Lorna’s diagnosis, prognosis and treatment had been so swift that they couldn’t find much to charge us for, and so the persons-behind-glass who handle the payment end of hospital business might have been a little  confused, or maybe, as we say in the States, “covered up with (paper)work.”

What I learned from all this is: everywhere you go in Costa Rica, the people are patient, happy, and not weighted down by the slings and arrows of high-stress stuff like us Americans. I think that’s why many Americans dream of retiring there. The Ticos are, as the millenials say. . .”chill,” or as the hipsters used to say, “cool,” even though the country is only 10 degrees from the equator.

The Ticos have a name for their national attitude: Pura Vida!

Glass half-Full


What’s a vacation for?

July 2, 2014

Now that we finally got to July and being on vacation, I have at last gotten around to catching up on a few personal projects that I would like to have undertaken long ago.

One project is learning how to actually make best use of the Macbook Air that I’ve been blogging on for two years now. Two and a half years, actually. Micah gave me the laptop at Christmas 2011. I’ve been stumbling around on it ever since, managing every now and then to get a word or two that made some sense out on the ‘net for all the world to consider. haha.

On this vacation, my brother-in-law John, the Mac guy, has been very helpful in this personal proficiency-improvement project, especially with utilizing the pictures from iPhone that I’ve been snapping to elucidate our Costa Rica vacation.

In the midst of this steep learning curve, a picture popped up on one of the Mac files, a picture that I had forgotten about, thought I had trashed forever, except that lo and behold it is still rollin’ around in the Mac and so I managed to pull it out of the trash. Pat took the pic exactly two years ago on Maui, Hawaii, at the Sun Yat-Sen park, which is a small memorial to the founder of modern China, Sun Yat-Sen. Here is his statue, with me standing next to it because I think Mr. Sun was a great leader:

Sun Yat-Sen park

A little research I’ve done today uncovers the impressive fact that both the major factions of modern Chinese liberation–the Mao-led Communist party and the Chiang Kai-shek-led Kuomintang– claim Sun Yat-Sen as a major contributor to their initial movements to wrestle the governance of China from the dying Qing dynesty, because Mr. Sun led the revolution that knocked the Qing out of power in 1912.

Another reason I think he was a great leader relates to a quote from him that I discovered on this very same statue-base in Hawaii two years ago. The quote is carved into one face of the statue’s base:

 “Search into the nature of things, look into the boundaries of knowledge, make the purpose sincere, regulate the mind, cultivate personal virtue, rule the family, govern the state, pacify the world.”

This principle(s) have been bopping around in my mind for these last two years. When I saw the pic pop up in my Mac wanderings today, the profundity of this wisdom suddenly came back to me. So I spent a couple hours today trying to find the source of the quote, which turns out to be not Sun Yat-Sen himself, but rather Confucius, in an old classic called The Great Learning.

I learned this when a google search finally led me to a pdf from a biography of Sun Yat-sen by a Stanford scholar, Marie Clare Bergere. .

The idea of “searching into the nature of things” is one that Mr. Sun made a central part of his own way of relating to the world and trying to make it a better place. I like that strategy, and it is the essence of my writing projects, the blogging as well as the novels.

Here is another pic from that Hawaiian adventure two years ago, just to illustrate what I mean by looking into the nature of things. This pic reveals just how everything, including the earth itself is just kind of. . . stratified:

Red strata  copy

Glass half-Full

The Interface of Light and Matter

June 29, 2014

After 44 years later of pondering this and living the wonderful life God hath provided, I prefer the Torahic approach to conceiving what God is like. Torah, or Genesis, says God made Man in His own image.  God was expressing himself when created all things, including humans. If we see human characteristics in his handiwork, it’s because God intended for us to see that he was expressing himself through creation, just like we do.

God is an artist, like me.

Those artistic tendencies that he developed within me are what enable me to appreciate the Artist that He is.

Here is an example: 


Nice work, n’est ce pa? I like this better than, say, Mondrian, Pollock or Warhol. And it’s almost as interesting as Wyeth or Monet.


Here’s another, with a little more background, like DaVinci adding background perspective to Mona’s portrait, which changed art forever:

Sometimes, God takes his brush and turns it downward with a little perpendicular slash, like Van Gogh:


Other times, God uses his electromagnetic energy to separate Light from Dark, like he did in the Beginning:


Every now and then, we see a microcosmic image that resembles a larger microcosm. Here’s one that reminds me of an airplane view I got once, over Utah, or maybe it was Nevada:


Another good thing about the Original Artist: He likes to use his critters to help make the work interesting. Here’s one where the sand critters do their thing:


Pretty interesting, n’est ce pas?

That’s enough for today’s gallery. Time for dinner. I think Pat’s throwing a salad together with celery or broccoli, maybe some parsley.












But listen! What Victorious call rings loudly from yon beach bar? See the “V” in the pic above? Here in Tamarindo, Costa Rica, it suddenly has a new meaning:

Viva Costa Rica! Costa Rica just defeated Greece in World Cup Soccer! This has never happened before!

Glass Chimera

A Strand of Providence

June 27, 2014

One of my favorite things to do in this life is visiting the sea strand. The beach. While growing up in Louisiana and Mississippi, our family had many excursions with fond memories to the Gulf Coast at Mississippi and Florida.

After graduation from LSU in 1973, I took a job in Florida and moved to St. Petersburg.

In my year-and-a half stay there I spent many days and hours at the beach, becoming intimately familiar with that setting–that expression of nature’s wonders.

Through many hours of studying the interaction of tidal water and surf-sand, I noticed a few things about the cycles of our life existence.

In the forty years since that Florida time I have visited many beaches throughout the world, from Calabash to Rockaway to Dover and Calais, from Hawaii to China, from Tel Aviv to Cayman to California and Carolina. I love experiencing beaches. Doesn’t everyone?

Today is our first morning in Costa Rica. We got into Liberia airport, then drove to Tamarindo, on the Pacific. So of course I got up early and walked a few hundred yards to the beach. Perfect beach: wide, flat, smooth with very pacific waves, arranged in a classic half-moon arc with nearby low mountains in the distance. Clear morning, not yet hot.

As has happened on may beaches before, the first thing I notice while approaching the surf is that cycle of dark and light bands of sand at the water’s edge, where the waves roll in gently and do their artwork in the sand. My favorite beach characteristic to notice and contemplate.


I consider these waves, their perpetual rearrangement of the sand grains, and it takes me back to the time when I first began to notice this universal cycle, back in St. Petersburg. A meditation on nature to revisit. I think I’ll linger for awhile.

Being a civilized animal, I prefer to sit in a chair while thinking. So I go back to the condo and get one.

A few minutes later I am sitting in the chair at the water’s edge, considering the ocean, the sand, the wave motions and their visual record of rearranging dark and light bands of sand, the cycles they indicate or perhaps represent, the universe, God, and ignorant armies clashing by night and Dover Beach and all that stuff.

I think the first level of such thought/meditation is analytical. Is that natural to me as a man, or is it an acquired habit? just something I was taught to do in school? I don’t know. Put that layer of analysis back in a file somewhere in my head and wait for the deeper, experiential level. I am looking at the Pacific beach, which is right in front of me now.

Wait a minute. What about all the stuff of my life that came before?

Now I am a Christian, have been since 1979, or maybe even before that when I was raised Catholic.  So, to base my analyses and judgements about life, its consequences, priorities and outcomes, etc on an ancient Revelation, the Bible, the church–what is that? How does that affect any objective analysis I may attempt? Well, sure it does.

Hey, It’s what I am. I was born into a specific place and time, with all the cultural baggage thereof.But let’s not get too analytical. By grounding my judgements on my own experience as well as ancient Revelation that was handed down to me through the ages, I am utilizing the best of both worlds– the experience of those prophets of old, primarily Jesus himself, as well as my own experience.

Now, back to the here and now. Over here in the sand, dark bands are alternating with light. There is some kind of cycle going on here, some kind of process. Been going on a long time, seems to be universal. Seeing that cycle of sand bands with my eyes is objective. Relating them to other life cycles is subjective. Can I do otherwise? No matter what theses, hypotheses, or conclusions I come to, I am a subjective man, and I will make use, in this life, of both the objective truth that is really out there, the cumulative wisdom of other men/women, and my subjective experience and evaluation of it. I’m going for the best of them all. Do I have any other choice? My options are limited.

To be human means to understand that our options are limited, so we would do well to make the best of them. Rather than dwelling on what we don’t understand, consider and act upon what we do find to be true and workable.

By the way, and I didn’t tell you this before. Yesterday, I experienced the worst pain I have ever had in my life. This was no small thing for me, although in the big picture it is insignificant. It’s over now. That’s the main thing. But the pain experience has produced an aftermath.

How did this pain happen? I had had a bout with walking pneumonia or something like it before we left North Carolina. My head was all stopped up with mucous or sinus fluid or whatever that stuff is that’s stuck in your head when you’ve got a cold. While were in the plane descending to Costa Rica, I had the most terrible half-hour of pain in my life, because I had not done the cold medications effectively.

Now this is getting pretty dam subjective, talking about pain and my health condition, like the 62-year-old-geezer that I have become. I hate it, don’t want to go that route. I’m not stuck in the wheelchair at the nursing home yet. So fuhgedaboudit.

But I do have to say something about all that physical health report stuff, because there is a lesson in it.

So I’m sitting here on the strand with my old thoughts about the universality of the surf and sand, and my right ear is still clogged with that stuff from yesterday’s struggle against walking pneumonia. I’ve been trying for days now to get rid of that mucous.

I tilt my head to the right. Something–a liquid–shifts inside my head, and suddenly I can hear more clearly.

Thanks be to God!

Maybe you think that crediting God for such deliverance from pain is a naive assumption. Who cares? It’s my life, my ear, pain. I will deal with it. I am not only going to thank God for this little relief that came in the tilting of a head,in the blinking of an eye, but I am going to use my God-given hands to begin to solve the problem.

What will happen if I gently put my  little finger in my ear and manipulate that ear canal ever-so-slightly while my head is tilted? Could such intervention, perhaps, release some of the fluid from the ear and thus alleviate some pain? I’ll try it.

I do it.

It works! Clogged ear now clearer than it was.

Praise be to God. Thank you Jesus!

Pretty subjective response, I know–this burst of grateful praise,  but I’ll gratefully accept the little strand of divine deliverance, even though I was the one who administered it.

Now, as for conclusions and evaluations about this  insignificant event while contemplating sand, waves and the universe:

The cycle of pain and absence of pain–it comes; it goes. When the pain comes, it’s hell on earth, but when it’s gone–Thank you, God. A man’s gotta roll with the tide.  I’ll take it. Not bad for a Friday morning.


Glass half-Full