I rose from a sleepless night having endured the incessant clicking of some animal in the ceiling of the master bedroom. All night the room was intermittently hot, then cold, then hot again with the cooler and fan making not quite enough noise
to drown out the scratching animal sounds. I finally got up and sprinkled five dollars worth of oatmeal into a small pan with milk and water and then made tea.
Lauren was groggy when I went to wake her up saying that she too had had a sleepless
night. I slipped her into a dingy borrowed school uniform and sat her down to breakfast. She was nervous because today she will ride the school bus for the first time. My plan was to put her on the bus and then follow behind it in our rental
car, assuming the clutch would survive the trip, but when I looked out the window at 6:30, the bus was there. It was not due 'til 6:53 and I wasn’t ready. We got her things together and off she went.
The driver and his assistant
greeted Lauren by name in English. We posed for photos, and then with a wrench in my heart, I watched her go.
Five minutes later I emailed her new teacher asking her to confirm Lauren’s arrival at school.
Gary and I looked
at each other and the mess in the rooms and wondered how we would spend the day. Moving slowly, we packed a bag with towels and a snack and headed out the door. We were hoping to meet the parents of a kid who lived nearby, hoping the kid could
be a friend to Lauren and the parents could be friends to us.
We made our way down the dirt road toward the beach and saw a man standing outside his front door. Gary asked if he was the parent of a little girl, and the guy said that we must
be new here. He proceeded to tell us that the parents of the little girl were cocaine dealers, armed to the teeth and violent. He said they were at odds with their neighbors and that in fact the two wives had engaged in a physical fight during
which one had apparently bitten the other and was subsequently held at gunpoint by police. He went on to say that our rental house had been robbed many times, adding that the woman next door to us had just been robbed so horrifically that it made news
all over Costa Rica.
He talked without taking a breath for 15 minutes, appalling us with details of neighborhood burglaries. Then he took us on an abbreviated tour of his home which looked something like a drug dealer’s pleasure
palace in the making. Laborers were sanding down a massive jacuzzi which eventually will accommodate at least 15 people. Waterfalls were everywhere and a huge bar with a giant sub zero freezer was being installed. The guy was talking nonstop
as Gary and I exchanged glances.
Instead of going to the beach, the Bear and I walked home, somewhat despondent, wondering what our next move would be.