Archive for April, 2009

Brief Thoughts on Why I Travel

April 15, 2009

I just read a couple of quotes from an essay by Bob Shacochis regarding travel and vagabonding. “Whatever your resources,” he writes in an essay called Something Wild in the Blood, “the world is yours to the exact degree to which you summon the fortitude and faith to step away from convention and orthodoxy and invent your own life.”

And this is how I felt when I first abandonded life in the States for the unknown lure of the tropics: “I was unaware that there were other people like me, people who might think of their urge to travel as an acceptable characteristic of a bona fide lifestyle. Romantics, to be sure; fools, possibly; escapists, probably. Dreamers who pursued irregular but nonetheless intrepid dreams of dubious value to the social order, their minds flaring with extravagant narratives.”

Now, after nearly eight years away, time has done nothing to quell this spirit. If anything, each venture outside of my daily bubble adds fuel and further stokes the fire, making the possibility of a life of convention more distant with each passing day.

Easter Crime Report: San Rafael Burns, and, A Killer on the Loose

April 13, 2009

Behind my house there is a wooded lot that goes about 50 meters down to a dry creek bed, which if you cross and hike up the other bank, you’ll get to where a full-fledged, recently-released-from-prison murder lives. We’re neighbors. He was just released from La Reforma, the maximum-security prison in Alajuela. Some of you might know La Reforma from news reports of such hijinks as “Escape in the Laundry,” “Cell Phone Ass-Smuggling” and “Pin The Pecker on the Trannie.” This fine fellow just graduated from ten years of a 17-year program in social penance for murder. It would appear that he didn’t learn too much, however. Within hours, he had stabbed a fellow who was camping just up the street from me. The camper didn’t die, but the police did show up after irate neighbors stopped calling and drove to the police station to demand action. “We have no gas,” the coppers said, as I imagine them looking up bored from a game of pinochle. But they found some, came up, and got in a shootout with the Familia, the band of ne’erdowells who live behind me. Killer was handcuffed and taken to jail.

A group of neighbors stood in the street, firing their guns skyward like a bunch of tan Yosemite Sams, barking and growling from the safety of their own gated estates, proclaming that justice had been served.

In true Tico form, however, the judges could find no reason to hold him, so they let him out. Now he’s terrorizing the neighborhood.

There have been a number of home robberies here lately, including a brazen attack in which a neighbor saw the crooks bust a window, called 911, and waited two hours for the cops to show up. By that time, the thieves had left with everything in the house, down to the showerheads and the kitchen sink.

Thursday resulted in the arrest of some 80 of the Future of San Rafael. Burning tires, felled trees and garbage blocked roads as a maddened throng of youth danced around, bashing in windows of passing cars and hurling molotov cocktails at the police. It was Judas’ fault. Thursday the Ticos take out their anger on Judas for his purported betrayal by blocking roads, burning all kinds of shit, and in this case, setting some mechanics’ shops afire, breaking all the windows at City Hall and tipping cars.

With each passing year, the road to my house becomes scarred with more and more scorched asphalt from where these future bottom feeders decided to express their ire. Maybe the only way to get the Familia out of their cave is to put up a sign: Judas Lives Here. Of course, then they’d probably burn my house down, too. I guess I’ll just have to wait to get rolled.