Which is soooooo hard.
A word about the most critical daily grind: coffee. Day 1 in Florida, we bought the brand of coffee we drank for probably 10 years. After living la pura vida drinking Costa Rican coffee, that coffee was SOOOOOO bad. We dumped it and raced out for café con leche, cubano style.
I am no coffee connoisseur. As long as it's not old, I like it. But this… how did we drink that stuff for a decade???? Day 1 back here, we ran to our favorite feria in Hatillo where we buy kilos of fresh-ground locally-grown coffee for 1400 colones ($1.50/pound). Sooooo good!
6am: to the gym with my friend, Barbara, girl singer in my geezer band, massage therapist to the stars and all around gal pal. I'm up at 5am… being up before anyone else is a gift. The house is silent, even the dogs are sleeping. Watching the sun come up over the mountains, slowly drowning out the city lights, hearing the birds… perfect beginning.
Next week, gym is at 7am so blogging and writing can be squeezed in there between coffee and gym. I can at least get the first draft online. Lately, I'm back on the book idea. We'll see… I think I jinxed it talking about it. So forget I said anything.
Breakfast is Hal's Zen Aplausos: ah-PLOW-sewce. We call them applauses and clap as they come to the table. Yeah, we know how to have a good time.
Traditional aplausos start with two flat tortillas, some grated cheese and a griddle. Lay a tortilla face-up on the griddle (ok, that's a joke, I'm not such a terrible cook I don't know every tortilla has two faces), grate some cheese onto it, sprinkle some red pepper flakes on there for spice and really anything else you want like chopped ham or lightly cooked veggies. Last night's leftovers. You can even pour a little scrambled egg on there. It runs a little over the side, but you just scrape it back on there with your spatula. Top with the second tortilla, brown on one side, then flip and brown on the other. Voilà!
Zen Aplausos require only one tortilla, folded over. So ONE tortilla. Like the sound of ONE hand clapping? Get it? Yeah. Whoa.
Then comes the really fun part: class with Jorge, our profesor de Español [pro-fey-SORE day ā-spawn-YOLE. Jorge has been coming to our house three mornings a week, two hours each time, for about six months now ($300 a month, worth every penny). I haven't been taking the class because… it makes me crazy. Seriously, this is why I'm so sane.
Only now everyone in the house speaks WAY better Spanish than me, so I gotta sit in. If only for one of the hours. Besides, there are constant eruptions of raucous laughter… I gotta find out what's so funny.
The boys are practically fluent. Even the campo guys – the plumber, the gardener, the guys who speak country Spanish really really rapido [RAP-ee-dough] – Mo and Ryan understand them. Ryan's accent is killer – he has a knack. His accent got good before he really understood, though. Made for some pretty comical moments…
Morgan has actually started speaking it. When we first came, he shut down completely in Spanish class. Nothing penetrated. Now he speaks like a pro. An expat pro, but he's good and no longer self-conscious. In fact, I think he's pleased he can speak another language.
Hal has the best intellectual command of the language, but he still occasionally gets the deer-in-the-headlights look. The panic fades quickly though and he can formulate, then offer the correct response before the other party has walked away. This is progress. He is determined to master the language and the accent, and he goes at it. He reads La Nación every morning, listens to Spanish radio in the car. Starting next week, he's going to teach English to ticos at a volunteer school in Santa Ana. The boys are going to help him which will be good for all of them.
And I'll have the house to myself. Heheheh.
The rest of the day, we school. I manage most of it. The boys are in Algebra II (which is still mostly basic math, just more complex formulas), they write a 250 word essay everyday, they read for at least an hour a day or 50 pages, whichever comes first, from our master reading list. Ryan reads voraciously. I have to chain Morgan to the bed and watch the clock. But Morgan will sit at the piano for two hours all on his own and pick out the theme song to the last movie we saw. Both hands. So he doesn't like to read…
Their essays are on a variety of topics, some creative, some journal, some researched. We discuss history, watch documentaries, talk politics. Somewhere along the line here in Costa Rica, Hal and I lost complete interest in the "what college are the boys going to?" question. The college thing used to hang over us because "everyone knows" college graduates do better than non. We've come to believe that is propaganda. If they want to go to college, great. If they don't, great. If they find contentment somewhere, somehow, that would do very nicely. Somehow, they are turning out so beautifully. Smart, funny, well-mannered (in public, at least.) You would like them. Everyone does.
Hal works while I school. He works on the websites and various other possible money making schemes. Er, projects. No runaway successes so far, but it all looks positive. We are doing a little Costa Rica real estate, a little real estate in Key West. There are good deals to be had in both places. I wrote two offers on property in Key West and another buyer is looking now. It's fun to shop with savvy buyers who can afford it. You know they are not going to get hurt and they enjoy the process. Plus, in Key West at least, the heads are out of the sand and the bright lights are on. Reality bites, but things are getting done.
Evenings at home, we attach ourselves to appliances: computers, TV, ipods, DVDs. We read, we talk, we eat, we hang-out, till we crash around 10pm. Sleep, then repeat. Does it sound boring? There are some variations on the theme, of course. Like we occasionally leave the house… and we often have people over for potluck dinner. That is really fun. It's a good life today. A very good life. I'm thinking it will still be good tomorrow. I'll keep you posted!