Pura Vida

First of all, pura vida is the Costa Rican way…strictly translated it means “pure life” but is used as “that’s the way things are”, “have patience” sort of stuff. It is a catch all term commonly used for various situations.  Today was our pura vida day…

Today is going to be a Pedro-free day! We get up to wonderful sunshine and about a million birds chirping outside. Jeff makes breakfast and then we execute our plan, which is to drive to Alajuela (all the way back to the San Jose airport) and go to Walmart.  No, we are not enamored of Walmart, but there are certain things we buy there that we want to check the availability of here.  We have a list.

Getting in the car, we check: sunglasses, money, Walmart list, etc., etc.  The car doesn’t start right off but the second time it is fine and we’re off. For the first time in the 7-8 visits we’ve made to Costa Rica, we do not get lost going to WalMart!  Google maps is almost useless here, and Waze (pronounced ‘ways’) is what everyone uses. Waze takes us straight to Walmart, where we spend 2 hours walking around the store. No kidding…2 hours of wandering up and down the aisles looking at products, sizes and prices and writing them down.  As we’re finishing up, I realize I’ve been hearing a tremendous roaring sound and Jeff says, “Let’s wait for the rain to let up.”  It is POURING outside! So, we pick up a couple of little souvenirs for friends and buy ourselves a bag of Lays potato chips and a 15 can case of beer (splurge!)

Eventually the rain stops, we pay for our goodies and scurry to the car. That was all we had on our list today; except maybe looking at another rental opportunity.  We haven’t done our due diligence on this one except asking a couple of questions of the owner. We know the house is in Los Angeles de San Ramon, but we don’t know if it is South Los Angeles or North Los Angeles; and it really doesn’t matter, it will be a nice drive.

And it was a nice drive – until it wasn’t.  I had forgotten that this highway, according to a San Ramon Facebook page, was under construction. When we got to the road construction we were the first car in line – or the car that didn’t get to go. So, we waited. And waited. And waited.  The construction guys walked up the growing line of cars selling watermelon slices, lottery tickets. Still waiting. Happily, we had stopped for gas in San Ramon and had a full tank. And waiting some more. After 30 minutes, we decide to open the chips. I had to convince Jeff that we were not opening the beer. Waiting…waiting.  FINALLY!!  We waited for almost 45 minutes! When we get up to Los Angeles (South), a mile and a half from where we were waiting (we could have walked up here and back in the time we had waited) there is a small restaurant on the side of the road. Since we have no idea where the potential house is or even if we are in the correct town, we decide to have a bite to eat and then just drive home. What is interesting, and a wee bit puzzling/annoying, is that the road construction is past the restaurant and stopping us a mile down the hill was bizarre. We will be able to just drive down without a long wait because we are below the construction area. So odd.

For lunch we order a vegetarian plate to share. It’s delicious. Lots of fresh vegetables, and one of my favorites, fried plantains. YUM!  But, it is getting time to head home. We are at a higher elevation here and the fog is starting to roll in; we don’t want to drive back down in the fog. So, we hop in the car and… it won’t start. Seriously??  Jeff tries several times; the car wants to start but won’t kick over.  Pedro had told us to ignore the check engine light which has been on, but not to worry about it. Well, now we are worrying about it… Still won’t start…and now it’s thundering.  Jeff and I both think it is the car’s fuel pump because when he turns the key, the car starts, runs for a split second and then sputters out.  Okay, pura vida.  Jeff tries to start it off and on for about 20 minutes. Time to call Pedro.

“Jane! How are you?”  “I’m stranded, Pedro. In Los Angeles del Sur outside the Mi Rancho restaurant.”  It takes a while to convince Pedro that it wasn’t the car’s battery that is the problem – I finally hand the phone to Jeff thinking maybe he needs to hear it from a man. So, we are stuck, and we are going to spoil Pedro’s Saturday as well.

He tells me that he will call his mechanic to come to us, and he will be on his way immediately. So, we wait.  Knowing that there is probably a 40-45-minute delay coming up, Jeff and I relax and chat. About 10 minutes later, we are surprised to see Marcello –Pedro’s construction foreman; I guess he knows something about cars because he has Jeff pop the hood.  He checks the oil (seriously??),  the battery connections (good lord).  Okay, now he has pulled the floor mat out of his car and is climbing under ours.  My phone rings. It is Pedro and he is calling to tell me that there must be some sort of big accident or something on the mountain because he is sitting in a long line of stopped traffic. I tell him about the construction.

Now it has started pouring rain and Marcello jumps back into his car to wait for a lull. The rain stops after a while; fog is rolling in for real. Jeff and I get out of the car to stretch our legs; I’m happy that we are stranded here because there is a bathroom and, if needed, alcoholic beverages! Marcello is back under the car banging away at something with a wrench or hammer.

Car trouble!

We walk across the road to look at what is left of the view and hear a car roar up. Pedro has arrived much more quickly than we imagined he would, maybe 30 minutes after he called.  He chats quickly with Marcello, who has stopped hammering on the underside of the car, and tells Jeff he thinks it is the fuel pump (I do not roll my eyes).

Pedro calls a tow truck, pays Marcello to stay with the car and Jeff and I climb into Pedro’s car. What a riot!  He drives us home a different way which is fine, until at one intersection he stops and says, “I’m a little confused here.” but he guesses correctly and about an hour later we arrive home.  Pedro is concerned that now we don’t have a car – and he’s out of cars! LOL Since we are leaving tomorrow at 11:30 and he is driving us to San Jose, and we don’t drive after dark, that’s not an issue.  We thank him, go in the house, pop open a couple of beers and finish the chips.

Because we are leaving tomorrow at 11:30, we need to pack tonight; then, if we want to, we can sleep in a little.  Pura Vida indeed!

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