Last Sunday our coffee clutch was moved to the neighboring village of Los Angeles where they were having a three day event honoring the Virgen.  We only went on Sunday.  The community center, which is next to their modern church, was filled with people vending food and crafts while up the road was a soccer game.  Los Angeles has many gringos amongst the Ticos with an apparent separation of lives, unfortunately.

They have their own elementary school, typical of the country.



The community store seems new and is thoughtfully stocked with a variety of items from flour to bicycle seats.

Monday morning we headed north to Cartago, the former capital, as I needed to see a dermatologist about a spot on the top of my head that has been there for too many months.  I could have waited three more weeks until a traveling dermatologist made his monthly visit to our nearest city, but didn’t want to wait any longer.  I found my new specialist on the Internet and chose him for location and that he speaks English.

The most direct route is along the mountain ridge which gets up to over 11,000 feet.  The scenery is beautiful and diverse.  Just outside of Cartago we came upon some wind turbines.  As we drove along they reminded me of the Steven King movie, the Langoliers.  Here is a video.

We found our way through Cartago, thanks to our GPS, and on to Paraíso where we stayed.  Our large room had sliding glass doors that could open about the length of the wall.  Before us was the Orosí Valley.  Take note of the triangular house, purported to have been a summer house of Michael Landon from “Bonanza” and “Little House on the Prairie”.

After a late lunch of a thick cheese corn tortilla, the kind receptionist took us back to Cartago for my appointment.  Not having understood my name over the phone, I was listed as Beatríz!  When it was my turn the doctor came and got us, took us into the exam room where he asked me questions to keep in my file, and then checked my head.  Since he then had me lie down on the exam table to check out the rest of my body I figured his news wasn’t benign.  He finally said, not having discovered anything else of much concern, that the spot was either actinic keratosis or basal cell carcinoma.   A biopsy was in order so we moved into the procedure room where he injected lidocaine into my scalp and extracted a specimen to be sent to the lab.  Bill took pictures!



After a stitch and some time to get the bleeding to ease up, it was back into the other room.  He is to call in five to seven days with the histology and treatment plan.  It will either be frozen or removed with MOHs surgery when we go back in three weeks.  He walked us out and even came over a few minutes later to chat and give me his card with his personal email in case I have any questions!  No US doctor would do that!  He gave me a prescription for an ointment to use to prevent infection.  The pharmacy didn’t keep the prescription, which was also different.  The consult was eighty dollars and the procedure was ninety.

A taxi ride back to the hotel was followed by Bill tenderly washing the back of my head where I had found a large patch of dried blood.  I had forgotten to take shampoo, and hotels here don’t supply it.  Since we were using liquid soap my hair got really snarled making it dicey to comb out.  Then it was time for dinner.  We both had pozol, a corn soup with pork.  Although a bit salty, it was tasty and warming in the cool air.  Dessert was coconut flan.

Tuesday was shopping while in the city!  Wal-Mart was first as Bill found wine there he liked and wanted to get bathroom scales.  We didn’t find them there but were successful at the home goods store in the huge, very American, mall which even has a Mercedes Benz dealer and a Pierre Cardin store!  Radio Shack was the primary destination to look for a replacement charger since one had gotten fried in the surge protector…….The food court was one US chain after another….Subway, MacDonalds, Burger King, TCBY, Mrs. Fields, Taco Bell, Quiznos, KFC….  The next driving destination was Pequeño Mundo, a sort of warehouse department store with really low prices.  Then it was time to head home.

Wednesday we looked out the kitchen window and there was a huge grader coming along scraping the dirt road!!!  What???  I went out to try to speak with a man walking alongside the machine.  He explained the village association was doing this and would continue a ways up the road.  When I went back in the house Bill informed me we had no water.  Back out I went to tell my fellow resident of our situation.  Meanwhile a neighbor had come along who lives just up the hill on the other side of the road and knew where our water pipe came down from his property, under the road, and to our house.  A bit of digging found that the heavy steel pipe connected to the plastic tubing had been forced forward breaking the connection!  This very kind man whose name I found out to be Arsenio, got right to work trying to fix it.  Bill supplied him with shovels and a heavy duty post to use as a lever, while Arsenio used his strong pliers he had with him for fixing barbed wire fences, etc.  Amazingly he was able to force the heavy pipe back into position and used some of his own things to make mend the connection.  When we tested for water to the house, though, we were out of luck.   Grrrrr.  Meanwhile his young adult son came along to assist.  After some detective work they found another problem on the house side of the road.  He said he could fix that as well, but it would take an hour.  Yikes!  We had to leave in an hour for a dentist appointment and hadn’t showered yet.

We ended up going in dirty and apologized to the dentist for our state.  Bill had one filling, X-rays, and a mold taken for a crown he needs.  Dr. Granados built up two of my teeth along the gum line where there’s recession.  Fortunately I didn’t need novocaine.  All this was one hundred sixty dollars!

The next morning as soon as we got up Bill looked out the window and there were Arsenio and his son working on the water line again!  As they weren’t around when we had gotten back home the day before we didn’t realize there was still a small leak in the second repair they had made.  They asked if our landlord had some PVC connectors but hunting for some only gave us one which was not all they needed.  So, Bill, with his few words of Spanish and examples of what was needed, headed into the next village to look for the materials as some plumbing items are sold there.  Unfortunately the store did not have everything needed so he had to go further away to a hardware store.  Meanwhile, I hunted around some more and found a small tool box of PVC connectors…..oops!  In fairness to my neighbors I took them the box.  It seemed they still needed one piece we had found but Bill had taken with him to show the clerk.  After quite a while the son came to the door and said they were done!  He apologized for the water problem and that Bill, who still had not returned, had gone 45 minutes away for nothing.  Oh, well.  Bill took the news graciously when he returned shortly thereafter.

This morning the grader returned and went up the road.  When we returned from our walk to the village center we could hear the grader nearby just past the house.  Quickly I grabbed some blue plastic shopping bags and tied one to the water pipe on the far side of the road and another to the barbed wire fence on the other side of the road to act as caution flags.  A few minutes later that same gentleman who was escorting it the other day ambled down the road.  He wanted to know if we had water, which we did, but I told him about the bags.  He said he was keeping an eye on things.  Turns out he is the father of the man who bat proofed the house for us.  From the kitchen we watched vigilantly as the grader passed over our water supply a few times, but all is well.

This afternoon we  drove to Spanish class and saw more grading had been done closer to the village center.  On the way back we came upon a taxi trying to navigate through the muddy road which was freshly graded.  He wasn’t having much luck so when we came along he backed up and asked us to take his passengers.  We were surprised a taxi was even way out here but were glad to help out.  They had several pieces of “cargo” but Wally, our Toyota 4Runner, had lots of room.  The couple about our age were going about 400 meters to visit his father, who was waiting at the gate with a homemade wheeled cart to carry their items.  The wife expressed great appreciation for their ride, and the husband even offered to pay Bill!  As we have given rides to several local residents just up and down the road I said to Bill that there might not be much we can do to help in the community, but we can give rides!

Two walks up the road this week netted us some good sightings of the sulphur-winged parakeets we keep hearing and seeing.  Although taken on two different days, the same tree is supplying them with nuts of some kind.