Previously on 'Kotter,'

December 12, 2005, 5:25 PM:


I apologize for being inconsistent; that is my lot. Today my sweetie left for the states. A sad day. Difficult to toss out words that succeed in telling the world just how much fun Heather and I had together, and how special of a woman she is... naturally and with no pretense. I dub her officially a "Normal" person, if there ever was one, then she'd be it. The worst moment was getting stuck in the mud, in the dark for the final three kilometer descent down from Cerro Chirripo, Costa Rica's largest mountain at 12,500' and change. Heather's first mountain climbing experience, and my first experience with a female who can hold her own and then some. We both got a little bitchy, which was understandable considering the total climb took us two days through four distinctly different climates, a vertical gain totalling 7'000', and a predictably muddy & buggy trail totalling somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 kilometers (Costa Ricans are not exactly known for their accuracy). The best for Heather was watching 300 KG, 3.5'Wx4.5'L (HUGE) Leatherback turtles nesting. The best for me was watching Heather catch her first official wave without assistance. I will hopefully be working in earnest to get my shit together and start writing so I can get the f home. I'm done with Central America, done with the language barrier, done with the pushy beggars who don't take kindly to the word no then throw bags of confetti at the bag of my head because I won't support their crack habit. Done with the aggressive ones who see dollar signs for eyes, spare change for my soul.


The plan is to head into Panama soon, do the tourist thing, buy a hat or two, and research putting me, Ruby, and the car on board a boat and ship us all to Ecuador. There is no road connecting Columbia and Panama, what is known as the Darien Gap. A true no man's land and very dangerous. If I cannot find a ship that will accommodate the three of us for a fair, affordable price, I will turn around and slowly work my way back. There is a possibility of selling my car here in Costa Rica for a profit on the black market (import taxes for autos are incredibly expensive), liquidate the rest, ship some stuff home, and fly to Ecuador, buy a cheap diesel, and head South. Doubtful,... but if the price is right...?...


Thanks again for everybody's support, especially Heather. The unconditional love and support of my family and friends is at times overwhelming. I've realized that there is no fault. I have not changed who I am, only how I react to abusive people. It's a slow process for me. A friend once told me that when I was a kid, my response was equal to the hurt. Today as an adult, my response is more than the hurt. For me, therein lies the problem. A crack head who throws confetti at the back of my head because I won't support his crack habit is... a crack head. My anger won't change him wanting to eat garbage, grub change, and be a jackass just for one more jag.


Soon things'll change.


December 17, 2005, 6:26 PM:


So, here I sit, finally writing. Walking a little of the walk. Doing what I set out to do. Therapy for the soul. If anyone needs a rest from the world around it's me. I visited places here in Puerto Viejo and Tamarindo that bring back painful memories. I am in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, the place I've spent more time than in than any other. I first came here close to thirteen years ago to learn to surf. I keep coming back. I brought my newlywed wife here because I didn't know what else to do. It's a beautiful enough place. It's the memory of the frogs I caught and photographed that keeps drawing me back. And the mango milkshakes (en espanol se llama batidos de mango y leche o helado). I went to the local "meeting" on Friday, told my story, and was offered free laundry from a woman, and a place to stay in a vacant rental cabin directly on the beach, away from the hustle and bustle. So tomorrow morning, I will be packing up and hunkering down in a slightly musty place with internet, cable tv, fully furnished kitchen... all for a little understanding, compassion, shared painful yet liberating story. And I helped them move some big pieces of furniture, so there's that. Manly man to the rescue! "Yeah, 120, 220, whatever it takes. Just give 'er a quick jerk n' she'll come. That's right, keep yankin' on 'er."


I do miss home. And all the friends who come here from time to time, wondering what's up with John boy. I'm doing okay. I'm going to be alright. God willing, I'll have a manuscript ready for slutting myself to the publishing world, then the requisite very large advance check, then the sports cars, relapse, and,... wrapping myself around a telephone pole less than 500 yards from my new mansion. Ah, the american dream. For real, if anything good happens with this book writing is therapy endeavor, I'll most likely build a nice investment property on the property I still have in my grubby pocket, and fly to the next surf destination. It has been fun though. Definitely been a lot of fun. I'll be hunkered down in the cabina until it gets rented, then definitely on to Pavones on the Pacific side, where a truly phenomenal left point break is just waiting to stoke my fire. I foresee me staying there for a spell, as long as the crack / drug vibe isn't too overwhelming, f'ing crackheads.


December 19, 2005, 9:51 AM:


I'm sitting in a small cabina on the beach. The first full day in this very special place they call Playa Negra (Black Beach), just 1 kilometer North of the Puerto Viejo de Talamanca town proper. Not much to report, except that the sun is shining, the surf is up (there's actually a small, decent beachbreak right in front of the cabina), and I'm desperately trying to turn the damn TV off. It's compelling to watch Bush trip over his own tongue though. Explaining WMD's, his biggest mistake (still don't quite understand his worst mistake - "not pursuing the Axis of Evil more vigorously"), and trying not to look like a small monkey.


But I keep telling myself I'm apolitical. My stance is to flush (if I were king, and on the 20% who survive list) 80% of the world's population, press the reset button; start over as an agrarian community.


December 27, 2005, 8:22 PM:


After so many days in a stupored TV haze, I woke up and decided it was time to travel some. So I drove across the country (again), and spent last night in San Isidro, in the same hotel that Heather and I stayed in while the clutch was getting fixed. The following day, I spent three hours running around trying to find rear shock absorbers for the car (struck out). I'll try in Panama City for a fit, if not,..., pops, the kind, good - hearted dad will make a call to Les Schwab, and overnight the parts to wherever I am (doh!).


I'm on the Pacific coast now, in a small room with no TV for fksake, and feeling a little better now that I'm a short walk away from one of the best / longest / peel-iest / throatiest / left point breaks in the world. Now's all that has to happen is for some power greater than myself to flip the switch. The price is right at this place, they have no issues with Ruby staying in the room with me, and it is quiet. Except for the bugs. And the screaming child a few minutes back. But other than that, can't really complain. Actually I can, just choosing not to. Except for the kid. The bugs are a nice background buffer. I mean, people actually pay hundreds of dollars to buy machines that produce nighttime bug noises to lull them to sleep. I actually spent thousands, drove like a maniac over seven thousand miles, fried my clutch (700 dollarinos - doh!), blew my shocks, and I even get them in bed with me if I'm really lucky. If it's an especially good night, I'll have various attempted feeding / nesting sites on my body when I wake up! Woo hoo.


December 30, 2005, 2:30 PM:


Apparently it is off season here in Pavones, Costa Rica, which means that the South swells are not here, therefore the juicy point break is nothing more than a small trickle. Punta Banca, about six clicks (kilometers) South toward the Panamanian border, is a very nice beach / reef break that has very constistent easy head high surf most of the time. I've surfed the last two days now and have successfully bagged the longest waves of the day (at least when I've been there). Most people prefer the "potato chip" short boards, which definitely have their place, but you trade off turnability for long rides; I prefer the long ride. I've been using my "middling" board, what some call a speed egg, what others call a mini longboard, and still others refer to it as a big-boy short board. I'm of the latter group.


I finally finished my ipod case, one of the last remaining things to do on my pre-border crossing "to-do" list. All's I need to do now is make a nice flat sinnet style lanyard for the case so I can hang it close off the gear shift for easy access while I'm driving.



I've been reading a lot lately. I've got four books going, though I keep picking up Steinbeck's "Journal of a Novel," since I'm flagellating myself slowly into writing a... novel. During a period of around a year, Steinbeck warmed up to the notion of writing "East of Eden," by writing daily letters to his publisher and friend on the left hand side of a notebook that had been given to him. On the right hand side he wrote the first draft in a variety of pencil types. It's interesting that he's not just a little neurotic about pencil choice - he actually has developed a process he adheres to when he writes that crosses the line into obsession. So I don't feel bad. People who I've allowed inside my circle of trust have no doubt heard me wax on about the Dixon Ticonderoga #2, the pencil of my childhood, and the pencil of choice for millions of american teachers.


Steinbeck was an experimenter, always changing, trying new approaches, techniques, new ways of conveying the not-so-obvious. He used the letters to his publisher as a warm-up to the real task. so, in the spirit of doing whatever it takes to get this unwieldy weight off my mind, I will blog to purge the chaff that clogs my brain and keeps me from the elusive dragon's tail I've been attempting to chase ever since graduating from college with the english literature B.A. I've been using these past years to write - business proposal letters.


I still obsess over the ipod case. It is very good, but could always be better. I was up until two this morning putting the finishing touches on the case. I get very lost in knot tying. I refrain from the term "marlinspikemanship," because I always have to explain the term, and then someone inevitably compares it with macrame, which just makes me cringe. I've shown the stuff I tie to people, and they still tell me about the hemp plant pot hanger with the big, brown, wood beads that their mother made in the seventies and is still surviving by a thread off their parents back porch. It's no use.


Everyday, without fail, Ruby has an afternoon nap that involves the standard dog dream, replete with whimpers, barks, tail wags, more than a few twitches, and the occasional room clearing fart that sometimes wakes her up with a start. She loves going to the beach, and has embraced the concept of fetching sticks in the surf, though there are limits. Small to medium sized waves she jumps over without hesitation, but anything seven to ten head high (if you were to stack dog heads vertically), she balks at, and the mystery of the destination of the stick ensues.


I will be here through the first of the year; Monday there is supposed to be a smallish South swell showing up, so I will wait for that. If nothing produces, then I'm off down the road and into Panama. Tomorrow night is New Years Eve. It is also my seven years of sobriety birthday. My abstinence from all mind & mood altering substances has become a subtle part of my life these days. I don't feel compelled to wear "the badge" in conversation with new acquaintances. It doesn't lead my thought process. Today it is a part of my life that just is, which feels good. Like an old, comfortable pair of shoes. And besides, the beer sucks here, the dope is skanky, downtown-brown, Mexi / Columbian sativa brick weed, and the crack tastes like battery acid.





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