BOB CORBETT'S TRAVEL JOURNAL -- 2005

Costa Rica 36 -- November 4, 2005
Saving the horses and settling into routine

By Bob Corbett

Folks,

Back in St. Louis I have a fairly settled routine. Iím up very early, and in decent weather I do my exercise either by walking or biking or some combination of the two and normally finish that by 10 - 11 AM. Then I hibernate. I cook, work on the computer, read, watch soccer when itís available.

When I came here I was, of course, AWED by the uniqueness and stunningness of such things as the rainforests and beaches, and the exotic animals. Thus I ran about more than usual and such. But when I came back here to Quepos my world settled into a lovely routine, much like home.

Iím up very early, on the early bus to the mountain top, walk down the mountain, the road that twists and turns in the rainforest and terminates at the beach. Then I walk the beach as far as the tide and rocks allow, catch the bus home, and stay in most of the rest of the day. I do eat my main meal out since I donít have a kitchen (I can't wait to start cooking again at home and will be adding new dishes to my diet), and I have to come to one of the three internet places in town to do an hour or so a day on-line.

However, the routine is about to be broken. I just purchased my ticket for Sunday morning, 6 AM bus to San Jose. Monday Iíll head to the airport to meet my son, Brian and his friend Adam, and journey wherever they want for the last week I have here. My oh my, this has been a lovely time.

Today I saved the horses!!!! When I walk down the mountain, and get just at the bottom of the hill (and where all of a sudden it gets extremely humid) there is, on the left side of the road, a RANCH. Ranchero such and such is the name, canít recall. It looks like it belongs in Arizona. Horses, pigs and chickens all in behind the barbed wire fencing. The man of the house gives horse tours into the rain forest. (It is fairly clear this is not Arizona, however, since his ďrancheroĒ is in the edge of the deep forest and in a place where the howler monkeys do hang out a lot and thus they are always screaming.

Today I walked past the gate, and began the short up hill stretch, before dropping down into Manuel Antonio proper and the beach. And out of the forest onto the road came three horses. At this point this is a very dangerous road.

I dread this last 100 yards or so. It is right at the bottom of a steep mountain road, and sharp double S curve. I always walk as close to the forest side as I can get, since at 6:30 AM fewer cars are coming OUT of Manuel Antonio, than morning tourists going in.

The horses had somehow gotten out of their barb wire fence pasture and were at the edge of the road munching the grass there. Any car coming round the bend would have hit them.

Iíve ridden horses some as a kid out at some amusement park south of St. Louis in the hills overlooking the Mississippi, and often in Haiti, riding horses, mules and donkeys. But, I am still afraid of horses and donít have any idea how to handle them. So I hurried to the gate, went in and hurried up to the little shack. The man was sitting on his porch in shorts, shirtless and having coffee. Iím wracking my brain for a word in Spanish that might mean horse, thinking back to the Lone Ranger on radio and all, but nothing comes. I say: Some horses are on the road (in English), he hasn't a clue what I'm saying. I see another horse in the back of the house and I point and shout camino -- at least I got that, and he gets it quick. We go racing to the road, and he gets the horses safely inside, then he points waves me with him and we race to the woods. He finds the open gate, closes it, and then begin the 2000 ďMUY GRATIASĒ I got and his wife and him wanted me to have coffee and sit and Iím hugged and lots is said, nothing but MUY GRATIAS do I understand, yet I get it all in spirit. They are happy with me!!!!

But, I am not ready for coffee. That comes after 3 more miles of walking on the beach, and sitting at a nice cafe with my book, so I beg off, saying me camio, which means something close to, Iím going walking, and hurry off to much waving and, guess what, some more MUY GRATIAS es.

1 1/2 hours later I was writing my 10th book review at the coffee shop, just having finished a simply beautiful book called The Worlds Within Her, a novel set in the southern Caribbean, an unnamed island that was once a British possession. Never could figure out which island it was, maybe Grenada.

After lunch I will begin a new book and Iím very excited about it. It is a set of essays, about 10 or more of them, all by the same author, a woman. It is called something like Essays on Solitude. It looks interesting. Solitude is a very relative thing. Iím quite interested in the concept of solitude, but especially in the computer age. What is it to live in (in some senses) lots of solitude, but, as I do, in a world enriched by some hours on the computer and e-mail every day? Yet much of my day is spent much like a hermit OTHERWISE. Iíll be curious to see if the author deals with that issue, or if what she does have to say is consistent with that notion.

Iíll be interested in her take on the relationship between solitude and choice. Some of us are often in relative solitude by choice, and others not by choice. To what extent does the latter situation create loneliness? Solitude by choice, at least in my experience, doesnít seem to create loneliness.

In any case, Iím very excited about this new book. Iím hoping it will live up to my expectations and challenge me a good deal.

Now, first, off to spurge today, on a decent bottle of wine -- to accompany me into my world of solitude with the book!!!! And I do have just a speck of rum left too....

Bob Corbett

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