All that being stated and out of the open, it was nice to make a small change over the weekend. Friday night began Thursday with the usual "go to Picasso and listen to trivia" as I sit in my now-usual place at the bar. I get there late afternoon, and sip on auga tonica con limón, read on my Kindle, and watch the number of patrons grow. It's Trivia night. It's the night all the ex-pats come out and socialize, and TBH, drive the staff batty. Lady, it's a small kitchen, and there are fifty orders ahead of you, it's going to take awhile, mmmkay?
A couple sit at the bar next to me. I being my usual shy and retiring self, stick my ugly mug into their conversation and introduce myself and we all semi-play the trivia game. They are Harry and Wendy from the Twin Cities area of Minne-COLD-a in the good ol' USA. We chat awhile, agree to meet again on Friday, and we split.
Cue Friday. I return to Picasso, and station myself a bit before 5 at my usual spot. Bill (an ex-pat from Australia/UK/USA)and Dingo (his dog) show up and take his usual table. We chat over a Bucket o' Panamas for me and a couple singles of Balboa for him. He's off to dinner with a friend (and Dingo, natch, cuz Dingo goes everywhere), and I thought chances were good that I would be meeting Harry and Wendy, and maybe up to three others (John, Bruce and Amanda) as I had either directly invited them, or in John's case, if he was done with the golf tourney, I might hear something and he could join. Doing the math, I thought a bucket would be a good start.
Time flies, and Dingo and Bill leave, and I'm back in my spot at the bar, several beers down on the bucket and nobody has arrived. Not unexpected, to me. Plans are fluid, things change, and communication with new friends isn't always readily available. I order a Fuji roll of sushi and plan for a quiet night.
Just as my roll is about to arrive, Harry and Wendy roll in. Hold off on the sushi to coincide with their pizza. It's Harry's birthday, so we transition to celebrating in earnest. Several hours, many cocktails (them) a few more beers (me) and shots (all) later, we're the only ones left in the place. Glen, our server, invites us to join him, and the some of the other staff at a locals bar afterward.
What?! A local invite? Not just yes, but hell yes! I didn't get back to my place until close to 3 am, and we left early. Our table went through a couple of cases of beer, and an entire bottle of whiskey. Conversation was difficult because of (a) the volume of the music, and (b) only Harry, Wendy, Glen, and Bryan and I spoke any English. But, somehow I got the phone number of someone's tia in my phone who I had said I thought was cute. A tremendously fun, but blurry, night. I realized after the fact that I didn't get a photo with Harry and Wendy. I'm not pleased with myself about that.
Micah and Sam are building a spectacular compound that they intend to take mostly off the grid, with wind power. They've got a lovely house, veranda, and are building a observation deck, and casita tucked into the hillside above the pool. They were such gracious and generous hosts, and we spent hours and hours in the pool, on the veranda, on the observation deck, drinking beers and discussing...everything from what constitutes classic rock (apparently the genre include the 1990s now) to the neighbors, to dogs (theirs are Luna and Odin), to travel, to jui jitsu, to wildlife, to weather, to golf, to failures with Multi-Factor Authorization when out of the USA and they only want to continue to send texts to a cell number that doesn't work here and I can't access my account to change it to email. That last one might have just been me.
Another couple, Felix and his wife (sadly, I don't remember her name), showed up and we had a lovely dinner of smoked chicken, rice & beans & chorizo, and cabbage. Cabbage? you think. Yeah. it was seasoned, and wrapped in foil on the grill. It was amazeballs. Felix is the general contractor for the work Micah is having done. He's lived in the states in Ohio for a bit, so his English was great. His wife's English is on par with my Spanish, so we had difficulties talking. All good though.
Darkness has fallen and yeah, it's dark. It's also time for John and I to roll on down to the coast, and it's decided that I would drive at least to the highway. Why me? Good question. I'd quit drinking about four hours earlier, and was sober. John was not as sober. And, apparently, the police regularly set up checkpoints where every driver blows into a portable breathalizer, and if not a local, has to show a passport to prove they are not in the country illegally. Nothing really egregious, but that kind of stop that can elevate the cortisol levels for a gringo like me. Experts at the party put the odds at fifty-fifty that we would encounter one. The advice was to speak English, no Spanish, wear a mask and be stupid.
I can do that, I think, that's just being me! The chatter about coughing, repeating the word "Covid" and claiming to be on the way to the hospital I dismissed as hyperbole.
So, I, who haven't driven anything since October and haven't driven a stick shift for a couple of years, take the driver's seat in a VW manual transmission, diesel truck for the trip down. Did I mention the road is winding, steep and super-duper narrow? Yeah, and now it's dark. Each car we encounter has their brights on. Swell. The cat crossing the road, a few dogs thinking about it, and the number of people walking sort of along side the road all contributed to the "adventure" of the drive.
We must have timed it well enough so that the checkpoints and police presence had wrapped up. We did see a few police cars but they were moving off, apparently just finishing and leaving. Back at my apartment, I realized I had misplaced my mask somewhere between having it on my face leaving Micah's and starting the truck. It's either in the dirt outside the gate or somewhere in the truck. I'll get it later. Or not.
Micah and Sam have invited me to come again, and said we would take a side-by-side through the forest on 4x4 tracks. That sounds like a lovely adventure. Maybe I'll get to see the scorpions and snakes they were talking about.