Finally made it to the island

If you followed my original blog posts you know I came down to Costa Rica for a visit awhile back and ended up under house arrest when I returned to Alabama.

It was all a big misunderstanding about Liberia and Ebola. It seems a certain relative of mine got confused when she (you know who you are) heard me say I was flying out of Liberia. In case you didn’t know, Liberia is an airport and city down here in Costa Rica but it’s also a country in Africa. That’s where they had a big Ebola outbreak awhile back and me and my buddy ended up quarantined in my house because the local authorities thought I had been in Africa but I had really been on the island of Costa Rica.

It took awhile to get everything straightened out because things got mixed up to a fareyouwell because of that misunderstanding.  I had trouble selling all my stuff before moving down because of the Ebola scare and that kinda delayed me in gettin’ down here.

I’ve been on the island for about six months now and am finally getting settled in, although I ended up deciding against living on the beach because of the little crabs running everywhere around the house I had first rented. They were on the floor, in the curtains and on the shelvescrabs. Those little suckers were everywhere, like cockroaches. Sometimes, I’d take a stick of butter out of the fridge and chase them with it. Boy did that make them run!  The crabs really cut into my sex life, let me tell you. I’d meet a woman at the local bar and invite her over to my place for a drink. Everything went smoothly to that point then I’d tell her, “I have to warn you. I have crabs and they’re all over my house.” The next thing you know I’d be sitting in the bar alone and she’d be catching a taxi.

I finally did find $1 beer here. The secret is $1 beer comes in a smaller glass. There are some local brands here but sometimes the store has imports from America and other countries further away that are cheaper than the local beer. Go figure.

I settled in a cozy little community in what they call the Central Valley. I’m not sure why because I haven’t found any other valleys on the island. I guess they couldn’t call it the Big Valley because that might remind folks of the old American TV Western. Anyway, I live close to a Walmart so life is good. I was kinda surprised its called Walmart in Costa Rican. I expected it to be Walmartaria or something in Costa Ringlish.

As you may have noticed, I am quickly picking up Costa Rican. Mostly words for now, but it’s a start. The secret is to add “o,” “omos,” “ado,” “dad,” or “ria” to the end of an American word. It doesn’t always work, but most of the time it does.Like electricity is called electricidad here. When I have to pay my electric bill I just go up to the cashier and mouth the sound of electricity, like “zzzzzt!” and she understands. I can order foodo and beerado that way, so that’s really all I need.

Oh, did you know Americans sometimes confuse Costa Rica with the other island, Puerto Rico?  I know, right?  It’s easy to do.  People from Puerto Rico are called Puerto Ricans but people from Costa Rica are not called Costa Ricos. I have no idea why not. Sometimes I catch myself saying Costa Rico.

There’s a saying here among Americans that Costa Rica is the home of the wanted and unwanted. I’m still trying to figure out where I fall in that.  I’m also trying to find out why we are called Ex-Pats because we all couldn’t have once been married to Pat.

As you know it’s November and that means turkey time but I found out they don’t have Thanksgiving here.  They also don’t have a July 4th but they do have Halloween, except they apparently don’t let the kids go out trick or treating because none of them came to my door on Halloween night. I ended up eating all the candy I bought for the trick or treaters. Oh, that’s another thing I discovered: chocolate grows on trees here. I’m not kidding. Chocolate comes from chocolate trees in the form of seeds. In my book that makes chocolate a fruit and my maw always told me to eat lots of fruit.

Until next time, this is Billy Joe Hunter signing off from Costa Rico.  Oops, I did it again.

 

Posted in Central America, Costa Rica, Expat, Humor, Travel | Leave a comment

Under house arrest after leaving Costa Rica or Never tell them you’re flying out of the Liberia Airport

This is Billy Joe finally checking in from home in Alabama. Sorry it’s been awhile but we flew back to America from Costa Rica and drove back to my house outside Mobile some time ago.

Sounds simple, right?  Wrong.

Apparently one of my relatives who reads my blog (you know who you are) mentioned to a friend that me and Chester were flying home from the Liberia Airport.  To make a long story short, the friend’s husband works at the county public health department and he only got the “Liberia” part.  He told his bosses and that really screwed things up to a fareuwell.

When Chester and I flew into the airport in Atlanta, we got through customs just fine. No problema, as they say in the Costa Rican language.  We got our car and made the long drive home to down near Mobile, Alabama. When I rounded the corner to my house a sheriff’s deputy was sitting out front talking on the phone. When I slowed down and pulled into my driveway he jumped into action. I’ll try to describe this next part in detail because I still can’t believe it.

The deputy turned on his overhead red lights and did a quick siren just to get everyone’s attention, I guess. He sure got Chester and mine with his next move. He jumped out of his car and pulled his revolver. Then he walked toward us but stopped at about 15 yards.

“Get out of the car, NOW!” he said, pointing his gun at us. We were ordered to collect our things and walk single file to the front door.

“Fred, it’s me Billy Joe, your cousin. What in tarnation do you think you’re doing?” I asked as I turned toward the deputy.  It was then I could see the fear in his eyes.

“Don’t take another step closer, Billy Joe. You and Chester march yourselves into the house. You’re in quarantine.”

As we stepped onto the porch, I saw some sort of health notice taped to the door. I couldn’t read it too well in the dark, but I saw the word “QUARANTINE” in all capital letters.  I noticed my cousin, the deputy, didn’t follow us onto the front porch but stood in the yard, pointing his gun at us.

“By order of the county health department and Sheriff Sid Welch, you two are to stay in this house for a maximum period of 45 days as a result of your visit to Africa,” my cousin said.

By now, a crowd of neighbors was gathering on street and they were all pointing at us and talking. They didn’t seem none too happy about things.  Chester and me looked at each other and then look at the crowd and decide we’d better get inside before things got any worse. I hadn’t seen my neighbors this upset since someone ran over neighbor Harelson’s coon dog.

When we got inside, I turned on the lights and had sooner sat down than the phone rang.  I answered it and it was Sheriff Welch himself on the other end.

“I’m calling you from the mobile command post around the corner,” he said.  “You and Chester are now in quarantine. For the next 45 days, you are not to leave the house for any reason. Groceries will be brought to you and left on the front porch.”

I asked the sheriff what the quarantine was for and he told the same thing Fred said — that we had been to Africa and visited a known ebola hotspot, namely Liberia.

I protested and tried to tell the sheriff we didn’t fly out of any airport in Africa but he thought I was not telling him the whole story.

“You made the mistake of telling a relative you were flying home from Liberia so don’t try to lie you way out of this,” he said.

“No, really. We just arrived home Costa Rica. We didn’t go to Africa.”

“What airport did you fly out of?” he asked.

“The Liberia Airport, ” I said, “but –”

“See, I knew it. You admit you flew home from Liberia.”

Yes, but, no, wait!” Now I was getting confused. “The Liberia Airport is in Costa Rica.”

“Sure it is,” the sheriff replied. Like they would name an airport in Costa Rica after the name of a foreign country. How stupid do you think I am?”  I wasn’t about to answer that question.

Apparently the sheriff had called the airline at the airport in Atlanta  to confirm we were passengers on a flight from the Liberia airport.

Some TV news trucks pulled up in front of our house after that and it got kind of weird.  Their reporters stood on the sidewalk with their backs to the house and talked to the cameras that were pointed at them. Every once in a while, they’d sorta turn and point toward my house. After that, there was a steady stream of slow-moving cars and trucks driving up on down my street. Apparently word got around our community fast.

I wanted to get on the Internet and look up Liberia but my Internet connection wasn’t working. It stayed like that for days, and then weeks. I called a bunch of times to have a guy come out and fix it but you try ordering something from “the ebola house” and see how long it takes for a repairman to show up.

And that’s why it’s been so long since I checked in.   That and I almost died of boredom being cooped up with Chester.  He’s OK for a vacation  tag-along but add another six weeks on top of that and we’re talking some serious boredom.  I mean, how many games of charades can we play?

Being cooped up makes me yearn for Costa Rica. I’ve decided to start selling my stuff as soon as the quarantine is lifted. That is if anybody will even want to buy stuff from the “ebola house.”

Posted in Costa Rica, Humor, Travel | Tagged , | 2 Comments