Day 7

Wed Apr 28, 2010 (Miercolas, morning)

Yesterday passed slowly and gently. Not much to report: it was a day at the beach, without the beach.

Alonzo lives alone here, but has a woman, Luz Elena, who cooks and cleans for him, and her husband takes care of the property. They, and their four girls, live in the downstairs portion of the house. Alonzo has kidney problems, and needs dialysis four times daily — he just had the machine brought here. I haven’t probed with too many personal questions, and since I can’t follow all of the rapid-fire Spanish, I miss a lot.

So yesterday morning Luz Elena made us breakfast of fresh arepas and farm-fresh eggs, with coffee. At some point in the day, I got into the pool and swam a bit, showering before and after. There is no heated water in the house. If you want hot water, you heat it on the stove. So showers are cold. It’s very refreshing, and it certainly solves the problem of people lingering in the shower and using up all the hot water. Not that this is a workable strategy in temperate climates.

Other than that, I spent the entire day playing with photographs. I’ll be posting some as soon as I get an Internet connection. The automatic adjustments on the camera are fantastic, but they wash out the pictures in this light. In particular, the electronics do not seem to be able to believe the shades of green, so they try to compensate. I’ve been able to adjust the pictures back to something closer to what we see, here.

My Spanish is improving daily. I keep learning more words, and my ability to parse streams of conversation into words is getting better. I still can’t follow a fast conversation, because I trip over words and expressions I simply do not know. But when people speak slowly and simply, I can usually follow them, and last night I even managed to tell a couple of jokes in Spanish. Vulgar humor translates the best: those conditions are universal. Political humor also does pretty well, so long as you know the politics. Word-humor doesn’t translate at all.

Last night was pretty ghastly for me, weather-wise. The humidity kept increasing, despite the intermittent rains, and all of the insects last night came out in vast hordes to hang out around the indoor lights — the night before, there had been bugs, but not that many. Despite the heat, Marta and I needed to cover up and tuck with the sheet, just so the little bastards didn’t tickle us to death. None of them were biters, thank goodness, or there’d be nothing left of us but bones this morning.

In the middle of the night, the heat finally broke, with long rolls of thunder and a fairly heavy rain. This morning dawned pleasantly cool and cloudy.

At the moment, Papito, Marta, and Nena are quietly conversing, the various songbirds are making jungle-sounds, the hens are clucking, the two roosters are announcing daylight, and one of the captive parrots keeps shouting “ele-NA! mar-TA!”

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