Ometepe turned out to be stunning – and of course it was, because my good buddy Joe said it would be! (I’m only surprised I didn’t skip it after he recommended it.) The island is formed from two volcanic cones, joined together with a narrow land bridge to form a figure-8. The waters along the island’s long sandy beaches, while murky brown, have the comfortable warmth of a tepid bath – even in the middle of the night – and offer stellar views of both volcanoes, albeit only in the daytime. Staying in a comfortable guest house at the edge of the barely-a-town of Sta. Cruz, with the beach just across the road, I got to soak in the warm waters of the lake while watching horses walk along the shore. I felt like I had found a tasty little morsel of paradise.
Last August and September I took a trip through that most gun-filled of all isthmuses, Central America. I spent a month zigzagging through its small but fascinating countries, starting my way in Costa Rica and working my way up all the way to Mexico. And I ate a whole lot of beans and rice.
Costa Rica underwhelmed me from the start, though I hesitate to speak too harshly of a country that is a global model for eco-tourism. I suspect that I simply wasn’t feeling the vibe, and my wallet wasn’t feeling the surprisingly steep food prices, both of which prevented me from sticking around. The capitol of San Jose was friendly, but not particularly scenic or interesting.
The Tunasan Rat Patrol (TRP) is a crack force of one human (Bloggerbels) and two dogs (Bop and Chichi) who work tirelessly to keep one house in the Tunasan District of Muntinlupa City… well, if not exactly rat-free, then at least within an acceptable rat limit.
On the evening of Sunday, January 8th, 2017, the human member of the Patrol returned home to the Rat Patrol HQ to discover that the shower drain had been forced open. Unfortunately, this is a typical way for rats to gain entry into the house. But even more unfortunately for the rats, the TRP was on duty that night, and its canine members (the Spotters) began following their noses, hot on the trail of the rodent intruder.
In the venerable spirit of using this blog as my notepad, I thought I should follow up my introspective, beret-wearing New Year’s post with a bloodlessly practical list of resolutions. Or if not practical, then at least bloodless!
This year, I half-heartedly resolve to:
Learn Mandarin: Mandarin is the language of the future, or so they say. I’ve never been one to focus too much on the “usefulness” of languages, having already poured significant energy into study such burgeoning international languages as Tagalog, Vietnamese, and Bahasa Indonesia. (The fact that they were pretty useful when I was living in their respective countries only slightly mitigates my sarcasm.) That said, falling in love with Taipei last year provided a powerful inspiration, and I’m excited to escape the tyranny of phonetic writing and delve into a whole other approach to the representation of verbal ideas. The whole language-of-the-future thing might be more compelling if I wasn’t planning to confuse the bejeesus out of myself by taking mainland-oriented online courses that use simplified characters before spending a month in traditional character-using Taiwan. If all else fails, at least I’ll get to eat a lot of stinky tofu.
Prognosis: Proper Chinese writing technique is out of the question when I can bypass all the niceties of stroke order using the massive cheat of Pinyin keyboarding software – What a time to be alive! I doubt I’ll learn to read too many characters, either, beyond the ones that regularly appear on restaurant menus. That said, I think I’ll at least be able to speak coherently enough for the locals to reply with suitable condescension. (Just kidding – Taiwanese people are lovely!)