Dec 24 Tuesday Christmas Eve
The 5 am alarm is for me alone today, a trade off for the gift of sleep while Harry worked half the night. So it’s:
Feed the dogs,
Feed the pigs,
Start the fire to make the coffee.
Go down the hill to the main road to find Pasquale and assistant already waiting for me, as arranged (at time+1/2 holiday pay) to install the meter box. Sadly for Harry they need something we didn’t get so he has to get up after 3 short hours of sleep to get one from a neighbour.
9:00 or 10:00a.m. the Coopeguanacaste inspectors arrive. Because of language, Harry is always on the front line with important interactions like this. Apparently the pole isn’t in a regulation spot even though it’s where the old pole was; where it’s protected from marauders. And even though no one told us there WAS a regulation spot when we got our instructions. Apparently they want it on the main road – where it is very likely to be marauded – for parts – for the metal – for drinks. Apparently they suggested we could donate even more infrastructure — really costly infrastructure — to resolve the issue. Harry replies that, “no, we’re not doing that. I’ll move the pole.” Of course the absurdity of such a thing is not lost on the inspector and he concedes that, well, if the large tree between their main service and our pole is cut down (thus clearing a path for the cable) they would approve our service.
That is, the tree on the neighbour’s property. A tree that belongs to the neighbour. So we buy the tree in order to be able to cut it down. (Thankfully this neighbour is an undying fan of Harry for all the times he’s helped this neighbour out.) But it’s not that easy to take down. Our other neighbour’s cable runs through it’s branches. So their electric service would need to be temporarily disconnected before the tree comes down. We go back up the hill to speak to our other neighbour who kindly agrees to let us do that.
We go find Pasquale at his home, enjoying the holiday with his family, to see if he would be willing to do the disconnection for us. He insists we get permission from Coopeguanacaste, since it’s their service.
And we can’t find our guy who cuts down trees for us because he’s out fishing.
Now it’s the end of the day and we still have animals and ourselves to feed.
And we pass out to the sounds of very happy kids next door disintegrating with excitement about Christmas.
Dec 25 Wednesday Christmas
A day to ourselves. For us, our Christmas present this year is just being in the same place together.
It’s a day off from running around. I get to stop and see all the things I’m excited to get done here, once I’m not dealing with an electricity crisis. There are gardens to be refurbished. The compost to be started (again). The lovely pig poo to be collected and transformed into delicious plant food. The earthen terraces to be dug and prepared for our soil reclamation project. The dogs to be cleaned and de-flea-ed. The pigs to be bred. The pig palace to be repaired. The grass to be cut. The tool shed to be built, the cabin to be reclaimed, the …
<“Turn away, don’t look. Not yet. You only have to wait a few more days, and then you can start with all you’ve been waiting to do these past months.”>
Living without electricity is trippy. It’s such a throwback to a time I never knew personally but read about in books I used to read. Yet I never remembered those books ever expressing the really magical aspect of this kind of life.
It’s marvellously peaceful. The natural gorgeousness of the place rushes in to fill our very selves. It’s a day to gaze. To look and listen and say “hell, it’s nice here”. If it weren’t for the water problem, I might choose to live like this. Once things are this simple and there are no electronic distractions of any kind, life displays its treasure. I wish I could put into words the sense of release that comes of having very very little to worry about outside what’s in front of you. No wonder dogs are so freaking happy.
The absence of electrically produced audio is a treat. No humming, beating, buzzing electricity to dim the natural soundscape of the pulsing life that is the jungle. The sound of nature is all the more vivid. Birds, wind, insects, monkeys, dogs, pigs, water, neighbours.
There are stars. Who needs diamonds, baby, when we’ve got the stars.
There’s the magical charm of candlelight. And firelight. It was as if we were suspended in a kinescope of flickering yellow light – the night just an arms length away – enveloped in it’s yellowy warmth. (not that it’s cold here, it’s more of a warmth of an unnameable satisfaction.) Humility mingles with transcendent pleasure at being alive.