club de vagos in Costa Rica

25 December 2005

It is Christmas day, it's 30oC, and my world is happily free of snow, the hubbub of North American Christmas foofera, and the province of Saskatchewan.

Last night, we all (the Fiery One, my parents-in-law, D, and our host) went to Milo and Lidieth's rancho, the Club de Vagos, for a Christmas Eve fiesta. It was primarily a family event, and the rancho was packed with babies, kids, parents, unmarried young people, and the elders. There was an ongoing supply of soups, rice, salsa, and gasolina.

Illario, Lidieth's brother and a restaurant owner, kept waxing dramatic about the loss of his dear girlfriend, Priscilla.

Priscilla the pig in Costa Rica
A few days ago, D and some other men showed up at Orchard del Sol with a live pig in the back of D's 4X4. One poor man had been relegated to the back of the vehicle to sit with the pig, which had been named Priscilla, and there was pig shit all over her hind end. Every time she shifted her weight, the shit was spread over more and more of the 4X4's back window and door. That poor man was sadly situated at Priscilla's ass end. When I stuck my head into the vehicle to give him a wave, his smile was weak at best through the haze of offal. So last night, it was Priscilla we ate, and Illario did all but sing of his affected mourning.

Other than two of the family members, we were the only decent english-speakers there. Our less-than-adequate spanish did not hold very well against the noise of forty other foreign voices and a karaoke machine, but we had fun nonetheless.

Milo serenaded us with a couple of love songs, and then the rest of the fiesta was made up of seemingly random outbursts of dancing to both english and spanish techno music, interludes of Alvin and Jason (two boys in their late teens) playing guitar and singing, the crooning of spanish ballads over the karaoke machine, and a mock orchestra comprised of the younger children and many earsplitting noisemakers.

The Fiery One finally gave in to social pressure and sang an english song, Wilson Pickett's "In the Midnight Hour". Everyone hooted and whistled and yelled ai-yai-yai and trilled their tongues. Someone had brought along an old bra and threw it on the Fiery One as a joke. After that, he was the popular one of us english speakers, and the girls from five to sixteen had him dancing with them in a circle and even let him show off in the center. I stayed away from that, because even the five-year-old could wiggle in ways that I don't think my hips were even built to do. Instead, I ended up shaking it as best I could with an extremely slimey man name Alex who wreaked of cologne and sweat disproportionately to the heat. God bless gasolina.

Smoking is fairly frowned upon here, so I snuck away a few times for a cigarette by the van. In the dark, I disappeared but for the orange end of my cigarette, and I watched the party as I could see it in its distant pocket of electric light.

fiesta from a distance in Costa Rica
I was so separate, english in the dark, yet so welcomed, and for a few moments, I was natural in my own skin. The side of the van pressed a coolness through my cotton shirt and the smoke from my cigarette floated obliquely against twin clouds in the bright night sky.

Afterward, when we had arrived back at Orchard del Sol, the Fiery One and I sat on a bench marked the "Bench of Dreams" and comforted King, the farm's german shepherd, who was made nervous by the sound of distant fireworks. Toads hopped up to the edge of the pool and caught insects with their tongues. We drank warm Imperial beer and nuzzled each other in between scratching Gordita and King behind the ears while a woodpecker beat a round staccato on a coconut.

"Spanish Dancer" by Rainer Maria Rilke

Oh, Dear, I Was Not Going to Spend Any More Time Mooning About Here Than I Already Have, But Hey, It's My Prerogative, and There Is an Outside Chance That You Have Free Will

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