Oh, Brother.

As I’ve noted in previous postings, my sister Diana visited Angela and me in February. This was part of our campaign to attract people to our house by offering guests the comforts of a youth hostel, only with fewer drunk Australians and less athlete’s foot in the shower. Di specifically came here to pick coffee, but I daresay she got a great deal more fun out of Costa Rica than mere coffee picking can provide.
For example, she got to experience a time-honored tradition here called “wachiman,” which is the name that they give to the guys that guard your cars when you park them on the street. Generally, the wachimen are either drunks or annoying assholes, but sometimes you get one who breaks the mold and is an annoying drunken asshole. I only met one wachiman who I didn’t detest. He was a very cordial guy who had the wachiman beat on the south side of the block between the park and the Perimercados grocery store. He always wore his reflective vest, he always actually watched your car, and he always helped you park or un-park your car. Best of all, he didn’t reek of booze, so you could at least feel like you were paying him for a service, albeit rather pointless, instead of paying him off to not mess with your car while you’re inside the store.

But alas, my favorite wachiman apparently isn’t working anymore. It seems that he has been consumed by the streets, and in his void a power vacuum has appeared. So, one day we (Angela, Di, and I) went inside the municipality building, and as we locked up the car, my least favorite wachiman in the world appeared out of nowhere and boozily mentioned that he’d keep an eye on the car. Sure, thanks a lot, asshole.

Flash forward about twenty minutes, and we’re coming back out. Drunk wachiman number one has been replaced by drunk wachiman number two. But then drunk wachiman number one notices what’s happening, breaks off his conversation with three or four other drunk wachimen, and comes running over. Both number one and number two would now like a few coins for their good efforts, seeing as the car’s still safe, and miraculously hasn’t fallen victim to a random theft at noon on the busiest street in town.

Have you ever seen one drunk bum hit another drunk bum? Well, we have, and it’s not nearly as interesting as you might think it would be.

Sorry, I’m getting really off track here. I should be talking about my sister’s visit, and here I am bum-rushing you with a tangent (almost literally). In any case, it was nice for Di to visit, although I’m sure it was really boring for her much of the time. In fact, in her eyes, the bum hitting the other bum may actually have been the highlight of her trip. Who knows. She also certainly got in her Costa Rican Bureaucratic Bullshit Highlights Tour, since we were trying to finalize our house construction permits. And finally, she picked coffee. And she liked it a lot. I did, too. I had never actually picked coffee, either. I found it to be quite interesting, at least if you’re packing an ipod in your burlap sack. If not, it can be a very, very dull and very, very repetitive experience. It did give me much more respect for the workers who pick coffee year in and year out, and make a living on incredibly meager wages.

But hey! What is this, Amnesty International? Let’s have some pictures!

This is Di.

Di and I picking coffee. Notice the deep admiration in her eyes as she watches her older brother show her the ropes of coffee picking.

While Di was here, we visited Poás volacno. Here is Angela in front of the steaming volcano.

Me and my now-niece Yoselin, who helped us pick coffee.

Di with Maikol and Yoselin. You can’t see it too well, but the text at the bottom of Maikol’s shirt reads: “Happy on a wonderful reset kids trail.” I love shirts like that.

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