Those close friends are sure there when you need them

Costa Rica has many groups and organizations one can join. I know there are a variety of interest groups for Costa Ricans and expats who speak Spanish, some mainly for English-speaking members and others that include both.

I am lucky to belong to a great group of women. It is a very small group – five members. We used to be six, but Judith moved back to the States to be with her family (read grandchildren) after she retired. Now we are two Gringas from the States and three Ticas. Sandy and I are the Gringas. She, Silvia and Tania live in Escazú, Anabel lives on the east side of town. I, of course am smack in the middle and am lucky because Anabel always gives me a ride.

We have dubbed our little group Perros Calientes because years ago when Anabel, Sandy and I were enjoying an elegant lunch at Le Chandelier, we all admitted that besides French food, we also loved a really good hot dog. Tania and Silvia, fellow hot dog lovers, who, like Anabel are bilingual, joined our ranks, and we began meeting once a month to enjoy hot dogs and home cooked Southern baked beans and all the trimmings. Our hostess is always Sandy partly because she makes the best recipe for beans and hot dogs and has an ample dining room with a view. We all contribute a dish or drinks, and once a year we have a Thanksgiving lunch to give thanks for our friendship. Sandy also can make a southern style Thanksgiving that is worth waiting a year for.

Our conversations are as satisfying as our menus. They cover everything from a few choice jokes to critiquing the latest movies to politics. I am always surprised at how much about U.S. politics our Tica contingency knows. (I recently heard an interview with a Republican voter living in Michigan who wasn’t sure where Mitt Romney has been living the past 20 or so years.

Most of what I know about Costa Rican politics is what I read in A.M. Costa Rica. I have periodically subscribed to the weekend editions of La Nación, but too often someone would make off with my Sunday paper before I got to it, so I gave up.

We all don’t agree politically, but we do agree that the decision of President Chinchilla and Guatemalan President Pérez to pursue a dialogue on the legal status of marijuana is brave and wise in the face of the resistance of the United States to any thought of legalizing the plant. They are facing a powerful opponent, and that is probably why people in other countries know more about American politics than many of
the voters in the States do. Politics fascinate me, and only in the United States does the contest to become leader last for so long and, therefore, offer so many opportunities for pitfalls, or pratfalls and recovery.

But back to Perros Calientes. I haven’t been well lately, and just as we were leaving after our Thanksgiving lunch barely before the afternoon traffic would get really bad, I had a light headed spell before I got in the car and had to sit for a bit to recover my equilibrium. Everyone was solicitous and patient and brought me water. When Anabel and I got to Sabana, we faced horrific traffic, and I realized that I had detained us long enough to make it very difficult for her to return to work in due time. She never once complained. When we arrived at my apartment, I was about to get out of the car when Silvia suddenly appeared at the passenger door. I was stunned.

“What are you doing here?” I asked.

“We followed you to make sure you got home okay,” she replied, and helped me out of the car to my door. Later I learned (only by asking) that it took Anabel two hours to get across town. Silvia and Tania had to go back to Escazú. I felt terrible and wrote to all three to apologize. Not a word of complaint from anyone, just concern about how I was feeling. I can’t honestly say that I would be as gracious. I am not a Tica yet (to paraphrase Annie Oakley), but I am hoping that my Perros Calientes friends continue to have a good influence on me.

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