SATURDAY MORNING ERRAND

About 45 minutes up the road from us is the Hotel Punta Islita. Although it is a large luxury resort, which is usually not my style, there is much about it that I love. It seems that normally when a big resort comes to town, the area surrounding it becomes so gentrified that it loses its cultural identity. The founders of Hotel Punta Islita took that into consideration when setting up their resort. They brought in artists from San Jose to teach art to the locals, who then decorated their small town center, with magical results. Upscale for sure, the compound was created with a nod to local flavor, and I find its rustic elegance very welcoming.

It is also quite handy for us that to attract tourists, Hotel Punta Islita had to build an airstrip nearby because luxury resort clientele prefer not to have their bones shaken up into a chiropractic nightmare on our horrendous roads. Once such an airstrip is in operation, by law anyone can use it. It came in handy for us last Saturday.

The book for the corporation that owns our land lives at our lawyer's office in San Jose. When it requires our signatures, our lawyer puts in on a Nature Air plane and it flies to Punta Islita, where we are waiting at the airport to sign it and stick it back on the plane to return it to San Jose. Accustomed to having take-out food from Hyannis flown over to Nantucket, this practice feels normal to us, but for those unfamiliar with the ways of living in a remote location, I guess it might seem a bit unusual.

We were ecstatic on our Saturday morning drive to the airport because they've just done a fine job of grading the roads as rainy season ends and tourist season begins. Our current president apparently thinks that travelers on the "coastal highway" (no kidding - that's what our rough, bumpy dirt track is called) deserve to travel at speeds over 15 mph. The previous administration was prone to "losing" money earmarked for road improvements. Sailing along at 30 mph with our little girls on a beautiful Saturday morning, we were grateful that our errand involved sharing the road with cows instead of hundreds of other cars.

Quite accustomed to delays, we weren't at all surprised to find that the flight was running late. At least the one building at the airport is a pleasant place to wait, although the bathroom was locked because old Santiago, who usually tends to such matters, was not around.

One advantage the girls have in growing up here is that they too have learned how to wait. When something does run as scheduled we rejoice, but most often we wait patiently because there is no other option.

We waited for about an hour before two couples from the hotel pulled up in their shuttle van. They'd been notified that the flight would arrive late so they had delayed their departure. One couple was from Belgium and the other couple was from L.A. The woman from L.A. asked where we had been staying and when we told her we live here, her eyebrows shot up. She then asked where we were flying to and when we told her we were just waiting for the book our lawyer sent for us to sign, her mouth dropped open. She was far from L.A.

At last the plane arrived and we walked out to meet it. The pilot handed us the envelope with our book in it, we signed it on the wing of the plane, re-sealed the envelope with the tape our lawyer had reminded us to bring, and handed it back to the pilot.

Leaving the airport, we marvelled at the new turnstyle leading into the barbed wire-enclosed parking area. A turnstyle seemed quite incongruous with the amount of pedestrian traffic at the Punta Islita airport. It then dawned on us that the turnstyle had been installed not to control the flow of crowds, but simply to keep the cows off the runway. In the past, we've had to circle before landing while the runway was cleared of horses. This was another handy thing for our mission. We were able to break up the momotony of waiting with a few spins on the new merry-go-round.

Pura vida.