JAVILLA SAMPLER


Lest you think last week's scenes from the charming little airport built by Punta Islita Resort are representative of the surrounding area, I thought I should offer you a more accurate depiction of Javilla, the pueblo closest to our house. Charming is a word one doesn't usually associate with Javilla. Perhaps the word fascinating paints a more realistic picture of Javilla, where curiosities abound.

A few years ago, Bolivar built this house for his son and his family. What house? Oh, the one whose roof is peeking out from behind the wheel-free dump truck. When the economy went down, the dump trucks Bolivar bought with money he made selling his land languished idly around his garage. Little by little, their wheels disappeared until finally only one of the four trucks had a full set of usable tires. While some neighborhoods are defined by the number of junk cars on display, not too many people around here own cars. Our neighborhood is accented with very large immobilized dump trucks. This one has been parked (Can you say it is parked when it has no tires?) directly in front of this house for at least a year and a half, precluding the need to buy curtains for privacy.

I always marvel when I see a regular 2-wheel drive car traveling on our roads. It is beyond my comprehension how a little sedan can make it over the mountains. Some months ago this was a small white car. Not long after it was spotted flying through Javilla at a high speed, it slid sideways into a deep drainage ditch. It looked like a piece of white bread in a toaster. The door on the driver's side was level with the road. It toasted for a few weeks and then Bolivar pulled it out with his backhoe, dragging the carcass to Chuminga's house. Bit by bit the car disappeared. Each time we drove by it got smaller, until this was all that was left of the little white car. Now the kids in the neighborhood use it for all their travels.

Here is the Pizza Tree. Built by three partners, it is now only Guido, fresh from Italy, tossing the dough along with his sidekick, Antonio. If Guido were a cartoon character, he'd be a bulldog. In the past I associated pizza with a quick meal, but here we use the word quick only when referring to certain insects and animals. The girls love to climb all the stairs to eat pizza in a tree and we always find Guido entertaining. One night there was a bold iguana hanging out on the stairs. We practically had to shove him out of the way so we could get up to the top. Halfway through our pizza, we looked up to see him lurking in the rafters above our heads, which the girls found quite amusing. The next time we went there, Layla looked all over the place for her scaly buddy, but I decided not to share with her what Guido told me when I inquired as to the whereabouts of the iguana. A few days after our encounter with the brazen lizard, he went one step too far. From his perch on the rafters overhead, Iggy swooped down and grabbed someone's pizza, so Guido shot him and ate him.

Here is Don Juan's tractor. It has a manual starter. Juan's sons grab the big treads on the back tires and set the thing in motion to get it going. A tractor is a very handy thing to have around here. It has pulled many a vehicle out of trouble and hauled a broad range of cargo. Here the trailer is filled with coconuts, but I don't know what Juan is planning to do with them. This is the tractor that saved the day when our roof tiles on the big truck from Nicaragua couldn't make it to our house.

In the middle of all this is Hotel Laguna Mar, adding a startling element of cosmopolitan flavor to the nitty gritty essence of Javilla. Drew, a developer from D.C., decided that people would love to experience the real Costa Rica from the comfort of a modern boutique hotel, so he plopped one down right next to Bolivar's dump trucks. It always cracks us up when we enjoy Pablo the chef's international cuisine in the center of "downtown" Javilla. You'd think we'd eat here quite a lot, but when the sun drops behind the mountains, we most often prefer our warm pool under the stars to anywhere else on the planet. We've always been homebodies, but now I think we can be classified as bona fide hermits.

From extremely normal South Hadley to upscale Nantucket to humble Javilla, I'd say we've now run the gamut on places to call home.