As I drove Heidi back to my home in San Diego, I didn’t feel sad for leaving my Dad behind. My Dad is with a loved one (and a firecracker at that) who will take care of him. Knowing my Aunt J, she’s one woman who knows how to liven up a household. I can always visit them every weekend. But I was more worried about the pup that now lay sleeping beside me. What shall I ever do with this dog? Heidi might not be a match for a man who leads a nomadic life. Where shall I put her when I’m away? I can’t just leave her. And just when the thought of travelling crossed my mind, I saw the dog stir and bark at me. She was lying on a bunch of maps of Central America. At the top was a map for Costa Rica. It had been eight years since I last was there and I was planning to visit its beaches for old time’s sake. It was then that I discovered the dog’s penchant for eating paper. She had begun to rip the map to shreds. Then it came to me, maybe I can bring her to Costa Rica with me. Everything soon clicked. And as it turned out, it’s one decision I never regretted. That was how it all started.
Heidi is a twelve year old German shepherd who became my house companion in Costa Rica. As a pup, I initially meant to give her to my Dad upon my mother’s passing. I had hoped Heidi would keep my father company when I was away. But at that exact time, my spinster aunt took it upon herself to transplant herself to Fallbrook and live with my Dad. A move that was unanimously welcomed by everyone. I had this mental image of my Dad and her sister having a quiet life with Heidi. But as soon as I introduced the adorable puppy to my Dad and aunt, I began to feel the old woman’s unease. She told me that she’s not comfortable having a dog in the house. As my Dad later pointed out, she was almost mauled by a neighborhood dog when she was still a kid and had traumatized her. If I continue to push for the dog to stay, she said in a rather shrill voice, she will leave. So there and then, I knew that Heidi will be with me for the long haul.
Fiestas de Palmares is celebrated on the first two weeks of January in Palmares de Alajuela. Concerts with music, rodeos (even bullfighting) and firework displays are held. There is also a fairground and sporting competitions. I for one go with friends just to see the horses and the rodeo. Somehow, this is like a continuation of the holiday season. So I guess, it extends the festive air in that area of Costa Rica. It can be an exhausting affair. The lantern parade and the Palmarin Soccer Cup (which we weren’t able to watch unfortunately) put you out of the holiday spirit with a bang.
I started the morning with a surprise waiting for me at breakfast. An old female friend who has her own dairy farm in Mexico sent me a care package that included something I have missed for years. Jars of carefully packed cajetas! To those unfamiliar with the Mexican delicacy, it is dulce de leche made from goat’s milk. Unlike the regular dulce de leche, it has a certain kick to it. Cajeta is to Mexico what Nutella is to the French. This makes me so happy. Muchas gracias, my dear friend.