Tuesday, March 28, 2006

More Thoughts

It's 8:48 pm, and I have an essay that I need to finish before I go to bed. It's 7 pages long, and I haven't started it yet. At times like this, I question my previous dedication to lifelong education (Read: My thinly veiled excuses to opt into the Queen's student health care plan).

Barring any stunning revelations on either side, I'm going to abandon my seal hunt stories. It appears that my attempts to start a virulent flame war between sealers and protestors on my blog have failed. You can hardly blame me - until recently, my blog was getting over 100 hits a day from my Shelby Cobra photo. Now it's just down to you and me, dear reader.

I'm reaching the end of a pipe full of Judge's Mixture pipe tobacco that I picked up in Boston, and I'm quite literally high as a kite right now. As I tend to have an all-or-nothing approach to my vices, it's probably for the best that I never seriously delved into illicit substances. I can't imagine that having a humidor full of weed would have have endeared me to either of my current employers, let along the thin blue line.

A glass of whiskey won't hurt my essay writing ability too much...

There are times when I look at this blog, and wonder if there isn't something more that I should be doing with it. I enjoy writing, but don't seem to have the same inclination towards creation as I did back in the day. And just when was this mythical day, you ask? It was back when I could churn out five to ten pages of respectable prose in the course of an evening, or when seldom an issue of Golden Words went out with less than three of my articles.

Bottom line, I'm in self-critical mode and wondering what kind of blogging is actually, you know, interesting to read.

Okay, I'm going to throw this one open to the readership. What kind of post should I do next?

A.) Travel story from: Cuba, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Dominican Republic
B.) More random questions posed to the readers
C.) Golden Words articles from the back in the day
D.) Political commentary
E.) Pictures from my new apartment
F.) Chapters of Geriatica
G.) Pictures / reviews of cigars
H.) A profile of a beautiful car
I.) A sample from the angsty prose I wrote when I was in high school
J.) Same as above, but with poetry (though my poetry was never particularly angsty)
K.) Other (please specify)

Here's how this is going to go - an entry needs to get three votes in order to be posted, and I promise to go through with whatever decision is made, provided it falls within the basic tenets of decency and privacy (ie. No nekkid photos.)

Here's the cliff hanger: I won't be posting again until a decision is reached.

Go to it, Interweb. I leave this in your capable hands.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Reading Between the Lines

Before I begin, I'd like to acknowledge that much of my discussion of the seal hunt has focused on the misconceptions contained in the information propagated by the anti-sealing party. For the record, I have nothing against those who protest for animal's rights. I think environmental damage, including threats to vulnerable species, is one of the biggest threats to our long-term survival.

The natural question to answer is: why have I dedicated numerous blog posts to disproving the arguments of a group dedicated to environmental concerns?

It is my belief that when you advocate for a cause, you become a representative of that cause. If you're trying to do something noble, your actions and motives should speak of nobility. The end does not justify the means - just because your cause is just, it does not give you licence to use deception to attain your goal. Not only do you lose credibility, but you damage the credibility of your cause.

For this reason, I want to look at the misconceptions that are currently being propagated by the Humane Society.

Humane Society of Canada:

"We need new solutions to bring an end to the largest tax payer funded slaughter of marine mammals on the planet."

From CBC:

"The DFO [Federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans] flatly denies that it subsidizes the seal hunt. It also denies charges that the seal hunt is not sustainable. It says Canada's seal population is 'healthy and abundant' at about five million animals and 'triple what it was in the 1970s.'"

While the DFO did provide subsidies to the seal hunt in the past, the subsidies ceased in 2001. Prior to 2001, the subsidies were used for market and product development, including a program designed to ways to use more of the seals being hunted.

Humane Society of Canada:

"Offering no proof that they actually even enforce the law, government politicians and the sealing industry claim that no whitecoat harp seal pups are killed any longer."


"The federal government acknowledges that it has laid more than 200 charges against sealers since 1996, but argues that shows it's serious about enforcing its regulations."

"No" is an absolute. It means that nothing is being done. Absolutely nothing. 200 charges may not necessarily be a robust response, but it is still a response. Unfortunately, the phrase "has done little to enforce the law" just doesn't have the same punch.

Humane Society:

"[S]ealers simply wait less than a day until the seal’s fur begins to moult (shown above on the right) before they club, stab or shoot the seal pup."


"Harp seals can be legally hunted once they have moulted their white coat, which occurs at about 12-14 days of age. However, they are not usually hunted until they reach the "beater" stage of development at around 25 days old. Blueback (hooded) seals moult their coat as early as 15 to 16 months of age, at which time they can be hunted. The seals hunted are self-reliant, independent animals."

Humane Society Chairman, Michael O'Sullivan:

"Nine of out ten Canadians already support the protection and not the killing of wildlife."


"Animal rights groups currently campaigning against the seal hunt cite a 2004 Ipsos‑Reid poll stating that the majority of Canadians are opposed to the hunt. In fact, Canadians support federal policies regarding the seal hunt. An Ipsos-Reid survey conducted in February 2005 concluded that 60% of Canadians are in favour of a responsible hunt. "

That's a pretty large gap. Note that DFO cites their research, but that the Humane Society does not.

Humane Society Chairman, Michael O'Sullivan:

“Killing seals. The numbers just don’t add up. You could not find any clear thinking businessman or woman who would invest a single dollar of private money in Canada’s seal hunt. So why should the rest of Canadians see their hard earned tax dollars going to support this failing industry?”


"Given extremely favourable market conditions in 2004, the landed value of the harp seal hunt was $20 million, compared with an estimated landed value of $5.5 million for 2001. The value is based on the average price buyers paid to sealers. In 2004, that price was approximately $70 per pelt."

We've already established that taxpayer dollars are not paying for the hunt. Now, we have established that it's also a profitable business.

I'm going to move on to the Humane Society of America, but if you want to call shenanigans on Michael O'Sullivan, his cell phone number is (416) 876-9685. This was provided by his press release. I'm not making this up.

Humane Society of America:

"The most recent of these, conducted in August 2005 by Environics Research, shows nearly 70% of Canadians holding an opinion oppose the commercial seal hunt outright. Opposition to specific aspects of the seal hunt was even higher with some 77% of voters, stating an opinion, calling for a ban on the killing of seals under three months of age and 78% opposed to government subsidies for the hunt. Seventy-eight per cent felt that killing seals by clubbing them is inherently cruel. Only 4% of respondents stated that they would be very upset if the hunt were ended."

What does 'holding an opinion' mean? What specific aspects of the seal hunt? What were the government subsidies they were opposed to? What portion of Canadians did have an opinion? It's misleading to imply that the majority of Canadians oppose something, if you only consider the majority of Canadian holding an opinion. We don't know how many Canadians hold an opinion. Could be 500, could be 5. Try as I might, I can't find the details of the poll online. I have, however, found numerous people mis-citing the pole as being the opinions of a majority of Canadians, not just these mystical opinionated Canadians.

Humane Society of America:

"[V]eterinary reports indicate that many seals have been skinned while still conscious and able to feel pain."


"Hunting methods were studied by the Royal Commission on Seals and Sealing in Canada and it found that the clubbing of seals, when properly performed, is at least as humane as, and often more humane than, the killing methods used in commercial slaughterhouses, which are accepted by the majority of the public. American studies carried out between 1969 and 1972 proved that the club or hakapik is an efficient tool designed to kill the animal quickly and humanely. A 2002 report published in the Canadian Veterinary Journal had results that parallel these findings."

Again, note the presence of citations.

Humane Society of America:

"The Humane Society of the United States has never portrayed the seal hunt as a hunt for whitecoats."

Of course. You can see the total absence of pictures of whitecoats here and here.

Humane Society of America:

"Even in Newfoundland, where more than 90% of sealers live, revenues from sealing account for less than 1% of the Gross Domestic Product and less than 3% of the landed value of the fishery. Even northern cod, considered by many to be commercially extinct, makes up 8% of the landed value of Newfoundland’s fishery today."

GDPphenomenallymenall large number. That's like saying trying to justify paying the President of the USA 0.01% of the GDP. C'mon, it's only 0.01%! Of course, by CIA World Factbook standards, that would make his salary $ 1,175,000,000. GDP percentage figures do not make a reasonable economic statement.

I'm not claiming that the sealing industry is without blame. They've been hucking seal guts at protestors, and at least one protestor boat has been damaged by a protestor-sealing boat collision. Nor do I claim that the DFO is operating without an agenda. However, pursuing a cause does not give the Humane Society the right to play fast and loose with the facts. If you're representing an important cause, you need to have your facts straight. They're just a bunch of sealers, trying to make a living. The Humane Society is the group laying claim to the moral high ground. Perhaps they should start acting the part.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Cold War Heats Up

The sealing protest has taken a dangerous turn, as tempers flared between protestors and hunters on the first day of the seal hunt. Angry hunters have hurled bloody seal guts at animal rights activists who came too close. Thus marks the start of a potentially dangerous escalation, as activists claim that they will next attempt to spoon with the hunters, and hunters are threatening to throw entire walruses at the protestors.

In other news: much of the wind has been taken out of seal hunt protestor and former-silver screen sex symbol (shudder) Brigitte Bardot's sails as it was revealed that she is, in fact, a crazy right-wing rascist.

The hunt has prompted calls from the McCartneys and Bardot for a global boycott of Canadian seafood products. Unfortunately for the Humane Society, less than 21% of the restaurants that the Humane Society claims is boycotting Canadian seafood is actually doing so. 31% of the restaurants on the list continue to sell seafood, and 45% have never served Canadian seafood.

I'm not a particularly large fan of organizations that twist their facts in order to make a point, and I think that's what's going on in this case. When I think of the Humane Society, I think of household pets being rescued from cruel and abusive households, and basic guidelines governing suffering for animals that will eventually make their way to the shelves in a grocery store. The Humane Society is putting a bad face on animal rights activism, just so they can make some extra money.

For shame, Humane Society. Amnesty International doesn't get to invent human rights violations, so you don't get to invent facts to support your stories, either.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Late Night Thoughts

There are days when I miss being unemployed. There was a time when I could spend an entire morning doing nothing more than making breakfast, picking up a good book, and smoking a pipe. Particularly in my old place on Victoria Street, where the morning sun would light up the living room, and I could lazily read some Yeats as I basked in the sunlight. Those were some good times.

I'm not opposed to working per se, but there just never seems to be enough time to do everything that needs to be done. I'm still waiting on that 36 hour day that I ordered about seven years ago. That would allow me to wake late, go into work for ten hours or so, then come back home and have almost an entire day to go for walks, read good books, and play video games. I could then sleep for twelve hours, and repeat the cycle all over again.

But instead, I'm stuck with this stupid 24 hour day. Barely enough time to get eight hours of sleep, grab a bowl of Cheerios on the way out the door, and make it time to watch Dr. Phil and three straight hours of CSI before I fall asleep on the couch.

I jest. That's not really what I do with my evenings. I still work on school assignments and train with the Reserves, and wander around my beautiful if overly pretentious neighbourhood. But, oh, how easy it would be to fall into the sleep-work-TV trap. That's perhaps the thing I fear the most. Getting into a rut, and only noting the passage of time when I turn forty, or need to go out and replace a worn-out couch. Those of you who are now working stiffs - do you ever find yourself slipping into a similar routine? And, if not, what do you do to keep yourself active and motivated when you come home from work?

I caught a cold when I was in Boston, but I seem to be over the worst of it now. It seems to be going around the office, so maybe I didn't catch it in Boston after all. I tried to see if it was the same cold, but my co-worker had such a disgusted look on his face as I was describing the symptoms that I decided to just leave it an unsolved mystery. I hadn't even gotten to the point where it felt like someone surgically implanted a small pumpkin in my sinuses, either.

I've been really good since I moved, and haven't smoked once in my new apartment thus far. It's been really tempting - particularly with the many boxes of Cuban and Costa Rican cigars sitting not ten places from where I'm sitting - but the apartment isn't exactly massive, and I have a feeling that everything would smell like cigars in a day or so, if I decided to relax the rules.

I shouldn't say that I haven't smoked in my apartment at all, because I smoke in the bathtub. About once every two or three weeks, I'll get a craving for a cigar and pour myself a steaming hot bath. That way, I can close the door, jam a towel in the gap, and crank open the window, and thusly I avoid stinking up my apartment, though the towel is a usually a little worse for wear soon thereafter. Andrea finds this absolutely hilarious. I prefer to think of it as inventive. Your thoughts?

Lately, I've been really pissed off about this whole seal hunt protest by Paul and Linda McCartney. I used to have a lot of respect for Paul McCartney, particularly because of all the work he's done to raise awareness on the threat posted by landmines. The seal hunt protest, however, does a lot to discredit it.

To begin with, Paul McCartney poses for a photo with a white seal pup. Naturally, one would think that he is protecting the white seal pups. This is made unnecessary by the fact that it's already illegal to hunt the white pups. Next, he claims that over 300,000 seals are clubbed to death each year, while in fact most of the seals are shot, rather than clubbed.

I'll admit, those are minor details. A seal pup is no longer white just a few days after its born (it's legal to hunt seals once they're older than 12 days old) and shooting an animal isn't much kinder than clubbing it to death. After all, aren't the seals an endangered species?

Ah, no.

It's believed that there are nearly triple the population of seals these days relative to what there were in the 1970s. That's 5.9 million seals, according to estimates. So, why then are activists spending so much time going after seals that are in no danger of becoming extinct?

Because they're cute, and cute brings in the big bucks.

I'll admit this much: if the world was a perfect place, I wouldn't want the widdle baby seals killed either. But let's face it. The majority of humans eat meat. That meat needs to come from somewhere. We'd be pretty shallow if all we ever did was eat the ugly animals.

The thing that bothers me most about this is that it's another example of style over substance. I am all for the McCartney's posing posing beside a cute little seal pup, but only after they've taken their matching orange jumpsuits to the breeding ground of an ugly endangered animal, like the sturgeon or the Gila monster.

In the mean time, I look forward to this issue fading to obscurity as the McCartneys take their jumpsuits to the aide of some other helpless and photogenic creature. As for those who would boycott Canadian goods to show solidarity with the seals: I wasn't happy about Canada selling our hard-made goods to stupid, shallow people anyway.

Monday, March 20, 2006


I got back into town early this morning. The trip to Boston went really well - there wasn't that much crazy partying, but we did do our fair share of bar-hopping around Harvard, and I managed to find the original Cheers (tm) bar for a pint of Guinness during a Sunday walk through Boston. They also sold Cheers golf shirts, which allowed me to continue my tradition of buying location-specific golf shirts while traveling.

It's nice to travel direct, for once. Typically, I go for the cheapest travel arrangements I can find, which usually means that I have to drive to Toronto, and then go through a few extra connecting flights before I actually end up where I need to be. Don't get me wrong, it's a small price to pay to see the world, but being able to hop on an Air Canada Jazz flight and be in Boston an hour later is pretty sweet. There were only five of us on the way down, too, so it was kind of like having our own private jet. Very cool.

Boston's a beautiful city, but I get the impression that it's very expensive, rent-wise, to live there. I wandered past a realtor's office that advertised one and two bedroom condos for under US$400,000. Yikes.

I think I've officially given up the idea of buying a home, at least for the next year or so. Not even counting the cost of a mortgage, once you add up the cost of property taxes, utilities, appliances, maintenance, etc., you've basically reached what the cost of my rent (utilities included) costs every year. It'd be fine if I needed more than a single bedroom and living room, but I really don't see the need at this point.

In any case, it's time to spend a bit more quality time with the Prince of Persia, then put garbage / recycling out for the night. I came down with a cold on Saturday, and I still feel as though someone stuffed a small pumpkin inside my nasal cavity while I was sleeping. A good night's sleep should take care of that, hopefully.

Thursday, March 16, 2006


I leave for Boston first thing tomorrow morning. Andrea's going down for a school trip, and we're going to meet up and paint the town green. I've packed my Guinness shirt, and my hip flask of Whiskey. That should be all I need. Okay, maybe I'll bring a toothbrush and some underwear, or something. Maybe.

I'm going to bring my camera and take pictures, if possible. I'm really excited about this - it should be a fantastic trip. I've never been to Boston, though my uncle spent a considerable amount of time there when he was playing with the NHL. The only advice my mother offered was to not rent a car, as apparently it's a difficult city to navigate through.

I'm not really sure of what we're going to do when we're down there. If anyone's been before and can recommend some good pubs or restaurants, I'd appreciate it. I'm not exactly worried about not being able to find someplace busy, though.

I Heart Avis

This is skipping ahead slightly as far as Costa Rica stories are concerned, but I couldn't resist. After returning the car and being told that I wouldn't be charged for the damage to the mirror, Avis went ahead and charged me for the damage once I returned home. So, as per usual, I gathered up my ammo and prepared to go to war.

You know the old expression, "What if they started a war and nobody came?" Yeah, well, that applies here.

So, I called up their customer service line. I had my computer in front of me so I could reference all of my documentation, and amuse myself with the Internet if the waiting time got to be too much. Remarkably, the only question that Avis asked me was where I had rented my car. I punched in the code for "International", and was surprised, nay, OVERWHELMED when my call was transferred to a real human being.

This human being gave her name (first and last, which is a rarity amoung customer service types) and asked how she could help. I explained the situation, and she requested that I fax her the credit card bill showing the additional charge. She was very polite, and was genuinely taken aback that such a thing could happen.

About a week later, I finally got around to faxing her the sheet. I called up a few days later to check the status. Once again, I was forwarded straight through to a real human being. I gave her (all of the customer service representatives at Avis are women, if my experience is any judge) my reference number, and she was able to tell me the exact steps that my paperwork had taken. Remarkably, they kept track of that sort of thing. However, it had not been resolved, and she suggested I call back in a few days.

Fast forward to today. I call up, speak to a very polite person, who tells me that my claim has been processed at that my credit card has been credited the total originally charged.

Thank goodness for the few companies that actually realize the benefit of good service. If you're listening, Compaq and Future Shop, you could learn a lesson from Avis.

Monday, March 13, 2006


Mwa ha ha ha ha ha!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Sunday Evening

It's been a while since I've written an update. The weekend's gone well so far. Andrea came up for a visit, and we spent most of our time lazing around my apartment, playing Fable and catching up on old episodes of 24. Andrea left early this afternoon, and I've spent the rest of the day getting ready for work tomorrow. I think I might be starting to get the hang of ironing, but it still takes me about ten minutes per shirt and I can't get rid of all the creases, no matter what I do.

I still have to put my sheets back on the bed, but Intervention is playing on A&E and I'm having a hard time tearing myself away. The show is tragic, but beautiful. Too often, television shows portray contrived weakness or, in the case of most Reality TV, people placed in bad situations with the hope that they'll show us the worst of themselves.

Intervention requires no contrivances. It's the story of drug users that have hit rock bottom, and the efforts of their families to turn things around. It's beautiful because it shows the side of people that you never see - frail, weak, tragic, and, beneath it all, holding onto a faint glimmer of hope.

I'm not sure what it is about Western society, but it often feels as though we can't show weakness. We demand so much, and fail to acknowledge that we were never meant to be perfect. The show is raw, and real, and emotional.

I sometimes think that there are times when I lose perspective, and forget just how good I have things. Watching a former professional NBA basketball player, a man that has has been reduced to stealing his nephew's PlayStation, come to terms with the beauty and horrible price of building a new life... well, it tends to put things in perspective.

It's a beautiful show. I'm completely surprised by it, but it's the truth.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006


Ryan and the Whiskey Coconut

Monday, March 06, 2006

Costa Rica (Part III)

I woke to the sound of howler monkeys and construction trucks. Sunlight streamed through the gaps in the curtains. What time was it? Our flight had touched down at 3:00 pm yesterday, but between tardy luggage and a highway with more single lane bridges and potholes than asphalt, we hadn't made it to the hotel until after sunset. We'd had every intention of sleeping in. 8:45 am. Well, so much for sleeping in.

Breakfast was a leisurely affair. Andrea and I each ordered the howler monkey breakfast, perhaps out of a sense of retribution against the simians that tried to wake us shortly after sunrise, or perhaps because it was one of the few all-meat breakfasts on the menu. It tasted surprisingly similar to a plate of bacon and eggs, and served as a lovely sidedish to the three mugs of coffee that made up the lion's share of my meal.

We meandered our way down to the pool after breakfast, just in time to grab a deck chair and watch the groundskeeper take care of some pesky coconuts. I gratefully accepted the fruits of their labours with a polite 'gracias'. I sat down in the chair next to Andrea, and took a long pull of fresh coconut milk. Delectable. I popped the top of my flask with my thumb and dropped in a healthy dollop of Irish whiskey. Perfect.

From the pool side at Costa Verde, we could see into infinity. The Pacific sparkled beneath layers of rainforest, separated by the thinnest sliver of golden sand. Andrea and I smiled at one another. It was a million dollar view, but we both prayed that it would never cost that much.

You couldn't escape the heat, even in the shade. I'd already slathered on as much sunscreen as I could stand, a vain effort to preserve my all-too-flammable skin. The humidity wasn't enough to soak your clothe as you left the room, but it was close. Day or night, the heat was always there.

I reached into my bag and fished around for a Costa Rican cigar, a Torpedo that I'd had mailed to Canada along with 49 of his closest friends, just so I could have a cigar as soon as I arrived. I severed the end with a gentle press on the clippers, and gently drew life into it.

No matter how moist you keep a humidor, you can't beat the natural humidity of the tropics. It'd been bone dry when we landed, but less than 24 hours later it was as supple as the day it was rolled. And, I might add, it made a perfect pairing to my whiskey coconut.

Alas, all good things must came to an end, and thus it went for the bountiful blend of Ireland's finest and the freshest nectar the rainforest had to offer. I eased myself out of my deck chair, and gently rose to my feet. Standing up too fast is a rookie mistake as far as a veteran cigar-smoker is concerned, and one that has dire concequences. Ah, I noted happily, it appears that the pool bar is open.

I was halfway through my Best Spanish Phrase ("Uno cerveza, por favor!") when I was interrupted by the bartender.

"I know you..." he said with a smile, as he reached out his hand.

"Ivan?" I replied with amazement.

We shared a hearty handshake. Somewhere, near the back of my head, I heard the first few bars of "It's a Small World After All".

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Costa Rica, Continued

The cheque had been signed, but the night was still young. I caught our waiter's eye as we left the restaurant, and flagged him down with my best broken Espanol.

"Hola, Senor? Can we come back here later, and have you call us a cab?" I asked, as I squeezed forward to accommodate a large American family on their way to the back of the restaurant.

"Si," he replied graciously, "Just come back when you're ready to go."

With a little practice, we'd grown accustomed to the procedure required in order to order a taxi in Costa Rica. You would ask the nearest proprietor to order one for you, and he or she would return with a number. You then had to wait for the taxi with that number, and only that number. I'm not sure if it was because they'd had tourists stealing cabs, or if the cabs had been stealing tourists. But we had enough common sense to obey the rules laid out for us.

I nodded, and we moved out onto the streets of Quepos. It was after dark, but the town had too many tourists to pose any more than the smallest of threats. We casually fended off the many street vendors with a simple "No, gracias" and meandered our way through souvenir shops. Nonplussed by the astoundingly uniformity of the offerings, we ventured further in search of a late night watering hole.

The nice part of downtown Quepos spans about three square blocks, and we had no intention of leaving the nice part of downtown Quepos. Sweat clung to our skin, the night air little cooler than the brick wall we walked into when we stepped off the plane. Each block offered its own assortment of dive-bars, replete with flicking fluorescent lights, dust-covered bottles and a hodgepodge of tourists, locals and grizzled expats, The music of some eminently forgettable cover-band echoed off in the distance.

We meandered on, determined to find a suitable venue for an evening aperitif.


We were having lunch when we heard the news. Ivan told us when he came up to the Anaconda Restaurant to pick up a meal. We flagged down our waitress, signed the bill to our room and made our way down the hill as quickly as we could. We hoped, the most fleeting, briefest of hopes, that Ivan had been wrong. Let it be that little Toyota Yaris parked on the other side. We should have known better.

Once the Rio came into sight, we wondered how we could've walked past on our way to lunch without noticing it. The driver's side mirror was hanging on by no more than three electrical wires. What the hell had happened? What on earth was Avis going to say? And how the hell were we supposed to get home?

I ran through the list of horror stories that I'd had to initial beside before Avis would let us leave their compound. Stories of tourists being extorted by police, stories of tires being punctured and cars robbed by "helpful" bystanders. I looked at the wires. It looked like a big sign that read, for all of Costa Rica to see, "Stupid Gringo in Need of Robbing."

We made our way back to the main office, and set ourselves to waiting for the General Manager to arrive. After days of slowly adjusting to the heat, we hovered on the brink of shivering in the sudden shock of the air conditioning. We stared up at the clock and watched our last full day in Costa Rica evaporate to the tune of a ticking second hand.

Twenty minutes later, we were standing back over the poor, bedraggled Kia Rio once more. Miguel, the manager, had brought out the bulk of the staff that were on duty that morning, all of whom seemed to have no more of a clue of what had happened to the car than we did.

The gardener turned to Miguel, and offered a possible explanation. My Spanish wasn't great, but it was sufficient to understand what he was getting at.

"For the last time, a monkey did NOT throw a coconut at our mirror."

I wasn't sure how that theory first been raised, but it had stuck with a vengeance. Both the manager and the gardener looked dubious. I sighed.

"Okay, look. There's no dent on the top of the mirror," I said, gesturing at the Kia's wounded wing, "And there aren't any coconuts on the ground. Plus, the mirror is perhaps a half of a percent of the car's exposed surface area. What are the odds that a thrown coconut would hit the top of the driver's side mirror?"

The gardener and the manager both shrugged. I'd tried to imply that, maybe, perhaps, a member of the staff had been responsible. Miguel refused to bite on that one, and insisted that the only man who had been down that way was honest to a fault, and that he claimed that it wasn't his fault.

I looked over at Andrea, and did my best to keep the frustration from my face. No new guests had parked on that side of the car. The staff claimed that it wasn't their fault. It was NOT a damned coconut.

What the hell had ripped the mirror off of our car?

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Sunset at Costa Verde, Costa Rica