Mother-in-law

Costa Rica Cost of Living Update: Car towed on flatbed to garage— Thirty Dollars

My mother-in-law, Joanna, is visiting and she’s having a blast. At nearly seventy years old she refuses to be sidelined.  Every morning my husband asks, “Do you want to—?”

Before he can even finish his sentence, she always answers, “Yes! I don’t care what it is.” Now I know where Rob gets it from. Joanna wants to have a good time, so we’ve been busy taking her around to our favorite hot-spots. Every day here has been a perfect one.

The other morning we took her boogie boarding at Sugar Beach. My husband positioned her on the board, pushed her into the waves, and simultaneously drowned himself in the process. I watched this sequence of maneuvers repeated again and again for over an hour. Joanna left the ocean laughing and exhilarated. Rob emerged from the bottom of the sea like Sigmund the Sea Monster. (Wait for the laugh in the video, it’s contagious…)

It was also a challenging week since Rob took our best camera into the ocean, and to his surprise, it got wet. I told him not to, but like all Busted Camerahusbands who suffer from hearing loss when their wives speak, he did it anyway, and now it looks like this…

Being the frugal and savvy people we think we are, we attempted to fix it ourselves. And we got pretty close. At the very end of the reassembly process, we broke something completely unrelated to the original problem. My husband’s solution? Stick a piece of aluminum foil in there.

“This should have it working in no time!” he said. But it didn’t, so now I’m sending the camera to a Canon repair facility where the technician will wonder what fool stuck aluminum foil inside our camera. I plan to say the camera came that way. No need to incriminate oneself.

We also had a short in our laptop’s magnetic DC connector. I asked Rob not to use it until I can replace the broken piece. But he didn’t listen and consequently shorted out the logic board. That’s really bad guys… like bring in the bugle and play Taps bad. But since I’m the IT person around here and have the same temperament as every office IT guy, I angrily removed the logic board and cooked it in the oven at 375 degrees for seven minutes in a half-baked attempt to resolder its connections. People who do not live near a Genius Bar do these kinds of things, folks. And this genius idea resulted in a logic board with nice crispy edges that will never do anything logical again.

Llanos de Cortez Waterfall

To cheer ourselves up, we all piled into the car and headed out to Llanos de Cortez Waterfall. Joanna quickly jumped in and swam straight to the edge of the pounding water. She then rolled over and floated like an otter for over an hour while staring up at the clouds. She acts like a kid in any body of water. I love showing people the beauty of Costa Rica. Every time we think we’ve found the best spot, we find another that’s even more spectacular.

We were once again having a perfect day, and I said precisely that on the ride back when suddenly our car lost its power steering, brakes, and smoke began billowing from the engine. Luckily, we made it to a gas station where a large, circular metal wheel that turns the fan and belts fell off the car and into a puddle of anti-freeze. I’m not even sure what to call this part, but I’m guessing it’s a flywheel since it flew right off our car.

What sound did it make, you ask? The sound of defeat. I could once again hear Taps being played in the background while I stood up and saluted. It was the respectful thing to do for a vehicle that has been a loyal soldier for many years.

I write a lot about this car. It has made its way into all of my books: Happier Than A Billionaire, The Sequel, The Costa Rica Escape Manual, and my latest and best work, An Acre in Paradise. We should have retired her years ago but Rob keeps saying, “We’ll get one more year out of it.” And remarkably, he’s been right. But to have a large metal piece fall from your engine seems like a call for mercy, and this might be the end of the road.

The gas station attendant looked underneath, as well as a taxi driver, and a few other people who all shook their heads and said, “Grave.” Which means serious in Spanish, but let’s just use the English version of the word and all agree that this car should be buried six feet underground.

Just then a mechanic named Jeff showed up and explained to Rob that we had options. This intrigued my husband, and he listened as Jeff said we could buy a new part for over seven hundred dollars.

“Absolutely not,” Rob said. “What else you got?”

Jeff then described how he could solder the piece with a stick of gum and a bag of squirrels.

“Yes. That’s the plan,” Rob exclaimed with arms raised like we had just won the car repair lottery.

So we left our car with a guy named Jeff who swiftly towed it to his garage/house. We have no idea where his shop is located, which left me with a logical question for my husband: “What if we never see this guy again?”

“If he’s desperate enough to steal a car like that, he can have it.” Rob said. “It might actually be the best result we can hope for.”

So our waterfall day ended up with a taxi ride back from Liberia, in a car that was in worse shape than the one we left behind, hoping we will/or will not see Jeff ever again. From my experience, we will because we’ve witnessed incredible acts of kindness many times before in Costa Rica.

The day ended up exactly how it was meant to. We met friendly new people, got home safe, and laughed it all off while reminiscing about swimming under an incredible waterfall with Rob’s hilarious mother.

Perfect days come in many different forms. Sometimes they end with boogie boarding at the beach and other times you break down on the side of the road. But I’ll take them all. Because even though our car fell apart, earlier that day I swam under a waterfall with people that I love.

And that’s pretty perfect to me.