Monday, 21 November 2011

Here be Vets...

Antique map 54Image by Changhua Coast Conservation Action via FlickrI had made an appointment to have the puppy spayed at one of the charitable spay and neuter clinics.....half the usual vet surgery price even with a donation thrown in.
The local town sessions have halted until after Christmas so it was the town down the road...a long ribbon strip development place with loads of condominiums and no soul.

This being unknown territory, the men decided that Danilo....ex delivery driver in his past employment life... would get the directions, and, very important this, he would write them down.
There have been many interesting experiments in Danilo getting directions and not writing them down...we have seen many places we would not otherwise have thought of visiting and have met many charming people who have directed us to other places we would not have thought of visiting in the course of being asked for directions.

As in the case of the pigs, the men had the whole thing under control.
The car was at the door, all dogs not involved were outside and Man A crouched by the back door while Man B drove the puppy into his arms.
The puppy had other ideas and left by the front door...leading the other dogs in a joyous tour of neighbouring properties encouraged in this by the shouts of Men A and B in pursuit.

Other dogs, returning, made for their water bowls in the house while the puppy sat outside.
Man A stationed Man B on one side of the open porch and himself on the other in order to effect a pincer movement, thus driving the puppy into the house.
Clearly one of them was operating on von Moltke's variation of the Schlieffen plan, disproportionally strengthening one of the wings, as the puppy shot between them the  taxis of the Marne... by the reinforcements returning from the water bowls.

A tour of the tilapia ponds and back to the house...dogs clearly delighted by the unaccustomed entertainment and the puppy wagging its tail fit to bust. All soaking wet.

Capture puppy on the sofa by throwing a towel over it...technique gleaned from  Alice and the Pig Baby...leg it for the car to find wet Alsatian installed on the back seat. Drive him out to find him leaping in again through the tailgate.
Where the puppy goes, he goes.

Use diplomatic means to dislodge him....bribe of smelly bone.
Alsatian dislodged.

Shut all doors. Drive off.

We are onto the main road and past a number of bends before Man B discovers that in all the excitement he has left the instructions by the telephone.
Man A assures him that there will be no problem.
Man A is Danilo.
Man B believes Man A.
I decide to enjoy the scenery.

It is a half hour drive on the main road down from the hills...the rainy season is ending and trees are coming into flower...the puppy drops off to sleep.

Now, for what follows, it is helpful to know that most Costa Rican towns are laid out on the grid pattern...Avenidas (avenues) go one way and Calles (streets) run at right angles to them.
The centre of town is where Avenida 0 crosses Calle 0.
On one side will be ranked Avenidas and Calles in odd numbers...on the other Avenidas and Calles in even numbers.
So directions should be simple.

Except that no one uses Avenida and Calle numbers. Directions are from noted landmarks, like banks, petrol stations and shops.
This is exceedingly frustrating when the original bank, petrol station or shop has changed hands or moved and the directions stay the same.
Thus....from the fig tree, three hundred metres north, two hundred metres east, when the fig tree was cut down twenty years ago.

In this case Man B rehearses Man A as the town approaches.

Where are we headed?

We have to pass the bank.

Which bank?

The bank we have to pass.

Slight hissing and wheezing noises can be heard...human, not mechanical.

O.K.....after the bank we have to pass, what then?

We go to the big bakery and go three hundred metres east and fifty metres north.

O.K. I know where the bakery is.

We arrive at the bakery, pass it merrily and turn to the left on the next Calle.

Why did you do that? We're supposed to turn at the bakery.

We can't. It's one way. Just three hundred metres and we turn north....

Except that that is another one way.

I'll ask directions.

First a gentleman at the roadside is approached who goes back to his house to get his wife.
She directs us to a palatial equine institution on the outskirts of town.

This isn't it. Go back to the bakery.

We miss the bakery again.

The wheezing and hissing is louder.

Turn to the right!


Because you turned left last time!

It isn't here! There aren't any vets this side of town.

But this is held at a private's not a veterinary surgery...turn right!

We turn right and approach the bakery on a parallel road.

It's not here!

Look, get out and ask. Turn left at the junction. We must be so close!

Man A descends from the car, turns right at the junction and disappears.
After five minutes it appears that he has taken the car keys and that we are locked in.

More wheezing and hissing. The puppy wakes up...intrigued.

Can you climb through the window without setting off the burglar alarm?


Man A returns, beaming.

You've found it!

No, but the man in the bakery says Marcos the vet will do the op if you nip round to the's on the other side of town...near where we were...

He is encouraged to start up the car again and turn left. We drive until we hit the entry to a condominium.

It's not here. It has to be the other side of town...where all the vets are....where Marcus will do the op..

Before Man B, human boiler, blows all safety valves we see a woman carrying a cat box.

Man B takes no chances. He descends himself to ask her for directions.

He returns to the car with the woman and cat box. She gets in and puppy and cat gaze at each other in common mistrust. She directs Man A to the next turn left.

No it can't be here! All the vets...

Just turn!

He turns. Two doors up the road we see the large sign on the gates...spay and neuter clinic.
We've made it.

It is a most relaxed affair, clients foregathering in the garden where loungers, iced tea and coffee await...the tranquilizer is administered and we settle down to wait about an hour before the op itself.
We meet several very nice people, enjoy the spectacle of an indignant West Highland terrier legging it for the exit with owner in hot pursuit, and the Men decide to go to the Saturday market while the puppy drowses on my lap.

The market is two blocks down the road....a straight road. They are gone some little time...Captain Oates comes to mind.
They reappear. Man B is making human boiler noises again.

What's the matter?

It's a straight road, right?

If you say so.

He only comes out of the market and turns in the opposite direction...

Don't tell me....heading for where the vets are...

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  1. I would love it if Waddington's came out with a Costa Rican version of Monopoly... the board itself would have to be an optical illusion.

  2. ROFL Have you sold the film rights yet, Fly? It has a kind of Steve Martin or Eddie Murphy ring to it....
    Hope the puppy has forgiven you by now.

  3. Steve, no wonder they haven't tried!

    Perpetua, puppy has a very forgiving nature. It is currently sitting on the sofa and pouncing on the other dogs who are terrified of the lampshade round its neck.

    The Men remind me of Laurel and Hardy...not so much in size, but in the verbal exchanges...
    You should have seen them trying to find the entrance to a DIY depot without going through the motorway toll booth...which they did twice, once in each direction.

  4. LOL!! Our vet visits have become very tame - Katinka likes to be in the car and does a feline impersonation of Leonardo di Caprio in Titanic on Niall's knee looking out the front window - no cat carrier for her!!
    With our previous cats it used to be a version of the Indy 500 race.

    As for men and directions -- 'nuff said!!

  5. What a comedy act. You must have fathomless depths of patience and acres of time because what obviously could be done in half an hour will probably take 3 times that... :)

  6. Niall and Antoinette, that's wonderful image of your cat!
    I always reckoned men being directionally challenged accounts for a fair number of military disasters. If it had been Lady Cardigan there'd have been no charge of the Light Brigade and Nolan would have been sent off with a flea in his ear.

    Sarah, these two are something else!
    I just lie back and think of glad I am not to be there!
    At least feeding en route is not the problem it was in France...plenty of little caffs all over the place though last time they lost us we ended up in an american style supermarket where the cafeteria priced the food options by the kilo and weighed your selection!

  7. This is such a funny story for us reading it Fly...although perhaps not so funny for those experiencing it! I laughed out loud all the way through.
    You have so much patience.

  8. Ayak, Endurance...yes.

  9. I like that comment to Ayak above: actually it sounds like a good motto

  10. Mark, must be the experience of the NHS as a child...hours spent shuffling along the wooden benches until it was one's turn to see the doctor...

  11. Oh my, does this bring back memories...and yes, endurance is needed, particularly when the dry river beds that constitute roads in some places appear to run in circles...

    As for felines and vets, I know of a particular vet who would be disappointed if I finally killed the little blighters for knocking down a vase intended for a friend's table tomorrow...Took me a month's supply of paper towels to dry the floor...They scattered like the wind as yelling ensued...Of course, I'm sure that amused them...

  12. e...that's cats!
    There aren't many of them out here in the campo, but dogs abound...which is why we have more than one!
    What you say about roads resonates...the day 'we' took the wrong road to the agricultural school and ended up on a bridge with more gaps than planks...

  13. They have refreshments at this vet? Wow! They often have pet treats at the vets I bring my brood to, but never anything for the ones who pay the bill.

    Deciding to enjoy the scenery was the smartest thing to do. I'm amazed you finally found it. Where we live the addresses are so screwy that if someone asks me for directions, I can't tell if the place they want is down the block or in the next town.

    Congratulations on the new puppy!!!

  14. Mary Anne Gruen, and it's a charity! Im glad to see a fair number of people left donations on top of the very reasonable bill.
    As to directions and The Men, I give up...though I'm thinking of buying them a compass.
    But for screwy directions, try this...
    A house near the hospital for sale, 335 square metre lot......300 metres north, 50 metres south...!
    The mind boggles!