Thursday, 8 December 2011

Christmas Shopping

Caña india is planted here to form hedges and windbreaks, and very stately it can look, too, but the flowers are a bonus...they smell wonderful.
The plants down in the garden have been blooming for while now, but the younger ones near the house have just started and every slight breeze sends their scent through the rooms...soft, heavy and sensual.

I just wish someone would make a perfume of would beat a lot of the commercial big name stuff hands down.

I've always liked wearing perfume and I laid in a stock of my favourites before moving to Costa Rica - luckily, as I've seen none of them here!
(Watch out the next visitor from will have to find room in your luggage not only for anchovies but also for a large bottle of Eau de Nice!)
I tried some newer ones when I was in London, but nothing really appealed  except Flowerbomb.....until I saw the price. They should have named it Screaming Habdabs.

One relief here is that men do not go in for the 'knock you down and drag you out' aftershave lotions typical of rural the time you'd gone through the kissing routine at an AGM you would be reeling from sense wonder so much was passed on the nod!

Still, I'll be looking at perfume when Christmas shopping in San Jose as well as in the self described upmarket suburb of Escazu......home to expat business men and ambassadors, with its numerous malls and speciality shops, not to speak of its housing.

Gated communities and tower blocks.....condominiums.
Those lowering blocks always remind me of overpriced Glasgow tenements, while if I wanted to live hugger mugger with communal sports facilities and pool, an open prison would be a better bet.
I just don't see the attraction.

Security, say those who choose this way of living...but who wants to live with guards on the gates?

Still security can be a problem at this time of year.
December is the month of the 'aguinaldo'...the thirteenth month, when employees are paid a sum equivalent to a bonus month's pay.
People have money in their pockets, the shopping areas are crowded and bag snatching is a real worry.

The police in San Jose take it seriously. Tall platforms are erected at intervals in the main shopping streets manned by police keeping an eye out for trouble, while detachments stand on almost every junction.

I know it works, because last year I was walking in the pedestrian area with a friend when her bag was snatched.
The man was off and running before we could react....but the police had spotted him and he was brought to the ground in the next street.

We all went to the police station to sort out the formalities...and we were both shocked by the appearance of the robber.
He was young, his clothes of poor quality but spotlessly clean and he was crying.
Not an experienced thief, either, or he would have thrown the bag away as soon as the pursuit started.

My friend identified her bag, was relieved that the contents were intact, and asked the police what would happen to the young man.

Well, we'll want to see his papers. He says they're at home, so we'll take him there...but I know what it will be. He'll be an illegal immigrant....couldn't find work and desperate for money. He'll end up being taken to the immigration lock up and be sent home. Nicaragua by the look of him.

Poor young devil.
My friend could not afford to have lost the contents of her bag...not so much in money terms but in terms of her papers, bank cards and all the odds and ends that take an age to replace once lost...endless queues and paperwork.....but what a contrast between our lives and his.

Trying to make a better life, help his family at home, setting off - and probably paying the 'fixers' to smuggle him over the frontier - in the hope of finding work, and meeting nothing but disappointment and despair.
Poor young man.

My friend asked if she could refrain from laying charges.
Yes, but it won't do him much good. He won't be charged anyway...just sent back.

Could we give him some money?

You could, but there are some hard cases in that lock up...they'll soon have it off him.

We gave him some anyway...something to enable him to make 'phone calls, buy soap and odds while he was awaiting his return, but nothing could stop his tears.

I wonder where this young man is now....I'm sure his family were delighted to have him back with them, but the basic problem won't have been solved.

People need work to maintain their self respect and poor countries need investment, not aid.
They need to be allowed to develop in their own way, not constrained by the ideologies of the IMF and the World Bank.
And they certainly don't need politically based embargos on their economies.

I have no faith whatsoever in the institutionalised as national governments...but I do have faith in people helping people direct.

So while I'll be looking at perfume I won't be buying.
I'll put the equivalent to a group in San Jose run by Nicaraguans helping illegal immigrants to get their position regularised and finding them work.

I think the money will smell sweeter that way.


  1. Good for you. I wish more people felt and did as you are doing and I hope your donation helps. As for perfumes, the prices of good quality such as my Miss Dior are so high as to be out of reach. I found the last bottle given me by my mother before she died and wear it only sparingly. I've looked for a cheaper American-made scent, but they don't last, and several "turned" once left on my skin for more than a minute...

  2. This made my eyes leak.
    Thankyou for your kind and USEFUL approach to this situation.
    Those who have never seen or endured such grim reality are, sadly, usually the loudest voices howling to "send them home."
    (Yes, we have such factions here.)

  3. We think along the same lines, I would have done the same thing. One thing I want to mention is this 'thirteenth month pay' malarkey. I used to notice it with French job descriptions. How great and what a shame it never applied in the good old UK.

    Lots of love to you and will try and work out the glitch between your other blog and my page. Hope L is doing fine.


  4. Totally agree. One of the worst odours on the planet is the stink of poverty.

  5. A noble gesture fly, well done that girl.


  6. Great post, Fly. People have been saying for years that aid is double edged, and doesn't help in the long run. What they need is investment to start businesses, and a stable environment that won't steal or destroy through corruption the fruits of all that labour.

  7. Great post on an important topic, Fly, and well done on acting as you did. One of the ways I try to make sure my giving goes to those who need it is through a micro-loan scheme which gives small, low-interest loans to women in India and Africa to set up their own small businesses. It changes lives AND the money is paid back to be loaned again.

    I too love perfume but my favourite Chanel No 5 now needs a small mortgage to buy and is a thing of the past for me.

  8. e,I came across the organisation when I was sorting out residency...they do super work, because the problem is not so much in Costa Rica but in Nicaragua, where during the civil war registrations of birth were scanty, or records destroyed...and then the Nicaraguan government set up agents in Costa Rica demanding 70 dollars a shot to sort things out....these people just don't have that money.
    This group had a representative accredited to go to Managua and sort out documents...for a tiny price. It's a shoe string volunteer organisation, so I know the money will be used as it should.

    And as for true!

    dinahmow...they don't do all this for fun, do they? They're desperate.

    French Fancy, L. is on top of the world, thank you!
    13th month? Something else we self employed did not get!

    Steve, it makes me so wild listening to sanctimonious NGO people who only reinforce the problem.
    Get money directly to people...not to be swallowed up in beaurocracy and bribes.

    SP...noble I'm not...but I am conscious of how lucky I was to be born where and when I was.

    Sarah, dead right!

  9. Perpetua, yes we dib in to a micro loan scheme for women too, but in Central America.
    Amazing what these ladies can do once they have a start!

    And the price of perfume...I'm glad I bought when I did...when in John Lewis I saw a micro bottle on the Guerlain stand costing what I'd paid for a proper size a few years ago.

  10. Oh well done you. What a sad story and one that reminds me of a few years ago when a young guy who was helping us move house stole money from my purse and ran. He was caught but his personal circumstances were dreadful. Mr A went to court when he was sentenced and gave him money and cigarettes and also to his elderly parents who were desperately in need of food.
    We don't know how lucky we are sometimes xx

  11. Ayak, well done you and Mr. Ayak.

    When I compare the treatment these poor devils get compared with the fawning round the bankers who rip us all off supposedly legally, I could spit!

  12. I remember wanting to go somewhere once, and the bus was guarded by armed soldiers against bandits. I decided that nowhere was so special that visiting it would justify the possibility of shooting someone in order to protect, for example, my camera, and didn't go.

    Just about everything related to money seems arse end round to me.

    Good on you for your action.

    As for perfume, I've never worn it much, but recently discovered one I adore. To my disgust I found that after wearing it for three days or so, I could no longer smell it. I have to ration myself now.

  13. Pueblo girl,I wouldn't have gone either...and i agree with your views on money too.

    As to perfume, I can well forgo an indulgence...though it was the bag snatch experience which made me see the need for action...and as for rationing yourself...don't you just hate having to have self control!

  14. Just to say "hi" and many thanks for your comments over at mine. Hugs to you. C/H xx

  15. Hadriana's Treasures...lovely to hear from you, though I still wonder where you find time to breathe!