Where the Streets Have No Name — By Jennifer Shipp
Central America Costa Rica North America

Where the Streets Have No Name — By Jennifer Shipp

There are plenty of street signs in Mexico, but not in Costa Rica.

We did in fact make it to Walmart and back. We had to walk a little over a mile to a bus stop and then wait with the chickens and several other people for about 30 minutes. This forced “time-out” of sorts is one of the benefits and drawbacks of travel. I am always amazed at how patient people at bus stops can be. They are not reading or writing or getting out their laptops to try to get ahead. They’re just standing there, staring at the hens and their little chicks clucking through the fenced yards across the street. This is true is various parts of the world to some degree more or less. I couldn’t help it, though, I pulled out a book on basic Spanish conversation to entertain myself during our wait.

It’s good to be around other people whose lives are not just one big “To Do” list. Not that having a “To Do” list is all that bad. I think that having ideas and pursuing complicated projects can be enlightening in some sense too, but one successive “To Do” list after another becomes nothing but anxiety provoking. One can end up chasing after their own tail just trying to look busy. I think I do this a lot, for fear of being seen relaxing and enjoying the fruits of my labor. Needless to say, chasing after my own tail is a waste of time.

There are few street names here in Alajuela, which is not as romantic as the song by U2 would lead us to believe. Taxi drivers cannot find where you live when streets are not clearly marked and if you don’t know even where you’re currently located, that’s quite a pickle. So far, on our one excursion off our street, I found it to be rather chaotic, but I suppose I’ll get used to it. I find myself trying to keep track of where and when to turn to get here or there, taking note of strange murals on the wall or misspellings on business signs that I could use orient myself later. After about seven turns, though, it becomes apparent that there are misspellings on all the business signs and seemingly unique murals at every turn. The lack of street signs does lend itself well to wandering, or at least getting lost, which can be entertaining if you’re in the right frame of mind.

Today, an army of ants started crawling up my computer cord to a little plate with some honey on it that was sitting behind my computer on the table. They’ve been scurrying across the floor, working diligently at different projects in the living room. They’re especially fond of large moths and small bits of potato chip. Though they are mostly harmless, as far as I can tell, I don’t like to have tiny gnat-like things crawling all over me. I keep trying not to just kill them unmercifully since they’re not technically hurting me, but they’re fragile little creatures and even a little flick of my finger makes jelly out of them. I can’t move them without harming them in some way, which would set up a conundrum for people of some religions. Today, there was a veritable holocaust of ants when I discovered them working at the honey on the table. I’m not sure if the other ants that live across the room will notice that their population has been somewhat diminished. Perhaps the death of these ants won’t even make the headlines in the Ant Newspaper. I’m not sure what their real numbers are. Indeed, I don’t think I want to know. It would probably make it hard for me to sleep here at night.

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