That's one small step for a baby…

Today is Alex’s and my third anniversary. Three years ago, I had no idea that I would one day be living in a different country, with a beautiful daughter, experiencing a totally different way of life. That is one of the great things of life — nothing is scripted. You get to discover all that is new every moment of every day.
Or at least witness it. Which I did. My child’s first unassisted steps.
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Happy first birthday, my daughter!

Hey kiddo! I know you’re not reading this on your first birthday — you can’t quite walk on your own right now, let alone read anything. So I have no idea how old you are now that you’re reading this. You could be 4, 14, or 40. It doesn’t matter how old you are, though. You’ll always be my little girl.
It’s been quite the year. I remember where I was exactly a year ago to the moment I’m typing this: sitting in a small, dark room with your Mom as she was coping with labour. It seems simultaneously so long ago, and as if it were yesterday. I remember the nervousness and excitement we were all feeling. You were coming. We didn’t know you at all yet. Not what you looked like, what you’d sound like, if you’d like us at all, if you’d be a happy baby (and you have been such a happy baby!), or even if you were a boy or a girl.
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Ole Ole Ole Ole Ticos Ticos

Last night, we were originally to be in Panama, having completed meetings with our client, discussing the next steps and planning out strategies. Over bottles of Panama Lager, of course. But as is well-known in the industry, plans change. And when the client needs to alter their schedule, you end up doing things a little differently.
So we’re still in Costa Rica. (The meeting is now tomorrow, but I’m not going. Why I’m not going will be plainly obvious tomorrow.)
Instead of hanging around the hotel’s swim-up bar, we decided to take in something different: A football game. What North Americans know as “soccer”.
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A revenge-free Montezuma

Mother’s Day in Costa Rica doth not come in May, like we’re used to in North America. Here, it’s 15 August. This is the day (so I’ve read) that the Virgin Mary ascended to Heaven, and given that this is a very Roman Catholic-centric society, Christian Holy Days are holidays. That means El Dí ­a de la Madre takes on extra importance here. Down here, it really is a religion.
Which is good for me, believe it or not. You see, back in May, I royally screwed up and really blew Alex’s first Mother’s Day by doing … well, nothing. At least nothing of note. Not exactly a wise thing to do on a mother’s first Mother’s Day. I had some serious sucking making up to do.
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U-turns are illegal in Costa Rica

Yesterday, just after noon, I went into the nearby ATH (A Todo Hora, which is the Costa Rican version of “ATM”) to check my Scotiabank balance. Lo and behold, after two weeks of wrangling account, Swift, IBAN, and beneficiary numbers back and forth with the Bank of Montreal, my money finally arrived! I danced a little jig.
That led to a few furiously-dialled phone calls to arrange for another trip out to Grecia to finally pick up the car. This, I should add, ended up being yet another interesting chapter in my life living here in Costa Rica. ‘Cuz this is how I found out that u-turns are illegal here.
Trust me, this is a good one…
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Why the right tools matter

A few years ago, I went off to Japan to visit my friend Chris. I took along my (at the time) fancy digital camera: a Canon Pro 90 IS. Fancy in that it was big mega-pixels (for the time) and had an image stabiliser built-in (that’s what the “IS” stands for). Like I do now, I used it to document the heck out of my trip.
One thing Canon had on its prosumer cameras at the time that they took out of the DSLR line was the panorama assist mode (I don’t think it exists in any of their models now — does it?). A handy feature, it let you create panoramic views by being able to line up your previous shot. Then you used some included software, and BOOM!, you had a panorama.
Or that’s how it was supposed to work.
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The phones I ordered finally showed up

I called it yesterday, when I got my new cell phone. A month ago, we ordered phones over the internet. They were shipped US Postal Service. They entered Costa Rica on 8 July. And then sat in customs. When I got my Nokia, I said (knowing this was truth) that our eBay-ordered phones would show up today.
I hate it when I’m right.

The IOC is living in a dream world

As I was skipping through my various feeds this morning, I came across the following quote from Jacques Rogge, President of the IOC:

Jacques Rogge, the president of the International Olympic Committee, said the Games would “help the world to understand China, and it will also help China to understand the world.”

I think we need to send a team into the IOC’s fantasy world and extract them, because they’ve clearly (and totally) misunderstood the situation.
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My new 1998-era Nokia TDMA cell phone

Note today’s date: 8 August 2008. That’s (almost) two months since we first came to Costa Rica. Two months ago, we tried to start getting things like cars, bank accounts, work visas (a fairly significant need), and cell phones, as these were the things we felt were necessary to be able to do our jobs effectively.
To date, we’ve all managed to get bank accounts. Only Mark has successfully bought a car (Jason and Jen are still looking, and we’re still waiting for our money to arrive from Canada), and the work visas are in the application process (read: not completed).
Yesterday, despite phones ordered via eBay still being stuck in Costa Rica customs, we finally got cell phones.
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My Canon Rebel XT doesn't work

It’s weird. I’m not sure what it is. When I was in Panama a few weeks ago, I was out happily snapping pictures when, for reasons I simply don’t understand, the auto-focus stopped working.
My first thought was condensation. My camera had been inside an air-conditioned room for a day or so, and Panama is warm and humid. Bad combination for cameras, I tell you. I figured enough time to warm up and allow the condensation to leave should be enough.
It’s been a few weeks. The auto-focus still doesn’t work. The camera still seems to take decent pictures (manual focus is still available), but I’ve come to rely on the auto-focus to make sure my pictures are tack sharp.
I’ve checked the AF regions. I’ve reset all the settings. I’ve cleaned the pins and lens contacts (it happens with both my lenses). I’ve cleaned the mirror, too.
Anyone know what might be wrong? I’m outta ideas, and sending my camera to the shop to fix here in Costa Rica raises a number of language-based issues.

Weekend in Punta Leona

I had promised Alex that the second weekend we were in Costa Rica would be spent away from our apartment. I just had to find the right place to go. So I spent a fair bit of time working out the location, time to get to the location (because any estimates of travel time here are usually way off once you leave the #1), cost, and whether or not they had massages.
Yes, that is a consideration in her (and hence my) world.
In the end, I decided on Punta Leona. This would be our first surprise weekend in Costa Rica, and it would seem the first surprise weekend in — we fear — two years! Turned out to be not too bad.
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