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La Pobrecita

By Matt Casseday

We live in a sort of throwback time here. Things taken for granted in the “developed” world–uninterrupted electricity, watching your favorite team play online, well-lit thoroughfares, mandatory high school education—are still considered a luxury—at least to those living in rural Costa Rica. Recently I was driving from Dominical to Quepos, on the “new “ road, the paved road, remembering how absolutely giddy I felt the first time I drove the new 40 kmstretch, grinning nonstop now that the bone-jarring 2 hour travail had been transformed into a 25 minute breeze. As was my custom when the road was bad,  I stopped for a break at the Savegre River bridge. There is a space with a ledge, right as you turn in toward the mountains, and it is a good place to sit, maybe have a long drink and a short smoke, and watch the river. At that spot, the Rio Savegre is bottoming out from its long savage run down the mountain. In the late afternoon grayness that followed the day’s rains I saw that the river, even here, was swollen and rushing and mud brown, carrying branches and small pieces of zinc and wood. Something had been destroyed upriver, possibly somebody’s rancho, another lean-to built too close to the riverbank.

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The Pervert

by Matt Cassadey

Back in the 90s I lived in the southern Costa Rican city of San Isidro del General. I owned a car, but my preferred mode of transportation was the bicycle. I rode almost every day and one of my favorite training runs was to the top of El Alto, the highest peak between San Isidro and Playa Dominical. The climb was over a thousand feet in a distance of less than ten miles. I did it as much for the exhilarating high-speed ride back down the mountain as for the exercise. The last couple of kilometers before beginning the ascent wound through a neighborhood called El Hoyon. I would psych myself while passing through, preparing for the torturous climb. It was here, in a spot along the road that overlooked a warehouse of some kind, that I began encountering a man who hid himself in the high grass on the embankment above the warehouse. When I passed he would often be there, lurking, visible only from the waist up. He would shout something to get me to look, and when I glanced over while passing he would make odd, slurping sounds, sometimes saying, “ooo, que rico”, always those words. Though I couldn’t tell for sure in the couple seconds of view, he often appeared to be playing with himself.
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