Friday, December 8, 2017

Longboat Key, Florida

I have always maintained that it requires but a scratch of the surface to discover some pressing sense in almost any of life's otherwise mundane experiences.  Indeed I have frequently derived considerable strength from such analysis. Granted at times the going can be more or less forbidding than at others. Today for example might be an instance of a more convenient communication with life's sometimes imprenetrable truths.

There is something inspiring about turning off a road called Gulf of Mexico Drive onto another called  Longboat Club Road.  The final destination is The Resort at Longboat Key Club.  It is here we're hanging our hat for the next little while.  Longboat Key is a barrier island on the Gulf of Mexico situated on the central coast of Florida about equidistant south of Tampa and north of Naples. Apparently the secret to our discovery of this oasis is that The Resort is part of the Opal Collection of hotels to which we were happily first introduced several years ago at Jupiter Beach on the Atlantic Ocean.  We have plainly not been disappointed to acquaint ourselves with this further family member.  Its ambience has promoted a palpable moment of reflection and consideration.

Indeed it is no exaggeration to say that upon our arrival here this afternoon we were instantly bowled over by the place.  Our suite is located directly on the beach.  We are mere steps from both the Gulf and the pool. What more than anything cements our approbation of our digs is that in addition to having a galley kitchen, fridge, stove and dishwasher, there is an ensuite washer and dryer.  It was the work of a moment for us immediately upon our arrival to abandon our things in the apartment and head directly to the nearest Publix grocery store which the bellhop informed us was only several miles away.  There we collected an exact copy of what we have routinely stocked in our pantry - fresh fruit, vegetables and fish. Without being tedious, I shall report only that we have quite sufficient to keep us sated for the entirety of our sojourn here. In fact our first meal this evening was a complete success - even dare I say adorned by a very passable bread pudding!  For those who prefer to have their meals prepared for them when traveling there are no less than seven restaurants on site.  Our preference now however is to dine out only occasionally.  We find that repeated attendances at restaurants of any description, meal after meal, day after day are eventually exceedingly wearing. It isn't that we are at risk of exhausting our own company but rather that the whole ceremony of dining under the auspices of a maître d', waiter or busboy - and having to feign unfailing interest in any menu no matter how poetically rendered - is in the end a shameless struggle.  To be perfectly bluff we find in the amortization of our years that we actually prefer our own culinary productions. Which I forgot to mention also includes raw turmeric from the grocery store. I devoured two pieces of the remedial root earlier today.  If nothing else it expiates my want of nutrition-based analgesics for my persistent arthritis.

There is another feature of importance in the unfolding of this affair which I have yet failed to disclose.  That - if I may be forgiven the indulgence - is the prospect of my 69th birthday.  I hasten to add that normally I haven't any more than a passing interest in my birthday.  What however promotes the idea on this anniversary is its confluence with this very agreeable outing to Longboat Key. As I told my partner (who admittedly is the author of this fortune in more ways than I have time to enumerate) we have everything to celebrate!  Though I am a hard enough intellect to rise above mere Pollyanna sentimentality, I am as quick to acknowledge the sometimes peculiar fortuity of events.  There is always the possibility of reading into one's affairs more than a bit of substance. Consider for example that even as I write we have been watching Alastair Sim's famous performance of Ebenezer Scrooge in the film adaptation of Charles Dickens' novel "A Christmas Carol" (1843).  If you're at a loss to discern the seemingly remote connection between Alastair Sim and my birthday it is nothing more coincidental than Christmas itself.  Being born within weeks of Christmas Day ensures that the observance of anything in that time frame is guaranteed to commingle with the historic events surrounding Christmas. One of those insinuating conventions has been watching Sim every year at this time.  For me it as much a tradition as my birthday and one which I would be remiss to forgo "at this time of the rolling year" (Jacob Marley's famous words).

While there is a chance of reading too much into anything I can't but think that anyone who undertakes even the most unprincipled analysis of Christmas Past, Present and Future must know that at the very least time is running out and that it makes eminent sense to savour the moment.  Certainly it lubricates the jamboree to find oneself nestled by the sea.  But whether the putative cause célèbre is one's birthday or Christmas no excuse is too small or insignificant to be dismissed when seemingly all the forces of influence upon one's life have at least temporarily aligned in the proper order.  Neither is it lost on me that apart from the usual anticipation which accompanies any venture we hadn't in this case cultivated any especial expectations.  Our compensation has thus been inversely magnified by our diminished forecast.  Such is the bounty of life that it is unpredictable in every way!

We might moderately temper our gusto by the prospect of some cooler air blowing our way.  This however is small potatoes in the overall outlook which may still include swimming in the pool (which is conveniently maintained at a very tolerable temperature), perhaps dipping into the sea (those warm swells from the Mayan Riviera are not to be discounted), cycling around the island (the bikes are complimentary) and doing whatever else captures our immediate attention.  Failing that there are always afternoon naps, reading an improving book and maybe the relieving purification of a laundry.  Too simple!  Indeed it is the very lack of complication which so contrives to elevate our current experience.  There is no need whatever to get on one's horse and ride off in all directions!  And like any good Shakespearean drama there is always the need to be alive to the reflection of the plot in the sub-plot.  In this instance for example we are cheering the fortuity of two of our dear friends back home who have just lately concluded several most satisfactory real estate transactions. They too are engaged in their own enactment of la condition humaine which likewise embraces the recognition of progress in alteration and succession.  And I have every reason to believe that they will exploit the occasion to rejoice in what they have and the opportunities which present themselves.  What after all is life about?  It matters not what is the occasion or the venue; we just owe it to ourselves to make of it what we can.

A phrase that you will hear and see everywhere in Costa Rica is “Pura Vida”. The term “Pura Vida” has been present in Costa Rica’s vocabulary for over 50 years. It’s English translation means “pure life”  or “simple life", however its more then just a phrase - it is a way of life.

Costa Ricans (Ticos) use this term to say hello, goodbye, or even to let people know everything’s good! Costa Ricans don’t just let the term bring them a good life, it’s the way they use it in their everyday attitude to make them happy. “Pura Vida” means that people need to be grateful for the things they do have in life, instead of dwelling on the negative things that they don’t. The phrase shows that no matter how bad you may think you have it, life for someone else can be far more less fortunate than your own. Life is too short to be worried and upset, everyone needs to make the most of life! All in all, the locals strive to live a stress free, laid-back life and they believe that their motto “Pura Vida” perfectly exemplifies how the locals live. Costa Ricans feel that if more “foreigners” grasped this concept, the world would be a lot happier. 

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