The quiet

This blog was written from beautiful Belfast, where we are ‘stranded’ for a few more weeks…

Walking past ‘No Alibis‘ an iconic crime book shop in Botanic avenue, Belfast, I read with interest the placard displayed outside ” beware the baroness of a busy life”,- Socrates.

Humm, well my life is certainly busy, and often one has no choice in the matter of business.  Pedalling, as a friend of mine calls it, between her full-time job and running a home with all its challenges; some pedalling harder than others.  And yet now I find myself at home alone.  Ella off with our lovely neighbour, Ann, to a nearby kids play centre and Jason in Costa Rica, working hard and yes, surfing; I can barely say the latter!

It’s quiet.  I can’t remember feeling silence like this in over a year, maybe more.  My list of things-to-do sits on my desk beside me numbered one to nine: scan 26 research files in case I need more info when back in Costa Rica, write our wedding thank you cards (so late, I know), open bank account for Ella before more cheques expire, finally apply for PPI in case I may be owed some money, in the hope I may be owed some money…

But these lists are always there, here with us making me feel like there is more to do before I can-relax? Feel there’s nothing more pending, looking over me? How dramatic! You’re alive, you fool, I giggle to myself.

Two books arrived today, short essays by Mary Oliver and David Whyte’s, ‘Every thing Is waiting for you’,  both covered in pictures of nature, trees and woodland, an escape from lists and computers.  As I stare out my window the silver birch, standing tall beside the evergreen, is glistening in the sun’s light dominating my view on this grey day. But how beautiful and if I had energy I would go for a walk in our nearby forest, Belvoir park.  Instead I opt for a hot bath with Dead Sea salts, some yoga and the prospect of reading one my new purchases, to lose my self in the wilderness of poetry and words.

This morning I listened to a piece on BBC radio four about the charity ‘Ginger Bread’ for single parents, a parent without help from the father or mother to their child and often no other family support.  It’s a full-time, on-call job being a parent without a partner to help at night when you’ve left the paracetamol syringe downstairs and your child, 11 months old, is still sleeping in bed with you and the cot still isn’t built and she is crying in pain and you’re tired and hope she will settle so as you don’t have to get up and carry her downstairs to look for what ever it is you need.

Yes, silence is peace but there’s nothing like a good old yarn and a laugh with your friend or neighbour or the lovely staff in the action cancer shop down the road.

It’s Sunday now and two days ago I finally built the cot, and as I type Ella is asleep after 40 minutes of fighting it, crying and standing up in protest, me soothing her while she marvels at the colourful nude painting on the wall, and we try again. And this time, the last time, we have silence, just the repetitive musical mobile still playing out merrily.  And I make my self a cup of tea and savour my last cream eclair courtesy of my old friend Val.

An unusual gift…

So, I had hoped to research this blog before posting, maybe even interview an expert but alas time has been short and Ella and I have been on the move again, crossing continents!  It’s either write a blog post or go and lie down while the nanny is there.

Our nanny- who we’ve left behind for now- is the wonderfully wise Doña Marritza. Sixty years old and the a smiling face that lights-up Ella’s eyes as she peers through the window in the morning, saying, “hola Ella”.  Marritza grew-up with no running water.  She and her sisters woke each morning at 04:00 am, weekends included, from the age of 14, to walk in the dark to fetch pitchers of water to fill the long wooden trough in their home.  Things have changed since then, but many traditions have not.

A few weeks before Christmas Marritza’s motorcycle- yes that’s right her motorcycle- broke down on the dusty bumpy road before our house, so Ella and I jumped in the car to go and help.  What happened next was a slight shock to me but clearly not Ella.  Doña Maarritza had brought us an unusual gift which she carefully removed from her rucksack while waiting in the back seat of our car until help arrived.  It was something the size of a Bunch of grapes, wrapped-up in a small damp brown towel to keep cool.   She slowly peeled back the towel, smiling with excitement for me, to reveal a clear plastic bag filled with what looked like ping-pong balls covered in brown dirt.  They were turtle eggs, fresh from the nearby black sand beach of Ostional, their shells soft and dented.

Now, my knowledge of sea turtles had always been that they were all endangered; however, I’ve been told by locals that the numbers of turtles returning each year has been increasing and this particular species is no longer considered endangered, but remains ‘threatened’.  This is a result of the system in place by the turtle refuge centre.  This group, also referred to as the ‘committee’ by DOña Marritza, issues permits to local families living in the area of Ostional, so that they may remove eggs from the beach in a controlled and organised manor.  The committee then patrol the beaches at night making sure that only authorised turtle-egg collectors are removing the eggs.

Olive-Ridley turtles arriving at Playa Ostional, Costa Rica.

Doña Marritza went on to surprise me further by telling me how the eggs are consumed.  In her family they are whisked up to bake cakes, whereas the local Costa Rican bars serve them raw mixed with Fanta-orange and a dash of the sweet-spicy sauce called Lizana! Not my cup-of-tea as my brother Christopher would say.  Brings back memories of a drink I once saw served in a little bar in Peru where the main ingredient was a frog…

In case you were wondering we did not accept this kind gift, mostly because I had no desire to eat a turtle egg and Ella didn’t seem too interested either!