March 8th 1982

posted in: Innocents Abroad | 0

American Express day today.  The day we reaped the harvest of our dishonesty, + collected another $1500.  That was what we thought, anyway.  Actually, by the time we had had our breakfast in our room – soft-boiled eggs, bread + jam, coffee – + then got out on the road, it was 10 to 12, + the Amex office was about to shut.  We found out what the time was because we ran into Steve, our intrepid Welsh acquaintance from Guatemala, + he told us.  He also told us he was off to the British Embassy to try and locate the British Council library, so, knowing how futile it is to try + get things done here during the lunch hour, we tagged along.  First stop, tho’, was to purchase a Miami Herald (knowing as we do that Monday’s MH contains Saturday’s English football results.  West Ham drew – no surprise there – but the big shock came with the Cup.  Thro’ to the semi-finals went Spurs, West Brom, QPR, + Leicester, + there’d only been one other 1st division team in the quarters… + that was Coventry!  No Liverpool, Everton, Man Utd, Man City or Ipswich.  Very, very strange.

Anyway, on to the British Embassy, where we learnt that the British Council in Costa Rica had been closed down, but where we were able to borrow, tho’ it was strictly against the rules, 3 old copies of The Times – we spent a pleasant three quarters of an hour reading them, tho’ without learning much of importance.  (We had also passed a pleasant half hour in the park, waiting for the Embassy to open, reading the MH, + learning about as much.)

Back to the centre of town, some shopping along the way, + then au revoir to Steve until the evening – AmEx beckoned.  Not as smooth as we’d hoped tho’ – for the first time, + 9 or 10 days after our claim, we were told we had to make a report of “the loss”.  Ho hum.  Anyway, we were given an address to go to, so we trotted off there – a fair walk.  And only to be told we needed to go somewhere else, another walk.  And there, all the man did was tell us all the paper, stamps, etc, we had to buy, + return with tomorrow, when (maybe) it would take another 48 hours.  By this time, I was in a foul mood, but anyway…  We joined Steve + a couple of others for an evening meal in a Hindu restaurant – pleasant.

Our semi-permanent condition of not knowing what the time was does seem odd now – I feel bereft without a watch nowadays – and did seem to be an easy problem to fix…

As for my obsession with football, especially since the details are recorded with such concern, I will claim in my defence that this was but a symptom of my thoughts about home, translated in this particular, and rather specialised, way.  Interestingly, this year, for the first time in decades, Val and I have been closely involved in football once again, making regular trips to see them.

And then, of course, one of our regular, and frustrating, encounters with bureaucracy (though largely self-inflicted on this occasion.)

As for the photo, such structures, with the infrastructure on display, are commonplace nowadays, but this was the first time for months we had encountered anything that might be described as modernism, and it came as a bit of a shock.

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