The Tica Zone, by author Allen Dickinson, was published in El Residente recently. I wanted my readers to also enjoy this beautiful story. Thanks Allen, for allowing me to share it.
“You’re traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That’s the signpost up ahead – your next stop, the Twilight Zone!” – Rod Serling
I didn’t enter Rod Serling’s world, but I somehow have made a transition into a life sometimes as strange as any he ever imagined. My “next stop” – the Tica Zone!
As I have chronicled in this column numerous times, I have a wife and family which is comprised of mostly Ticas; there are five females: my wife, two pre-school grandchildren, and a daughter and her baby. (That’s not counting the female cat, and the female parrot.) We all live in a typical Tico house with one full bathroom.
I call our home the Tica Zone. As Rod would say, “Consider…”
There are some things you forget when you get older after the kids have grown and have left the nest. For me, one of those was how much time a lone female can spend doing gawdknows-what in a bathroom!
The Warning Light
Does your vehicle have a warning light that goes on when the gas tank is nearly empty? The kind that tells you that you need to get the tank filled soon? I am equipped with the exact same technology, but it works in reverse; when my bladder reaches a critical, imminent overflow condition, my “warning light” goes on. Can you see where I’m going with this?
Male members of our species have a solution to that problem when it arises; in most circumstances, we will simply step up to the nearest bush and resolve the problem. I, however, am a gringo and I still retain some of the inhibitions I learned when I was young. You’d think that after over thirteen years living here I could shake that (the inhibition I mean) but it’s been difficult. This has created a conflict in my Tica Zone: the offending female resents it when I demand they depart the bathroom on short notice – and I am incensed if they aren’t quick enough.
The lesson here is to either not marry a Tica with female children, or if you do, not to buy/rent or otherwise occupy a house with only one bathroom!
There are other aspects of the Tica Zone which I might have discovered ahead of time if I had asked myself the right questions.
For instance: At what age is one too old to live in a house with floors and walls so hard they reflect, and seemingly magnify, EVERY sound made by babies and young children? (Not to mention a television turned up to full volume – but that’s another column.) The answer is simple: If you ask that question, you are too old!
Rice and beans
Here’s another one: To have a successful life with a Tica, how well should one like rice and beans? Anyone who has even a casual relationship with a Tica has a very good chance of quickly learning that rice and beans are essential components of every meal. (There are, I contend, only three ways you can have them: rice and beans, beans and rice and, rice WITH beans.)
I have actually had my wife turn down an offer of a meal of steak/Italian/Chinese/hamburger/hot dog/sub sandwich, etc., to have her say that all she wanted was to go somewhere they serve rice and beans. (Oh sure, you like Gallo Pinto for breakfast now, but just wait until you’ve had it every breakfast for a few years!)
Another question: How good a detective should a person be to live in the Tica Zone? I don’t know what it is, but there seems to be some cultural characteristic among Ticas about putting things back in the same place where they are regularly stored.
Is it just me or my family – people who have Tica maids report the same thing – who put commonly used items away never to be returned to the same place twice. (I definitely don’t have a maid, I have a wife, and she has made it VERY clear she is not a maid!)
It goes like this: We have a television in the master bedroom, and in the evenings I often repair there, away from the hubbub of the internal chaos of our Tica Zone home, seeking relative peace while I watch some English language TV. For years, every night, I had to search for the remote control before I could operate the TV. Since it is generally only my wife and me who watch that TV, I know it is she who decided where to store the control the next morning.
You would think this would bring out the Dick Tracy in me. (I do have a kind of “wrist radio” on which I can talk to people, ICE willing) Sometimes my wife does such a good job of “storing” the remote that even she has trouble remembering where it is. So, for ages, I have simply ranted, raved, and pleaded about having to search for the little electronic device that holds the key to my peaceful evening.
The good news is that I may have discovered a chink in the Tica Zone. For the past few months, she has almost always placed the remote control in almost the same place. There is the occasional slip, but for about 98% of the time, it’s been in the same location. So, I know there is at least one characteristic of the Tica Zone that can be overcome.
One of the things I had hoped to encounter when I moved to Costa Rica was to experience some things that would challenge me, expand me, and make me a better person.
I’ve found one – it’s patience!
I always liked that old Twilight Zone show, I just never expected that one day I’d be living one of its stories! If you enter the Tica Zone, just remember Rod Serling’s words, “…it is another dimension – a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. A journey into a wondrous land…”
By Allen Dickinson, who serves as the editor of the Association of Residents of Costa Rica’s (ARCR) El Residente magazine. The magazine caters to retirees and those looking to come to Costa Rica.
Allen had originally written The Tica Zone for El Residente Issue March – April 2020 and it was reproduced here with his permission.
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