That Is Very, Very Green

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As I’m running from meeting to meeting here in Cost Rica, I had a chance to take a quick snap of my view from behind the office buildings.

So incredibly green and beautiful, and this is just San Jose.

I can’t begin to imagine the view outside of metropolitan area. I’ll get to see more of it tomorrow.

But for today….just. Wow.

This is what you get when you have a lot of rain.

Photo Copyright 2012, Karen Fayeth, and subject to the Creative Commons license in the right column of this page. Photo taken with an iPhone 4s and the Camera+ application.

First Impressions


Ok, I’ve only spent about a day in Costa Rica, but here are my first impressions:

1) The customs process: all in not bad. Every bag has to be scanned for “agricultural products” but I didn’t mind. I had to do the same in Hawaii. I suppose when you are a small country that prides itself on wildlife conservation, this is important. Other than that, the process was stamp stamp and on your way.

2) I grew up speaking Spanglish. This means my Spanish is sparse and not very good. This gets me in trouble. Someone speaks to me in Spanish, I answer in Spanish. They continue, thinking I understand. I’m like “uh…hold up a second.” Whoops.

3) Almost everyone speaks some bit of English but it’s not always good English. Between my crap knowledge of Spanish and their few words of English…well, it’s a little rough.

4) Platains. So good.

5) Apparently Costa Ricans are opposed to sidewalks. There are really no sidewalks to be had. Everyone walks in the (narrow) street lanes. Everyone, including me. Thankfully the pace of life isn’t too fast here and neither are the cars.

6) Damn, they have a lot of Spanish channels on the television! Oh. Wait…..

7) Rain. Every day. Noonish. It cools it down a bit but also steams it up. To be expected, I think. Costa Rica is actually farther away from the equator than Singapore, but it feels a hell of a lot more tropical than Singapore.

8) But all that rain makes it really, really beautiful. The words “lush” and “green” come to mind.

9) A city at about 3,840 feet elevation. Surrounded by mountains and volcanoes. Originally founded by Spanish Conquistadors. Does San Jose, Costa Rica sound a little bit like any other city you know? Say…one in New Mexico?

10) The money has sharks on it. And another denomination has a buck (deer). And another has a cheetah. Rawr! That’s some awesome money!

What the…? I don’t even know


Ok, it started with an article from titled 14 Photographs That Shatter Your Image of Famous People.

I follow a lot of photography blogs and I see a lot of links like this.

So I took a look.

And in the course of those fourteen images, this one came along. (Click for a larger size)

I can’t stop looking at it. I don’t even know what to say. I seriously don’t know what to say.

It’s Al Pacino and Christopher Walken, but what the HELL is going on? Please tell me this is something from a movie?

My fascination with this image led me to the Awesome People Hanging Out Together Tumblr….which I guess is a pretty popular site because it was named to Time’s list of the 30 Must See Tumblrs.

None are quite as fascinating at this one, but there’s some pretty good stuff in there.

Meanwhile…I must construct stories in my head about the Pacino/Walken photo. Neighbors out for a stroll? Just escaped from the home for doddering elderly actors? LSD? LSD flashback?

I mean seriously? What?

Image originally posted on the Awesome People Hanging Out Together Tumblr on April 17, 2012.

This week’s Theme Thursday is: neighbors

The Next Best Thing


Turns out world traveling makes me homesick more than ever for my homestate.

When I can’t pay my Fair New Mexico a visit in person, I have to go there in my mind.

A good book helps on that transcendental journey.

Time for a re-blog. This was first published May 16,2007.


Viva los Libros!

I’m a fan of books, always have been. I have to say that The Flamenco Academy (chronicled here a few days back) has really fired me up lately. I haven’t read a book in a long while that made me feel like there is hope for popular fiction. And that a book set in New Mexico was so well done makes me double happy.

So I know this has been covered plenty of places elsewhere, but here’s my top five list of the best works of New Mexico fiction. These are the books that, in my opinion, make me proud to be a New Mexican.

Without further ado (in no particular order):

1) Red Sky at Morning by Richard Bradford

This is a quintessential read for anyone living in New Mexico. It ranks not just as one of my fave NM books, but one of my fave books of all time. The main character, Josh is brought from Alabama to New Mexico by his parents and is introduced to the clannish people of Northern New Mexico, including the bully Chango. The scene where he and his buddy get liquored up remains a classic. I almost always quote from it when I, myself, tie one on. A classic, truly. And an easy choice for the list.

2) Bless me Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya

One of those books that gave me a wry smile as I read it. One of those where you nod as you read, thinking “yeah, that’s familiar”. Anaya is a beautiful writer and it is an honor to be a fellow New Mexican with a man of his caliber. This coming of age story is a nice contrast of old vs new, how Hispanic culture rolls into American culture in a way that is beautifully unique to New Mexico. It’s lyrical in the storytelling and a must read.

3) The Milagro Beanfield War by John Nichols

Yeah. This had to be here. You know it did. When I’m homesick I put on the movie to see the land as much as anything. It’s a salve for my soul, always. The book was a little tough for me to get through, but worth the effort. It really captures the feeling of that time in New Mexico in the 1970’s. It also captures a little bit of that magic that can only be found on My Fair home state. Milagro Beanfield War always takes me right back home, effortlessly.

4) Cavern by Jake Page

A thriller about a group of spelunkers who explore a hidden cavern and discover a near extinct species of bear…who is none to happy to be bothered. Not a particularly great novel by most standards, but it does speak to a bunch of interesting things including a fairly detailed explanation about how the caverns, including Carlsbad Caverns, were formed. Both my parents worked for a while at the WIPP site, so this book also showed the ongoing battle of all the government agencies involved out there. DOE, Environmental groups, BLM and private interests do war daily and there is some discussion of WIPP in the book and how it may affect things in that geographic area.

My mom turned me on to this book and laughed at how true to life some parts of the book were portrayed. Working at WIPP left her a bit…scarred…so it was good for her to see it in print. Validating, you know? For me, it was a fascinating read and name checked a lot of places I know from living in Carlsbad, including some truly dive bars (including the one frequented by miners, ranchers, roughnecks and college kids. They stopped serving beer in bottles because there had been too many fights. But on a good night, the dancing was unbeatable).

5) Anything for Billy by Larry McMurtry

Ok, not technically a New Mexico book but about a New Mexico legend (Feh to the Texas town that claims ownership. FEH! I say!) and certainly New Mexico figures into the story. I am a massive fan of McMurtry and this is my favorite of all his books. He portrays Billy as a young, impulsive, spoiled, petulant brat. It’s fabulous. To me it was a fresh look at an old legend and to do that takes a talent that Mr. McMurtry has in spades.

You’ll note my list is strangely devoid of Hillerman books. I’m actually not a fan. My mom is an avid reader of his stuff. I am not. : shrug : I’ve got no issues with Hillerman, it’s just not my taste.

Lois Duncan is another author I’m proud to know is New Mexican. As a kid I avidly read all her stuff. Loved her writing and always got geeked out when we saw her at the Coronado Club at Kirtland Airforce Base. My mom would point her out to me. Her husband worked at Sandia Labs like my dad so she’d wait there (like we did) for her husband to get off work. Those were fun sunny summer days as a family. I tend to associate Duncan with that time in my life.

I know there are probably a bunch of good choices I’m missing, but for now, that’s my list. I reserve the right to add, delete and change the list as we go.

On The Road Again (Soon)


I’m just barely back from Singapore (in my mind anyway, it’s been two weeks today that my feet stepped off the plane in Cali) and now I’m gearing up and packing up for my next work adventure.

This time Boss Man is sending me off to a different part of the world. An area a little more in my wheelhouse.

In exactly one week I’ll be saying helllooooo Costa Rica.

Or, more properly, Holaaaaaa Costa Rica!

: cue a Latin beat :

Yup, that’s right folks, I’m headed to Central America.

Before you start imagining idyllic days by the blue-green sea, ratchet all of that back and imagine me in the middle of the densely populated capital city of San Jose.

While the trip to Singapore was all hand shaking and good food, Costa Rica is going to be some seriously hard work (and hopefully good food). I have an employee there who is still pretty new (yes, I hired her without ever meeting her in person) and she needs some back up.

Today I’m watching my calendar fill up with meetings for next week. Heads of Finance, IT, HR and the site director shall feel my steely wrath. Ok, less wrath and maybe more along the lines of “stop treating my employee like your hired hand or I’m gonna call in some really big boss types, and no one wants that.”

In Singapore I was there to make friends. In Costa Rica I’m there to have some pretty hard conversations. And try to make friends while I’m at it.

The good news is that most Costa Ricans (they call themselves Ticos) speak English, because my Spanish is Spanglish at best and I’m quite out of practice. I’m certain I can still easily order a beer and inquire as to the location of the bathroom, but beyond that I might stumble.

But I’m looking forward to trying!

And in other somewhat related news…file this under the World is Very Small and the World is Very Large:

Last week I had a one to one meeting with my employee in Costa Rica. She asked me about my trip to Singapore.

She said “Karen, I have something to confess. When you said you were going to Singapore, for some reason I thought that was located in Africa. I thought you were going to be out there with wild animals in the middle of the desert and I was really worried about you! I told my mom about how worried I was and she said “what is wrong with you?” So I Googled it and looked at photos. There’s all these big buildings. That’s nothing like what I thought.”

We had a good laugh because, well, geography can be a tricky thing.

Then I confessed that when I’d told a couple of my friends I was going to Costa Rica, they were like “now….that’s over by Brazil, right?” And I sighed and said “um. No. Central America. Nestled in there between Panama and Nicaragua.”

I say all this while admitting my own knowledge of geography is no great shakes.

We laughed again and agreed maybe I’m like a super secret spy and it’s better no one knows where I’m really going.

But really…

I’d like to buy the world a geography lesson, and teach them harmony.
I’m both excited and terrified about this trip. The Good Man isn’t coming along this time, so I’m on my own.

Courage! rawr.

Image from