When we moved to Costa Rica six years ago, the local utility provided only dial-up internet access. Within a year, DSL came to our house. This was my communication with the outside world – my life-line for news and entertainment. I don’t get a good radio signal because there’s a mountain between me and the station 25 kilometers away. Although TV is available through cable to some locations, most of our friends and neighbors choose a satellite dish. We choose neither. An experiment at first, we elected to do without TV for as long as we could stand it. We’re both spent much of our pre-blackberry childhoods in front of the tube. But here, we relish the quiet without electronic stimulus. Our soundtrack is monkeys and parrots outside our windowless house. We just wanted to say no.
Though the climate here is almost perfect, with year-round temperatures in the mid 80’s, the nights are long. The sun sets at 6 o’clock every night of the year, rising 12 hours later. So, what to do after dark? We sleep a lot, of course. And I’ve read more books in the past 6 years than in all of my previous 56. But during the worst of the October rainy season, it can drizzle or pour all day. Those dark afternoons, when I couldn’t see the island for the clouds in the bay, I was reminded of my childhood outside Portland, Oregon. The sheep barns were our playground and gymnasium but, when we tired of playing our standard fare of “children on the run, hiding from the kidnappers who killed our parents” we would retire indoors to watch TV. I missed that cool glow.
So, a couple of years ago we had bought a shiny flat screen and promised to use it for videos only.
Still no dish but Froggie’s Rental store in Samara provides a great selection of current but bootleg movies, on scratched and greasy discs. We could rent new stuff, foreign, and indie flics. We got used to digital holes, missing 6 minutes of dialogue or simply watching half a movie. And we begged for more. We bought TV series from Amazon – we’ve missed 6 years of Showtime and HBO – and we savored each episode. We viewed our TV like the entertainment it used to be, instead of background noise. We meted out our DVD’s one hour at a time. No Weeds marathons for us.
Now, all that has changed. Yesterday, Netflix opened service in Costa Rica. And I am their first
member. They made me agree to download a security hardware package thing-a-ma-jig which I assume protects them from Froggie’s-like entities. Up and running in moments, I am streaming. I am watching movies in the afternoon, in the rain, in the dark. I am multi-tasking, watching movies while I clean the refrigerator. I’m sure – I hope – the novelty will wear off and soon I won’t find a thing to watch. But for now, I’m find it irresistible. I still can’t watch full episodes of John Stewart on my computer but we take it one day at a time herein Costa Rica. I’m back, baby!