Image via WikipediaIt is evening on our little farm in Costa Rica.
The heavy scent from the papaya flowers pervades the house.
We planted these trees from seeds from a super tasting fruit eighteen months ago and now we have four trees which are higher than the roof, laden with green fruit which will ripen in our absence.
We have eaten mango from our own trees for breakfast, together with coffee from our own bushes.
We have had elevenses of coconut milk from the green coconuts on the palms behind the house.
The orchids which fell from the trees in the last storm are starting to flower on our balcony.
The vanilla vine is starting its' climb up the support provided for it and we hope for the first pods next year.
We have plantains to cook, guinea to cook or to eat and bananas by the hand.
I would love to be able to bring two or three hands of our bananas to Europe for friends...never being a banana lover I have been converted by eating them fresh from the stem and I would love to share the experience.
Friends will just have to come to see us.
Well, after the Lord Mayor's Procession of our trip into Nicaragua and Honduras, comes the dustcart...I am about to set out for deepest France again and I am not particularly looking forward to the trip.
I also wonder whether I shall be happy to be back. Distance lends perspective and although Costa Rica is by no means a paradise, time away from France has been time for reflection.
I have finally managed to sell the last remaining small house and the whole process has been a nightmare from start to what I sincerely hope will be a finish on Friday - though I suspect it will be fifteen rounds with the notaire on Capital Gains Tax and a sharp tussle to get my hands on the cheque on the day of the sale.
All hassle I could live without.
When I bought the farm in Costa Rica, I checked the Land Registry for title in the morning and by afternoon the purchase was completed.
The contrast is startling.
We know that we have to downsize - the effects of winter on the garden being the final blow - so I have to start the dispiriting round of agents again for the sale of the big place.
I have already decided that the first one to start sucking teeth will be out of the door on the end of my foot and that any local one who tells me that he knows what I paid for the place will swiftly follow.
What is it about the French that they think that what you paid for a mouldering wreck has any relation to the fine upstanding house you are about to sell many years down the line?
Inevitably I will get one who will gloat about the British leaving France because they have run out of money - indicating that he thinks I am in the same position - so the foot will be employed again before he can offer his insulting estimate.
It occurs to me that I'd best buy a stout pair of boots before starting to contact agents or I'll soon have sore toes.
The tax forms will be arriving soon, the insurance company - from whom I parted company years ago - will be threatening me with bailiffs for not paying them to insure a house I sold seven years' ago , the water technician will be wanting to discuss demolishing one of my weirs - for which read 'we are going to do it anyway' - so that will involve yet more useless lawyers to challenge the decision, and I must remember not to try to change one hundred dollar bills as these have to be passed via the French Central Bank and will take five weeks to return to my bank account in euros.
Still, as Roz's photographs on Dirty feet and rubble in my hair remind me, there will be compensations.
The fruit trees should be flowering and there might even be some asparagus if it hasn't been nicked.
The spring bulbs should be performing which will give me heart as I check the poor tender plants to see if there is any sign of new life after the winter's killing spree.
I'll catch up with friends.
It might be all right after all.
All I now have to do is get up at 4.00 am, get the plane to Mexico City, wait seven hours for the connection to Madrid, then see if Iberia are actually laying on coaches for the Madrid to Paris leg as their website says they are, and if not, leg it over to Estacion Sur to try to book a seat on Eurolines the same day. If I cannot, then get a hotel until I can get a flight or a seat - and don't talk to me about catching a train as the alternatives are either taking local trains which take twenty two hours to reach the destination, or a con trip train which offers showers and inedible meals for a price to take my breath away.
So as the local sheep shagging fraternity say
'Revenons-en a nos moutons'.
Back to France it is.