Posts tagged: gadgets

Camera vs. Tile floor at the Soda del Rio

In the big fight between camera and floor, the Sigma suffered a decisive loss.

In the fight between camera & floor, the Sigma suffered a decisive loss.

There are travel days when nothing goes right. On Friday afternoon, we sat at a table under the eaves at a little soda (a modest restaurant or cafe) in La Fortuna, a muddy one-horse town that is also the tourist epicenter for all things Arenal-esque, from river rafting to volcano-spotting (it hasn’t shown its sloped face in days).

Rain came down in sheets, bouncing off the sidewalk and misting our ankles even as we sat a few feet under the overhang. We’d ordered jugos de mora (blackberry) and guanabana just to rent time at a table, and I was trying to navigate Lonely Planet Costa Rica on the Kindle to figure out a place to stay that night.

David swept his backpack off the table to accommodate the glasses of juice, and one of the straps pulled his camera off the tabletop and onto the hard tile floor.

Craaaak! It didn’t sound good, and as he scooped his Sigma off the floor, his face told me that it didn’t look good, either. He spent the next several minutes checking all the camera functions, and I watched as his face became cloudier and cloudier.

Volcan Arenal is usually shrouded in clouds.

Volcan Arenal is usually shrouded in clouds.

We were 2 days into a 2-month trip whose primary purpose was to do research and take photos for the 3rd edition of my guide, Living Abroad in Costa Rica. David was the trip photographer. I’d left my piddly little Nikon at home, relieved that I could concentrate on research and writing and leave the visuals to someone more inclined in that direction.

But now  it seemed that David’s camera had fallen and couldn’t get up.  The lens was the problem. It had been so traumatized it now wouldn’t venture out of its shell.

He had a small back-up camera, but the files wouldn’t be big enough to reproduce high-quality color photos.

Here was the trip’s first major snafu.

We’ve spent the last few days figuring out what to do next. On the emotional front, David was seriously bummed, and I had to let him be bummed until he wasn’t bummed anymore–a lesson in non-attachment.

On the practical front, David bought a set of tiny screwdrivers at the local ferreterria, took the back off the camera and poked around, but had no luck in getting the lens to work.

We asked everyone we knew if there was a good camera repairman in town. No, but someone knew a guy in San Jose who came highly recommended. He didn’t answer his cell phone and wasn’t getting back to us. Should we drive back to the capital (4-5 hours on bad roads) to see if we could find this guy?

How about if David bought another Sigma on eBay and had it shipped down here? One acquaintance had a mail service (Aero Casillas) that has stuff sent to Miami and then brings it down to Costa Rica. But it can take from 10 days to 2 weeks to get a package. Other friends said they had small packages sent directly to their address in a nearby small town, with the same time frame—1 or 2 weeks in transit. Some vendors would ship internationally, some wouldn’t. And if customs got ahold of the package, well, you’d have to go to Calderas and know who to bribe.

Stay tuned for more in the camera-meets-floor drama. This experience is reminding me that nothing is easy, or fast, in Costa Rica. The country looks at our agenda and our bag full of high-tech gadgets, and it laughs. A big, rumbling lava-burbling-out-of-a-volcano laugh. All you can do is stand clear, and smile ruefully at how little control you actually have.