The events of the past two days have passed in as rapid of succession as the quick stream of words I struggle to follow in my host family’s conversation.
I write this as I flounder about in the viscous fluid of sleepy confusion which seems to thicken with being in an unfamiliar space. I have just woken up to the symphony of San Salvador. The infinite loop of chattering birds and their differing calls paint vibrant hues on the canvas of the mind, with the occasional growl of a motorbike hurtling forward on gravel roads, and the white noise buzz of (what sounds like to my American ears) cicadas, all accented by the proud crow of a rooster in some coop not so far from where I sit. It is gorgeously distinct and it’s poignancy hits me hard today as I prepare for my first day of service work.
On Thursday we were fortunate enough to visit the stunning paradise that was a coffee plantation in Pura Suerte. As the bus coasted by the towering, magnificent array of foliage and fog my jaw fell slack in awe. All I could do as my eyes darted about from one thing of beauty to another outside my window was mouth “Oh my God,” which is a phrase I usually like to replace with “Oh my goodness” or “Oh my gosh”, but in that moment it was if I was looking at God in a way I hadn’t before and it was very different.
We were in a rainforest, the types of rainforests that I was so enchanted just to read about in simple textbooks in second grade. We learned about all the levels of a rainforest, the different types of plants and animals that lived there, the environment, and it was all a distant thing of mystical wonder to me. And now as a Wandering Scholar my second grade dreams are towering right above me in the vines and trees, right here in real life.
There is such an undeniable richness and vibrancy to Costa Rica in every place my eyes alight. It is as if the constant rain and humidity have made everything they touch perfectly saturated with bursting life and color.
As we hiked to the waterfall yesterday and my feet slid about in the bright red clay I gazed upon its fiery hue and wished I was an earthworm or at least a little ant, so that I could bury into it and seek reprieve in its coolness. When we passed valleys I looked at the clouds which rested atop them and wanted to be a bird, soaring freely through the dips and rises of the hills below. And when I sat on the rocks by the waterfall and looked down at my feet in the cool, crisp water, I wished I was one of the dart-like little fish shooting around from one pebble to the next. It is this sort of inspiration and dreamy beauty that has come to define my experience in Costa Rica so far, one that seems to align with those who call this gorgeous country home.
Roy and his wife showed us around his plantation, allowed us to try their delicious, fresh coffee, and even let us try milking his cow, Pulga (“flea” in Spanish)!
We rode in the bed of a truck on the way up to the waterfall from the coffee plantation, a mass of people dripping in sweat and tiredness but buzzing with excitement for what lay ahead. Roy, the owner of the paradise of a coffee plantation we stayed at, was wonderful company and conversation on our bumpy journey. In Spanish I asked him many questions, like “¿De qué países vienen las turistas a tu finca?”"¿Puedes ver un comportamiento común de los americanos cada vez?” “¿Qué es tu cosa favorita de Costa Rica?” and “¿Ya está cansado de las vistas de las montañas después de tantos años?” And to all of this his kind and patient answers were “¡Todas! Francia, China, Alemania…”; “Siempre hay alguien más activo, o más tranquilo…” “La naturaleza. Es muy tranquilo.”; “Nunca.” I am so grateful that he welcomed us so warmly into his paradise with such kindness and patience.
The hike to the waterfall was horrendously difficult and, in turn, exhilaratingly fulfilling.
The inclines and declines were almost vertical, and the rain soaked mud made it nearly impossible to find sure footing, but after much effort (which made me quite proud of my noodle legs), we finally arrived at the waterfall.
Being at the waterfall was fantastic evidence of the fact that each and every individual has their own definition of adventure. While the rest of my group spent their time jumping into the water, swimming, laughing, and talking, I sat aside in a nest of rocks and silently gazed upon my surroundings. The lights and shadows of the layers of foliage adorned by a bright pink flower or a teal butterfly fluttering contentedly in the water-flecked breeze filled me with a sensation of utmost contentment and awe.
To sit and observe was my adventure, and it was thrilling. But this difference in experience within the same setting does not make my choice of spending my time nor my group members’ greater or lesser; I know that had I gone in with them at that moment I would not look back at my time there feeling fulfilled because that is not what felt right to me. It is a beautiful thing that each individual finds their contentment differently.
This trip is revealing to me inner truths that are so significant to the journey of self-improvement. I am so appreciative of all of the kind people and gorgeous places I have been blessed with so far, and can’t wait for what’s more.