Wednesday, December 9, 2009

pura vida

Today, on this cold pre-winter day, I miss Costa Rica.

I appreciate where I live, & the things I am able to do here, but i have days were nostalgia gets the best of me,

& i dream of being on those dirt roads again.

I was going through old files today, and found this narrative I wrote in my first semester of college.

I have my last final today, so for lack of time to write anything else, I thought I would share it.


There is an energy that radiates between us as human beings, as I see it- an invisible force that flows from our fingertips, our eyes, our lips. We are all interconnected; we feed off of each other, draw inspiration from each other, and live because we have each other. I firmly believe that every person who enters our lives, whether for 10 minutes or for infinity, is there for a purpose. On my summer escapade backpacking around Costa Rica, I found something I had never thought I would find, and it will forever be etched into my memory.

We finally stretched our legs on the gravel roads of Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica late in the evening after a three hour van ride with our newest Tico friend, Carlos-a man with perfect English he had picked up merely two months prior, and with enough kindness to stop and let us see the monkeys swing in their treetops, like children on a jungle gym. Clad in our backpacks and Chacho's, exhausted from our journey, and overwhelmed with the beauty of a foreign country and culture, we walked down the unpaved roads past children picking orange's, Germans drinking in bars, Rasta's with dreads getting high on the beach, and the tall local who walked around with a stick shouting, "ahh!" for some unrecognizable reason. Settling in hammocks, we fell asleep to rain on the tin roof of Rockin' J's, the place we paid merely five dollars to bunk at.

Dirty in our sandy shoes and unshowered hair, my sister and I talked about an old man she had met the last time she visited this Caribbean town. "His name is Juan and he is so much like Poppy, Tori." Immediately, I pictured my grandfather who took his last breath in a hospital bed surrounded by everyone who loved him two years prior. I was reminded of how much i missed seeing his sky blue eyes as he waved by to me from his porch swing every evening. We set out to find a new place to stay. Tucked away between clothes-lined yards, and painted in the colors of Jamaica, stood a tiny lodge. As we walked around, not knowing who lived there, my sister shouted, "Hola?!" Out from a dimly lit room stepped an old man. "Juan!" my sister exclaimed, but before she even said his name, i knew it was him like the way i felt it in my heart that Poppy was going to die the morning we rushed to the hospital in silence to say goodbye. I saw the resemblance instantly. He was a tall, gangly, old man with large hands and a blunt, but inviting personality; a man with spirit. He was, hands down, the Spanish version of my Poppy. I could not stop staring at him, like a mother who sees her child for the first time, awed that she had created this perfect gift to the world.

We spent the next five days venturing around Puerto Viejo where all the people are electrically ecstatic to be alive, and we would return at night to stay up having conversations with Juan about God, lovers, families, politics, and his plan to make this town into a "paradise for people who can not afford paradise." Halfway through our journey of filling voids that had before this trip, been evident in our lives, we sat on Juan's patio discussing humanity. Hanging above Juan's head was the only bulb radiating light on this mosquito flocked night. "You remind me of my Grandfather. He died two years ago," I said to Juan as he started a makeshift fire. He looked up at me with a smile on his face, like the one you mother gives you when you reveal something secret to her; something you would never tell anyone. Not two seconds late, the light bulb flickered off, revealing darkness. Juan pointed up at the lack of light, and said matter-of-factly, "This is symbolism. You tell me something special, and the light goes out. This is big. This means a lot." He touched his heart, looking at me in genuine compassion, and said, "Thank you for that. It means a lot." Tears filled my eyes as they did for days following Poppy's death at the mere mention of his passing, and i knew we had made this trip for a reason.

Boarding the plane to Costa Rica from Memphis, Tennessee, excited and nervous, anxious for a new land, I did not anticipate finding what i found. I expected new tastes and sounds, rainforest adventures, green valleys and mountains, and seeing my sister again for the first in a month. I expected to get lost in translation of a language that i still do now know. I expected to see monkeys, birds, and little Tico children, and i did see all of those things. However, i never once imagined that my voyage to this foreign land where you never say, "Goodbye," only, "I'll see you later," would alter my views on humanity and my Poppy's death so drastically. I realized that he was there- my favorite old man with his Yankee accent-holding my hand and reassuring me that although he is gone for now, it is possible to find his beauty in a Columbian native who has seen the world in his life through trying, exciting, and beauty-filled eyes.


Julie Alvarez said...

This post brought tears to my eyes, Tori. So simple and so deep.
It's just like you said it. Just like that.
And the world would be such an amazing place (even more) if there were more people like you who notice these things.
Thank you for sharing this story with us.

Keeper of the Skies Wife said...

I am just now getting around to commenting on this post. I remember when you wrote this paper and read it to me.

Tori~ your Poppy loved you with every ounce of his being. I know he is watching you from heaven and is so very proud of you!

love you baby bird

natalie said...

i love you, tori. this is beautiful. i think julie is right. it IS just like you said it.

love you :)