The past couple of weeks have been difficult, I must admit. First, my friend was brutally attacked, which subsequently led to my uncovering several disheartening truths about crime in the area. I always tend to underestimate how much I am subconsciously affected by things like this. My tendency is to brush my feelings under the rug when times get tough, even when my body is clearly experiencing trauma – A defense mechanism that I developed after my mother died when I was nine, further reinforced by my years in Corporate America. I can easily count on one hand the number of times I was ever asked ‘How are you doing/feeling?’ at work because balling up my fist to represent a ‘zero’ is an extremely simple gesture. I digress…
In addition to (not) dealing with the aforementioned stress about my questionable safety, I discovered that the man whom I wrote about a few entries ago turned out to be WAY worse than I had originally suspected. Not only did he have a girlfriend the entire time he courted me, but he was also sleeping with several other women in the area at the same time. Fortunately, the girlfriend and I spoke about it and we both understood that it was his lies and not each other with which we should be angry. This led to our developing an unlikely friendship, interestingly enough. I suppose I’m just disappointed that someone could so blatantly lie just to get laid:
“No, I don’t have a girlfriend…the woman you saw me with is my ex and she is dating someone else now.”
Then again, I am the one who would sit on my couch and watch as my lover called his wife to tell her he wouldn’t be home for a few more hours because he was out with [insert male colleague’s name here], right before he had sex with me. Shoe is on the other foot. Fair enough…I suppose I had that one coming (not that I haven’t already learned the lesson to NEVER sleep with a married man again…seriously, ladies – it ain’t worth it…come talk to me if you are considering it, please).
Fortunately, a few days ago I was able to get my head out of my ass for a bit because I had to go to San Jose to collect my aunt Diane, who is visiting from The States.
Upon arriving amidst the hustle and bustle of the city (and while my aunt was meandering through customs and baggage claim at the airport), I head straight to my favorite little hotel on the outskirts of downtown. Luis, the owner of the estate welcomes me with open arms as he always does and we have our usual conversation:
“Melanie! So good to see you.”
“Good to see you too, Luis! Is my room available?”
(I love how I never have to call in advance or make a reservation…I just show up and everything seems to work itself out.)
When my aunt arrives, she and I reconnect over a glass of wine at a local bar before heading to dinner downtown. For our meal, we split a bowl of mussels and a plate of sliced tongue, both served in a hearty tomato sauce.
The next day we drive her rental car northeast, up through the mountains of Costa Rica, enjoying the views of lush greenery and crops covering hills as far as the eye can see. We end up in the town of Sarchi, which is known for its crafts center and small family-owned woodworking factories. Though it is charming, the town certainly leaves much to be desired. In fact, we have a horrid time just trying to find a place to sleep for the night. Eventually we end up at a questionable little hotel right near the local church. We make the best of it, however, by spending the evening dancing around the room to music as we enjoy the combined high of vodka and marijuana before settling into bed…but not before I discover that another guest has opted to share the room as well – a tarantula! Fortunately, I simply trap it under a Tupperware container and escort it outside the door. I am shocked at how calm I am during the entire process seeing as how I used to be arachnophobic.
As we head toward Puerto Viejo the next morning (a 5-6 hour drive from Sarchi), I notice my body become more and more alive the closer we get. As we pull onto the familiar road that I have biked along so many times, I feel completely relaxed and at peace.
It is then that I realize that, for the past couple of weeks, I was allowing myself to remain down in the details of life instead of taking time to step back and observe the bigger picture. Sure there is crime here and yes, this is the place where I got hurt by a boy. However, the fact of the matter is that I’ve never felt so connected to a PLACE in my life. It’s not just the diverse community of people, the beaches or even the rainforest. It is all of it and it is none of it. Puerto Viejo has a magical pull unlike anywhere I’ve ever been. The village itself is alive (and has a pretty bad-ass attitude to boot). It wants me here. I can’t describe what I mean by that, I can only intuitively feel it. Far be it from to argue…