Monday, November 16, 2009

My Year of Hopefulness - Turn Right at the Fancy House

(Internet has returned to my house in Costa Rica so I can begin recording all of my experiences here so long as the connection holds - 'via a Dios'.)

I am famously bad with directions. I never know where I'm going, even with a map. I have to repeat the same path many times over and mentally make note of landmarks along the way. I suppose I could hunker down and just get a little bit better at this skill, though to be honest I've just gotten comfortable feeling lost. I enjoy it because every road, whether I've been on it or not, is a new adventure this way.

Imagine my great happiness to learn that there is an entire country full of people with this same issue! In Costa Rica, there are no postal addresses. There is barely a postal service at all. Address are something akin to 'go 25 meters east from the large yellow building with the slat windows and blue shutters, then turn north at the Soda Pollo (literally means Chicken Restaurant) and go another 100 meters until you reach two little stray dogs, one brown and one black, that are always outside an orange house'. As our program manager, Santi, said when giving us directions to our volunteer placement, "Turn right at the fancy house and walk up the hill."

This is the greatest pleasure of travel - to learn the customs and history and culture of other people, to realize that our little lives in our little cities, no matter how big they are, are just one tiny slice of life on this planet. We learn that there are so many other options to conduct our lives. For people like me who are considering a jump off the cliff, travel helps us see that what to us seems like a big risk is not really a big risk at all. It is just a step change; it is just a different choice and this realization is a great comfort.

There are so many people on my program who made this same leap into a different life. Their courage is encouraging me, inspiring me. I know I am here in the lovely town of Cartago, today, for a very specific reason. I know I was brought here at this time in my life to help me see that this different way forward that I imagine is not only possible, but probable, bordering on certainty. The comfort I am finding in this house, with these people, in this town, in this beautiful and loving country, is a great gift.

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