Sunday, June 03, 2012

¡Que Sí, Mae!

¿Qué es lo que se pierde al cruzar una frontera? Cada momento parece partido en dos, melancolía por lo que queda atrás, y por otro lado, todo el entusiasmo por entrar en tierras nuevas.
"What is lost when we cross a border? Each moment seems to split in two, melancholy for what is left behind, and on the other hand, great eagerness for entering new lands."
- The Motorcycle Diaries

These are the faces of borders crossed, of 8-hour layovers, and of unironic exuberance for the unknown. We touched down in San José 13 hours ago, and I can hardly believe today is the same set of 24 hours that saw us depart from the USA. As of this moment, I've tallied 4 legitimate attempts at sleep and 5 hours actually slept in the last 48, and I couldn't be more alive.

Sitting in bed right now, and miraculously more interested in getting this blog afloat than drifting off on another ship (sleep ship), I am wide-eyed before our world. Still, the most I can manage right now is a few sparse highlights. All of them are people, not surprisingly, because when you come to Costa Rica and only see the volcanoes, beaches, and nature reserves, you've missed its greatest treasure of all:

1. Julie, the hilariously self-aware woman with brain damage whom I sat with on the way to Denver. So excited about life in spite of all the half-finished sentences, instant amnesia, and fits of laughter. I can trace a clear line from her unapologetic, "This is me!" uniqueness to a reminder to be equally cheerful less serious about myself.

2. Seeing Eric, the two-fingered airport bag boy, who sat with us for three hours last summer while we waited for our ride to San Ramón. I always remembered him and the bits of insight he offered into the Tico lifestyle. He will always be the first Costa Rican I met, and seeing him standing there doing what he's done for 28 years with the same smile on his face was some kind of proclamation to me from the world that the good people keep smiling even when out of sight.

3. I've had the deepest pleasure of running into some 7-8 acquaintances from last summer that are now surely friends following screaming ("¡Qué alegría!"), hugging, and catching up when we saw each other again.

4. Luz, our old program director, honked like crazy, hollered out the window, pulled her car over on the side of the highway, jumped out and gave me the biggest hug. Or maybe it was I giving the biggest hug?

5. The 10-12 kids from the barrio remembered my name, called it out, and then gave me a giant group hug. I've been in group hugs before, but never when every person was trying to hug only me. Unforgettable.

The first thirteen hours are written. Sleep attempt 5 feels very promising. Pura dormida.

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