7/1/10 The Lingering Traveler Comes Home
Tuesday, July 6th, 2010
Traveling can be fun, interesting and action-packed. You never know what will happen next. No matter where you go, it is a great diversion from your normal, at home, routine. Even though my car broke down and it rained a lot, precluding my stay in the cave behind the waterfall; my trip, exploring Costa Rica’s mountain highlands, was a great success. Now, after bouncing around from place to place, it feels great to get home.
The uneventful three hour drive, took me from the rolling hills of Turrialba, out onto the flat Highway 32, at Siquirres and then east, through the city of Puerto Limon. This route, which I’ve taken countless times on trips from San Jose, continues down along the Caribbean coast to my home town, Puerto Viejo. And, as happens every time I return to this place and see its first view, I felt a surge of emotion – combined excitement, nostalgia and relief.
I was truly happy to be home. This newly discovered feeling of being at home, here in Costa Rica, set me to wondering about the whole idea. What is home? Where is it? Is it a physical location or is it all in your mind? My observation that as a “Lingering Traveler,” I begin to put down roots wherever I go, begs the question further. Can I make my home anywhere and then change it in a moment? No, it takes time.
After living on the East coast of the United States for many years, I moved to Montana, with my two young children. I still remember the exact moment, when I knew Montana was home. I was looking at a mountaintop, bathed in pink alpen glow, in the majestic Swan Range. It’s beauty gripped my soul and a warm feeling of belonging came over me. I’ll always love Montana and I’ll always consider it a home to go back to, if I want, someday. I’d lived for at least two years in Montana before I felt that feeling.
I’ve been in Costa Rica for almost three years and on this trip, received that same gift of knowing the moment I was home. It came from the same kind of absorption in nature’s beauty, combined with the feeling of knowing the lay of the land and thus incorporating my vision of Costa Rica into something concrete.
Home is familiarity. You get comfortable when you get to know a place, like a friend. Part of that is getting to know the people. This trip has given me a greater understanding and appreciation of the Costa Rican and Central American people.
In most situations, Spanish speaking was required. There was no one who spoke English. My Spanish skills continued to improve, as a result of this language immersion. In turn, as I could communicate better I was better able to understand and appreciate the people I met. Here a re just a few examples of some intelligent and industrious people.:
His dad bought a hotel, when Oscar Garcia was thirteen. It was a nice hotel with a view. Oscar watched and learned from his father. But he had a “higher” vision. When Oscar was just eighteen, he managed to purchase land to build his own hotel, on a high mountain peak, overlooking Turrialba and his father’s hotel. That was the creation of Pochotel, where I stayed on my last two nights.
Alejandro has a good education, a job and three other businesses of his own. He is the one who towed my car out of the mountains and back to safety, in Panama. He grew up on a farm and that is his passion. Alejandro has a degree in agronomy but is not working in that field because the pay is so low. Instead he tows vehicles, works as an insurance adjuster making reports on the rigs he tows, and has two other car related businesses. His plan is to make lots of money while he is young. Then he can move to his parents farm with his family, and pursue his dreams. I admire his hard work.
Another fine quality I’ve observed in the Latin culture is the importance they place on education. Even though he is not working in his field, Alejandro is proud of his degree.
Juan Carlos, a waiter in San Marcos (Costa Rica), speaks very good English.Three times a week, he takes a two hour bus ride to and from San Jose, to study at the university. He works at the restaurant the other days. This young man’s plan is to go into international business.
Abdial, the son-in-law of my Panamanian hosts, is another hard worker. He drives truck, out of town, for six days and comes home for three. He makes good money this way, so I was surprised to learn that the family does not own a car. Instead they choose to put their money into sending their son to private school, to insure a better education. Abdial’s wife, Lorena is taking accounting in the university. They are thinking ahead.
My coffee tour guide, Felix, emphasized the respect his family has for education and is extremely thankful for the coffee industry’s role in their success. He remarked gratefully, on how his parents provided their children with an education at whatever school they wanted, in whatever their field of interest, no matter what the cost.
Much has been said about the low pay and poverty in Central America. I am pleased to have seen another view. I admire the hardworking industriousness of these people.
Security is another important factor in feeling at home. You’ve got to know that you are in a safe place and that all your needs are taken care of. It is impossible to create this externally. You can plan and build the perfect place for yourself; only to lose it all to unforeseen circumstance, in a heartbeat. True security comes only from inside. The events of this trip helped strengthen that feeling.
After all that went wrong, I find my car is fine, my money is sufficient, and even the little things seem to work out well, when I don’t worry about them. For example, just after I decided to stay another night in San Marcos, so I could spend the whole, next day writing, my prescription glasses broke. A lens fell out and I couldn’t find it anywhere. I need those glasses to read and write. I did not know what I was going to do. So I tried reading with only one lens. I noticed how well, in those few moments my eyes began to adapt. Then I noticed I could wear the glasses, focusing on the empty lens for distance and switch to the good lens for close up. It occurred to me that I could gain from this experience. I decided I was going to stay there and write as planned. I’d make it work. Then guess what? I glanced over at the other bed and there was the lens! I’d looked everywhere for it. Then, when I set my intention and gave up the worry, it all worked out. The more I live my life that way the happier and more secure I feel.
I love travel, but could I be a nomad? Definitely not. I need a home. This trip has made me realize I have a home in the Caribbean, but more than that, it has shown me I can make my home inside myself and carry it with me where ever I go. Will there still be occasional moments of loneliness or insecurity? Probably. It is part of life’s process. But I am satisfied to say that his trip has moved me along in the right direction – towards home.
If you would like to go on this trip, I would be happy to take you, through my Guide Service. It would be fun to do it again!