Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I Could Just Eat Rice and Beans...

I think, being here in Costa Rica, how easy it would be to slip away from regular life, how easy it would be to just sell everything and come back here to live simply, on rice and beans and plantains and the occasional bit of chicken or beef.

My little one, Oscar, is nervous. I keep mentioning this to him, how we might just stay.

"We are not moving!" he says.

"Why?" I ask.

"Because we like Nick and Tracy so much," he says, imbuing our nice next-door neighbors. Somehow, in our house, they have come to represent all that is good with our neighborhood, with our life. I laughed.

"OK, why else?" I asked.

"Because I'd miss our house, my school, my friends..."

"But we would make new friends," I said. "We could hang out with Elmer, for example," I suggested, referring to the funny young man who had been his "taxi" across the zip line. "We could do the zip line all the time..."

This gave Oscar pause. Maybe the idea of moving here wasn't such a bad one after all.

"OK," he said, "but just for the summer. Or for one month, that's it."

I smiled. "OK," I said, "that's it."

I want my kids to be flexible, more flexible than I was at their age. It's taken me an incredibly long time to feel comfortable outside my comfort zone, to be able to imagine the possibilities outside arm's reach, to be able to get on a plane and get off again somewhere else and not feel completely confused and disoriented.

There are bugs here, ones with strange antennae that are scary for no other reason other than that you don't know what they do, if they're harmful. But we have learned in just a few short days to walk right past them, to ignore them, to ignore the possibility that they could harm us, even if they could. Or, we have even learned to stop and look at them, to appreciate their strange beauty.

We were shown a poison dart frog from Ivan, our Canopy Tour guide for the zip line. He picked up the flourescent-green frog from the forest floor as it attempted to hop away. Eli was amazed, had his hand raised immediately having read of the frog's lethal aspects. But Ivan knew how to hold it, knew that it can only hurt you if you touch it a certain way when you have an open wound. Then, it can put its poison right into your bloodstream, it could possibly kill you.

I feel here that people have so much more to fear than we do back home and yet they are unafraid. The power goes out and they shrug, waiting patiently the minutes or hours it takes for the powers that be to get it back on. They don't know why it goes out, why it goes back on, and, really, it doesn't matter. Maybe they feel, like I used to at the office, that it gives them a necessary break they might not otherwise have taken. Here, though, I'm not sure they need the forced break.

Our contact at the rental office for our house, a former Raiders football player, saw my sister-in-law and I up at the market and offered us a ride home. He stopped, momentarily, at his office.

"I just need to drop off this ice and beer," he said. I love it. Why not drink and work? Why not? It's a nice mellow life here. Tourism abounds, despite the supposedly depressed U.S. economy if not because of it. Latin America is a great place to put it all in perspective, to recognize how little you need, how much you have.

A little cafe up the bumpy unpaved road tells on its menu the "cliche" story of its owners, an American couple who kicked off the shackles of their old life and moved here years ago to roast good coffee and serve it to the mostly American tourists who come to visit Manuel Antonio park. The signs are all in English, offering up crucial information such as how coffee and souvenirs like locally-made soaps can be shipped straight back to the U.S. As I sat at a table speaking rusty Spanish with my El Salvadoran sister-in-law, we were alone among the patrons in our language choice. The staff was local but they do take dollars if one doesn't have local currency, colones.

Six months here, my sister-in-law tells me, and I would be speaking Spanish like a champ. Oscar will not allow me that long, I think. We'll see. He may change his mind after we go rafting or ride horses on the beach...Maybe those things will even edge out the niceness of our Brooklyn neighbors, maybe.

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