Archive for March, 2010

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Home again, home again?

March 16, 2010

Well, here I am back in the country of my birth. I realize that the postings, as well as the pictures, were few and far between. It’s really difficult to keep track of life while one is living it, though I try to remember the juicy bits for later historical reference. This is often regardless of the realized fact that the poetry of the moment will certainly be lost forever. In words. I can capture the essence of a feeling, describe it as one would expound on the sensation of a smell, the emotion of a color, the taste of a moment. But I wonder if that moment, as I experienced it, can ever truly be conveyed to an extent that another can share it in the same way. It could be argued that this is what makes us who we are, what keeps us separate in our tastes and personalities. Even when we share commonalities, from an individual perspective, they are ours alone.

So many moments when I thought, I must share this. The richness of this sunset, the freshness of this tuna steak, the warmth of this breeze coming off an ocean so familiar to me, yet so alien in temperature. The sounds, the colors, the life around me in abundance. I’m no stranger to a rainforest, having grown up on Vancouver Island, the westcoast of Canada. I knew that a tropical rainforest is far removed from what I’ve known, but I never thought to such an extent. I thought it would be familiar and strange all at once. To a degree, Monteverde, the cloud forest reminded me a lot of home, with more monkeys and cicadas and larger trees (because there is no macmillan/blo(wme)del in costa rica. Fortunately people have taken great pains to ensure that their natural surroundings remain exactly that. Natural. Surrounding.

A temperate rainforest is alive in a kind of dead way, if that makes any sense. The smell of rot permeates, damp and lichen and mold spores and fungi abound. Ferns grow close to the ground, acting as cover for the animals leaving tracks. Granted, I did far less exploring the tropical rainforest than I had thought to, but everything I saw of it suggests to me that it is innately alive. Everywhere there is sound, movement, suggestion of habitations long undisturbed. I’m sure this is not the case everywhere, as colonization/corporate interests/wankers of all shape and form have sought to exploit anything awesome for some inconceivable personal gain that has little to do with the thing itself and much to do with invisible profit margins. But I was fortunate in that the places I got to be there seems to be a real interest in improvement without too much invasion.

It has happened again, that I have fallen in love with a place I have visited to the extent that within 2 weeks of being there I was already wondering how I could manage to stay. Learning spanish would help, I bet. I wonder about this, my constant ability to fall so in love with somewhere I wasn’t even sure I wanted to be. The same thing happened to me in Berlin. I had no intention of visiting Germany and then I went and fell in love with it. Paris will always be in my heart, I imagine Ireland will have more or less the same effect. But Costa Rica surprised me.

At first my attitude towards the country wasn’t necessarily the best one. I wasn’t really into going there as much as I wanted to see Guatemala, southern Mexico, Argentina, Cuba, Bolivia, Brazil, Peru…Costa Rica always kind of struck me as being too united statesianized. I only ever heard stories of ex-pats going to live there to dodge the taxman, to frolic on white sand beaches, to build golf courses and resorts and turn it into a playground for the wealthy, since they couldn’t have Cuba and Mexico was just too poor and independent to do this with. A pretty bleak attitude, you must admit. As far as any kind of independently defined culture went, I had a hard time sussing it out. It didn’t strike me as a place that someone like me could find much in the way of daily joy. Moments, certainly, but anything consistent? How narrow I was. How grateful I am that I went anyway. How delighted I am that Costa Rica proved me wrong.

Yes, Costa Rica is overrun with anglos and euros, as well as representatives of other places as well. Yes, some of them are complete assholes, with no respect for the place or the people they are visiting. That happens everywhere. What makes up for it is how absolutely lovely every single Tico I met is. What also helps is that a good portion of the non-local locals I met are so delighted to be there, their love is apparent. And contagious.

Upon arrival, within the first week I was enchanted, but also convinced that I didn’t think I could ever live in such a place. Upon departure, I was wondering how long it would take before I come back. This time for longer. I think this is not an uncommon scenario. As much as I would love to go back, right away, next November (after my mom’s birthday), whenever I can manage it, I hesitate. I know my ability to fall in love with the novel, the shiny, those places filled with people living a relaxed and expressive life. I also know that there are so many places out there I haven’t seen yet.

I did succeed in my intended goals for the trip. I learned to surf, to the extent that I know it’s something I will do for a long time to come. I got a tattoo, representing the country in a very specific and memorable way. Which I will post pictures of on some night when I’m not completely exhausted. In fact, I’m going to sleep now and will write more about the ubersuperness that is Costa Rica later.

Ciao darlings.

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Falling in love again

March 3, 2010

Never wanted to

What am I to do

I can’t help it. – Marlene Deitrich

I think the telltale sign of the possibility that one is falling in love might be the sudden inexorable desire to see about finding work in a particular place. Whether it be within the parameters of the place itself or a certain niche.

Say, for instance, the place that one was falling in love in, or with, rather, was, hmm, let’s say, Costa Rica. Here, for example, the main industry is tourism. Being that I hate tourists, people and most human type things in general, I’m thinking that it would not behoove me in any way to attempt to stay in Costa Rica by finding employment within the tourism industry. It would have to be a niche of sorts, something not widely or easily accessible. Collapsible hulahoops, perfect for travelers and locals alike.  Or something else.

The amount of people who come here, year after year and move here grows each day as I meet more of them. It’s difficult to not be caught up in the thrill of going back to the cold land (which is not always the cold land, but when you’re in the always hot land, it’s tough to remember this) packing up everything, tossing everything, giving away everything, whatever and buying some property here. Apparently you don’t need to be a resident to buy property. You can get residency status, but why? When it’s so easy to leave the country every three months or so.

Sell off everything, buy a little place, step out the door into warm weather every morning, jog down to the very consistent surf and have evening cocktails with the innumerable newcomers to town every week. It sounds like paradise. If there happens to be someone who interests you romantically, perhaps someone local, or a relocated local, all the better. It’s like having a summer romance year round!

When does the novelty wear off? For some, I’m sure it never would. For me, sadly, I think it might within far too short a time. It will be a curious thing if I ever fall in love to the extent that I actually do want to stay somewhere with someone. I prefer to think that they’ll love me enough to come along on the merry adventure. It’s easy to fall in love with a place though. Especially a place such as this, where the livin is easy. As long as you’re a tourist.

A wage of of 1500 colones an hour is not unusual. That’s about 3 bux. If you want to buy a mojito at one of the hotel/bars around playa guiones, it will cost between 2500 and 3000 colones. (The word colones comes from columbus, the nearsighted explorer who was sure he had found india, by the way. I’m not sure if it’s a statement of how colonization and money can detrementally corrupt an entire culture to the extent that they don’t really have one anymore, but somehow I think it’s not so convoluted as that. )

It seems so strange to be cynical about anything in this beautiful place, but the proximity of drunken united statesian voices from the hotel pool next door makes it a little easier. But you know what they say, if you can’t beat them, join them. And since I am here as a tourist for now, and not as a resident. I think I shall walk across the lane, buy myself a 3000 colones mojito and jump in that pool.

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Chiming in.

March 1, 2010

Ok. So I’ve been here in this foreign place for 2 weeks. My second spanish speaking, my first developing (3rd world is so cold war), my first latin american, my first tropical rainforested country.

It’s really nice. It’s difficult at times because the thing I love most about travelling is the immersion into a culture I was heretofor unknowing about. Except through reading and internet surfing and stories from others who had visted. Here there isn’t really that much culture to speak of. They’ve been colonized and americanized to such an extent that I’m never totally sure which aspects actually belong to costa ricans. Learning spanish is nearly impossible because there are so many people here who don’t speak it. You go to a bar, a restaurant, a hotel, anywhere you might find tourism and english is the pervasive language. I often feel the same way I felt in Amsterdam, where the locals depend on the tourism for their daily wage (which I understand to be incredibly low here) yet resent them for inflicting their intolerances and arrogance upon their country.

My sis and I are doing our best to adapt to our surroundings, realizing that our spanish is most certainly not up to par, but trying nonetheless. There is an overwhelming amount of united statesians and canadians here, though I have met quite a few europeans. Other countries aren’t as represented because it’s so expensive here. There are far cheaper places to visit.

Overall Ticans are super friendly and fun to be around. However, the amount of actual Ticans I’ve met are few. I haven’t been frequenting the places Ticans hang out though. Those places have less tourists I would imagine.

Most people I’ve met who live here are from somwhere else. I encountered the same thing in Berlin. Most people there were not from there, but had flocked to the city because it ressembles a playground of sorts. And like Costa Rica, once you’ve been caught up in the sweep of the place, you tend to stay. An incredible amount of people I’ve met have come here year after year, only to return for good at some point.

I’ve always touted myself as the anti-escapist. The one who says that vacation isn’t really a good idea. For me. I would never suggest this for anyone else, keep that in mind. The idea that I need to escape from my everyday existence, to vacate the premises so to speak, to me suggests a need for a new life. I want the travel, the experiences to be incorporated into everday existence. It could be that after being here for two weeks, I’m feeling like I should be doing more. I’ve always been like that. Infernally lazy, yet cursed with a desire for accomplishment. Here, I have nothing going on. I am certainly allowed to spend the entire day lazing in a hammock, but the novelty of that wears off pretty quick. I guess this is why people go on vacation for 10 days or 2 weeks at a time.

Whoa. Did I really just suggest that I was tired of being here? Because that is most certainly not the case. Not by a long shot.  It’s beautiful, every day is like a joy to wake up to. I guess I’m just feeling that I should be doing more, seeing more.

I’ll get right on that.

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