And if you wouldn’t mind, I’d like to step back to revisit day 1 and some of the impressions that struck me the most. I really had no idea how much I did not know Spanish until I arrived in Costa Rica. And really, it’s been so long since I’ve traveled abroad, I kind of forgot what a culture shift was like. When I arrived at the bus station in San Jose, I might as well have been on Mars. Except not really at all. Because I knew this place.
As Wendy and I were standing in line outside of a Banco de Costa Rica ATM in San Jose yesterday, she commented on how filthy and run down everything was. And I said, “Oh, no. This is beautiful! I love this! This is just like my childhood.”
And it was. So much, it reminded of my early childhood in Saudi Arabia. It could’ve been Khobar, where Wendy and I stood. Or the suq outside of Abqaiq. Or any and every single place that wasn’t behind the secure fences of ARAMCO in the majestic Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
In the worn streets of the area surrounding the Coca Cola bus stop, small stores sat crammed together, one on top of another, selling everything from fruit and vegetables to cellular phones to bright, inexpensive toys that small children would tug at the sleeves of their parents over. (I know this last part because I remember being fascinated by such toys as a child whenever we visited Khobar.) The block directly behind where the buses were parked was a maze of these shops. The ceiling seemed to close in on everything and everyone inside. A crush of vibrant life. An explosion of color. Every square inch was packed with vendors selling their wares. It was through this block that I made my way to the next block in search of a bank before running into Wendy.
Crossing the street, dirty run-off water dampened the gulch between the curb and the pavement. The drivers of the cars, the buses, the motorcycles seem to accept that the roads have laws and signs and, at times, possibly lanes. But they also seem to have a more important yet unspoken agreement that the rules of the road are mostly guidelines which they bear well in mind, but really, there’s no reason to stop when nobody is coming.
These stores are familiar to me. This traffic is familiar to me. The near complete lack of comprehension of my surroundings is familiar to me. The comfort is familiar to me. This is my childhood. And this is where I exist now.
Wendy’s reaction to my being happy in this decrepit area of town wasn’t surprising, I suppose. It’s an innocence lost and found again sort of thing, if only briefly.
Pura vida. 🙂
With regards to the photo: I was pleased when I got home this afternoon to find this large lizard/gecko resting on the wall beside the house. Because up until that moment, every bit of colorful wildlife I’ve seen has mostly been squashed on the side of the road. A yellow-bellied something or other type of bird. Feathers everywhere. One very large puffy frog. Flat. Mostly. And a gecko made into a pancake, its tail intact a few inches away.
So, I was happy to see this l’il feller. Wildlife! Yay!