March 19, 2017
The past two weeks threw some challenges my way, which really pushed me into a rut of homesickness for a bit. Between a cancelled field trip, fighting a cold, and getting head lice from one of the kids at the day care I had my fair share of disappointments. Toward the end of this past week I was feeling down in the dumps about how the past couple weeks had gone when I came to the realization that just because I am in Costa Rica, doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to have a bad week.
On Wednesday, Georgia and I were leaving the bank in downtown San José when a homeless man, who looked a bit crazy, approached us. He started rambling to us about how he was from California and he got mugged the night before and just needed money for lunch. He told us he would get a burger and eat it in front of us, through watery eyes that seemed full of desperation. Georgia and I stood there in awe, not knowing what to do except take a step back, as we had no idea what his intentions were (I mean, we had just left the bank and our wallets were not empty).
He could sense my judgment, which made me sad, but that is what the danger of this city leads to sometimes. For our safety, we had to carefully consider every step we took, as he could have pulled out a knife or snatched our wallets out of our hands in a second. Every piece of advice my dad has ever given me on dealing with dangerous situations was running through my head. Somewhere in the sirens that were going off in my brain, I remembered I had stuck a 2-mil (4 USD) bill in my front pocket. Sliding this out of my pocket allowed Georgia and I to keep our backpacks zipped up, and wallets tucked away.
Leaving the city, both Georgia and I were shaken up by what had just happened. I will never know if the man actually bought lunch with my money, but what I do know is that Georgia and I are safe, and he needed the 2 mil a lot more than I did. I hated the fact that I had to assume the worst in him in order to protect myself, and the feeling made me extremely homesick. There are times I get home from walking around and I am mentally and emotionally exhausted from feeling unsafe… this was one of those times.
In the valleys of life, I am always looking for my ‘lesson learned.’ That day I came to the realization of how fortunate I am to live in a place that makes me ache for safety. All I wanted in that situation was to feel safe again, and some people don’t even know what it’s like to feel that sense of security. This situation showed me how often I take my safety for granted, and it is something I will embrace more than anything when I get back to the U.S.
With every low comes a high, and my week definitely had a strong turn around with a white water rafting and field trip to La Selva Rainforest this past weekend. I stared in awe all around me the entire time, as all I could see were green trees that looked like broccoli because of how many there were. During white water rafting we saw some of the indigenous people who live by the river, and even speak a different language. They were the happiest people, and it was amazing to see how little they needed in order to be happy.
There will be good people and bad people wherever I go in life, just as there will be good times and hard times. I truly appreciated every second of this weekend because of the low I had been feeling the past couple weeks. I think sometimes it takes having a couple bad days to fully enjoy the good ones. Leaving this weekend with a full heart as I reflect on everything I have to be thankful for.
White water rafting
La Selva Biological Reserve