Lacking Friendly Skies – Grateful for Friendly People

At the Colonial Palace Air BnB

Hello well before 5:00 a.m.,

I am in the Charlotte/Douglas Airport after arriving and waiting until almost midnight before getting to a hotel. I was asleep not quite three hours and then up for a taxi back to the airport. Originally, I was supposed to already be in Costa Rica yesterday, but as noted across the news, managing any semblance of order for a flight schedule is unlikely in our current world situation. This is not just an American airspace issue. Globalization is a reality and as humans, we are all in the same situation. In spite of the revisions to my schedule I made it to San Jose, Costa Rica in one piece. I was mad at the airport by Jamileth; she has been an incredible host. She has served as my tour guide, my driver, my translator, my problem-fixer, and a wonderful conversationalist. We have both had to work on our other language, and that has been a good thing. Mr. Galán has often said to me you must speak your Spanish, you must practice. El es correcto.

Last six days in Costa Rica have been nothing short of overwhelming. Much like my visit to Russia three years ago, I have found that age has created more caution and perhaps more trepidation. It is the bit troublesome, disconcerting, and even frustrating , but nonetheless real. In spite of the difficulties, it seems that somehow I still manage. Perhaps it is because I am honest with people about my fears and genuine with my limitations. This is, however, his significant change from even a few years ago. The first two times I went to Poland, I was more on my own, but not fearful. I have no doubt if I would not have been so cared for this time, I would not have accomplished or experienced even a quarter of what has happened in the past six days. Perhaps one of the most amazing things is meeting three people who love and care for each other deeply. There is much more that could be said, but I will leave it at that. as I read this, I am on the 21st floor of a high-rise in the capital city, San Jose. It is a beautiful site as the sun goes down and the lights begin to twinkle across the city; it is also like any bustling capital city of sounds: horns honking, sirens wailing, and the general white noise high above the streets. More importantly, it is full of people trying to live their lives and make a difference for those they love. In the past two days, I have met such a wide variety of people, from partiers celebrating the bachelor’s final days as a single women celebrating their 50th birthdays. From young people working the tourist trade in Tamarindo to two octogenarians, both Europeans, who have spent the last 16 years developing their lives in Costa Rica. They might just be the most amazing couple I have ever met in my life. I will travel to Costa Rica again just to see them. I I’m quite sure that Jami is the best driver I have ever ridden with. It doesn’t matter what kind of road it is how much traffic there is or what the weather is she will manage it and she manages it with precision, incredible ability, and grace.

And with all of that, I haven’t even touched the reason for my coming to Costa Rica to begin with. As many know, I have pondered possibility of moving here upon retirement. The reasons for that are many, and I have spoken about that quite honestly. Now, I am looking at specifics or there is not a lot to consider and plan for. There’s a great deal more rolling around between my ears at this point, but I need to think, There are still many unanswered questions, and important ones. There are long-term plans I must ponder and try to figure out. On the other hand, I have to be up and out at4:15 in the morning.. that is early, and it will come soon. Therefore, additional writing here will have to wait.I think I need to get some rest.

The morning began early, but Jami was on time and managed to get rerouted with some morning issues and get me to the airport in plenty of time. I am in the Charlotte airport at this point, and I believe it is the first in the last four or five times I have been to Charlotte and it is not a massive cluster because of storms. At least at this point, the sun is shining and everything is on time. Yay! The flight to Miami was without incident and likewise to Charlotte. I am hoping that writing such a thing does not serve to jinx me. We will see. As I ponder the trip to Costa Rica, there is so much to consider. I think I have a path forward, but there are questions to ask and things to ponder. During my last full day, my incredible driver/tour guide/translator/somewhat-security-blanket took her son and me to the Irazu Volcano. What an incredible place. In my reading about it, there was a two year period (1963-65) that the volcano was continuously active and erupting, That is incredible, but you can see the consequence some 60 years later. It is the darkest, most fertile soil I think I have ever encountered. It does note that in the placards around the place. I think the Charlotte airport is the airport I have spent the most time in during the past decade. It is a really busy place, but a well-designed, welcoming, and enjoyable airport, if airports can be such a thing.

As we are past the 4th of July holiday, it is common that the rest of the summer will fly by. I have some other things to plan yet, and more visitors to come. Additionally, there is a significant amount of school work, on a number of fronts to manage. While I did not really consider the past week a vacation, I guess it was. I did some thing that have long-term implications, but on the other hand, I had some relaxing time. Again, thanks to Jamileth, the time traveling was much less stressful. I guess that made it a time of visiting and experiencing with no real requirements. So again, I guess it was. On the home front a couple of tasks I have been hoping to have completed happened. I am excited to see it and work on that little project. It seems my plants have done well due to the excellent care of another of the Deckers. It is not the first time I have worked with one of the family members when I have been out and about. So . . . what was most amazing about Costa Rica?

I am not sure I can answer that question quite yet. I had some incredible food, which I am always up for. I had some truly exceptional experiences in Air BnBs, and I am convinced that is the way to travel. As the continuous thread in this blog illustrates, having a tour guide/driver/translator who was beyond helpful, knowledgable, and capable was foundational to making my trip successful. Being honored to meet her children was beyond anything I expected and incredibly enjoyable. Both of them are really intelligent and personable. I think there are two things that stand out at this point: first, is the diversity of the country in terms of climate and geography. Second, perhaps it was the incredible rain everyday. I did have fun from the catamaran trip to meeting Michael and Elisabeth, the octogenarian Air BnB hosts in Puntarenas, one from Germany and one from France, I think those were the highlights of the trip. I was also honored to meet the extended family of my tour guide, who is, of course, related to someone I know in Bloomsburg. The reality of six degrees of separation continues alive and well. I can say, however, I did not meet one single person I knew. That is surprising to some, I am sure. While I had heard the term Pura Vida before, but I did not know it was a central term in reference to Costa Rica. It is perhaps the equivalent to c’est la vie. I have to say that people were nice, and indeed, the vibe was pretty open and accepting. Each time I travel somewhere new, I learn so much, not only about people, but about myself (a slight delay on my flight, but all in all, manageable).

Well . . . as seems to be the norm, I have new experiences, new opportunities, and new friends and acquaintances. I am continually blessed by the people I meet. When I learn the stories of others, I am in awe of their lives and what they know, what they manage, and how they live in the moment. I am reminded of Mr. Galán’s comment to me always, “gracias por el moment.” I think the past two years have caused us to forget the moments. We have been so worried about the world, about society, about interaction, there was little time to consider the moments we experienced. My time in Costa Rica acquainted me with an amazing land, with amazing people, and with wonderful possibilities. Tomorrow, I will be back to more regular moments, but they are moments just the same. Because I often add a video to complete my post, I am doing it again. This video, while not about Costa Rica specifically is about the amazing Latin culture. And it is two years ago almost to the day, Naya Rivera passed.

Thank you as always for reading.

Dr. Martin

Published by thewritingprofessor55

As I move toward the end of a teaching career in the academy, I find myself questioning the value and worth of so many things in our changing world. My blog is the place I am able to ponder, question, and share my thoughts about a variety of topics. It is the place I make sense of our sometimes senseless world. I believe in a caring and compassionate creator, but struggle to know how to be faithful to the same. I hope you find what is shared here something that might resonate with you and give you hope.

4 thoughts on “Lacking Friendly Skies – Grateful for Friendly People

  1. My connection with music is, at this point in my life, more tied to performance than to listening. I am like you in the sense that I have a proclivity for introspection. My mind is always running, analyzing, talking, doing. Listening to music as much as you do tends to become overwhelming for me. But performing music, as you allude to with Messiah, is one of my absolute joys in life. As I write this, I’m in four choirs. I would do five if I could. The joy of connecting to others by making music is unparalleled.
    Your post made me think about the moments I’m living now that, one day, will be memories unlocked by music. In thirty years, when I hear Faure’s Requiem, I can only hope that I am flooded with memories of the first time I performed it, which, as of now, wasn’t that long ago. I hope I see my brother’s face next to me as we make music together, and I hope I can feel half the unbridled happiness I felt in that moment. It’s hard to imagine how the present will appear as a memory. But I suppose that’s why it’s best to be every moment you can.

  2. Dr. Martin,
    Traveling can be very draining. Especially with flying, I have learned that you need to be flexible and schedule extra time for everything. When I was in Guatemala, I was so thankful for our translator and guide. They basically took care of us that week and a half we were there. I became super close with them and continue to talk to them on Facebook. I hope to visit them again in Guatemala in the future.
    When you talk about your driver, Jami, it reminds me of our bus driver in Guatemala. He always seemed to be so calm even with everything going on around him. He barely spoke, but we always thanked him when we got off and on. I vividly remember how we had to turn around on a mountain. It was such a tight area, I would be nervous doing it in my car, as there was a straight drop off the side of the mountain. The back of the bus was hanging over the edge and we could look out the window and see the drop. Through all of that, he didn’t seem to be worried or stressed out.
    Thank you for sharing your favorite parts about your trip. I believe that every time I travel, I learn something new about my surroundings and about myself. You are put in different situations than you normally would in your everyday life, and you need to learn how to go about them.

  3. Hello Dr. Martin,

    I believe that the topic of this blog post is about how the people that surround you can change the outcome of an experience. The main goal of your trip to Costa Rica was to look into the possibility and realism of moving there during retirement. I would guess that is no simple, relaxing goal to have when in a foreign country. Traveling is full of stress and worry, especially if you are not fluent in the language you are traveling to. However, as you described throughout the post, having caring and supportive people around you during times of distress can really take the load off your shoulders. It seems that the two main sources of comfort during your time in Costa Rica were your tour guide/driver/translator Jami and the people you met during your travels. Jami seemed supportive and knowledgeable of how to navigate the challenges of travel and made you feel comfortable. The other people you discussed seemed to add to the general welcoming feeling others can bring to a trip that has been the focus of this blog.

    I would have to agree with this sentiment. I have had the privilege of traveling a good amount in my life so far, mainly to Guatemala. Traveling can be very stressful, especially if you don’t know how the days are going to go. Luckily I have had great experiences and have been able to meet many lovely, caring Guatemalan people. However, without those genuine people I have encountered in my travels, my trips would have been much less enjoyable.

    Salvatore La Marca

  4. Hello Dr. Martin. The descriptive imagery in the second paragraph is excellently done. It comes across in an engaging but not overbearing way. Many writers have trouble striking this balance. The reader is effectively placed in the situation and can almost feel the life of a city bustling around them. I found it enjoyable to read and am glad I pick a random month for these responses.
    As incredible a place as Costa Rica sounds to visit, I don’t think I could ever live there. The people, culture, and experiences are abundant in a land such as fits this description. However, I couldn’t possibly stand the heat. Admittedly I can’t even cook with hot red peppers, so I don’t think I’d like the cuisine in Latin America. In the travels I have had so far in my life, a hot climate is something I have come to dread. The heat in Texas was some of the most miserable weather I have experienced. I would rather be under three feet of snow and ice any day.
    The talk of the volcano creating something long after its time had passed, combined with the weather, reminded me of Egypt. Seeing the ruins of an ancient empire and how the modern world shaped itself around them was always one of my favorite things to consider. The world moves ever forward regardless of any individual; only the marks we leave upon the land, and people’s lives will remain.

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