Monday, February 27, 2012

Yesterday I returned to San Jose from Quepos. It was hard to leave the comfy little life I'd gotten used to there, even after only three weeks. I had begun to make some good friends and my little apartment felt like home. I even had my favorite part of Manuel Antonio beach to laze around on. Several days last week I went to the beach after school and didn't leave til dark. One night I sat on the beach with some friends at twilight, a beer in one hand and fresh pineapple in the other, and thought “Life is good.” Then I went into the water and floated there as I watched the sun set. Cue gratuitous tropical sunset on the beach shot:

Last weekend some other students and I traveled to Puntarenas, north of Quepos in the Gulf of Nicoya, for Carnival. It was... a cultural experience, to be sure. It was stifling hot and something like 6 – 7,000 people from all over the country crowded onto one street. The entire length of it, on either side, looked something like this:

My friend who organized the trip was a bit overenthusiastic about punctuality and we arrived in Puntarenas around 10am for a parade we thought started at 2:00. This, in true Tico fashion, was not to be. When I was ready to explode from standing around in the heat, the parade finally started around five. The police started things off, including some young police folk. My thoughts were torn equally between “Ugh, they're indoctrinating them so early,” and “Dawwww!!” This was followed by fire breathers, people on stilts and unicycles, and jugglers, all plastered with corporate logos. For some reason, the Cacique girl seemed to be the most popular (I'm guessing the reason is “boobs”).

After this followed the main attraction: marching bands and dance troupes from different towns across the country. One of my favorites was the group “Imperio de Sabor” (Empire of Flavor) for their awesome costumes, sassy lead male dancer, and for their name alone.

Apparently this guy from the crowd was a really big fan. There were cops standing everywhere, but they just looked on. In the U.S., he would have been thrown right back across the parade barrier. I love the feel of marginally-controlled chaos at Latin American celebrations!

Eventually I had to leave the parade to sit on the beach to rest my aching feet and overly stimulated brain. Now, I am similarly resting in San Jose for a few days before heading to the Osa Peninsula and begin my senior project. The next entry on this conservation blog should actually be about conservation! I have begun to brainstorm overarching questions to address while participating in the project and later while writing my final paper. I have also been attempting to get myself into the needed mindset of an outsider working on a community-based conservation project, a balance of “being” and “doing,” removing my ego from the equation and enabling myself to be receptive to the needs and wants of the community. A student last week at COSI, the spanish intensive school I attended for three weeks, worked for USAID for many years. She had some excellent suggestions for me for my coming project and was inspiring to speak to. I can't wait to see what new ideas and experiences unfold before me, and to get a glimpse of where my education might take me.

1 comment:

  1. This may help somewhat. As an Indian healer I know that I must 'get out of the way'. I do this by becoming a 'hollow bone'...a conduit only, for the healing. I am the instrument, not the healer. I must take myself out of the equation. We all, ultimately, heal ourselves but we must also believe it can be done.
    You may be there to direct the community to the right questions to ask, or to help them be open to more answers, but let them take the initiative and do it themselves. This way they actually LEARN and get to feel good about themselves and what they are doing. And when you leave, they have the means to do it themselves.