The Beginning

I’ve been waiting. Waiting for two years since I turned in my application, waiting in line to check my two overly-stuffed bags, waiting to say goodbye, waiting to say hello. Here I sit still waiting, but now I wait happily in limbo while relishing the feeling of time grazing against my skin as if every second is pushing me forward and the next backwards. Finally a sense of purpose hovers just before me– only two months away.

But allow me to start at the end and at the beginning.

The only thing I left behind were people. Those who have helped shape me, those who I love the most, those who I will miss the most. However, leaving this time lacked the particular flavors of drama and sadness that followed me onto the plane bound for Spain. I wasn’t leaving behind a career. I wasn’t leaving behind a desirable future or a significant other. I was leaving behind a daily schedule of constant listlessness and ennui in a job that hope had abandoned long ago, perhaps  before I was even hired. Only once did I look back, and it was only to wave goodbye.

After learning 42 new faces, names and faded outlines of extremely detailed lives, we boarded our first plane around 4am. Uncertainty and tired excitement hung sleepily in the air as we pushed through the travel fatigue and arrived in San José, the capital of Costa Rica. I wish I could say that moment where my foot first touched the soil of Central America was epiphanic, and if that moment was, it quickly dissipated into the tropical humidity before I could take note.

Whisked quickly into buses we drove through the muggy grey streets of Alajuela and glanced lethargically at the outskirts of San José– people commenting on all of the American fast food chains that have planted their billboards like flags into the valley’s floor as if to claim it as their own. A disconcerting and  familiar sense in a different setting took over as the first views of scraggy street dogs, swerving drivers and the distant lush green mountains streaked the bus windows as we began our climb to Tres Ríos, Cartago. From our safe haven that world then seemed so far away from our instant and ephemeral reality. We arrived, we sat in countless meetings and information sessions, we discussed the rules– our new expectations to live by. Every night we strolled by the vista point and leer down on all of the lights and possibilities below and wonder about the very near future. Thoughts of host families, training communities, classes, language barriers, nerves, doubts, excitement and anticipation all twinkled up from the belly of the valley, tantalizing those of us standing in the dark above.

 Tres Ríos

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Tres Ríos

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