Snakes and more mud
July 27, 2012
Day Seven – 7/24/12 @ 6:10 PM,
Yesterday, something happened that I had been hoping, probably praying, wouldn’t happen. Those who know me can guess.
Jerry found our first snake.
I’d love to not go into the details but for the sake of my readers it is necessary. It was small, maybe 12 inches, with a black and brown pattern. I didn’t get too close, of course. Why would anyone get close to a snake? But Jerry played with it for a while, then picked it up! He turned to Carlos and asked, “if it bites me am I gonna die?”
I’m standing 15 feet away like, are you crazy?? Every time we turn around Ruth is saying, “Don’t touch that, it’s probably poisonous,” but there was Jerry holding this little snake! Well. That was not ok with me—I have a true phobia of snakes! I don’t do it for attention, I didn’t have a bad experience as a child. I almost didn’t come on this trip because I was worried about the snakes but I figured, no, this is the trip of a lifetime. So as Wendy took pictures, Carlos watched, and Jerry let the thing wrap around his hand, I shivered and hyperventilated and gagged. Finally, Jerry tossed it towards the road and that was that.
I’ve been watching my step ever since, worried that there are snakes under the boards through the mud, behind the trashcan in the library, and under the toilet or IN the toilet! However, all things considered I think I’m doing quite well. I can’t hole up in my room because a snake could very easily be there too! No exaggeration there. So I am forced to be brave, to stomp around through the weeds and up the dark road at night after dinner at Ruth’s. If I see a snake, I will live. If I get bitten, I will probably live. A young friend of Ruth’s was bitten by a poisonous one in the field by Ruth’s house and she survived.
I’d rather not think about it anymore. I’ve done my writer’s duty. Moving on.
Today was rainy, sunny, rainy, sunny. When it’s rainy, its torrential every time and when it’s sunny it’s like a sauna as all that water evaporates into the air. I prefer the rain because it’s cooler, the air feels cleaner, and the bugs give it a rest. I love it when it rains during the night for all those reasons plus the sound is so soothing. I will miss it, without a doubt. I might start playing rain sounds while I’m trying to sleep when I go back home, who knows. Stella might like it too.
Wendy and I had a mission today: deliver invitations to all the women on our street. Ruth drew up a map with everyone’s name plus the word “upe!” pronounced “OO-pay” which is how you attract someone’s attention when they’re inside their house. No doorbell, no knocking, simply “Upe! Upe! Upe!” Also, in case you’re ever in Costa Rica you will need to know this: it’s rude to walk through someone’s doorway without being invited so don’t do it. However, Salvador and Ana from La Gata told Wendy and me that we didn’t have to wait to be asked in, which is Costa Rican for “you’re always welcome.” We’re flattered.
During this mission up the road we saw many interesting things. Fruit that sort of looked like apples but growing directly to the truck of the tree. At the end of the road was the river and it’s huge and muddy and fast. A variety of houses, every single one was different. Some are on poured concrete but the ones that are built in the lower areas must be on stilts for when it floods. All the houses around are made of wood. The people get wood by going into the jungle and cutting down a tree. Using a chainsaw, the cut it into boards. Carlos says it takes a lot of practice—yeah, no kidding. After the boards are cut they are left in the jungle to dry. This takes months. When the wood is dry, it is lighter, one by one these folks carry the lumber out of the jungle.
It was a very muddy day and on our way back, it started to rain, of couse. Not just rain, but RAIN. It rained and rained. Wendy slipped in someone’s driveway (don’t worry, the camera was fine!) and her rear was covered in mud. After a few minutes of watching the rain and talking about how she needed to wash her pants she suddenly stepped out into it and said, “let’s just shower this way.”
Why not, right? It’s the same water we normally shower in only better because it wasn’t a single stream. I was hot and sticky, I’m always hot and sticky, so I did it too. It’s the closest we can get to going to swimming, you know. Yes, we’re right on the river but that river has crocodiles and giant shrimp and probably things worse than those. Standing in the rain was marvelous. That’s the cleanest I’ve been since last Wednesday morning when I took my last hot shower. I felt amazing. I sat in a puddle and scrubbed my feet until all the orange mud was gone, gloriously. Of course, ten minutes later I was muddy again but oh well. I’m in the rainforest/jungle. It’s to be expected.
Day Eight – 7/25/12 @ 10:38 PM,
A lot happened today. It’s in my paper notes. CRAZY AMAZING DAY, wait till you hear. I will write it down here later. I’m still thinking about doing a book of all this with bonus content, like this post completed, pictures, and more.
First of all, Mom and Kerry arrived last night. It’s nice to have them here. However, a piece of bad news: Mom and Daddy donated a hardrive for…something, but it got stolen out of Mom’s suitcase along the way. Honestly, people. Please just be nice.
We went to Ruth and Carlos’s land downriver from us. IT IS A PARADISE. Period. I can’t wait to describe it for you. We also hiked through the jungle, the true honest-to-God jungle!! I have photographic proof that I was there! I conquered a fear doing that. Also, I probably enjoyed the boat ride there and back as much as anything else this entire trip. I understand why Ruth likes living on the river so much.
During the afternoon Wendy and I led a painting/bracelet making workshop with the Arbolitos women and it went really well. Ruth interpreted for us. On Saturday when I’m in La Gata alone I will do the same workshop with Greivin (correct spelling?! I don’t even know) as my interpreter. I am still nervous to be alone but truly I won’t be alone at all. I have friends in La Gata and they will help me as much as I need.
Day Nine – 7/26/12 @ 2:16 PM,
Today marks the halfway point of my stay and I have to admit I’m a little homesick. I miss you, America. I miss being comfortable and clean, and I miss Dale and Stella and Daddy and my brothers and my friends. Ah, homesickness hurts.
And GOD, TODAY WAS IT HOT. There was no relief from it, no AC, no breeze besides our fans which don’t do much. I had sweat dripping off my face and down my back, even my legs and arms were sweating. Kerry said, “aren’t we supposed to be in a rainforest? Where’s all the rain?” I explained that actually we were right on the edge of the rainforest, I believe we’re in the cloudforest zone. We’re also not actually IN the jungle—sort of on the fringe. I told her she missed all the good rain and exciting storms and she frowned at me. Hey, it’s not my fault.
The only good thing about the heat was that our clothes dried really fast, like within minutes, unlike earlier this week when my shorts took three days to become marginally wearable. Last night Wendy and I sent some clothes to Ruth’s for her to pop in the washer (the smell was getting a little too vivid). I’ve set aside a clean outfit for Saturday. I don’t want to be remembered as the smelly art teacher.
I forgot to mention that my camera isn’t working. When I put my SD card in, the screen read that the card was damaged. Well I was bummed but honestly I don’t like carrying around my camera (it’s huge), Wendy’s been doing a fabulous job with the pictures.
In fact, I’m going to link to her blog next time I have internet if anyone wants to read her version of events. She’s better at writing about what happens each day and what we eat and stuff. When we get home we’ll post all our pictures and I’ll update and revamp my blog then.
Anyway, I got Kerry to bring me a brand new SD card when she came to Costa Rica but I got the same error message! I’m going to Google the problem as soon as I have internet again. I have no idea what’s going on but I’ll be disappointed not to have a camera once Wendy leaves. I do have my phone but it doesn’t hold much and I’d rather not lug it around and risk it’s injury or Daddy’ll kill me.
This morning us ladies prepped for my class on Saturday. I feel good about it. We stopped by La Gata again today and Salvador and Ana are just so lovely to me that I’m certain I’ll be just fine.
This evening was church in Las Marias (translation: The Marys, yes, I’m confused too) and it was somehow hotter there. We were miserable. However, this is my second time going to church here in Costa Rica and I find it very enjoyable. The music is so raw, nothing fake about it. People just sing into the mic, no background music, and the congregation claps and sings along. It’s such a beautiful way to worship.
The pastor today was a man named Franklin (not to be confused with Franklin Baptist coming day after tomorrow). Ruth seems to have a lot of respect for him and so do I. You cannot imagine how he and his wife Yolanda and their young boy Wesley live unless you see it. Hopefully Wendy took pictures. It’s literally two “walls” and a tarp stretched between some palm trees. They have a toilet and some electricity, but they also have a dirt floor and hardly any protection from the elements. Readers, they are poor. They have each other, the tarp, and a little dog and not much more. But Franklin is an energetic man of God with a purpose and a calling and a family and a congregation. He seems…sort of content. His face is the most peaceful one I’ve ever seen, I don’t know how. Yolanda too, she didn’t look stressed and tired. She was smiling and merry-eyed. I can’t explain it but there is something special about that couple. My parents have decided to sponsor him some money each month.
I have had plenty of time to think about things. I’ve been thinking about my faith a lot, and I’ve shared some of that with you. I’ve also been thinking about why I came here. For the people? Or for me? And does it even matter?
I will go home a different person, I’ve known that for years. But I didn’t understand the scope of it, and probably never will, until I started seeing the poverty for myself.
It’s not ok.
People shouldn’t live this way. There is too much depression, too much sickness, and not enough hope and encouragement. If a person isn’t happy with their lot in life there is little to nothing they can do about it besides smile and keep working.
I don’t mean that everyone needs a buffet of options or paved roads to be happy but this…this is not ok. I admire Ruth and Carlos for their sacrifices. I don’t know where they get the energy and encouragement to keep going all day, all year, but it’s inspiring. I hope it’s inspiring you, faithful readers, as well. My job here is to a paint you a picture so that you can be here with me from your air-conditioned, bug free living room. Maybe you’ll decide to help Ruth also, with your time or your gifts or your prayers.
If you would be so kind, take ten minutes and pray for the people of Arbolitos, La Gata, Jerusalem, and Las Marias. I don’t care who you pray to or how you do it but ask that they get the help they need and the opportunities they desire. Then, pray for all the people of rural Costa Rica, asking for the same things. Ask that God soften the hearts of the leaders to ease some of the corruption and poverty. Then, pray for the Rama Indians living in Nicaragua not too far from here. They have even less than the people of Arbolitos. Then, pray for the world. Please pray for the world. Imagine your prayers create a golden halo around the entire earth. Lastly, drop in a good word for Ruth and Carlos, and Carlos’s mother Concepcion who has been cooking for us, and Franklin and Yolanda. Ask for restful sleep, full bellies, and good energy. They need it.
Day Ten – 7/27/12 @ 10:32 AM,
Tenth day. Eight left. More than halfway home.
In an earlier post, I mentioned a fruit that looks like apples but grows directly to the bark. I have since learned they are called mansana de aqua or water apples, but they seem to be in the pear family to me, by the texture. Mariana’s mother gave us three the other day. Wendy was not a fan but I’m craving them today!
This morning, I burned our trash. It was a horrible experience. It stole my appetite and made me nauseous. As you know, we can’t put our toilet paper in the toilet, we put it in the trash. Every other day or so we burn it. Well the bathroom trash in the library hasn’t been burned for too many days and the smell today was a problem. So I took it on and you can best believe I will squirrel my way out of ever doing it again. Many apologies in advance, Franklin Baptist.
Today is a wrapping-up-loose-ends day. Mom has a few projects she’d like to get done, we’re all going to clean up the guest house, and later a walk around town for Wendy and Mom to take lots of pictures. I’d like today to be as peaceful and restful as possible. I’m going to hit the ground running tomorrow.
“Stay dry!” should be a greeting here.