It was midnight and I had just stepped off the plane before I saw Soraya. She was standing outside with my name handwritten on a sign. She was patiently waiting to take me from the airport to my living quarters for the next three days. It was a short drive as we traveled along steep hills and winding roads in the dark. She told me about her family and her life here in Costa Rica. She shared her experiences in regards to visiting the States, even visiting the southern parts where I’m from. I wanted to hear more, but we had arrived at my destination and Soraya had to go to work in the next few hours.
Gabriela and Milo opened the door to us, showed us around, and gave us a quick tour. I was grateful for the quickness because I was extremely jet-lagged and desperately needed sleep. I showered and tried my best to get comfortable. I remember staying awake for a while — speaking to God and giving thanks for safe travels. Night sounded quite different in this part of the world. The nocturnal creatures spoke out to one another, but it was in a soothing and peaceful manner. Peaceful enough for me to fall asleep.
Morning came when the sun literally peeked in through the half-drawn curtains at 5:30 AM. But it was a refreshing sort of greeting. One that I appreciated. Mainly because I knew where I would be waking up and falling asleep for the next few days unlike home.
Gabriela and her husband invited me to the market in the central part of Colon. The Colonians convened here every Saturday to sell their produce, their art, and their services. I had a wonderful breakfast with the most delectable coffee I’ve ever tasted. Completely unmatched based on what I’ve tasted in the states. But generally, everything I’ve tasted abroad is better than what’s in the states. We stroll around the central–visiting a few stands and the supermarket with Gabriela playing tour guide.
I purchased a few items before we headed back home for more breakfast that Garbriela insisted she make for me and all of her guests. She loves to cook and was once a baker before retiring. I savored the meal that she prepared for me, talked a little bit about what was going on in my life back home and got a little choked up. Life has been so hard to talk about lately. Most of the times I can get through a conversation without getting emotional. Other days, I just can’t hold back the tears and frustration. I went outside on the terrace to breathe through it — to calm myself by looking at such an amazing view. Toucans flew by and butterflies weren’t strangers. I felt vast, yet humbled.
Evening came. And as much as I wanted to lay in bed and wallow in my sorrows, I didn’t want a trip in such a beautiful country to go to waste. This was the least amount of planning that I had ever done in my travels and I just didn’t feel like researching much. I took a late stroll downhill into town to do a little more shopping and to grab dinner and other snacks. I dined on ceviche and picked up a sweet little pastry before grabbing a taxi back up the hill because I in no way close to being in the physical shape that traveling uphill by foot would require. And taxis were only about $2.
I had just arrived back from an evening in town and was waiting to witness a Costa Rican sunset when Gabriela came to me in excitement. She had booked a tour for me the following day to visit a coffee plantation, Poas Volcano, an animal reserve, and La Paz Waterfall. I had just begun to settle with not doing anything adventurous or exciting but walking down the hill into town, so I appreciated her effort tremendously. Grabriela stayed for a while, conversing with me about how much I would enjoy the excursion, about the beauty that I need to see while I’m here in Costa Rica and shared more details about her life here in Colon. She asked me more about my life and I shared — focusing more on the good and what I still had to be grateful for. Our exchange was delightful. Therapeutic in it’s own fashion.
She sat with me until the sun finally set. And I’m quite thankful that she did.