Monday, January 19, 2009

Out of the Woodwork

The summer of ‘04 I worked at an eco-lodge in Costa Rica as the assistant to the head landscaper. His name was Wilbur and he spoke no English. I had taken Spanish in high school, three years prior and recalled despising that class. The teacher was more concerned with my disobedient and horribly rude classmates than making sure the rest of us had learned anything. I figured I had gained little from that class and thought nothing of it again until I was faced with Wilbur, this kind faced, hard working man who made quick work of a pineapple and presented it to me like a popsicle. At first I was shy to make my attempts at his language until his patience and kind laughter won me over. The language came out of me like mice out of the woodwork. I didn’t know it was there ‘til I shook things up a bit. With Wilbur and the rest of the Tican staff, I became good friends. I entered their world and their culture with enthusiasm, respect and curiosity. I played soccer with them, learned how they dance, folded banana leaves into beautiful forms, used their slang words, we tutored each other in our languages, we became family. I loved the excitement of leaving my home behind, learning how people lived worlds away from mine. I treasure the aspect of community that seems to be held in such higher esteem than it is in the states. I look forward to visiting more in the future. 

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