Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The rich coast

Im sitting here in a twin bed, in my "llamame" shirt (it has a llama on the phone. It's a spanish pun) thinking on the last few weeks. That twin bed, and me, are both currently situated in Costa Rica, where I've been on immersion Spanish training since the end of February. It's been one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life and I'm still trying to process it all.

3 weeks away can be a long time, It's especially long when you're planning a wedding. It's even longer when your dog has seven seizures in 24 hours the day after you leave. Lily's health has been up and down lately. She had her first seizure in September, then nothing until January, then 3 in 3 days, then we put her on medication and she was fine. Until the night before I left. The next day, when I called home, TB sounded exhausted, worn down by the worrying, the valium administering, the cleaning, and the comforting that comes with Lily's seizures. And I felt awful for leaving him to handle it alone. The low point came when she had a seizure while we were on skype together. Well, actually, the low point came a few days later, when I was in a lovely B&B on the coast of Uvita, sobbing my eyes out because I was miserable in the most beautiful place on Earth.

But I gamely posted photos of sunsets on Instagram and smiled at my colleague and swam in the pool, all the while feeling an utter failure for feeling homesick (let this be a lesson: you might envy the woman posting travel shots from exotic locales, but know there's a distinct possibility she was choosing that filter through a veil of tears). Before I left, my therapist asked me why I was going. I'm a homebody, always have been, and travel on my own or with strangers/ near strangers has never been my favourite way to see the world. I told her a story of a play I was in, where the director asked me late in the rehearsal process to do a scene topless. I thought about it for a day or so, going back and forth, and eventually said no. the scene had me in a lacy bustier instead. After one performance, a fellow theatre student came up and asked me why I hadn't done the scene topless. I muttered some reason or other (I had to run at the end of the play and doing it without a bra would have been uncomfortable, the director introduced the concept late in the rehearsal process,etc.) and she relented but the doubt was placed in my mind. Looking back, I have some feelings of regret looking back in that performancd because I did feel like I could have done it and it might have made the moment more powerful. I don't like that feeling much.

So, why did I go to Costa Rica? Because I felt I had a better chance of avoiding regret if I went than if I didnt. 

And I think I made the right choice. I've swum in the carribean, hiked 4 km in the rain, had a cliff side pool all to myself, seen a poisonous frog up close, been on a highway so high the clouds were below us, heard a howler monkey, all while trying to master this language in a country that demands it. But that first weekend, as I choked back tears that I dried with mosquito netting, was definitely not a highlight. In the end, I decided to make a compromise: I'm coming back tomorrow instead of Saturday and taking the financial penalty to do so. I'm trying really hard not to view this as a failure. I won't get to go to San jose to buy souvenirs with the other students, but I don't really need more stuff, to be honest. I just feel like I took the easy road out, even if the minute I made the decision I started enjoying the visit so much more.

I know I'm unnecessarily hard on myself when it comes to things like this. 3 weeks away from my family and friends, in a country where I have to speak spanish all day to get by, living with a family in an unfamiliar house was a concept that made me anxious. Add to this the idea that this is my first work trip where I haven't been able to call my mom and tell her about my day, my fears, my anxiety, and have her tell me I'm fine, I'll be all right and she can't wait to see me. And yes, in case you wondered, everything seems to come back to that eventually.

But I've been determined to say yes to things I wouldn't normally (see 4km rain hike), put myself in situations I usually avoid, and the payout has been really great. I've really had an excellent time here and I'm grateful and amazed the opportunity came my way at all.

Now it's time to take my sunburnt, bug-bitten (84 at my highest count!) body back home to a tall skinny boy, a woozy pug and the place im happy to call home. 

Thanks for everything, Costa Rica. It's been a trip.