24 August, 2015
My Dear John Letter to Costa Rica
We leave the country and return to the United States in just 8 days. I’ve been thinking the last day or so about how this experience in Costa Rica has been for me, and wish to share it in a Dear John letter.
Dear Costa Rica;
20 years ago I first heard of you and your amazing reputation. I longed to meet you, get to know you and even fantasized about moving in with you before we even met. That’s how deeply you spoke to me.
When we did meet, you wrapped me in your arms and smiled your winning smile and took me aside to share the parts of yourself I had heard so much of. Trees full of parrots, luminescent night walks along the beach, moonless nights where the stars dressing your skies consumed my heart. Your rainforest’s aroma made me swoon and I delighted in your flowers, insects, and other creatures. I leaved longing to return, to know you deeply. Every time I came back to you I wanted to know more of who you were and make a home with you.
The last time we saw one another I shared your glory with friends and colleagues. I have always praised your beauty, your forward thinking, your grandiose gestures of appreciation and commitment to your gifts and talents in your forests, oceans and rivers. The dogs I met wore the happiest glow from frolicking upon your beaches and playing in your waves. We all had a wonderful time.
This time I came to you with an intention to see if there was more. I moved in for a spell, wanting to see how you hair was mussed in the early morning and if you left the toothpaste cap off. I wanted to breathe in your post-workout sweat and see what you did to relax after a hard week. I wanted to know all of you, knowing that 7 years apart is a long time. I have changed, and most assuredly you had as well.
I do not know if you’ve always been the way I now see you or if the allure of all the attention showered upon you in the last decade has perverted you in this way; your duality and fractured personality is hard to reconcile. I feel sorry for you – with your dual economy and your need to pander to all the pasty tourists and their dreamy expectations of you while trying to sustain yourself and your heart. I leave feeling like I still don’t know you. You show everyone your flashy side because they fly for miles to see it. You feed off that popularity and demand a premium if we are to sit with you for an evening meal or received a couple hours of your inherent abundance. You see me as an outsider and don’t want to let me in. Maybe you expect I only want to pay for a night’s fun, because that’s what most want from you.
I am patient and quiet.
I saw you dump that tear-down into the freshly culled rainforest and then cover it with more soil to hide your indiscretion. I see the sheer volume of dreams for sale at the real estate office, now reduced in price but still laughably expensive. That weird thing you do where you get so much of your energy from renewable resources but rob your people with complex, costly electricity pricing. I see half complete or abandoned commercial spaces along the side of the road like long-forgotten lovers. I know about that spot down the road that is still littered with trash from before we even arrived in Herradura…yet there’s the recycling bins in your most traveled venues, as though you mean to care.
I wonder if most of what I believed about you was all for show or if so much has been asked of you so quickly that you still haven’t had time to absorb it all. You have literally grown so much yet feel so incomplete to me. I have a history of loving someone for the potential I see in them and not who they actually are. I cannot tell if this applies in our relationship as well.
I see those who are settled here and are happy. It sickens me that an equal number look at your devotion to life’s enjoyment and judge you for it, not realizing that deep down you judge them for coming here to use you for a week’s fun and leave with a handful of photos and stories. I’m sorry so many people move in and then take advantage of you while keeping themselves walled off from your most heartfelt attributes. Perhaps I would appear fractured if I were you. But really, it’s not you … it’s me.
While I was away, I came to love the city. Your beauty still takes my breath away but it’s so hard to find substance beneath it. Most cities can’t compete with your lusciousness but they offer me something you haven’t been able to – substance, stimulation, depth. Your culture is hidden and kept from all but family; what you do share is clearly to entice tourists and tell a good tale. I can see right through it.
While I was away the city changed me. The radical vegan animal rights activist that fell in love with you has been tempered by life’s experiences and the grit of the urban American lifestyle. She grabs her pink steak with both hands and no longer believes in a good rally. Embracing my adulthood in that environment, I started expecting more stimulation, grew surprisingly more frugal and came to expect the commercial abundance of urban living. I am a touch ashamed that I prefer it to your ridiculously fertile soil and animal life….but I do. I want the abundant forest AND I want to have the accessibility of the big city. My body has changed and the heat of you wears me out. I am older and less thrilled about sacrificing my creature comforts; you demand too much now for those really, really good hugs.
So here’s to your future. I do wish the best for you. You are still among the most beautiful to me, even if living with you has frustrated me and my family to no end. I’m glad we gave it a go, and I learned quite a bit from you. I will always appreciate how your silence and neglect gave me the space I needed to take my next steps in confidence. The city makes it easy to hide from ourselves. We weren’t meant to be lifers, and that’s okay. If our paths cross again in an easy and fun wayI’ll come by and see you. If not…well, I know there’s still a list of dreamers waiting to get in for a moment with you.
Thanks for everything;