I am uncomfortable. The chairs are hard and the rice is…well, bland. I miss soy milk, the Prius, and wind. I am in at least 50% denial about these things most of the time. My emotions are like a heavy fog that lifts only momentarily before descending again to cloud everything up and give every item in my world a cold, wet, slippery feeling. Yes, I put myself in this situation. It’s like I sent myself to “time out” for three months. Maybe I’ll come back to the United States a reformed individual capable of finding happiness in simple things (I doubt it).
This afternoon, John and I were talking with Lydian about feeling homesick. We were kind of counseling her, but we were also counseling ourselves a little too, I think. We talked about the emotional landscape that one encounters when traveling. Internally, emotionally, I don’t know what I’ll find, the longer we stay here, the longer we stay away from home. My feelings toward this place and home are constantly churning and evolving. I am congratulating myself on being able to sit on this hard-ass couch every day and deal without having a car and simultaneously screaming (on the inside) about the lack of food diversity and people who understand jokes in English. Living in Costa Rica is, on the inside, like trekking through the jungle, which, I suppose, is better than trekking through a desert (which is more like living at home).
We have 7 more weeks and 2 days left here in Costa Rica and I know we’ll make it, but I wonder how I’ll feel by the time we’re ready to go. Will I be reluctant to leave or will I feel like I’m going to explode if I have to spend one more day here? Last night, as we were riding in the taxi back to our house I had a fleeting thought about how one could get attached to the craziness here. The blatantly dangerous driving habits, the platanos, the Ranchero music. The temperature last night was perfect and there were little pin lights from houses strewn throughout the valley and up onto the hill opposite ours. The taxi driver had a radio station playing 80’s tunes by Rod Stewart and Starship and I was a bit high” from an hour of dancing followed by an hour of yoga. But needless to say, I was momentarily and surprisingly enchanted.
Then, the feeling left and I wished that I was going home to my comfy chair and our four cats in the boring Midwest.
After we get home, though, I’ll only remember the enchanting moments. I’ll forget about the fact that the neighbors have
their TV outside under an awning in their backyard and they play soap operas or old western movies every day for several hours from noon until about 3:00 PM. I’ll forget about the dog next door that barks all…the…time. I’ll forget about the little prayers I say every time a car grazes past us going 100 mph on our dangerous little street. I’ll forget about the drainage systems in the Alajuelan streets that you could fall into if you were running really fast because the light changed to green and you accidentally tripped and fell. I’ll forget the ants and the cockroaches and remember only the most glowing, most lovely aspects of Costa Rica (like how the palm plants constantly move around in an animated way in the constant, but very light breeze).
I wonder, though, at what point (if ever) on this trip I’ll begin to feel “okay” about where I am and what I’m doing. Perhaps I’ll never feel “okay” about being here. Yesterday, I realized that there is no Starbucks in Alajuela. John said that maybe there was a Starbucks in
San Jose and that made me feel better. Every country we’ve ever been in, there’s been a Starbucks somewhere in at least one of the big cities where we could go to be thoroughly steeped in something familiar and comfortable. We go past a McDonald’s on our way to the bus station in Alajuela, but I wouldn’t lower myself to visit a McDonald’s in any country unless I was desperate for restroom facilities.
Unfortunately, homesickness is one of those emotions for which there is no panacea (except home). I don’t think I’d whimp out and choose to go home at this stage anyway. Right now, I could probably be consoled by a batch of chocolate chip cookies and a nap. But after I get home, I always forget about this feeling of having been misplaced, like a sock or a part of a child’s toy that rolled under a piece of furniture. I needed to make note of the feeling in these early stages where it still makes sense before it reaches a high pitch of desperation in the hopes that if I really lost it later on (in the jungle), I can at least find my way back to partial sanity.