Saturday, September 13, 2014

Nowhere is always somewhere.

Nowhere is always somewhere…that's what I think about as I meander through the Costa Rican forest. I subconsciously search for-solely-rain-and-nothing-else rain boots, the every-two-week-laundry-schedule, the I-spent-more-time-in-the-library-than-you-did-today, the tweet-tweet of an iMessage. Instead, trotting along, I force myself to focus on my immediate surroundings, as we are hushed to silence. I plow through the mud, as it oozes between my boots, and up my leg; I focus on the cacophony of insects and birds, as we head towards the Bribri who live in Kekoldi, an indigenous territory. We are welcomed amiably, through two different languages. It is not till dusk, as we sit at the crest of a hill, wrapped up in the forest, that we learn of the Bribri's struggle with outsiders.

I come blinded by prejudice, with expectation and with doubt, about electricity, about food, about inferiority. In college, and largely in life, we are surrounded by development, by WalMart, by Friendly's. I am overwhelmed with, with Skype, with WhatsApp, with iTunes, with Google Maps. I have learned societal success to be hierarchal, often monetary, and to at least relate to the artificiality around me at home, even in rural Vermont.

But amidst endless vines, that pretense seems insignificant. In fact, the artificiality that has served me so well does not matter as I wander through streams and past sloths. Instead, the forest overwhelms the landscape, acting as a wilderness pharmacy whose lexicon, as we learn, relies on the people that orally transmit it through generations.

Here, surrounded by the vastness of greenery, I am reminded that this place, this place I once thought was nowhere, is someone's somewhere. It is not in Frommer's Top Ten Places To Visit, nor does it appear with a Google search, but alas it exists. Its beauty lies in the pristine, untouched grandeur. The floor, covered by mud, stretches towards layers of canopy. Sunlight filters slowly through, sifted by wide banana leaves and palms used for thatched roofs. The forest's beauty relies on the people who protect it, who use it, and who live with it, as they have done for generations.

To be successful, as I have intuited, cannot simply mean Facebook accounts, Gmail, a professional degree, six promotions, the Rolex, or the second home. To be successful means to live with what's around you. Being in Bribri territory, surrounded by lush green flora, I see that nowhere suddenly does not exist. Nowhere, the middle of nowhere, implies distance and otherness. Instead, as I eat off a leaf-plate, I am reminded of our anthropological similarities: our laughter, and our traditions. Different, but so remarkably similar. I am so quick to assume wrongness, inferiority, and difference. But I think, instead, I have found so much similarity. So much togetherness, in the middle of this somewhere.


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