Friday, January 2, 2009

Leaving Paradise

On the plane from Dallas to San Fran. So sad to be so far already from the Green Mountains. But I will be happy to be home again with family and friends…and dry clothes that don’t smell like mildew.

Monteverde, and the rest of Costa Rica, gave us a beautiful send-off, making it that much harder to say goodbye. Perfect “pura vida” days, even during the most stressful time of the quarter. I blasted through the symposium, blasted through my final essays and the final submission of my research so that I could enjoy my last couple days in the mountains. And Monteverde cooperated by lightening the rain and wind, blessing us with blue skies and the most beautiful sunsets we had seen. Afternoon walks to escape the stress of the station put a lasting smile o my face.

The morning that everything was due, I submitted my papers early and went out with a friend. It was the most tranquila day we had enjoyed all week. We visited all of our favorite places, walking all over Monteverde. We visited and said our goodbyes to the local people we had gotten to know. In the end we laid out on the lawn in front of Casem and read aloud to each other until a sunny drizzle encouraged us to visit Stella’s one last time. We enjoyed our last DELICIOUS sandwich at our favorite hangout, watched birds and sat in silence for a while, appreciating the time we had spent there—watching new coming tourists bustling in and out, looking at maps, consulting guides.

That evening was the “final” feast at the station, with all of our teachers and all of the people who had helped us throughout the program in attendance. Viewing the slideshow, one thing in particular struck me. We are always smiling. Not just because we were taking pictures, no. These photos just reminded me that we have been walking around with smiles on our faces for three months, for no other reason than that life is amazing, and what we were doing is amazing and that we are blessed to be where we are.

One of Frank’s final word’s of wisdom (not to be confused with his many “cautionary tales”) was this: To simply be well educated is not enough. In fact, some of history’s most infamous villains and “fools” were the most highly educated, brilliant people. It matters what kind of education we receive. It is important to understand the world in many ways, and to understand the gifts that it holds. It is important that we learn from the world and the people around us, and to have a complete LIFE education…and that is what we have been given, and that is our obligation to pass on.

And so, as sad as I am to be leaving paradise…I know that I will someday return. Until then I have a rekindled energy and drive to make the most of opportunities, and to continue to make opportunities for myself. I accept the obligation to contribute to the world around me and perpetuate life’s education. And I look forward to the challenges ahead, knowing that I am capable of much more than I knew before.

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