Comme les Éléphants

While wondering the halls of the musée Dauphinois right by my French residence, I happened upon a quote by mountaineer, Caroline Villeneuve, that read, “Mon rêve, c’était de faire comme les éléphants, de revenir où je suis née” or in English, “My dream, it was to do as the elephants, to come back to where I was born.” For some reason, this has resonated with me since then and I did not really know why until now.

I recently returned from a fulfilling trip back to Jamaica. It was the first time I travelled for the holidays since moving further north, and I have decided that travel during the winter season to a warmer destination can cause some painful withdrawals, upon return, which I do not admire at this time.

Uptown Kingston at primet-time: Hop on while you can!

Uptown Kingston at prime-time: hop on while you can!

Still, though I have taken this trip before, I had never taken it like this. The fragile innocence of youth can blind one to the realities that they have lived, and this trip exposed me to many of these facts and figures I had not concretely defined before.

Simply put, it was a family trip to celebrate the start of the end and the end of the start.

Nevertheless I went into this with an agenda; comme les éléphants, I knew that there was much to rediscover and I only had two weeks. I prepared myself as I had during last summer’s European adventure: I made a list of destinations after a quick search on TripAdvisor and I made a promise to myself that no time would be wasted; at least once every day, the sun would shine on my face. Soon I came to realise that my agenda was becoming of something more.

Negril: Rick's Café at sunset is a must.

Negril: Rick’s Café at sunset is a must.

It is quite difficult to explain exactly my experience; to analogize, it is as if I have been telling a story I once remembered so clearly as a kid, as clear as real life. Every time I retold this story, something was added to it or taken away; and so everytime I retold this story, it felt less true, less authentic, like I had never really known it before. So once I began seeing characters and objects from this story again, things slowly came back to me, still faint but ever so familiar.

Unlike my European escapades where walking was a must, we drove everywhere; it was a blessing and a curse as the heat could kill, but I had to absorb everything in 5 seconds or less. Even so, for the things that took more time, like going to the supermarket or meeting my father’s friend from high school, I was like a sponge in water.

St. Catherine - Flat Bridge: on the road.

St. Catherine : on the road to Flat Bridge.

Conversations had more depth, people and places had more features, and my memories had more flavour. I concluded then that, in all my denial as a proud immigrant against acclimatization, I could now properly justify my multinationality as the proof was right there.

I did indeed live a part of this story, but a long time ago; when trees grow, their roots stretch out, reaching ends once unknown to that same trunk. So I may have lost my accent, and I cannot easily differenciate between uptown and downtown as other locals; but my roots all started from the same spot that I can and will always return to.

It never hurts to learn what you have always known.

À la prochaine,
Moi

Music of the Moment:

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Back to the Future

William Penn once said, “Time is what we want most, but use worst,” and that is one of my greatest fears. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about time; how much I have, how much I’ve used, and how much others have in comparison to me. It’s a world-wind of thoughts that involves too much math and not enough positivity; but alas, it is a difficult task to stray the mind from a topic with which it is already determined upon.

Today marks exactly three months since I returned home from the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. Sometimes I feel like I literally just came back; other times I feel like I never even went. It’s strange when I look back on the mesmerizing photos from that time and think, “Did I actually do that?” But then, I recall the itchy hives I currently suffer from since coming back, and reassure myself that yes, I did indeed go.

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Even more so, I look back at some of the photos I’ve taken within the three months of being back at home, and I’ve done quite a bit also: volunteered at a renowned international film festival, went to a Tori Kelly concert (she’s the bomb, check her out!), took a boat cruise with friends around the heart of downtown, and performed some songs for the first time in a long while in front of a crowd of students at my university.

And now, as I nervously organize myself for exams the end of this semester, my mind occasionally wanders to the plan of next semester: six months in France.

It’s funny, really; I tell people about my plans and they say, “Wow, look at you. You’re doing it all!” But that’s not how I feel, no. I feel like I’m doing some stuff, yes. But not all. I don’t even feel like I’ve done much. Then I look at other, more successful people my age or younger and think that I definitely have not done anything compared to them.

That’s where the want for time comes into play. I keep wishing that I could rewind the time; do a few things differently, keep a few more the same, and then live life over again using my time more effectively. But reality never likes to change now, does it?

It’s also the thought of what I will be doing once I return which frightens me. A bit more of school then what?

But as my thoughts continue to roll around in my head, I’m starting to realize that I have time – plenty of it. And the more time I can say that I’ve used, the luckier I am. There are quite a few others out there who haven’t even reached my age yet with not much time left. Unfortunately, we tend to be very blind to what we have been blessed with when we are so focused on what we want.

So the future? I don’t really know. But that’s just it: I don’t really know. And that is the beauty of the future I guess, that little element of surprise. I’m sure the Me five years ago would be surprised to see what I’m doing now. I’m still a bit shocked and there’s more in store. But since I don’t yet know what to expect, might as well just enjoy what the present can give me here and now.

As long as the book is still open, time will tell.

À la prochaine,
Moi

Music for the Moment:

Up, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, Left…

It’s here.

Finally, my voyage to the Caribbean Sea coast of Costa Rica has come to an end; and I still have a flow of emotions like ever before.

As I read back on my first few blog posts about this adventure, it’s hard to believe how dramatic, yet scared I was.

It’s been quite a long three months, ’tis true, and everyday day had its challenges; but the things that I’ve witnessed during my stay here are incomparable to many things I will come across in the future: baby sea turtle hatchlings, sloths, tropical toucans, caimans, Howler and Capuchin monkeys and so much more. To imagine what it would have been like to cut my trip short (as I was intending) gives me a feeling of disappointment. Sometimes what may seem like the wrong decision may play out to be the best one in the end.

And as I pack my things, and my emotions continue to ride the loops on the roller coaster that is my life, I can’t help but appreciate how much this trip has changed me for the better as a person: I now know how to bake many a things from scratch; I know how to kayak and paddle my way across a canal; I know what it’s like to be passionate about one’s work to the point that even the smallest mistake throws off the rest of my day until it is fixed; and I’ve developed better skills in handling myself in new environments totally away from home and familiar faces.

Walk the line..

It’s strange, you know; sometimes we often have to leave home in order to fully understand and appreciate the feeling of being there, and I most certainly do now.

Life is such a wonder, and even in the lowest of lows in our days, we must not resist the opportunity to look up and see the goodness that lies ahead.

We must not limit ourselves to low standards, low expectations, and short distances. There are endless possibilities if we just allow them to unfold, whether we know exactly what they hold in store. Just float, because you never know where the waves will take you.

And it won’t be my last Costa Rica,
but still,
Pura Vida,
Moi

Music for the Moment:
I wrote this post while I listened to this song as I found it depicted my emotions about this experience perfectly in song. I dedicate it to all my loved ones who supported me along the way – I honestly could NOT have done it without you all. Much love.

On to the next adventure…..

Bienvenidos a la casa de los Ticos!

I absolutely adore Latin people and their culture.

I had this perception from while at home, but I had merely encountered Latin immigrants or those of Latin descent.

Interestingly enough, their culture runs strong through their generations and across borders, because in North America or in Costa Rica, their Latin flavour still runs thick.

This may be a general assumption I am making for a vast array of people, but I’ve met Colombians, Puerta Ricans, Pervuvians, and Spanish alike, and there’s an essence to them that I haven’t quite yet found in any other culture I’ve experienced (which I guess is why there are various cultures around the world that have their own differences and is why I’ll keep travelling to discover them all!).

Yesterday seemed to enhance that opinion when my fellow intern and I made our way over to Doña Blanca’s casa, a woman who lives near the station and who is in need of help learning English.

When we arrived, she welcomed us nicely and we immediately got to work.
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She sat us down in her makeshift hair dresser/craftsman workshop/mani-pedi office/patio and we began talking.

One thing I really admire about the Latin culture, specifically Ticas and Ticos in this context, is that they are very honest and open and will talk you up even if you don’t completely understand everything they’re saying. They are so animated with their words and expressions, and even though I may not be fluent in Spanish, the actions she did while speaking really helped me grasp the main idea.

At a point during our language session, Doña Blanca was comparing the two languages, English and Spanish, as we tried translating a part of a paragraph together. “One word in English,” she said, “can be translated into a whole phrase in Spanish. I guess it’s because Spanish love to just talk and talk, no?” Then she laughed.

What was also refreshing was her intent on learning our language.

She seems to be a woman of the world, dipping her feet in every job she can, and one of them is being a turtle guide, which seems plausible when one grasps the short distance from her house to the Caribbean Sea where the turtles we monitor come to nest.

She knew so much about the turtles and their activities without studying it as a degree in school, which showed me that the Ticas and Ticos that live here are very much in touch with their environment and their home is their livelihood and must be understood and taken care of, which I admire and respect greatly.

Her words became even more animated as she moved onto the art of her pedicures and crafts.

It was a very entertaining visit.

And what made it the sweetest for me was the ending.

As we got up to leave, she offered us some lemonade (“agua con limón en ingles es…?”) and then we talked about culture and why I supposedly have Chinese eyes if I’m not Chinese; and then when we were really ready to leave, she gave us both hugs and kisses and sent us off.

La hospitalidad era demasiado bueno! Comprende?

Gracias Doña Blanca y pura vida,
Moi

P.S. Saw my first leatherback turtle (possibly the last of the season) last night, while the moon was bright, and the night was cool. It was perfectly huge and a sight to see!

Music for the Moment:

Cool. Cool, cool, cool.

Finally, I’m here.

Where is here exactly? Well, it’s in a (somewhat) little biological station called Caño Palma in Limón, Costa Ríca on the coast of the Caribbean Sea, where interns like me come to basically help save turtles.

It gets much deeper than that, but since this is an introduction, saving turtles is, in a nutshell, what I will be doing.

Costa Rica: On our way to the Cano Palma biological station via the Turtle Lodge boat..

Costa Rica: On our way to the Cano Palma biological station via the Turtle Lodge boat..

This is one of my bigger adventures coming up and boy do I have a lot in store for me here.

The trip to my current destination was not as eventful as that of Atlanta, Georgia. I would give the excuse that it’s because of the lack of varying transportation used as opposed to Hotlanta, but that would be very much incorrect.

My fellow interns and I took a plane, then a bus, stayed at a hostel for a night; then another bus, then a boat, and then we were there.

What a trip.

Thanks to past interns who have traveled this road often traveled though, they left written guides to let us know how to get there conveniently, which really truly helped.

We’ve only been at the station, and in the country, really, for a few hours, but one common thing I can tell (besides the fact that every county in Costa Ríca has at least one church, one school, one medical clinic, and one soccer field, according to our station bus driver), the sense of community is very strong.

I, myself, can be very introverted at times and quite easily get lost within my own thoughts and perceptions.

Though this may help me in some aspects of everyday situations, what one comes to discover in life is that there is a time and place for everything, and I think that this is not the time to have that kind of mindset in this place. Cano Palma is a place of teamwork, co-operation, and understanding; so if I want to fulfill as many goals as possible during my stay, it would be best if I open up and become comfortable with things.

Identify the problem. Want a desirable result. Find the solution and be determined to accomplish it. Simple.

So, as I put myself to sleep and prepare to wake up in 7 hours for my first ever turtle survey, all I can think about now is how excited I am to discover exactly what ‘this side of town’ has to offer.

Pura Vida,
Moi

Music for the Moment: