“Every morning is a fresh beginning. Every day is the world made new. Today is a new day.” -Dan Custer
Upon waking up in the morning, we began our day by heading out to La Boquilla, a fisherman village in Cartagena where individuals from class zero and class one live (the two lowest socioeconomic classes in the city). La Boquilla is considered to be a fisherman village because the main activity for locals here is fishing. Fishing is so great in this area because the ocean is connected to the swamp, so local fisherman are able to catch fish from both areas of water. If you were to go to the village at 5:30am, you could purchase caught fish that are still alive, swim in the local water, and go prepare your freshly caught lunch.
There is a lot of construction taking place around La Boquilla, especially the building of hotels, so the locals have worked out a deal with the government. The deal is that hotels building around La Boquilla must employ 20 percent of their staff from the area. In addition, the must either feed these individuals once a month, or educate them in order to help give back to this community.
La Boquilla is known for having the biggest natural reserve in Cartagena. Mangroves here grow up and down, similar to the path of a circle. This is because when the mangrove grows downwards, it creates a new mangrove tree that continuously repeats the process. You can also tell the color of the mangrove by looking at the bottom of the trunk. The colors can be black, red, or white.
Something interesting about La Boquilla is the fact that numerous members of the community come together to raise money for one another and for their neighborhood. This is evident in the fact that some members make the canoes by hand, others row the canoes when tourists come to town, and a select few are in charge of organizing visits from tour groups in Cartagena. These canoe rides, offered on what is called a bote canoa chalupa (or small canoe boat), are a main source of income to the locals in La Boquilla, and they take great pride in the work that they collectively do.
This morning we left the Cloud Forest of Monteverde, and headed back towards San José to spend our last full day in Costa Rica. The scenery that we came across during the drive was breathtaking and we couldn’t have asked for better weather! We even managed to spot monkeys in the trees on the side of the road as well as some interesting looking birds too. We stopped at a local snack and smoothie shop, where we had the opportunity to sample some typical Costa Rican treats, but we were more interested in the smoothies since the fruit here is so fresh and delicious.
Pictured below is also a sign that says, “Pura Vida,” which is a saying you’ll hear a lot throughout the country! The exact translation in English is “pure life,” but the phrase is also used for purposes of saying, “Take it easy,” “Enjoy life,” “All good,” “Purity in life,” “Hello,” “Goodbye,” and even “This is life!” “Pura vida means that no matter what your current situation is, life for someone else can always be less fortunate than your own. So you need to consider that maybe…just maybe, your situation isn’t all that bad and that no matter how little or how much you have in life, we are all here together and life is short” which is why we should live it ‘pura vida style’ (http://www.bestcostaricantours.com).
We stopped for a quick meal in San José, but more noteworthy was our dinner at a local restaurant, which is all pictured below. The food surely didn’t disappoint, and neither did the view in the late afternoon! When we woke up the following morning, we had some free time to spend walking around the city before having to make our way over to the airport. Our first stop was at the Museos del Banco Central which has an enormous collection of over 1,600 Pre-Columbian golden artifacts, dating back to AD 500. It was definitely an interesting sight, but we didn’t stay in the museum too long because there was still more we wanted to see in the city.
We walked around the center of San José for a little while until we made our way over to the National Theater of Costa Rica. The theater was built in 1897 in an attempt to show off the economic improvements of the country, all thanks to the blooming success of coffee exportation. With Italian marble, glass and wood brought in from France, and spacious seating, who could complain?
It wasn’t until just recently that I thought to myself, “Holy crap.” I’m sure you must be thinking that if that’s the only thing I ever think to myself, then I might as well be better off not thinking. But give me a second to explain.
These last few days have been jam-packed with activities going on. Between class work, work for my internship, and other obligations I’m required to attend to, I feel as though I’m drowning in to-do lists. At this rate, you would never think that I had just had a week vacation, and believe me, this recent vacation is a mere memory fading away much faster than I could have ever expected.
Even before my break, I was feeling a little stressed and overwhelmed, so when I went back home, I visited a friend of mine who happens to be a certified hypnotist. She helped me forget about the world around me, put me in a great state of relaxation, and really stressed the importance of taking a moment to ourselves each and every day to meditate and feel tranquil. I even put a reminder in my phone that goes off everyday in the morning and at night to meditate.
So when I say meditate, what exactly do I mean? Great question. Of course I don’t expect you to whip out your yoga mattress while driving to work or in the middle of a business meeting, and begin feeling calm. Meditation can happen at any given point if you just give yourself a few seconds, while disconnecting from your surrounding environment. At any given point in the day, I would highly suggest taking a deep breath in through your nose, holding it for three seconds, and releasing it through your nose, while saying in your head, “Deeper Relax. Deeper Relax.” Really try to concentrate on your breathing, and when you do the above actions, you’ll begin to feel fresh and rejuvenated.
When you begin to feel like a big wave has just crashed over you and you’re trying as hard as you can to come up for air, it may be tough, but take a second to meditate. Really work on putting your mind at ease, and even do so before these feelings of exhaustion take control of you. I know life can be difficult at times, but nothing is more important than our well-being, so take care of yourself and just take a deep breath. The stacks of paperwork will always be there awaiting your time and effort, but your sanity and health won’t, if you don’t look out for your well-being. Remember: you owe it to yourself to take a moment to relax; so do just that.
A moment to relax; a moment to unwind;
When have you ever really opened your eyes?
Seen the sunrise and then watched it set
No worries at hand and no need to fret.
When have you ever really opened your eyes?