Wednesday, April 25, 2007

All In One Piece

I have no photos to show for my honeymoon, not of the hibiscus-lined hotel grounds of our first night's stay overlooking the town of Alajuela, not of the narrow soot-choked highway winding through the mountainous countryside the next morning, nor the small-statured Ticas (native Costa Ricans call themselves this) who walk along this and every road, night and day, in much larger numbers than you'd ever see in the States, unconcerned as cars and trucks and tractor trailers and tourists in their shiny rental cars swerve and careen through the tight corners. I have no photos of the seagulls gliding alongside our ferry across the bay, nor of the velvety beige cows with their long silken ears, grazing in the sun-bleached fields along the next stretch of road.

I have no picture of the dense, moist woods we hiked at Montezuma, with their six-foot ferns and moss and plant-encrusted trees, or the waterfall we swam under at hike's end, nor of the beach, with its black and white and pink and ochre-red stones, its miles of surf and rocky outcroppings, the orange-legged crabs scurrying in the underbrush. I don't have a picture of lovely Catalina, the eight-year-old girl who taught us kindergarten Spanish in the hotel pool, smiling in the jasmine-scented dusk, nor of J~, gazing at me with nothing short of adoration as the sun set golden on his face, greenery all around and reflected in his eyes. I don't have pictures of the long, ever more mountainous drive to La Fortuna, or the papaya orchard we walked beside there, adopted by one of the many sweet-natured and diminutive Tican dogs which followed us in our ramblings. We named this first dog Lindo Tigre (roughly "Handsome Tiger", after his stripes) and the others in the same fashion (Lindo Negra was black, Lindo Beagle (pronounced beeg-lay) was, of course, a beagle, Lindo Guapo was handsome-handsome, and Lindo Pocito -- you guessed it -- extra small).

I don't even have the one picture I snapped with my cell phone, of the Volcano Arenal, taken through the wall-to-wall, ceiling-to-floor window of our grand observatory bedroom. I have only the memory of us outstretched on the king-sized bed, ooh-ing and ah-ing as smoke rose sometimes in great explosive clouds, rocks tumbling at intervals, one by one down the mountain's cindery flank, raising puffs of dust during the day, glowing red and shattering, like fireworks, at night.

I don't have the picture of the volcano because my cell phone was stolen on what was to be our last full day in the country, along with a small backpack and another larger one containing several books and magazines, both of our wallets and passports, many art pens, two precious journals of mine, precious family photos J~ carried in his wallet, not to mention some cash (nada mucho), many credit cards, our driver's licenses, J~'s social security card, and our Costa Rican Spanish phrase book (including how to say, "Help, I've been robbed!" which would have come in handy with the five no-habla-Ingles police officers we had to communicate with in hand-gestures and kindergarten Spanish. (Thank you, Catalina!)

It happened on the drive back to Alajuela for our last night, while stopped at a road-side art gallery. We learned the hard way that a black knapsack hidden under a black sweatshirt in the backseat of a locked car in a tiny parking lot beside an art gallery in the middle of nowhere countryside is not safe. We didn´t notice anything amiss (except that the driver´s side door lock was inexplicably jammed) until twenty minutes down the road.

That day, a Friday, was made long by police reports and fingerprinting (of the car, of us), then, cancelling our flights, our cell phones, our credit cards, emailing and phoning family for logistical support. Luckily J~ had some cash and a single credit card in his pocket. But still, we would end up staying three extra days in order to go to the American embassy on Monday in hopes of securing temporary passports. There were moments of stress in which our lazy beach idyll, our hikes and swims and behind-closed-doors honeymoon moments seemed far away. But there was also fun we never would have had.

There was the tour of the coffee plantation (to you gardening enthusiasts: did you know that banana trees are nitrogen fixers?) There was a second Volcano visit (Poas), to the top this time, where we viewed the steaming sulphurous witch's cauldron lagoon where a hot lava pit once roiled. There was Chubascos, a restaurant off the tourist track (more Spanish practice with this one) where we had two delicious meals and contemplated returning for a third, opting instead for a plate of fresh pineapple in our hotel room, some chocolate-covered coffee beans, and a bad American movie with Spanish subtitles.

I don't have any of the other pictures because I left the battery to my camera behind by mistake. But the truth is, the pictures aren't the point. It's the memory, the recollection of the feelings, some of which no photo would ever capture. For instance, there was the sense, at the end of it all, that we are truly a team, truly a couple, and truly, most especially and most pricelessly: a family.

Speaking of family, J~ has an appointment Friday with the fertility doc for an expert read on his proverbial swimmers and their role in our wayward efforts at family planning. And I have an appointment Monday with my Fertility Friend calendar, where I will, yet again, chalk up my own monthly evidence on the subject. Join me, won't you?

In the meantime, I have but one thing to say:

It's good to be home.


Kate said...

Man, that just plain sucks. I can't imagine the amount of red tape you had to go through. It sounds like you were able to have a pretty good trip despite all of that!

Susan said...

beautifully written

mltlpd said...

An ethics professor once told me in class that he never uses a camera because if he did, he would miss all of the things happening around him that didn't fit into the area of his lens. I've never forgotten that statment in his class, although I have mostly forgotten the academic part of the class :>) It is sad that you lost all your pictures and really awful that you lost your stuff (I mean, really, sad - what a nightmare for you). However, you have the memories and the feelings always. AND, what a great excuse to go back!

Delurking to say hello, welcome back and I hope you get all your stuff straightened out.


Kirsten said...

You might not have the photographs, but your descriptions drew their own pictures. It sounds beautiful.