In the place
Where last year
This was heaven
And we were all dead
But when I asked
They told me no
It’s only el campo (the country)
I was brought here
The first time
Ferried like a princess
Into the kingdom
Of my father
Accompanied to the edge
Everything I had known to be
To be possible
Up to now
Up to the place
Where the earth
Meets the sky and
You fly right up into the cloud bank
Just like a white out
But you’re in a car instead of an airplane
The roads are bumpy in heaven for a reason
It forces you to slow down
The cliffs they follow you
All the way around
And around and around
The sign that says
Peligro curvas adelante
Which you’re pretty sure
Judging from the road you’re on means
Dangerous curves ahead
Pleading with you to be in the now
To pay attention
To what is happening right
In front of your eyes
To arrive more grateful
At your destination
Than if the journey had been easy
If the journey had been easy
How would you ever know bliss
You would never know bliss
If it was any other way
That’s the best explanation
I have for why
Why the roads here
Are almost always impassable
Unless you want to
And you believe
And you have the utmost faith
In the vehicle that carries you
And I’m not talking about
The one with the steering wheel
And all this leads me to a place called Cabanga where I had my first real experience riding a horse, not to mention being a tourist in Costa Rica. We were led by a nice man I just met. A mutual family friend introduced us, so I wasn’t completely in the dark about him or the experience, but I never questioned it either. I trusted he would take care of me though we didn’t even speak the same language. He did. There’s a lot of trust getting thrown around down here.
His hand signals indicated that we were going for a little ride around the farm to see buena vistas (good views). After about a half-hour at around a 45-degree upward angle leaning forward on a horse whose only footing was the terraced hillside made of clay, frosted with slippery black sludge and laced with the permanent hoof prints of the resident cows so deep and wide they resembled stairs—I began to understand.
I also understood from the young woman riding on her own behind us that the word “Giovanni” neatly translated to “Help!” We were gone half the day but I was so far gone I didn’t even realize that was the guy’s name. Giovanni!
The “trail” is the reddish bit of earth going up the hillside on the left
What I saw was so much more than I can possibly describe for you with images of endless rolling vistas in every shade of green that make mountains spread out button-size in front of your open-mouthed face. White puffies rolling past you at eye-level as you look out at the world from above them from the eyes attached to your swirling head.
This entry is called “Heaven is a place on earth Part 2” because I’ve just returned from another visit and I still can’t find the words. The caption in Part 1 pretty much sums it up in one line if you care to tread deep waters. “Funny how looking into eternity puts you smack dab in the middle of now.” Personally, I’m only just now learning how to float but that’s another story.
The hard truth is I may never be able to tell you exactly how it was riding atop such a sturdy beast led by a strange man whose muscles—bronzed from daily life in the sun—twitched under his sheen into the unknown in the hottest part of the day with a light breeze in my hair and pelo de gato (misty rain) on my face just enough to make it indescribably perfect.
I can tell you that what I saw that day was so far beyond my comprehension it has taken me a year to internalize and process it. I’m going to need a whole new lexicon. I was so busy observing I had no time to write about it—a good practice now and then. I have only short notes from the journal I brought for my stay. I hoped they would be inspirational one-liners but there were so many I feel almost certain I failed to capture the moment. Still, I’m hopeful.
It’s the main theme of this trip. Hope. I really had no idea what hope was until now. I actually thought it was the only thing that kept us from utter despair under the weight of all the sadness and pain in our lives. I thought it was the idea that at some point the pain would cease but no more than that. I hadn’t a clue what would come after. Hope to me was not a promise for a better, brighter future—it was solely a means to an end—a light at the end of the tunnel so we could see our way through the battle. Not that we would ever actually reach the end. Little did I know that the end is not only attainable, but we can leave the tunnel! We can go outside! I think I exited the tunnel somewhere around month six.
I’ll have to look back but I’m pretty sure that was the day I posted: “You know that moment right after you realize you’ve lost your mind?” It was just like that, you see. Leaving the things we’re used to, even voluntarily is soul wrenching even when the new thing is vastly superior to the thing you had before. That last battle—the draw between what we know to be true and what is staring us right in the face saying, “For the love of G-d, choose ME!” is so strong it can literally create a split personality. But that’s another story for another day.
This story is about the light. And by the way, you should really think about bringing a filter for your camera because the light here, which is already beyond brilliant and yellow possessing clarity so fine my camera can’t even catch it most days; was so bright then it hurt my eyes. In fact, I wore my sunglasses almost all the time at first. It took a good, long while for me to get used to the fact that this was how it was going to be. That this is my new normal.
Well, that’s enough for now and I still haven’t told you about the scariest night of my life so I should probably start keeping track. Until then, I hope you reach the light at the end of your tunnel, run out and greet the golden dawn of a brand new “normal” day.
Jessica- This is the best thing I have ever read of yours. It pulled me along. Transported me until I almost experienced what you did outside my window. I am so, so blind. God help me. The pain is great. But the relief will be even greater when it comes. Thanks for taking me along. And for the HOPE.
Con mucho gusto, Ellis. With much pleasure!
When the pain seems to be too much just remember Newton’s Third Law of Motion: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. It’s a law so it has to be true. 😉 See you on the other side my friend…
Thank you for this. It is a joy to know you’ve come so far.
Y gracias a usted, Wayne. And thanks to you! XO
Cuidate (take care), Jess
Exceptional post Jessicalle. I can close my eyes and clearly imagine being there. The vividness and the detail make it easy to be immersed, being right in the saddle of a horse next to you and Giovanni. You keep getting better all the time.
Really? That’s kind of weird three people on a horse!
Wink, wink. Heart, Jess
I had to stop and smell the roses on a few of these lines, and kept circling back to them. I kind of needed them right now. I am loving all the details. I would also love to hear how your language immersion is progressing; it sounds like you’re practically a native. I’m so glad you’re sharing your journey.
Britt! Good to see you, love. Just visited your WCW blog. You are as GORGEOUS and funny as ever. I’m sooo glad you are taking the leap to visit S. Korea and I can’t wait to hear all about it.