Friday, March 31, 2017
Costa Rica Diaries, Part 8
February 2, 2017
Today was a very productive writing day. At breakfast I was thinking about an essay I wanted to write about our jungle guide, Oscar, when Ray and I saw what we think are the same two parrots from the other day, which led to this quick essay.
I just saw what I think are the same two parrots Ray and I saw the other day. They were green with yellow tips on their wings and they were flying in formation, one just behind the other, on the right. I don’t know if this formation is for the air flow and lift like geese use or something akin to misogyny in the bird world but I wonder the impetus to travel at the same time each morning. Do birds have a routine, clocking in and out? Do they forage for food in a grid pattern like police searching for a missing person? Do birds have jobs? Are these two commuting to heir appointed perch somewhere up the mountain? Do they notice me watching them? Do they question the presence of this random house sitting precariously atop a hill like something made of Legos placed by a child giant with little regard to the physics required to reach the driveway in an earth-bound mode of transportation? These verdant hills, teeming with life, are dense enough to hide even the largest of creatures. Maybe the parrots are the sentries sent to ensure the humans remain unaware.
A few nights ago we watched the movie ‘Barfly’ at the behest of one of our teachers, Will Viharo.
We just watched Charles Bukowski’s ‘Barfly’ starring Mickey Rourke and Faye Dunaway. I didn’t connect with the premise or the characters whose lives revolve around drinking but I appreciate the glimpse inside a life that exists not too far from mine, depending on the choices I could have made. It’s set in Los Angeles in the early 80s although the city itself isn’t one of the characters. It could have been anywhere. While I thought Mickey Rourke’s performance was a caricature with the ridiculous gait and poor posture, I do understand how he became famous as he comes to the edge of the fourth wall and dares you to take your eyes off him. Faye Dunaway is believable and a surprisingly sympathetic character even though she cheats, lies, steals and pulls out a preppy woman’s hair at one point. I will admit I did enjoy some of the dialogue; so real, so witty. “I don’t hate people, I just find myself happier when they’re not around” and “The more things you believe in, the better off you are” and “I don’t like you. Well, that’s just the way the world goes. I don’t like you either” are but three of the most memorable. I’m always appreciative of learning new things to broaden my view, to crack my bubble just a little more.
My jungle adventure, if you can call it that, has had me thinking about how other people view me. Would I understand who I was if I met me? I know I always attempt to create a backstory when I see someone outside the norm but I wonder if others do the same? My mother always said, “Just because you’re talking about people, Dustin Terryll, doesn’t mean they’re talking about you.” Thus, my second essay about the jungle debacle.
Oscar is the name of the young man who helped us into and then almost immediately out of the jungle this morning. He is one of the workers here at the villa. He stayed back with us, the slow ones. When he saw we were struggling, he cut branches into walking sticks with his machete and wordlessly handed one to me. When we asked if we could return to the villa early, he silently acquiesced and immediately began carding a walkable path to the road so we wouldn’t have to re-trace our perilous steps through the river. Unsure of how to even thank him with more than a woefully inadequate muchas gracias, I wondered what he thought of me; this pale, overdressed American trying to push myself too much in a literal jungle. Does he even think about us? Is this just another day working in an environment that includes a steady stream of foreign travelers? Are we an anecdote he uses to amuse his family around the dinner table or is he the silent type who processes internally and shares little needing to conserve his energy for things like rescuing gringos from themselves? I imagine I’m thinking about Oscar more than he is thinking about me.