Sunday, March 29, 2009

Career Options and Monkeys - Sunday 3-29-2009

I eat breakfast with Rose and Ann. They ask me about my journey. I am hoping this trip will spark some hidden career aspiration, I tell them. So far, I love traveling and writing so perhaps I can survive as a travel writer. I also tell them that freelance work or entrepreneurship appeals to me. They ask about my previous career path. I tell them it was interesting work that I did mostly for the money, but that now the money no longer compensates for the stress or the overpowering feeling that I should be doing something else with my life. Rose starts suggesting alternative careers. “Are you interested in teaching English,” she asks. I tell her no. “How about teaching economics workshops?” I tell her that I think Austrian School economics would be worth teaching, but who today remembers them? She suggests I could write an article, or perhaps self-publish a book about my experience traveling. She further suggests that I could tailor my blog towards people who are either traveling alone or traveling cheaply. Now there’s an idea, and I have always wanted to be a published writer.

Rose asks me if I enjoy cooking, because cooking is a great way to connect with a foreign culture. I say cooking is more hobby than career interest. “How about the Peace Corps or volunteering,” Rose inquires I lack that certain personality that would love the Peace Corps lifestyle, but economic development work in a foreign country might be a better fit; ecological volunteer work interests me, too I tell her. Then I tell Rose and Ann about how my afternoon in San Jose with Laura got me thinking about development work.

Rose tells me about a high-strung body builder from her hometown who took a summer to drive across the US, sleeping where he could and talking to everyone he met. In the end, he moved to Boston and is now a happier, mellower yoga master who credits his summer long trip with prompting his transition. Rose says my trip might lead to a similar transition. I tell her that I brought a couple books to help me formulate this new path, but I have enjoyed talking to people so much that I have been doing that instead of reading my books. She tells me talking to people is better. I agree. The conversation pauses. “Have you had much time for romance,” she asks. I’m embarrassed to say that I haven’t, that my jobs have been all-consuming, and that I was married to my career but we’re divorced now. That last part gets a good laugh.

Just past noon, Tiffany calls everyone over to her balcony because the monkeys are in the trees right outside her room. Rose has some cut bananas in her hand. The monkeys eye the food carefully, creep in from the trees, grab the food from Rose’s hand, and then jump back into the trees to eat their fruit.

About 1:15PM, I accompany Rose and Ann to Sabores, (100 yards down a dirt road leading west from Manakin Lodge; can also follow for 50 yards the dirt road that runs south from Atmosphere CafĂ© on the road to Santa Elena) the local ice cream shop from where they will catch their cab to Santa Elena and then their bus to San Jose. Sabores offers cones in local flavors like banana or condensed milk with figs, as well as familiar classics like chocolate and vanilla starting from 540 colones (about $1) and sundaes and banana splits from 1,250 colones ($2.50). They also sell sandwiches starting from 1,725 colones ($3.50) if you’re looking for real food.

Rose tells me about her Turkish dad, how he swears that olives keep his skin young and soft, how he won’t let her date until she’s 35 and then how he’ll just arrange a marriage for her anyway. She won’t have any of it and has a boyfriend back in Maryland, but I laugh because Mom used to tell me similar things when I was young. We exchange emails and Rose graciously tells me to email her about my travels or even just to talk. Rose and Ann’s taxi arrives five minutes early. I walk them to the taxi, hug them both, and wish them a fine stay in Costa Rica. They wish the same to me. Turning, I walk back to Manakin Lodge. Constantly saying goodbye is the hardest part of my trip.

The door to the Superior Room next to my Family Room is open. I could never move into this room because it was booked during much of my stay. It is empty now, though, and so I sit on the balcony to write and enjoy the afternoon. The balcony faces the rainforest. The family of monkeys I photographed earlier are in the trees mere feet from me. A baby monkey, no longer than a foot and a half, jumps from its tree to the wooden balcony, and then climbs the railing and walks on the railing a foot from me. I smile and say hello. He runs off without returning my greeting.

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