I’m in Costa Rica now. Maybe that’s a bit too abrupt for an introduction, but I’ve been thinking recently that I need to dedicate some thought to normalizing that which feels “exotic”. This isn’t to say that I want to ignore differences and avoid new experiences, but rather examine new parts of the world with the same criteria by which I assess the localities in which I feel most comfortable. As I write this sentence, I am remembering that this entry comes on the heels of Columbus Day. What better time to consider the flaws inherent in the false binary of “established” vs. “other”? Anyway, I’ll get on with the point of my being in Costa Rica, as it better pertains to the theming of this blog than a longwinded rambling on colonial mentalities.
To better set the scene for this change in location, I think I need to introduce you to someone rather important. Meet Julia, my awesomely talented and supremely kind girlfriend. I met her at music school in Miami where she was training to be the fantastic singer-songwriter that she is today. You might imagine the excitement that I, as a lowly trombonist, felt at getting to hang out with a future pop star! In addition to her musical abilities, Julia is one of the more worldly people I have ever met. She grew up in Costa Rica to a Costa Rican father and American mother. Her family then moved to Tanzania where they lived for four years and where Julia attended high school. Despite her United States passport and American accent, Julia’s freshman year of college was the first time she had lived in the U.S. full-time.
Now that you know a bit more about Julia, you’ll find it unsurprising that she has much to do with why I am writing to you all from Turrialba, Costa Rica—the location of her family’s home. Their city sits at the southern feet of two active volcanoes (Turrialba & Irazú) and houses a mix of both urban and rural environments. It is best known for its signature “Turrialba Cheese” and pristine white-water rafting. My motivation for being here is twofold (neither “fold” being dairy nor sport related). As previously mentioned, this is where Julia’s family lives. After a lovely summer spent with my family is the San Francisco Bay Area, she was eager to return home for a while and very graciously invited me to come along. The second reason for this trip is what plays into the purpose of the blog.
Julia’s family has, for quite some time, owned a piece of rural land to the Northeast of their house. Before their move to Tanzania, they kept horses and occasionally sold the wood from the trees that grew on the property. Since their return, however, the land has gone relatively unused. There’s a caretaker / neighboring farmer who grazes his cattle there, but little else is done on the farm. Julia told her parents about my mission to explore new experiences and life-paths and that one of those paths was that of sustainable agriculture. Julia’s parents generously offered to let me do some work on their farm. They’re willing to invest in some upgrades to the small cabin that sits on the front of the property as well as some general “cleaning up” so that the land might be used in some sort of profitable venture.
Having just arrived in Costa Rica 2.5 days ago, I have nothing yet to report. In fact, I have yet to visit the property. Regardless, I plan to document all the goings-on that occur throughout this process. As you might guess from my life-path thus far (Suburban kid -> music school -> unemployed) I don’t have a whole lot of experience in the fields of maintenance and agriculture, save for helping my dad with projects around my parents’ house and a ranch-camp I used to attend. Nonetheless, I have a positive attitude and strong work ethic. I’ll keep you updated as best I can and as always, please let me know if you have any advice or experience that might come in handy on this next leg of my journey! See ya…