Aunque, I had tried in earnest to find a travel destination not overrun by wealthy Westerners, or gringos as they are called and now call themselves, I nonetheless landed in a thicket of a little gringo community in Pedregossa, Costa Rica. Jessica, my resident Tica heroine, was an ambassador for many Westerners including her partner Ed, as well as a strongly rooted local from Costa Rica. Her parents and sister and extended family lived close by, and she is actively engaged with them, watching her nieces and nephews when needed and running errands, caretaking as life demands. But primarily she maintains order in the finca, hers and Ed’s. She raised her children at that farm before even the electricity was strung into their main property, cooked in a wood stove in their first cabina, and washed clothes on a rock in the rio while her boys played (or bathed?) in the the water. She reminisced on those days of make-do as peaceful and happy ones, as she yearned for the warmth of the stove that heated the house on cooler “winter” nights, and the meditative quality of cloth beaten against stone. Jessica’s presence and history at Finca Alba Nueva was fundamentally reassuring for me, that I was not in some way reinforcing some imperialistic endeavor on the people of Costa Rica.
I give Ed plenty of respect, being a responsible farmer, and a sharer of plant wisdoms among whomever may need. He proactively distributes cuttings to neighbors and his medicinal knowledge has been healing for many. Like Ed, many of the other gringos who have lived in Costa Rica for decades have a back-to-nature sensibility that is easy to understand. Folks grow crops and live in modest open air houses (the ex-pats who avoid over consumption of luxury building materials, etc.) and sell and share their wares. Their slow Spanish and shared visions of reclaiming a sustainable lifestyle–as an choice, rather than a fate–is what unites the US and European ex-pats.
While staying at Finca Alba Nueva, I attended a woman’s gathering in honor of the new moon. The gathering was hosted at Finca Amrita by an U.S. ex-pat named Susana, an kind and welcoming boomer woman who inevitably received the moniker “earth mama”. This festival was certainly a “crunchy” sort of hippy affair, replete with campfire-type spirit songs in Sanskrit and holding of hands. During the circle, we counted 8 countries of orgin represented at the gathering. To avoid redundancy, I counted myself as a Barbadian, not American, for the sake of diversity. Only two Latinas were in attendance, so I do hope that this women’s gathering continues to meet with the intentions of the local community. The celebration was festive and the food, was seasoned with kindness, generosity, good intent, and love for the land. In other words, all that was shared was very satisfying in the most essential ways.