All the amazingly positive things I have experienced here so far that make me happy everyday (in no particular order):
1. Take It Easy is the best inexpensive food in all of Puerto Viejo area. Your choice of Jamaican jerk chicken, coconut milk fish, or tofu scramble with a side of yucca, rice, beans, and fermented cabbage all served on a cart by a very handsome Rasta man named Christian… all around the sight makes me happy all day every day 😉
2. The ocean just down the way and the incredible beaches to chose from depending on how much I wana fight waves makes me one with water.
3. The organic farmers market every Saturday morning with local artistry, crafts and goods is a great place to see the town united in one place (besides the World Cup soccer games!)
4. The jungle. I have a love hate relationship with the jungle but how can I not love being surrounded by lush green trees and plants with monkeys howling every morning.
5. Cayenne dark chocolate brownie from Bread and Chocolate…need i say more?
6. New friends! Everyone I’ve met here from all over the world has taught me something new about myself and the ones I keep close to me are such special beautiful souls, I couldn’t ask for better teachers on this journey.
7. Riding my bike (Gallina Negra) every day feels like the medicine my mind, body, and spirit was thirsting for.
8. New discoveries and “ah ha!” moments about myself, my ancestors, and blood line have been enlightening to say the least.
9. Being here, I truly appreciate Chicago and all the nourishment that city can provide. I realize now I was looking for the wrong things to nourish me before.
10. Being able to take out a poisonous spider outside of the cabin without killing it…. Yup… I did that shit.
One of the things I’ve been struggling with here is leaving Little Village in Chicago, a predominantly Latin@ neighborhood, to Costa Rica which according to this map http://abagond.wordpress.com/2014/04/11/the-map-of-white-people/ is 75-100% made up of white people. It is the only country in the region that is predominantly white. I didn’t know this before I came here and to be honest I’m not entirely sure I would have come had I known that.
Before I continue I’m going to say this once and I will not say this again: people of color cannot be racist. Power + prejudice = racism, therefore white people are the only group of people that can be racist because they have political and economic power within our societal structures. People of color can be prejudice, we can be bigots, we can even be haters but we cannot be racist. If you’d like to learn more about this it would behoove you to do your own research on the topic. You don’t know what I’ve been through nor how it has affected my perspective but all you need to know is that I love and care about my family and friends no matter what color you are.
When I first came to Puerto Viejo it felt like culture shock to be around so many white people. You wouldn’t think that coming from Chicago but people don’t realize just how segregated Chicago is. I’ve lived in Little Village for four years now and I’ve been going to school at UIC the past three years. The only white people I had to interact with were the ones in my classes for three hours twice a week and a few at my internships. I don’t spend time in predominantly white neighborhoods unless it’s for something specific like finding gear at REI for my trip. In Chicago I surround myself with powerful womyn of color I would call my chosen family who love and nourish me (s/o to Nicole Huser for being the only down ass Chitown white girl I hold dear to my heart). I typically only go to events and places that are made up of predominantly people of color. So understand coming here I was surprised and disappointed to see so many white people especially from the U.S. When I lived in Panama for four months I, Xicana/Guatemalteca, my best friend who is Peruvian/Portuguese, and my other friend who is Black/Panamanian were the only “Americanas” on the block. For some reason I expected it to be the same but this situation is not the case.
In this area of Puerto Viejo, most of the stores and restaurants are owned by Europeans or people from the U.S. There are a group of Americans who own/work at a restaurant called Tasty Waves. I hate to admit it but they have bomb ass fish tacos. Their little crew came into town to get what I would call Wrigleyville wasted. They were riding on a wooden boat and there were families with children in the water. The Tasty Waves crew decided it would be a good idea to hump inflatable dolls they had that looked like penises in front of the many small children who were in the water. This shit is not appropriate. I’m not saying ALL white people are like this, I’m not even saying all white people in Puerto Viejo are like this, but I am saying these are the type of Americans that can afford to travel and make us look bad around the world. At the place I’m staying at there was a drunken night when it all came out about this white guy who’s staying here. He takes up so much space and he doesn’t even realize it. I wont go into it but basically I left the conversation feeling like he simply didn’t get it and the other folx in the room just praised him for how wise he was. I don’t see anything wise in saying “if you act like the N-bomb then you are the N-bomb” trying to say that the word nigger can also be associated with white people. Wrong! You can’t say that and then say you exist on another plane of consciousness where we’re all just humans. Don’t give me that colorblind bullshit then sell it to me as a spiritual enlightenment. I’m not saying this guy is a bad person because he’s not. In fact I trust him in ways I’ve not been able to trust other men and I think that’s why it bothers me so much that he simply doesn’t get it.
The connection to my journey
I didn’t write this post to rant about white people (well maybe a little), the thing I’ve had to struggle with the most in reflecting on how white people take up space here is how it reminds me of how I have fallen in the unhealthy disconnected lifestyle U.S. wants you to give into. Before I came here I told my friend Marie, “yeah I can be bourgie in the States but when I travel I adapt; I’m all about roughin it.” Bitch please, I was ready to get on a plane to head back by the end of the first week. My dear teacher/friend Rachel is an incredibly wise, compassionate, radical being who has taught me so much about myself and curanderismo that I am forever grateful to her. I can’t sit here and act like being taught about my own spiritual cultural practices by a white womyn doesn’t bother me a little. She says when she sees me she can already see Clarita the curandera but as she says this I feel far away from that I can’t even imagine what that looks like for me. I hate that I don’t feel a profound connection to the amazing garden that wraps around the house and the jungle we’re surrounded by. Instead I scream at the site of bugs, I itch all the damn time, I sweat profusely when no one else is sweating, and worst of all I refuse to work in the garden. I feel so disconnected to my surroundings I had two dreams that I was pushing this incredible medicine away. The first dream I was literally holding on to the edge of my heart unwilling to go in. The second dream, medicine came in the form of love and I was getting angry, pushing it away. What am I afraid of? If it’s already in my blood, why can’t I embrace it? I don’t have the answers yet but I’m searching for my truth
Thursday, June 12, 2014 9:26pm
The first three weeks of being in Puerto Viejo have been some of the most difficult. After I took away work and school, dramatic relationships and all the external bullshit I fill my life up with that I tell myself I need to make me feel better (i.e. getting my nails/eyebrows done every two weeks like clockwork, online shopping, etc.) after I let go of it all I sit here and I’m left with myself. I’m in a place where all I can do is really look at myself and all i want to do is jump out of my skin and run! I never noticed how much I distracted myself from myself until now. There are no excuses any more I’m here to work on me and fuck! It’s really hard.
Tuesday June 17, 2014 5:56pm
Today I begged God to cleanse me of all the negative degrading things I have believed about myself my whole life and continue to tell myself everyday, all day.
We decided to ride our bikes to a beach about 9 kilometers away which is almost 6 miles. About a mile before we get to our destination I was getting mad because Dani kept saying we were almost there and we weren’t. I was getting mad because I hate it when people lie to me thinking it will help me push forward. Just be honest with me so I can decipher in my mind if I can push forward and typically I can. About a mile before our destination my legs gave out and my bike fell to the side almost taking me to the ground but I caught my footing. The sun is blaring above us mind you and sweat is streaming down my face and through my clothes. I look up and Dani and Joseph are riding like this is nothing. It made me feel like such a failure. “I suck. I’m fat and I suck and I can’t bike like they can bike and now I’m behind and I’m frustrated and I suck. I’m a lazy fat bitch that needs to stop eating forever. “ This is the type of stuff that runs through my mind everyday all day. Being here though it is especially worse because I am so hyper aware of my body more than anywhere else (well except for when I visited Vietnam and locals took pictures of me like I was a national monument but that’s a story for another day). Everyone here is fit and beautiful and I am not that. Yes I think I’m beautiful but it doesn’t beat fit AND beautiful and some days I don’t even think I’m beautiful. Everyday I step out of the house I feel humiliation for being fat and most of the humiliation comes from my own mind.
Obviously I’m absolutely abusive to myself. Unfortunately I have believed all the body shaming the world has thrown at me for 28 years and I don’t know how to turn it off. I used to correlate being stupid with being fat telling myself I didn’t get good grades because I was fat (I got a 92 instead of a 98 for example). I don’t think that any more but the anxiety is still there. During my masters program I got an A in a class I didn’t expect to get an A in and I told myself “ well it was probably a low A.” I find ways to lessen my accomplishments. I have constant anxiety about being perfect at everything I do therefore being fat is a 24 hour anxiety about not being fit.
Back to the story, I have to walk the rest of the way because my bike is fucked up my legs are wobbly and I’m frustrated and disappointed in myself. The negative thoughts won’t leave my head… “if I were thin, life would be so much easier…” I began to compare myself to Dani and I think “she’s beautiful and sexy and healthy I bet it would be easier to be her, a beautiful Black womyn, than be my fat self…” I realize what I’ve just thought and I began to cry in the water. How could I be so mean to myself? What happened to me in my life that has made me so fucking unhappy with myself that I’m now comparing struggles? It’s trying to figure out the why that is constantly eating away at me and prevents me from moving forward.
On the way home we get caught in what felt like a never-ending rainstorm so after some fish tacos and shots we decide to put our phones in a plastic bag and go home on our bikes in the pouring rain. Those 20 minutes were the best 20 minutes I had felt since I got to Puerto Viejo. This whole time I’m feeling sweaty, sticky, smelly, itchy, ugly, fat, not enough but in this moment all I heard and felt was rain. Hard hitting rain like a firm hand on your back and my tears began to stream down my face with the rain as I prayed to God for cleansing. Cleansing of my mind. I asked God to wash away all the angry and hateful things I kept believing and saying to myself for so long. “Cura me!” I screamed. I asked for my negative thoughts to be replaced with power, strength, and love from my ancestors. Over and over again I repeated this until I reached the door.
The following is my first post when i first got to Puerto Viejo three weeks ago. I understand its taken me a while to post but thats what happens when you’re in the jungle! An updated post is coming soon….
Tuesday, May 20, 2014 9:39pm
Only a day and it feels like I’ve been here a year. Today I realized why I am here. Why God told me to come here. I mean I knew before I came here right. I knew I needed to heal my body but today I realized it’s so much deeper than that. I spent almost $400 on my hair before I left and I’ve had it up the whole time; I spend about $900 in clothes before I left and it doesn’t matter how cute it is, its still soaked in sweat within an hour of putting it on. I brought all these cute stylish sandals to wear but they all hurt my feet and I had to buy a pair of ugly boy sandals from the local store but they feel great on my feet. I brought makeup but I can’t put it on because the sweat won’t stop streaming down my face. I brought jewelry I haven’t been able to wear because anything other than cold water touching my skin makes me itch or sweat. Since I’ve been here I’ve been thirsty for only water. I have no desire to eat meat or drink dairy. Today I had two headaches one in the morning and one at night yes probably due to transition but I keep thinking of when I had a migraine for my first month at USF because I was bombarded with new and enlightening information my mind was on overload. Today’s headaches felt the same. I am being bombarded with enlightening truths about what is really going on with me and why I am here. I love lists so this is what I know:
1. I have a gift. Part of the reason I am here is to strengthen my God given [possibly psychic] abilities. What exactly my gift is I’m not sure yet. Rachel says she forgets i just got here because when she sees me she already sees the curandera in me.
2. I am here to heal my mind (after I wrote this sentence I began to weep). My mind is my own internal toxin that’s trying to kill me. My mind has given into all the negative messages fed to me my whole life and now I am in the place (and at the right time) to finally submit to messages of love. I am worthy.
3. I am here to heal my body. Today I learned so much about herbs and plants in the garden tour but I didn’t write anything down because I wanted to soak it all in the first time around. I learned about what plants, herbs and tonics could cure various illnesses that in the U.S. we pay millions for on hospital bills and medication. I got so angry at moments thinking of my family going broke to pay for pharmaceuticals that don’t work like these plants can work. Raquel showed us the Noni plant, which can cure cancer. It is scientifically proven to cure cancer and the U.S. is still doing marathons to pay for research to cure cancer. It’s a fucking lie and all I thought of was my cousin who had cancer at one year old could have used this plant and wouldn’t have had to deal with the permanent affects of chemotherapy. I learned that the lining of our stomachs is so intensely lined with GMOs we can’t even process the good things going into our bodies. I’m preaching now so I’ll stop but my point is that I spent so much money on how I look on the outside for this trip (and my life in Chicago) I didn’t prepare myself for the real work to be done inside. Like I said, only a day and it feels like it’s been a year.
Here are a few snapshots i took in the beginning. I’ll post a full album on my Facebook. L@s quiero y l@s extraño mucho! Pura Vida! xoxo