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Part 3: Love Casts Out Fear

Part 3: Love Casts Out Fear

Once we made it aboard the plane, Granny took a picture of me, saying she wanted to send “a picture of the girl who took me under her wing” to her daughter. As I took the window seat and Granny sat near the aisle, she gestured towards the empty center seat saying, “Do you think we’ll get away with this?”

“What, having an empty seat here?” I asked.

She nodded and I said “Probably not, they said this would be an almost full flight.”

She sat for a second, then turned to me and said “I could lay in both seats and act like I’m ill.”

We laughed, but in the end, another nice old lady ended up sitting between us. As people passed by and put their luggage in the overhead bins, she tapped me on the arm and said, “They can’t put their luggage like that! It won’t fit. It says so in this manual” as she pulled the plane manual out from the backseat pocket. “The proper procedure is in here,” she said. She added, almost as an afterthought, “I should be a flight attendant.”

I laughed and told her she’d probably be great at that. And she said “Yeah, I would tell people: ‘I don’t know what you are saying, I have hearing aids, just do what I tell you to’.”

There were some serious culture shock moments on the way back to Colorado. The biggest shock I faced that day was to see such a confrontational attitude after so many months with polite and calm Ticos. But before I could associate the loud and complaining and crazy with “the United States culture,” this Granny came up and showed a completely different attitude. This Granny knew Pura Vida. Though I have been hearing the phrase for months, it was her who taught me how to really live a pure life. When trouble comes, don’t stress out and run around like everyone else. Take it peacefully. Even when Granny heard we might have to stay the night, she didn’t panic but treated everyone with respect and was cracking jokes. She was never afraid to ask for help, and actually, it was by asking that she made some friends, including me. She taught me to, in the worst of times, be relatable with people and be nice. If this is not the message of Pura Vida that the Ticos have been trying to drill into me, then I don’t know what is. Patience. We are all people and it will all work out in the end. It is not the United States culture that was repulsing me, but rude people. Just like there are nice and rude people in Costa Rica, the same is true here, and anywhere else. And I began to think, maybe home won’t be quite so different after all.

Once I made it off the last plane and helped the guy in orange find the baggage claim in DIA (all in Spanish of course!), my family finally got to me. I realized that all those fears I had in the beginning were silly. After only a couple minutes with them, I realized that no matter how much I have changed or no matter the amount of stories I had to tell, they wanted to love me, and they wanted to listen.

Now, I am still adjusting here. The other day I went to the grocery store by myself and accidentally reverted to Spanish when I had to interact with some strangers. In some ways, the hardest part of being home is the normality of it all. It feels like I have reverted back to life before Costa Rica. But inside, I know that I really am not the same. Though it may not yet be obvious how these changes are going to manifest themselves into my life, I do know that I will never forget the people I met and the experiences I had. I know that these things have changed where I am going in the future because I have a wider view about who “people” are—not just United States people, but all people of the world.


30 June 2017


Kortney Cena