20 September, Visiting Quakers in Montevarde, Costa Rica
I waited at the church in the town of Santa Elena which I originally thought was Montevarde. The bus I arrived in had a sign saying Montevarde. I went to catch the bus but the driver waved as he sailed past. I chased him with my big back rolling loudly in tow and my backpack, I watched him going down the hill, I thought any moment he will stop but he didn’t. I whistled loudly, but nothing. The locals looked up. I can´t believe it, I muttered to myself, half smiling. I dragged my big bag down the road trying to work out if he would stop up ahead. I spoke to a man with a 4 wheel drive telling him where I was going (only 6 km away). He advised me to go back to town, pointed me in what seemed the wrong direction. I thought no, that is not right, so I went to walk up the hill. I observed how people drove past as I hauled this big bag. It was interesting to observe. Then I saw a taxi and flagged him down. He spoke English so told him I wanted to go to the Friends school. He knew where it was and said it would cost 2,850 colonas. I tried to quickly exchange it into US dollars and calculated around $4, it seems expensive to me. I quizzed him about the price saying it should cost $2. I didn’t want to be perceived as disrespectful, so I explained to him why I am sensitive to taxi drivers. I told him I’ve traveled the world and I have been over charged. I have found drivers to be dishonest particularly with western tourists (which is true). He took me to my location. We had a good chat in the car about Australia and learning Spanish. He reacons it would take me one week, I think he is dreaming but if that was true it would be handy to learn. The German girl at the Hostel said she learned in a month, but she had a boyfriend and I figure that was the incentive, so I guess miracles can happen. Anyway the taxi driver gave me a business card and asked me to call him if I need a ride. He also pointed out his personal number as well. Message received but not likely.
Anyway, hopped out at the school with this bag, backpack and clown bag. I took it with me as I felt I didn’t want to spend any more money on hostels, I have to watch my budget. I have decided to fly to Lima for $600 and this is a lot. So I have to try and get free accommodation as much as possible. My hope was the school, being a Friends (Quaker) school would find me a place to stay given my offer to teach peace (quid pro quo). I met with the Deputy Principal and she said I had to wait as the Principal, John was in a meeting. I asked for a tea (cheeky aren’t I), if I wait for an offer it may not happen. She said she wasn’t sure she could locate a tea bag. I was surprised. She put the water on. I wandered around and saw some wonderful art work on the walls. Pictures of kyotes/wolves and detailed pencil drawings of a tree, faces and in the toilet the surrounding tiles had flowers and birds painted on. I saw the creativity and the influence of nature on people. The school was lovely, nestled in the forest not far from the Cloud Mountain Reserve, it is considered a natural wonder of the world, in biological terms. I understand they have environmental education, so will look into that. As I was looking around and searching for a cup, the Principal came in, he was a tall American. I asked him where the cups were and the coffee. He said he doesn’t drink it. He didn’t know. He said maybe upstairs. He took me upstairs and found me some coffee. Anyway, I met with the deputy Principal and the Principal and we sat in a musty small room. Seemed like a storage room.
I explained the REAL HOPE program and my background of inspiration about peace. He asked me if I was a Quaker, I said I wasn’t but I shared many commonalities with them. I looked him in the eye unwavering and told him I know Christ exists, but I am not religious. I have crossed paths with the Quakers for many years and was involved in the Alternative To Violence Project, that was started in the United States, in jails. I thought he would be a Quaker but it turns out he isn’t. He said I am not a Quaker. The Deputy Principal he pointed out was. I did praise the Quakers as I know from Peace Studies they have been extensive in their dedication to peace work. They actually have bought 100 acres of land and set up the Friends school. It turns out the school has a packed curriculum and the teachers don’t have much time around that. I was happy to come in and do short bursts in classes. He told me he and the Deputy Principal will give it some thought. They squeezed me into assembly on Friday and perhaps some events through the week after school and on the weekend. So I am open to all of it. I feel no disappointment, I am becoming accustomed to seeing how life turns out. I am happy if they want me and I am happy if they don’t. This is peace in action, I feel it. I am learning to accept reality as it is.
I talked to him about the accommodation dilemma. I explained to him I was able to do work for them over the week if I could get accommodation. They offered US$17 per night, but I really don’t have the funds to justify a week here and maybe two opportunities of 5-15 minute lots. Peace work is much more involved and wouldn’t have been worth it. I said I was prepared to pay for 2 nights and then head to Peru unless I am offered accommodation. He said the teachers have only small houses so they couldn’t help and the Quakers have a meeting on Sunday but they don’t have much in the way of communications. That surprised me, that are not the Amish (returning to basics). Their next meeting is Wednesday. My feeling was no. But I was open to see what happens. So I said to them thank you for having me, as I am grateful. I did make a special trip to them from San Jose as I had a feeling to come, so I just follow the thread. If I was in a negative mindset I could be annoyed for coming all this way to get 15 minutes and no accommodation. But my mindset is not that way, I am really fascinated by the moment to moment changes in life. I am interested to see what happens with curiosity and people do their best given their perception of the world. I reflected momentarily on what a peaceful person would do and I know the answer.
Anyway, I find out the local bus doesn’t come until 4pm, it is now 2.30 so I decide to go to the cheese factory down the road (taxi driver told me about it, there is a restaurant there to). I was informed there is a yoga place and shop. So I will go there too, as they are into peace. I walked down a stoney road and walk in and meet with the owner of the shop. I tell him I am a clown and that International Day of Peace is tomorrow (21st September). A lady is on the floor doing some work explain they did peace celebrations on Sunday and that it would be exhausting. In a gentle way I explained the clowning is fun and it should be energizing. It is tiring too, but I find the energy comes as I am so happy. The lady of the shop and I chat as the owner goes off to do an errand. She then suggests for me to go to the Creativa school. She gets the number and suggests I call now. The Creativa school is up the road also and on top of a very steep hill. She let’s me use the phone and I contact them. I speak to Erica and she is keen to have me come on the International Day of Peace. I told her to send me a schedule of what she wants. So it is teed up I am teaching tomorrow. I love the way the universe works as I just follow my feeling, somehow doors open. I can see where it leads in retrospect.
I then headed back to the Friends school (after slight detour, wrong road) and saw the Principal. He explained he sent a message to the drama teacher and for us to liaise, so we will see what happens. I wonder what he made of me. My spirituality may have seemed interesting. However, he is in a Quaker school so I guess he surrounded by it. Now listen to this bit. I am told by a staff member where the Creativa school is. She will show me on the bus. I then wait where I thought I was supposed to. Another teacher took me down to the bottom of the driveway with my big suitcase. A lady rocks up beside me, she is speaking English to me. She is an American. I told her I was looking for accommodation but for free as I am on a budget and wish to stay here a week. I said quietly in my mind to source (god), if I am to stay with her, she will have to offer it as I am not asking. She then turns and said you can stay at my place on the porch. I visualized a bed on an open porch. I however didn’t mind my feeling was it is important to get accommodation. So we literally caught the bus down the road from the school and walked up a very rocky track which my new suitcase bumped around on, wish I had a golf buggy. However, Suzie (as is her name) helped me. She pointed out she has made a decision to help me. She is a woman in her 60’s with a sore foot. She was so kind and thoughtful. She volunteers as the librarian at the school. Somehow it didn’t surprise me the volunteer was generous to give me a room. As we walked she pointed out the principal didn’t live far from here. It is a small community around the school and the town in Santa Elena.
We got to her house and it turns out the place on the porch is an attached unit at the end of the porch and it has a lounge/kitchen, bathroom, bedroom with a desk. I was so surprised. It was more than fine. It had a strong smell of rising damp and mildew, but I have noticed this smell all throughout Central America so it is no problem, can’t avoid it. There is a lot of rain here I just marveled at how I am able to get accommodation when I need it, always someone to help me. Another angel on my path.
We left my stuff and walked down to the little village shops with her. A nice tall girl says hello to Suzie, turns out she is a teacher at Creativa, she had already heard about me. I just organised it one hour ago. I laughed at the bush telegraph. She was a lovely woman and Canadian, I asked her to come with us for a cup of tea as I was heading to the restaurant. Suzie volunteered her place so we walked back. Turn out the woman Jenn lives in Suzie’s other house nearby. So that was interesting. I was wondering how to get to the school as I have no map (can’t get them I noticed) and no bus timetable, you have to ask locals. She is heading to the school at 7.15am so I will go in with her and change into my clown costume at the school. I am also aware there are orphans in the town. The hostel/backpackers I stayed at, the manager told me they are coming tomorrow and it would be great if I can come back. So I have that in the back of my mind, perhaps I can do some juggling for them.
I bought some groceries and headed back with Suzie to the house. I shared my story with Jenn and she is reading The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I know she is not perturbed by the spiritual dimension of life. I marvel at the shifting consciousness I have encountered. It is rapid. She also is aware changes are coming. So I am not alone in this thought. I think all the natural changes are evidence of major shifts on the horizon. However, my inspiration is to teach peace so this is the road I am on. My life living in the flow is part of this work to explain to people you can let go of fear. The clown is to instill peace and happiness and is a model for unconditional love. It is a great channel for the expression of love and peace. So I feel very happy.
We sat drinking tea and having cake and I showed Jenn and Suzie my film I had just made the night before. It was a wonderful film, I was thrilled at the creativity in film making, I had a lot of fun expressing my highest wish. I got to speak to Bob tonight (friend in Australia) and he tells me he is setting up my video gallery, so now is the time to work on the video component of my trip. I’ve taken a lot of film but have had no time to really get stuck into them and put them up on Youtube. So I will allocate time.
I am planning to interview the children tomorrow about peace and happiness, their thoughts etc. so that will be interesting to hear their views. I find what I have set out to do is happening at its own pace. I am not pushing hard to make things happen just following inspiration as it happens. This is how the universe works, the universal flow is natural and we all have built in navigation when we let go and trust. I am working on this as part of my inner peace work. There is no failure in life, sometimes we worry and try to force it, but really it is all about letting go.
My life is so amazing, sometimes I can’t believe it is my story. I explain to people there is a real magic in life when you are open to it. There are no special people but just having a willingness to trust life and see what happens, a healthy curiosity. That is all that is required to walk the spiritual path. Love in its very essence is the spirit, so anyone that is loving is spiritual which is 100% of the human race, many don’t know it but they are all angels in disguise, in truth. Life is meant to be up/down, black/white, painful/loving it is the dichotomy in which we live or what some term the duality. When you transcend the suffering you move into a loving consciousness, some call this the Christ consciousness, it is a direct link to the highest spiritual dimension of our lives, which knows. We are more than we think and the more I test my life out, the more I see the magic. Yet as a clown I am not into magic tricks, yet in life I am pretty good.
The thought I will close the blog on the topic of kindness. I was listening to an inspiring communication about kindness. The more we are kind the more it expands and attracts likewise into our lives. The more critical and punitive we are the more that creates the same in your life. We are sending out signals to life all the time and we are intrinsically part of it, the question is what signals are you sending out? In other words, what thoughts go through your mind are they – cynical, positive, hateful, critical, loving, for they do literally create the life you experience.
It is worth contemplating on.
Now it is time to work on my clown program tomorrow. I have grades 4, 6 and older ones and am told the youngsters as well. So better organize myself.
I send peace to you.