Thursday, August 7, 2014

An Unexpected Gift

The beach at Tamarindo, Costa Rica is wide and curves like a hanging palm frond. Out beyond the point to our left, the breakers explode before they reach the shore. For a moment I thought whales were leaping and splashing--but it was the incoming waves crashing against black, volcanic rock.

Far to the right, over a natural rise of vegetation, an estuary is home to alligators.

A thin man, well-creased like stirred, simmering caramel, pulled a red cooler behind him. He approached and asked if we would like ice-cold beer. We passed: "no, grĂ¡cious."

Others selling trinkets and souvenirs approached. Each time, we passed as Lynore instructed us, "no, grĂ¡cious."

Straight ahead, several hundred yards into the Pacific, dozens of fishing boats anchored for the afternoon.

Clouds, pale and calm, lingered. Yet, the day was still bright and warm.

The man dragging the cooler doubled back at the end of the beach, and we waved him over.

Ok, we will have one beer each. But only one. One. 

Asking our names, he bowed to the women and shook all our hands, appreciative of the sale. 

Our friend Lynore, introduced herself as Dolores. Taking her cue, Karla and I introduced ourselves as Camille and Andre.

He smiled and said that he would be right back, "Uno, momento!" And he asked us to watch his cooler.

We were confused. He was going to buy us beer.

What was in the cooler? 

He was gone for half an hour. During that time we speculated as to what might be in the cooler if it wasn't the ice cold beer he was "selling." Water? A severed head?

He cradled three beers--more cool than ice cold--and charged us one American dollar for each of them. 

Bottled water was mentioned as we handed him money--and expecting change in return. He heard "water" and said "uno momento!" and started off for another 1/2 trek with our cash in his fist.

Wait! We called him back.

In Spanish, Lynore sorted out the money--he'd actually given us too much change-- they haggled over the paper currency and the coins and he looked off to the ocean, exasperated (maybe that we didn't quite trust him) and he called us difficult. 

Before he left, shaking our hands again and calling us by our fake names, I had Lynore translate my question for him.

"What's in the cooler?"

Smiling, he reached in and pulled out a small bottle of rum.

We each had our one beer and watched the afternoon grow dim. The clouds never left.

Several times, friends muttered that we'd have to catch a better sunset or sunrise another day--the clouds were obscuring this one.

The sun sets right around 6:00pm in early August. Just as the sun was touching the horizon through a tiny break in the clouds, what was seen as a hindrance provided opportunity.

The colors shifted every few moments, but the sky awoke in color in the way that a silent concert hall erupts with a symphony.

My words can't do it justice, but for ten minutes we were surrounded by an unexpected gift.

 This gift of ten minutes is reminding myself to think of my parents, my wife, and my friends this way--to take the time to stop and just "be" with them.

A gift that we never saw coming, but when it arrived it was obvious and present and made everyone pause and watch.

Even the youngest children. 

You can see a boy named Conner sitting in the center of the frame.

When we leave Costa Rica, this might just be my favorite moment--something that makes even a child just stop and be.

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