Whether it's a baby, a career move, or a ticket to parts unknown the expectation of something new is delightful to embrace. Then - just on the other side of this longed for and expected moment - there are colicky nights, challenging board members, and unexpected layovers. The dream of the change to come, the way we envisioned that isn't exactly the neat photo of peace, prosperity, or the stamped passport we hoped for. We are simply stretched thin and tired with dark circles beneath our eyes and challenging dreams. Is the baby getting better? Will the new board members ever accept me? Will I ever get out of this jungle?
A few years ago my cousin won a trip to Costa Rica. She graced me with the buddy ticket. We were to stay in different five star all-inclusive resorts across the country. After we landed, climbed on the airport shuttle for the first city and hotel I kept looking at the description. Particularly to of words like historical, and 'within walking distance to city sites.' I read between the lines and tried to explain to my cousin - Things may be a little . . . rough or rustic where we're going. It may be a little - OH, I don't know - intercity rundown. She assured me, No, No. it's Five star.
My suspicions were confirmed when the driver seemed to go out of his way to drop off the other passengers at their hotels. Happy passengers in beautiful new resorts. Then he headed downtown. It was dark by the time We pulled up at a little 'historical' hotel. It was so quaint. With bars over the doors and windows. And a huge demolition site next door where something big used to be but was now the hotel view of blown up concrete and steel.
It took me just a little while to get cousin off the shuttle. She kept looking at the brochure and saying, no, no. This can't be right. I pulled out my formidable three years of Spanish turned to the driver and said - su casa es me casa = Comprede? All I knew was the man was not going home alone if someone didn't unlock those bars.
But then a really, nice lady opened the door under the dark archway. Then the iron gate. Then the bars. The driver helped us get our bags and breathed a deep sigh of relief as he pulled away. The lady shut the bars, and the gate and the door locking all three behind her. We proceeded inside as my cousin kept shaking her head and whispering, This isn't right. It said 5 star.
Then she showed us to our hotel room door. It was about, oh, maybe three steps away from the desk. Which was in the middle of the room. A small, dark room. That night we climbed in our well-worn beds and closed the room curtain so that we weren't looking at the girl behind the 'desk'.
But the thing was it didn't look like the brochure but the people we met were bright and intelligent, warm and funny. We had one more full day and night with them and some of the best yogurt smoothies for breakfast on this planet. I have never tasted anything like them before or since. And, the conversation I had with the young man that worked the day shift has stayed with me for years.
He spoke about the history of Costa Rica and all the things he loved about his country. Then he told me how much he had always wanted to visit America. First trip? I ask him. Where you gonna go? What do you want to see the most?
An, honest to God wistful look came to his eyes as he said, The small towns. I just want to see small town America. That's what I want to see.
Do you know how precious that was? Not New York, DC or Disney. Just small towns. I immediately wondered which small towns? It's a big country. And, are the small towns you long to see the ones from television. Is it Mayberry? Maybe, Happy Days? Something still twirling around out there in the space of reruns?
I hope if he made it to America he found the right small towns to visit. The ones where people would be as warm, friendly, and considerate to him as he had been to us.
We went on to have many, more delightful, unexpected This isn't right - adventures in Costa Rica including a surprise birthday cake decorated with real flowers for me on my birthday. Smoking volcanoes and some serious detour through miles of unknown jungle.
Our hotels were not five star. They were not what we had anticipated and looked forward to. We didn't pack for that wild turn and wild ride through the jungle. But we came home with stories that far exceeded those our original expectations.
I pray that in the moments where life has given you new birth you are able to show patience and practice Peace until you get to the other side.