I woke up feeling sorry for myself this morning. Today is our last day of vacation. After a very early drive back to Quepos, we will be taking the bus to San Jose. We will have about 2 hours in the city to take my Mac Book Air to one of the iCon stores, figure out if we need to leave it or replace it, get lunch, and get back to the bus station for the 5 hour bus ride to Monteverde/Santa Elena. We have to do this with all our luggage and two kids in tow, and Tristan has been sick all week though he is feeling better. Worst of all, I have to work using Chris’s iPad until I get back my MacBookAir, a little machine for whom I have inappropriate feelings. Just writing this paragraph has taken me 15 minutes when it would have taken 5 with my beloved MacBookAir 11 inches.
Then I remembered a lesson I thought I had taught Kara and Tristan earlier this week in Quepos, and realized I needed to swallow my own pill. Quepos is a small beach town in the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica that caters to the travelers headed to Manuel Antonio National Park. After a lovely day on the beach, walked to the Subway down the street from our hostel. The kids were in the mood for something familiar and I did not want to walk far as it was raining.
While we were walking, Tristan asked, “Mom, is that man poor?” I looked where he was pointing and realized we had passed a man sleeping on the sidewalk under an awning without even noticing him. We were so focused on getting to our destination.
It is not easy to ignore homelessness and poverty when it stares down at you like this. When you see someone asking for money on the street corner you can easily create a nice story so that what you are seeing is not what it seems: The guy isn’t really homeless, he is just scamming people for money. That lady isn’t really pregnant. I bet he is not an Iraqui vet. You know he just wants the money for alcohol.
But you can’t rationalize away a man sleeping on the street. We talked about that man when we got to Subway. We talked about why some people are homeless. I asked the kids what they could do to help. Tristan said, “We could give them some money or some food. Or we could give them a fishing rod and hope they know how to use it.” This made me smile because his response made me realize we have had a similar conversation before. We put together a stash of coins to give to the man on our way back to the hostel. But he was gone. Hopefully he found a softer place to sleep on, but realistically either the police or the shop owner asked him to leave.
As we walked back, Kara said, “Isn’t it weird that we are so picky about our food at Subway when other people are going hungry?”
Tristan asked, “What does that mean?”
l said, “Do you think if we had given that man a sandwich he would have complained if it had mayonnaise or tomatoes?”
“No, he would just eat it.”
When we got back to the hostel, I asked Tristan if he was sad. He said he was. I told him he was sad because he was a sweet boy with a good heart. We talked some more about the homeless and then went to bed.
Thank you Homeless Man from Quepos for teaching my children…..and me a valuable lesson. You made a difference in our lives that day.
But I still whatever this iPad. And I want my MacBook Air back.