Sometimes you want to go. where everybody knows your name (Costa Rica)

“Nataliaaaaa!  Nataliaaaa!”

Upon walking down the main street of Tonjibe, I was more than overjoyed to see that none of my friends had forgotten me in the year I was gone.

After having spent all of last summer living in Tonjibe, I knew I could not let a year pass by without returning to see all the wonderful friends that I made.

Some things had changed in the year I was gone: new bridges were installed (metal replacing the tree trunks that formerly served to cross rivers), new houses were built (my favorite was the brand-new concrete house with a typical house out back for the wood fire and kitchen — the aspect of which the family was most proud), and new babies were born.

And some things didn’t change at all.   Although, I was only able to spend a week there, it was a week of connections, laughter, adventure, and a feeling of comfort akin to being home.  Tonjibe is a special place.  After having spent all last summer developing friendships with some many people, it was wonderful to arrive back there to find that we could pick it all up right where we left off.  I especially loved my late night chats with Zulay (our “mamá” while we are living there), as we sit on her front porch and talk about the world and the state of things and our hopes for the future.

Dauver, exploring the River "Sol"

My time there leaves me inspired in so many ways — by the sense of community that there is, by the hard work ethic that so many people there have (working in tourism, on their farms, in “artesanía”, taking care of their children, taking classes at local schools– all at the same time), and by my friends’ dedication to their culture, their environment and their language.  I would love to join them as they work to ensure that their children learn Maleku jaika (their language) and as they begin to fight for their land (which, according to some conversations I had, is not even technically an indigenous reserve, even though it is falsely named so on the signage in the area).  Perhaps, I will find some way that I can be of help as they work to regain control of their land — it would be a struggle I would be honored to be involved in.

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