Costa Rica Vignette: So Close, Yet So Far, From Home

In many ways, Costa Rica reminds me of Nigeria. The abundance of buildings with the simple concrete facade and tin roofs. Crude wooden or metal signs to alert you of the presence of a shop or restaurant, advertising the availability of wi-fi, satellite TV or fresh fruit. Narrow roads that look like they could not possibly support for two-way traffic, yet somehow they do! Along with bicyclists, pedestrians, and the occasional cow or two. Men ferrying women and babies on motorcycles, school children looking crisp and sharp in their uniforms.

Differences? Oh, they exist. For one, this is no savannah. In Nigeria, I would not be on a long mountain road full of precarious twists and turns. Each bend in the road would not open up to a breathtaking view of thousands of trees and an abundance of vegetation. There would not be waterfalls, or clouds of steam billowing out of volcano craters. I would not be looking down on homes and businesses below, or experience the fog that settles on the road as we cross the continental divide. The road feels smaller, more dangerous, as I observe the smooth slopes formed from an earthquake landslide. I shudder to think of what it would be like to be caught up here as the earth shook and trembled. But it becomes increasingly beautiful, and I can't help but sigh with delight, to also witness the new growth of plants that spring forth to replace what was destroyed and lost.

Yes, it is different from Nigeria. But as we pass mango trees, guava trees, pineapples, papayas, bananas, and palm trees bearing coconuts and palm nuts, I am reminded of my childhood. And even though I'm an ocean away, I feel like I'm home.

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