It is true, every moment with Gail, the indefatigable founder of the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation, is an adventure. We have discovered that whether we are prepared or not, it is more than likely that at any given moment, we are lodged right in the midst of something off-the-beaten-path. It may be an adventure involving mountains, or dangerous traffic conditions, unqualified parents or unstable niños, parks with questionable security or unknown areas during hours of darkness, spirits and angels, new people or eccentric people, or just one of those conversational adventures that places your mind-balls at odds with your mind-holes. Just the other night, we found ourselves rolling along through many of those types of adventures—mountains, dangerous traffic, darkness, new people, and foreign terrain—we found ourselves in the middle of a particularly interesting conversation. And yes, spirits and angels were involved too.
While we were scaling the side of the mountains above Escazu in Gail’s ancient Hyundai van, she began to tell us the story of her friend Beth. Gail had met Beth when they were both in the Peace Corps, working in Costa Rica over 20 years ago. Gail developed an immense respect for her new friend as they grew closer, building schools and working alongside impoverished children throughout rural Costa Rica. They spent hours together, trading personal philosophies and accumulating new ones through their work. After they had both moved down their separate paths outside of the Peace Corps, Gail heard the news of a terrible accident. 12 years ago this year, after missing for a week from a hiking trip, Beth was found dead at the bottom of a cliff. The cause of death was unknown, and Gail was deeply affected by the loss of such a kindred companion. The mountains our van was currently stumbling through had been Beth’s home for many years before her death. “I can feel the presence of Beth’s spirit still wandering these rural mountain villages,” Gail said, her voice betraying its usual serene confidence. It is evident that through her work establishing the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation, she has remained loyal to Beth’s humanitarian vision.
The van had been following a large Blue-Morpho Butterfly for a kilometre when we came upon the woman we had been looking for. She had recently escaped to the area in search for sanctuary to write her book—a guide for those suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder to find peace and healing through the discovery of their personal guardian angels—and had contacted Gail to commend her on her inspiring humanitarian vision and to expand her search for books on angels to Gail’s personal library. We slid out of the van and introductions were passed around as we looked out over San Jose valley, sparkling in the dusk. There were personal philosophies of angels and spirits being tossed about as Claire and I succumbed to the Tarot Cards offered to us by Gail. Each of our chosen cards made sense respectively, including disarming allusions to internal doubt, anxiety, personal control, and the directions to continuously struggle with the adversity of our lives. We all chatted, perched on a dirt embankment surrounded by horses in their paddock and gardens of vegetables, discussed our Tarot Cards, and then went in opposite directions—we rumbled treacherously down the mountain in the beastly Hyundai and our new friend, evidently blessed by Beth’s spirit, plodded slowly upward to her mountain-side nook.
It was certainly ‘one of those days.’ Although looking at it all while it happened may have left everything slightly off kilter, processing the day in the tranquility that settled over a dinner of rice and beans, made us think that maybe, not everything needed to be balanced and real and comprehensible all the time.
In the 2nd semester of her 3rd year at UBC, Sarah Kingstone is traveling to Costa Rica in honour of her humanitarian heart. She has given me permission to post her blog entries as she embarks on what will undoubtedly a life changing experience. Come along for the ride!