Under the Guayava Tree

When you get away from your life, even for a short time, it seems like a long time. When I got back from Costa Rica I had many memories of profound things and fine people. It’s nice to share that with others because you don’t have to tell them about it. They were there.

I met two little boys in Santa Rosa. We were taking an afternoon break from working on the church. School was already out. Santa Rosa was really a pueblo. It was no big town. Even surrounded by mountains and sugar cane and cattle grazing, even with mountains as far as the eye could see, those school kids walking up the dirt road in there dark blue pants and white shirts and bookbags was somehow universal.

It had been about two hours ago that I had taken a picture of a man whistling and throwing his arms up as he herded his cattle down the road. Off to the south the cows were knee deep in the pond or loafing in the shade. The man was gone.

The American teenagers had wrapped a piece of newspaper in duct tape and were playing hacky sack with the Costa Rican workers. I was bored with watching them so I went back out to take a picture of the resting cows. Out here in the middle of nowhere.

I squatted down on the edge of the pond to frame my picture when I heard exuberant voices. “Quieres unas guayavas?” What? “Quieres unas guayavas?” I was just getting used to the fact that I could understand Spanish so I concentrated for a second. Two little boys were bent over infront of my camera lens looking into it. “Do you want some guayavas?” Sure I did. Where? They pointed across the pond excitedly and we hiked through the mud of the bank which had foot deep cow prints in it. The boys had on high rubber boots. They knew where they were going.

On the far side of the bank was a tree loaded down with green and yellow fruit. Much of the yellow ones were already on the ground. I picked one up and it smelled sweet and aromatic. It was full of edible seeds and really, really good. One of the two got up in the tree and began to shake it. Like a monkey. The other handed me a green one and said they were better “Mas sabor”. More flavorful. I looked at the tiny hard green fruit and then at him… square in the eyes… and said “Es una broma!?” Is it a joke? He laughed. “No, no!” I liked the yellow ones better. They helped me load my bookbag. We had them for breakfast in the morning.

I spent a good bit of the rest of the afternoon with Grevin and Deiber. I gave them a pack of cards that I paint of Wadmalaw Island and told them I was an artist. I asked them if they had show and tell at school. They said they did. I told them they could show the cards at school and tell their class that an American gave them to them. And she was ugly and mean and old! Their eyes widened and then they laughed. I asked Grevin what he wanted to be when he grew up. He said a computer programmer. When I asked if he had a computer at school Deiber piped up and shook his head,“Too poor”. Well, maybe someday. They had their dreams.

I never went back to Santa Rosa that week. But of all the wonderful experiences I had during the time we worked in Costa Rica, these two little boys have become a cameo of the experience. Maybe because it was something I shared only with them.