Tuesday, January 31, 2012

From more connected to more protected

Most recent news for me here in Costa Rica is that I've moved to a new apartment closer to where I work (and closer to where I was living before). It has been a lot of fun getting settled and experiencing some privacy and quietness, a luxury I haven't had for the past three years I've lived here in Costa Rica. San Francisco de Dos Rios, where our offices are and where I'm now living, is quite different, if you can imagine, from where I was living in La Carpio. 

Part of what I will have to do in these next months is wrap my perspective around a different approach to security, safety, and comfort. I've already been thinking a lot about the differences between where I'm at now and where I was living in La Carpio. Put simply, in a place like where I live now, people feel safe and secure when they are more protected, whereas in La Carpio, safety came from being more connected. I could leave my car parked on the street, at night, without worrying about it being broken into or robbed (well, I worried, but nothing happened). This is doubly perplexing because La Carpio is notorious for delinquent crime and most of the kids on the street knew that my windows open easily from the outside. Here in San Francisco de Dos Rios, a car on the street at night is an automatic invitation for a break-in. I only left my car out on the street once in SF2Rios and it got broken into, combed for everything of value, and then they popped the hood and jacked the battery. Cars are regularly broken into in front of our office and in the web of streets between where I'm now living and where I work, and muggings are pretty common. And yet, this is where all the foreigners flock to live (both latino and anglo foreigners), and they still somehow perceive a place like this to be safer. In some ways, it is, but in many ways, it is not. Each place has its horror stories - I could get robbed or harmed in La Carpio or I could robbed and harmed in San Francisco de Dos Rios - the former seems more "worth" the risk. To take one of my favorite quotes from the devotional I was reading while I lived there, 
we learn that the most dangerous place for Christians to be is in comfort and safety, detached from the suffering of others. Places that are physically safe can be spiritually deadly" (from Common Prayer: A liturgy for ordinary radicals).
While I was living in La Carpio, I didn't write or discuss much about the experience publicly, because I was fully focused on being present, with minimal analysis. Participant observation and delayed judgment would be the anthropological way to put it. Plus, there were a few other concerns I had about how such a move would be perceived by others, and it turns out they were well-founded. Granted, I didn't have a very reasonable explanation for what I was doing - at least, I didn't bother to build a case for it. Now, however, I'm planning on taking some time these next few months to go back over my journal entries and rehash some of the things I learned and experienced. Moving to live there was probably one of the most radical moves I've made in my life up to this point, but during my devotions I had a great prayer guide that reminded me I was in good company. A lot of things made me confused, uncomfortable, and uneasy. Most of the time, though, I remember feeling quite content, at peace, and almost electrically alive, thanking God for exactly where I was, exactly at that moment. I am still asking myself why I left, if that's the way I felt. I think, though, it was a natural transition point, and I need some time to think and reflect on my time there.

So anyway, for the next few months during my time of solitude (anything feels like solitude after living with 18 people!) I plan on revisiting my journal entries, my notes, and my "research", and finally sharing some of the stories and things that I learned while I lived in La Carpio, including the different reasons why I went to live there and whether it's something I could (should?) do again. I haven't quite decided how I'm going to put all these experiences into words, but it will probably be through entries on a separate blog. If you are interested in following along on that specific experience, please let me know by commenting or sending me an e-mail or a facebook message or whatever, just so I know to keep you in the loop. I will continue to update this blog with general news and stories, but I won't be announcing each time I update the other site.


Ernie said...

Very Interested in receiving what you will be writing about in the days ahead. Praying God will bless as you process and reflect and write for his glory and your good too. Jan on Ernies FB.

Anonymous said...

Brendan, I appreciate reading your reflections. I would like to follow your additional posts (wherever they may be posted) about living in La Carpio. Love you.

bboy said...

Thanks so much for your encouragement! I will keep you in the loop.