On this day in 1893, José Martí visited Costa Rica for the first time.
I went down the rabbit hole a bit on this one and discovered that his visit took place in the context of a very close Costa Rica-Cuba relationship. Costa Rica was actively providing support for the revolutionary movement in Cuba at the time, and even set aside government land in Nicoya to establish a colony, led by Antonio Maceo, where Cuban revolutionaries could refuge and raise tobacco and sugar cane. It was to bring news of the revolution to Maceo that Martí first came to Costa Rica, and he later expressed deep gratitude to Costa Rica for its support.
In honor of this anniversary, here’s a phrase of Martí’s that seems particularly fitting for our own revolutionary (we hope?) times: “Mientras más honda la herida, / Es mi canto más hermoso.” (“The deeper the wound, the more beautiful my song.”)
I’m a writer in San José, Costa Rica, on a year-long quest to share daily posts on inspiring people, places and ideas from my adopted home as a kind of tonic during a rough time in the world. Sign up (top right of this page) to receive a little dose of inspiration every weekday in your mailbox; tell a friend; check out past posts; and please connect with me on Instagram or Facebook! If you want to learn more about how to support Costa Rica during the crisis, visit my COVID-19 section – or for ways to enjoy Costa Rica from afar, visit Virtual Costa Rica.
Costa Rican: I’ve never been able to forget “Única mirando al mar,” the poignant tale of a lonely old man who literally puts himself into the trash and ends up living among the inhabitants of the Rio Azul trash dump not far from my home. It’s since been covered with unnaturally green grass, but the inequality Fernando Contreras Castro portrayed has grown fiercer and fiercer since the book was published.
Other: So, so many. I mean, this was the decade in which I finally read “El Quijote,” finishing it over a solo dinner in San Pedro, crying over the final chapter, eight months pregnant. Things trended much lighter and less challenging after my daughter’s birth; there have been a lot of mystery series, albeit very good ones. I hope to wade back into bigger waves in the 20s.
On this New Year’s Eve, as firecrackers pop all over the Central Valley, I’ll be vowing to read much more in the year ahead. May the coming decade be full of quiet page-turning, luscious browsing, and recommendations swapped among friends.
I’m a writer in San José, Costa Rica, on a year-long quest to share daily posts on inspiring people, places and ideas from my adopted home as a kind of tonic during a rough time in the world. Sign up (top right of this page) to receive a little dose of inspiration every weekday in your mailbox; tell a friend; check out past posts; and please connect with me on Instagram or Facebook! You can also find me churning out small, square poems on any topic under the sun (here on the site, on Instagram or Twitter).
When I started this thing, I did say that some days, the Daily Boost would be as simple as a photo – and today is one of those days. Three girls, walking together, colorful and happy: that’s all I need this morning, and I hope you love it, too.
Today closes out a week that ended up focusing on women. Women who run, women who write, women who drive poetry ambulances, women in the making. Here’s the roundup for all those weekend readers out there. And on this 20th day of the Daily Boost, I want to express my gratitude to all those who have read and commented on these posts so far. I’ve gotten soup recipes, book recommendations and more; let’s keep the conversation going! If you have a friend you think would like this, or if you see a post you’d like to share, please spread the word: for those of us writing in a vacuum, these connections are incredibly comforting, like an echo coming back to us when we shout off the cliff. So I thank you.
Though school starts in February in Costa Rica, I still think of September with that back-to-school fondness, aided by the fact that this cool, rainy month does give me some autumn vibes. And what better place to celebrate back to school than a cozy independent bookstore?
If you’re reading this, you almost assuredly love bookstores. You might even own one, and if not, you’ve definitely imagined yourself owning one, probably in a picturesque fishing village where you would wear hand-knitted sweaters and gaze out at the storm-tossed sea in between customers (right? I’m not the only one, am I?). So I’m not convincing anyone here. But this is a love that had gotten away from me, and when I wandered into La Librería Andante for the first time in a long while – it’s a gorgeous, lovingly curated little bookstore in the university district near my house – I felt so many knots inside me come loose. In a world of noise, it’s a quiet place; in a fast world, it encourages you to move slowly and to browse, which is such a lovely, relaxing and somnolent word, browwwwse; in a world of technology, it is timeless; in a world of foolishness, it is an oasis of wisdom and beauty. As I wandered through its offerings, I set myself the second challenge of this year (the first being to get to know more artists): to visit all the local bookstores I can find, and to redirect as much of my shopping to them as I possibly can.
Why is the bookstore or the library more magical than being surrounded by our own bookshelves at home? I think it’s the sense of possibility. If books have altered the course of the life or the way you see the world in the past, then standing in a bookstore makes your nerves tingle, because you know that the next game-changer might be within your reach at this very moment. It could be behind that beautiful, glossy cover over there. It could be wedged into an undignified corner of the used book stacks. You might find it today – you might not. You might walk right past it, not knowing. But it’s there, and that’s such a comfort. As the poet Thomas Lovell Beddoes put it (oh yeah, I’m just nerding all the way out today – it’s that bookstore air), there’s “something holy in the darkness… and as rich moonlight may be to the blind, unconsciously consoling.”
If you can, go to a bookstore or a library this week and bask in that consolation, that knowledge that whether you read them today or this year or not, there are wise words waiting for us. There’s something holy in the darkness. Tucked away, bound and covered but ready to break free at any moment – there is light.
(If you’re a sucker for an incredible library story, check out “The Gift of a Public Library” by Deborah Fallows in The Atlantic, featuring beautiful libraries doing the impossible to keep their doors open in small towns including my mother’s: Eastport, Maine.)
I’m a writer in San José, Costa Rica, on a year-long quest to share daily posts on inspiring people, places and ideas from my adopted home as a kind of tonic during a rough time in the world. Sign up (top right of this page) to receive a little dose of inspiration every weekday in your mailbox; tell a friend; check out past posts; and please connect with me on Instagram or Facebook!