When you know better, you do better. Maya Angelou

Dear Friends,

I wish you an inspiring Sunday, a day you make wonderful memories to revisit often in solitude. Get out there early and move in gratitude just because you are able to do so. I will be taking my own advice!

Everywhere we look, we are reminded that the end of 2011 is approaching quickly. Most Costa Rican schools are concluding semesters with final exams and students eagerly look forward to a lengthy vacation. Advertising billboards bombard us with suggestions on what our life is missing (travel, a new car, expensive clothing). It seems we are all too ready to accept these ideas as fitting substitutes for what might really be missing in our lives: a sense of belonging and community, something money can’t buy.

You are all familiar with my woes regarding my neighbor who has turned a large parcel of land into four separate lots on which houses for his offspring and siblings are being constructed. From my kitchen window (and without my powerful binoculars!), I spot the arrival of workers, materials, and curious observers on a daily basis. Sometimes, I witness things that entertain me as I wash the dishes: the good-natured banter or singing of the workers as they drive nails into wood. Other times, I see who I believe are the future occupants stop by to give instructions or check on things.

This past week I saw a young couple stop by the construction site. I became nostalgic remembering our first visits to our property. We still lived in New York and I made two yearly trips to Costa Rica with our children. We would take the bus from San José to Atenas and picnic on our land which had only one tree, and lots of grass for our neighbor’s cows to munch on. My relationship with my neighbors and the community began then, almost ten years before building. I felt strongly connected to this place; even then I knew I would be an active participant in community affairs.

I would go back to New York with the confidence that one day, our well-appointed property would cradle our home. In the dreary winters, that expectation alone would cheer me up as I went about my daily routine in the monotony of cement and concrete that is Manhattan. We have been blessed to have been able to accomplish our dream and share it with family and friends.

I am disheartened by the destruction that took place across from us in order to ready that property for construction. The future occupants never visited the land prior to clearing that I can recall. They didn’t make a real connection with the land and may not even be aware that a tree that had been there for fifty years was uprooted in fifty minutes! Being the eternal optimist, I look forward to seeing their children grow up with the renewed interest in our environment that is now prevalent. This will allow them to know better and do better in their future. It’s a good thing, don’t you agree?

Have a wonderful day and a terrific week, Marietta

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