The people we meet: May 10th, by Shaista Hasham

The people we meet: 10th May

There are times when the people we meet in our lives impact our lives in ways we never thought they would. Those people leave cemented footprints in our hearts – and as much as we know they’ll always be in our hearts, their physical parting feels like a dagger in our bodies, often even opening closed wounds. This blog is dedicated to my dad = both of them!

On Sunday, our group toured the island with our host families. My host father and I were hanging out on the beach, when he broke the news to me. I never thought it would break me down. He works as a policeman off the island for two weeks a month at a time. His time on the Island was over – the next morning, he was off to work again for a week. He would return on the weekend – after our group would already have left. Basically, it was the last time in a long time I would see my host dad.

I never thought it would hit me so hard, I’m a pretty strong young woman, who is generally well composed and in control of my emotions (or at least I’m told). But this time, I felt so torn and like a part of myself was leaving myself. I lost it at the beach, went into the corner and burst into tears. I was glad a friend tried to comfort me as I sorted through my emotions – but it was pretty obvious to the rest of the group and families that I was crying. I was not crying out of frustration or anger, or culture shock or missing home, but rather because of a deep connection I made that was ending quicker than I could comprehend.

My host father has made my stay in Costa Rica truly memorable. We established an instant connection and could communicate with each other in broken whatever language it was that we spoke. Our conversations were beyond superficial “how was your day?” and “it’s hot”. We talked about politics, history of Costa Rica Island, how to get driver’s license in Costa Rica and in Calgary, cost of living and of necessities in Costa Rica and Calgary, music and dance, and even deeper philosophical meaning of life. We shared photos, special memorable items, funny stories of our pasts, currencies – even medical treatments! It really touched my heart when dad wanted to keep the Canadian toonie to make a necklace out of it. It felt like dad and I knew each other from long long before and had just been separated. When we met, it was as though we just picked up from where we left off.

Dad and I could joke about many things – despite the language barrier and the confusion sarcasm brings with it. Since he has many brothers and sisters on the island passing by the house on motorbikes, I could joke about any bike passing by being his brother (and chances were I was right!). He also joked about the water in the house being cut! Small things like almost throwing out my pencil because the eraser at the back was broken really put a smile on my face (especially when I would react with “no”!). He was much younger, only 32 years old. It seemed like he was an old soul but with a young spirit. He also got along with the rest of the group – he was quite the joker and such a pleasure to be around J

When the host families and our group went to the local stampede grounds, I really felt like daddy’s little girl when he took me around and kept on introducing me to his family and friends. Dad really loves bull riding – his son has gone after him too! It was so awesome to watch dad go a little crazy and get into the bull ring with his friends! He invited me to go in with him so he could teach me how to bachaata to that music. While the dance sounded really tempting, the idea of being in a ring with a charging animal took over, and I didn’t think our program coordinator would be too pleased if I went in.  Either way, cheering for him and watching him really happy was really awesome! J

That night, I had to agree with his wife that he was really crazy! But I loved it. I shared with him that I have a house on the moon. The rest of the group even thought I was crazy (and that my host dad was a perfect match! :P). Dad totally understood where I was coming from. He said he has his house in the stars, so we’ll always be neighbours J – something that deeply touched my heart. That night, we challenged each other with Spanish and English Vocabulary. He is really smart! I don’t know how he could even guess what a wind chime was!

Since dad is a policeman, he has shared so many stories and pictures of his work. Which dad would show you pictures of drugs he has caught from criminals? Or pictures of a grow-op he busted? Or the inside scope on crime in Costa Rica? Dad was just so cool! I could go on and on about the stories I’ve shared with dad and what I’ve learnt. But what really matters is the connection we made in 5 days! I never knew I could be so touched by a special connection in just that much time! His leaving really caught me by surprise.

Monday morning was the day he left. I got up earlier than usual to see him off in the morning. He asked me not to be sad, and I tried my best to keep a smile on my face – if that’s the last memory he has of me, I’d rather that it be of me smiling J. I will admit, once he left, I really didn’t want mother to know I was upset, so I went into the bathroom, pretending to get ready, and shed a few tears. The rest of the day was really difficult. I talked to many people in the group who were very supportive of how I feel. I also cried throughout the day, with friends often coming by me to comfort me. I was sure the news travelled to the local people – I just wondered how it would be perceived! I went home to what felt like an empty house. I was still so upset, I went to sleep 3 hours before I usually do!

This morning was tough, I barely wanted to get out of bed. We went to the beach in the morning, and I took a long walk with my mp3 player. I thought about dad, the people we meet, and how quick it all happened. I realized that he had no idea what impact he had on my life in just 5 days. Similarly, I probably have no idea how much I have impacted him (and probably so many other people I meet!). What really matters are the moments we shared, the hearts that have been touched, and the impacts that continue to live on forever J Though I know I’ll miss dad a lot (and already do!), he’s always in my heart and will always be my hero – he already lives among the stars! J

Dad and I at the Todos 🙂

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