Adivina

Faiello, Dean A.

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Dean A. Faiello Adivina Fed up with my wreck-strewn, chaotic life, ricocheting between New York City crises, I decided to liquidate my few urban assets and dee to a Central American rain forest. Rather than face the task of changing my life, I took the easier route. I was lured by the romance of live volcanoes overlooking black sand beaches and banana trees. For two hours, as my Jeep snaked its way through the basaltic mountains of Costa Rica, I had little idea what to expect at each precipitous curve of the road. My destination was a birthday party, lor a mnety-six-year-old woman named Adivina, on a coffee-bean farm. I was apprehensive about spending an entire day at a cabin in Alumbrar with no phone and no electricity. Yet, I was curious how a nonagenarian lived in a desolate, undeveloped country. I turned off the gritty road, onto a dirt trail with three strands of barbed wire, stapled to palm trees, running along each side. A icld of mountain goats comprised the front yard of a white stucco house. Two barefoot boys chased a squawking chicken through the grass while the goats grazed. At the end of the dirt road stood an unpainted cabin, its plank walls deeply darkened by weather Behind the sloping porch, the front door stood open, revealing a daik interior. The windows had no glass, protected only by worn shutters, which then stood open. Ahead of me drove my neighbors from the beach, Playa de Coco. As we neared the rancho, my anxiety ramped up. A gringo, I was unfamiliar with the customs and the dialect of Costa Rica I often found myself smiling and nodding while lost in Spanish conversation in restaurants, stores and homes. The sound of our cars drew a few more children and two women wearing colorful apions from within the dark cabin. They observed us with caution. Alvaro, Adivina s grandson, and his wife Isabela stepped out of the car ahead of me with their two sons, Stefan and Paulo. Tie boys ran o to t e goat field and joined the pursuit of the distraught chicken. Like a typical gringo, I grabbed my camera bag and joined the group assembling on the porch. Adivina emerged quietly from the cabin, smiling broadly, wearing an aqua dress with a red apron. Only five feet in height with pure white hair and olive-green eyes, she reached up with both hands to welcome and touch the faces of her visitors. As she approached me, she exclaimed, Aty que AAT’—Tfow handsome! She invited me to sit on the wood plank bench. Alvaro Faiello 47 and Isabela sat next to her. The two women in flowery aprons were Adivina’s daughter, Luz, and her neighbor, Juana. The house looked out upon a deep gorge. Across the chasm, coffee bean trees cascaded down the mountainside. The beans grew on narrow terraces dug into the mountain so that workers could find footing while harvesting the coffee. On the precipice below the house stood giant hibiscus and red and yellow hangingpendulas three feet in length. Tie tops of palm trees, just below the level of the house, stirred in the hot breeze, called hochornos. The rainy season had ended about a month before, so the day was warm and humid. Adivina stood, wrapped her small, deeply-veined hands around my left arm and said, “ Venga, vengah She led me into the small house with low ceilings. The walls were unpainted and only slightly lighter in color than the weathered exterior. An entourage followed us on the tour of the dwelling, which consisted of four rooms—a small living area, a much larger kitchen, and two small bedrooms. The kitchen had two wood-burning stone hearths, but no oven and no refrigerator. The floor and hearths were constructed of blue basalt. The kitchen window looked out at the field of goats. Adivinas great-grandchildren had given up their pursuit of the traumatized hen, and the other fowl had cautiously returned to feeding. Tie sparse living room had one upholstered chair and a table that seated four. Tie only adornment was a daguerreotype of Adivina and her husband, Geovanni, taken on their wedding day. In stiff collar and dark jacket, Geovanni stood behind a seated Adivina. Tieir expression was solemn, but Adivina’s eyes had a luminosity enhanced by the silver laminate of the photo. More visitors could be heard on the porch. Adivina’s son, Pietro, his wife, and their three grandchildren, who lived just two doors away, had arrived. Pietro’s wife joined Adivina and Isabela in the kitchen to prepare dinner. I sat on the porch, camera in hand, and took photos of the great-grandchildren chasing hens that I finally understood were to be part of dinner. Pietro offered me tequila made from agave plants grown on the farm. Without leaving the porch, he pulled two large limes from a tree alongside the cabin. He sliced open the lime with a penknife and squeezed the fresh juice directly into the shot of tequila. I tasted it. Tie bite of the warm tequila and fresh lime reared my eyes. Pietro smiled, “Que rico, noT I was reminded of sitting on my own porch back home in the States. At the end of the day, with a goblet of cabernet sauvignon, I would watch the sun set behind the park. Tensions would ease, troubles fade. My neighbors would emerge from their homes to relax, walk their dogs, ask each other how things were going. I had met my neighbors, Alvaro and Isabela, while enjoying a

Author: Faiello, Dean A.

Author Location: New York

Date: October 24, 2016

Genre: Essay

Extent: 4 pages

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