I’m reading The Battle for Paradise by Jeremy Evans. It’s one of the other titles I purchased when I stumbled upon Barbarian Days in Mrs. Dalloway’s bookstore on college Ave. The Battle for Paradise presents a primarily journalistic telling of Pavones, Costa Rica’s conflict over its environment and surf slash fishing – centric way of life when it becomes the proposed [or decided?] location of an experimental Yellow Fin tuna farm. I’m a little past halfway done and have no qualms recommending it.
It’s been provoking thoughts of culture and lifestyle and privilege and progress for me. I find it ironic, maddening, and amusing that so many of those devoted to their surfing and earth-honoring lifestyles come from the same clans of humans who decimated the cultures, villages, and lifestyles of the indigenous/native people of the lands they ‘discovered’. As always, selfish ambition, sin, and greed often taint what might even begin as an authentic attempt to increase the standard of living of people groups who live under the submission and reverence of nature in jungles, on islands, along the coasts of the earth.
On the one hand, so many people on earth are living in squander and poverty. There are so many Advances and means of being elevated. And on the other hand, so many of us live in anxiety – medicated, fatigued, hollow; exploiting other people; over producing; Using Too Much.
Adulting in California is an entirely Other experience than adulting where I came from. If it weren’t for the unification of all these 50 states, it might as well be a completely different country. The landscape is different, the diet varies, and so does the way of life. When I first moved out here, it was appalling to me that people didn’t have divided sinks… Mostly just big farm-style sinks. And most of the folks I know wash dishes with water running the whole time. In the middle of a drought. So I did too…
I spent some time in the suburbs with my friend’s family a month or so ago, and in the kindest of hospitalities, his mother offered us a myriad of cooled beverages from the second refrigerator in their garage. A few hours later, I rode the train home to my fourth floor studio in the Decidedly Not Suburbs. Last night, myself and three other tenants tried to do laundry amongst ourselves with one working washer and two occupied dryers to choose from. So I woke up early this morning ~ as I would have anyway thanks to my circadian rhythms and The Time Change ~ and washed one more load which now hangs on my sister’s collapsable rack.
I have always been a Nester, and I’m also an ‘S’. So while I am entirely aware of the privilege and wealth I have inherited by being born in this country, I also sway between forgetting and remembering…Forgetting that dishwashers are a thing that exist and that lots of people do laundry in the comfort of their own homes or apartments and without the exposure of other people’s shedding scalp and pet hair…
And I remember that people pack up and go on walkabouts to places like these… but because those places don’t fall within the boundaries of America, it’s Exotic. It becomes an Adventure… The streaks of colored hues across the evening sky, the layered hills against horizon, the saluting palm trees, the birds that traipse across the sky in elaborate patterns. The children with colored skin playing in the streets and women who look like me with laundry hanging up in various places. When it’s not Richmond, CA, it’s a surf trip. A vacation. It’s anthropology. But it’s also my actual life… and it’s still beautiful.
Fun Fact: …tuna can’t stop swimming or they will suffocate…they sleep as water passes over their gills. | The Battle for Paradise, Jeremy Evans