I write this now, at the edge of the smallest town in which I have ever lived. Granted, I’m only living here two weeks, but still. The region of San Carlos is about 40 minutes from the larger city of Fortuna and about 30 minutes from Quesada in Costa Rica. San Carlos is a set of houses, the majority of which face each other across two highways that go to either of the bigger cities, with a few smaller streets in-between. Each small, colorful bungalow is set back from the street with a small front yard dotted with palms, papaya trees, hibiscus and a myriad of other plants and flowers that grow in this part of the country. The cars zoom by on their way to somewhere else, the colorful buses stopping every so often to pick up passengers also going somewhere else. The Super Cindy is one of what seems to be two tiendas (stores) on the main road run by a Chinese couple—and I wonder, how did they find this opportunity? However, after a few days, I am finding the beauty in the smallness and quiet of this place in the middle of the world.

I found this opportunity because I have a job I love that grants me the freedom to have some flexibility. A lot of flexibility. Prior to joining UPD, I ran my own consulting company for 10 years. And after many clients, long hours, managing a household and two kids, I realized that there is never a perfect time to work, a perfect time to vacation, a perfect time to stop. Life happens all at once. So, I got in the habit of packing up the kids and traveling for the summer. Last year we began our world adventures going to Guatemala and this year we’re in Costa Rica. The kids go to Spanish School during the morning and I get to work remotely. Thanking the technology gods for the internet, email, GoToMeeting, and Skype, I am able to connect (minus a few moments of interruption during the torrential rainfall) and focus on the tasks at hand. I know I have it more than pretty good.

BirdI am also in San Carlos because one of my kids wanted to work with animals so after their morning Spanish instruction we head to Proyecto Asis as a family. It’s a challenge living in a small town and working for animals for three hours every afternoon. However, my children love it and caring for animals
that are wounded, abused, or abandoned and in need of serious rehabilitation (broken wings, legs, etc.) is very necessary work. The people at the rescue center are amazing and they love their job. They are kind, dedicated, want to work with animals and nature, and have a passion for teaching others about the issues of animal trafficking and the ills of trying to engage animals outside their natural environment. They have a deep passion for their country, its beauty, and the order and systems of nature.

What I’ve learned from all of this is that, first, if you have a job you love be thankful for it. Second, being at a job you dislike can teach you a lot. It can teach you about what you don’t like, it pushes you to ask why, it provides some motivation to do something differently, and it allows you to really have gratitude for those that do the work and do it with a passion and interest you might never have. And for me, after a few days, I have settled into the rhythm of this work. I’m getting used to the sounds, smells, and routine. More than anything, it has taught me a lot about what it takes to do this work, what it looks like to be passionate about it, and the influence it has on others. Not such a bad lesson from cleaning bird cages.