Monteverdean Skies


I am mid-air. Life beneath is moving both fast and slow as I trailblaze through the fog and fern of Monteverde. To my left, the Pacific ocean brims between the soft sashays of afternoon sun and the piercing echoes of the resplendent quetzal.

I am celebrating my 27th birthday zip-lining along the emerald enclaves of Costa Rica that strangely remind me of the yawning valleys of my own tiny Lebanese chouf village.

My decision to celebrate abroad, in the company of strangers, was a deliberate one. Being a TCK, I am well versed with being on my own, but this trip offers much more.

Above the cloud forest, I am majestic and invincible; more alive and present within myself than I have felt for the past few years. I am far away from the worries of poor health and the mediocrity of everyday living.

Without these distractions, I lose myself to my thoughts: Who is the Farah I am growing into? Outside culturally orchestrated shoe boxes, what is her place in this world, and what is the world's place in her? What kind of imprint will her feet leave on the soft crumbling sand, the hard pebbled streets and the muddied mountain trails of Central America?

My contemplations are brought sharply to an end by the metallic click-clacking as the guide unclips my harness from the pulley. I sigh as I bid goodbye to the Monteverdean skies that seemed to hold the right answers to so many of my questions.

Still, there is much to celebrate. I go back to my cabin and wait. Like a Mexican wave that follows the path of a sunrise, my birthday wishes click-clock their way across each of the Earth’s continents.

The first is a phone call from my family in Melbourne. I laugh at the predictability of their call—they sing happy birthday first in English, then Arabic, then French; an amalgamation of all the cultures we have absorbed since we were young.  

Soon, others join in from Sydney, Tasmania and Canberra; Jeddah, Qatar and Beirut; Berlin and France; California and Santiago. Each with a greeting in their own tongue and in the intimate vernacular of our friendship.   

I smile as I feel the fullness of my kaleidoscopic world, and greet each in return.

Once the buzzing of my phone falls silent, I venture out for one final, private celebration.

On the side of the road, amidst the fog of the cloud forest, I write down and bury the years past, and take back with me a piece of the hopeful Monteverdean sky for the year to come.  

This article was first published on 7 June 2017