drink_puddle.jpgFeeling terribly guilty that Jack had
had to suffer along with me, I was determined to muster the energy
to find a waterfall up in the hills, and try to ease the pain of
not being able to swim or surf. As Jack and I wandered down the
road towards where we’d heard there was a catarata, we
approached a man with a severe limp on the sidewalk. As we
attempted to pass on the right, he greeted us with a huge smile and
said, “Bienvenidos a Golfito.” There are beautiful mountains and
waterfalls here, he explained in Spanish. Waterfalls? Enrique
happened to be on his way to the waterfall, and enthusiastically
demanded that he lead us there. Buena manifestacion. I couldn’t
complain about the pain in my ears or my leg from the shot when I
saw his condition. It appeared as if he’d been crippled by polio.
He drug his right leg along even though it looked like it didn’t
want to go.

By the way he spoke and greeted people through the town, it was
clear that he didn’t let his bad leg slow him down. His one-eyed
dog, Poopy, led our parade up the hill and into the jungle. He
showed us medicinal plants and we all bathed in the cool fresh
water. As we walked back out the trail we ran across a group of
three clean-cut men with collared shirts and leather belts. They,
too, knew Enrique and Poopy. They spoke about acres, views, and
property lines. dog_golfito.jpgI wondered how much longer Enrique would
be able to bathe and find peace at this waterfall. “Oh, and if you
happen to need an attorney while you’re here, give me a call,” said
one of the men as he handed a crisp business card to Jack. “Thanks
a lot,” I muttered sarcastically. The juxtaposition of our two
groups was odd, but it reminded me that each moment and place on my
“path” was precious, fleeting, and often transitory. Over the week
my health deteriorated. I went to Elvis everyday, showed him the
cheek opposite the day before, and took the needle. Afterward I
would have a fever and ache in my leg from the shot and the
medicine. I had no energy and chores aboard Swell mounted. Jack
patiently took care of me, but as his time dwindled I knew I would
soon have to take action to improve my condition. After heaping
stuffing, turkey, green beans, sweet potatoes and pie on our
plates, we sat around Tim and Katy’s and shared stories and good
times with the group. I couldn’t have dreamed up a better meal. I
made jaws drop at the pile of whipped cream I slew atop my pie. But
when would I see food like this again, I wondered? Thanksgiving
dinner was but a distraction from my problem, though. I still had a
fever and could barely hear out of either ear. Tim and Katy would
watch over Swell while I went to up to the capitol and found an ear
specialist. I flew to San Jose with Jack and apologized as
sea_beneath.jpghe left for Santa Barbara the following
morning. I wished so much that I could have shown him a better
time. But like always, he pointed out the positives and tried to
make me feel a little better about the whole nightmare. That very
morning I got an appointment to see an ENT specialist. The doctor
put little cameras into my ears to show me what the infections
looked like. I couldn’t understand everything she said, but the
gist I got was stay out of the water and use the eardrops she
prescribed three times a day. Not even in the shower could I get
them wet.

A few days passed. I stayed in hotels and rested in the
air-conditioned dryness. Still, I wasn’t feeling much better. More
time passed and finally I couldn’t take it anymore. My dad booked
me a frequent flyer ticket and a day later I found myself in my
parents bed in San Diego where I laid for another twelve days
between doctor appointments. The holidays approached, I missed
Swell, but my ears still pulsed as if the little infections were
throwing a hip-hop concert in my head. It seemed I would never feel
good again. Ebola of the ear? I’m still not sure, but just like
everything else, it’s amazing how you learn to appreciate your
health once it’s gone.

All photos in this article appear courtesy of Jack


Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.