The sun was scorching and the asphalt painfully reflected it. My prior sense of elevation was firmly gone as a few of those worst scenario thoughts cropped up.
If I can’t find this bus: Where will I stay, where will I go, what will I do?
I watered them down with cool thoughts and pleasant music, and decided to go back to the one place that looked like it may have promise — a cafe I had passed about 20 minutes prior.
Luckily, my intuition was right. Upon entering the cafe there was a man, about twice my size, speaking English to a couple women he was with. He had long, salt and pepper hair and looked like he knew the place well.
I wasted no time.
“Hey you speak English!” I interjected. “I need some help.”
“Yeah” he laughed, “What’s up?”
“I’m trying to get to Mastatal? Have you heard of it?”
“Oh yeah yeah — it’s just around the corner. I can show you. It doesn’t leave till 3 though” he said looking at the clock, “so you got a couple hours.”
Wow, I thought, feeling thoroughly relieved. That was easy.
Then we got to talking. He told me about the cycles of the moon and the orbit of the planet. I suppose it was his way of talking about the weather.
“The Cosmos series man… Neil DeGrasse Tyson… It’s all so fascinating. We’re watching it all the time out here, I gotta show people you know, you wouldn’t believe the kinda things people believe out here.”
I laughed. “Oh I believe it,” I said. “Science has trouble getting the word out.”
He laughed and stuck out his hand, “What’s your name?” he asked me.
“Josh”, I replied, shaking his hand.
“Oh, great name! Want to see it in [some indecipherable native language] ?”
He then rolled up his sleeve and showed me his inscribed ink on his tricep.
“Wait, your name’s Josh too?” I said, putting two and two together.
“Yep, Joshua!” he exclaimed proudly. “You know what Joshua means in the Bible right?”
“Well, I’ve heard conflicting accounts.” I replied, somewhat sheepishly, “what do you got for me?”
“Joshua” he said with triumph, “Is the one that booms and bellows at The Man! Refusing to succumb to the wills of a tyrant!”
I smiled. “Huh, I think it fits — I’ll stick with it!” I said, raising a fist in good spirit.
“It’s powerful” he grinned.
He told me a bit about himself. He grew up in Oregon, and came out to Costa Rica 14 years ago, to get a fresh start. Now he owns a large farm and runs a business that works with the land and its inhabitants to better the conditions and build sustainable, regenerative structures — permaculture, essentially.
He’s been to Ojai (my hometown) too — which is always a surprise to me. And he also plans on making a run for Oregon’s governor chair in the perhaps not-so-distant future — or so he claims.
He said that since I’m out here, I should stop by his farm; they were going to be hosting a group event, and I would be more than welcome to join.
I told him sadly that I couldn’t. My destination points had already been screwed in pretty tightly.
“Where are you off to next?” he then asked.
“Well — after Mastatal, I’m off to an event… in Puriscal actually (the region we were currently in), and then I’m off to this festival called Envision.”
“What’s the name of the Puriscal farm?” he queried.
“Oh, I’m not sure.” I said, pausing to think about it. “I just know the event is called NuSeed.”
“Yep! That’s my farm! I thought you might be joining us!”
“Whoa no way?!” I said, taken aback. “What are the chances?”
“Yep!” he proclaimed. “And then we’re all off to Envision too, it’s going to be fun, glad you’ll be with us for the ride!”
Wow, I thought.
The entire thing was absurd. Here I was, just moments earlier, lost and out of breath, recovering from yesterday’s theft, unsure of my path, only for it to lead here — to a man that shared my name, held my answers, and owned the farm of which spurred me coming out here in the first place.
Yeah, it’s a small, strange world.
“Here, I’ll show you the bus stop!” he exclaimed, before I could fully take in the moment.
He then rushed me off around the corner. While we were walking he told me about his farm.
“It’s far off the grid” he said, “no wifi, so come prepared!”.
I told him I would, and that I had been looking to get offline anyway.
He then proceeded to tell me how out of control its gotten with some of his visitor’s and their internet addiction. Apparently, some have spent days of their time going back and forth between the farm and the town just to update their statuses and check themselves in online. The addiction levels had reached all time highs recently, he said.
“Yeah, I know the problem well” I responded. “It affected our elections too. All those propaganda bots”.
“Yeah…” He blew out a sigh. “Donald Trump…” he paused for a second or two and looked over at me. “You know, I don’t cry very often, but these past few weeks man, I’ve felt it. Even all the way out here… It’s heavy, you know?”
But then he lit up, placing his purple aviator shades over his eyes. “You know though, I’ve been preachin’ Revolution for 25 years brother! It’s time for the people to wake up! It’s now or never man!”
I laughed, feeling like that would be something I would say.
“It’s gotta be parallel infrastructures”, he said. “That’s the only way we’re going to do it.”
I had never heard such a term used before in that context — and so naturally I was curious. It’s rare that I hear someone preach revolution and actually seem to have a plan as to how we do it.
There’s that ever elusive ideal: Revolutionizing our systems, without having a bloody revolution on the ground… perhaps we can find a way?
But then, just as I was about to ask him…
“That’s your bus there!” he shouted, over the noise of the street. “You’ll want to get on it a little early, it can fill up.”
And then, before I could mutter another word, “Alright Josh” he said, turning to me “I gotta run, but I’ll see you next week!”
We shook hands, and I thanked him again. I guess parallel infrastructures was going to have to wait.
As for now, I was finally on my way to Mastatal.
What had began with a thief, had concluded with a chief, and my adventure had just begun.
“…But when you talk about destruction, don’t you know that you can count me out…” —
The Beatles; Revolution