The thought, ‘Pain is temporary, freedom is permanent’ came into my mind as I raced down cobble stone streets dodging men on bicycles carrying machetes, local food vendors pushing wooden carts, old women carrying baskets of fruit on their heads, with a local Nica guy in the back seat of my truck screaming directions at me in Spanish.

Rewind for a second. We stopped at the gas station shortly after I had been pulled over by the police for passing a slow vehicle on the highway, totally not illegal. But they saw us coming. Two blonds in a white truck with no tinted windows. Reminded me of my Thelma and Louise days. They took my driver’s license and wrote me a ticket. Seriously? Yes. That’s what they do here. Now my driver’s license can be picked up in a town only a few hours away. Convenient. Not so much.

But at this moment, it’s the least of our worries. My friend asked me to find her a bathroom so here we are at this gas station in the middle of nowhere. You know the ones. The ones you don’t want to be sick in or even squat over the toilet for that matter. She ran to the bathroom and when she came out, she fell to her knees crying in agony. Every single person that was there came to help. In North America, most people would just pass by because they are in a hurry to get where they are going or they don’t want to get involved. Looking back, I’ve been that person. I was now on the ground kneeling beside her, rubbing her back and asking what I could do for her. I looked up and to my surprise we were surrounded by a dozen local Nica people. Tears came to my eyes. They started speaking to me in Spanish and I understood. Now was the time to test my spanish. I communicated back. Their expressions of concern and sympathy are still burned into my memory. One of the guys asked if we wanted to go to the hospital and I said yes and my friend managed to answer yes. This is when I knew it was serious and we needed to go. Two guys picked my friend up off the ground and put her in my truck and we were on our way ...

My friend was in the front seat beside me hunched over in a fetal position sweating profusely, crying. She couldn’t talk. She was in some serious abdominal pain and I didn’t know if she was going to make it. I was scared. We were in the middle of nowhere. Nowhere familiar, in a third world country. I rubbed her back and told her it was going to be okay as I kept my eyes on the road air-con blasting full force. Thankfully this wonderful man left his job behind at the Gas Station to make sure we made it safely and quickly to the hospital. That is a big deal in this country, most likely he’s only making a wage of $5 for the entire day.

After we arrived I made sure my friend was in a hospital bed under the supervision of a doctor and I went to look for this hero, but he was nowhere to be found. He probably rushed back to his job. I wanted to thank him, hug him. Pay for his taxi or give him a ride back but I didn’t find him. At this moment I embraced his kindness, it’s the best gift a person can give. Kindness. It’s simple. It’s free. This man, a wonderful human being, a member of our universal family, so kind. People in this country can’t give much. They don’t earn much and most of the time they take what they can. Sometimes taking what they haven’t earned. He had choice that day. Choice to turn his back and walk away. He had the freedom of choice and he chose kindness. He chose to ‘get involved.’ We all have choice. We can choose to help someone in need or we can turn our back on them.  I too have passed by when someone needed help because others were there already. Next time I’m going to stop and give my own expression of concern and sympathy, even if it’s all I can do.

Now, sitting on the hospital bed beside my friend, I looked around. Mostly kids in beds beside us hooked up to IV’s surrounded by their families. Sobbing.The nurse desperately tried to put an IV in one of my friends veins but wasn’t successful. She tried again as my friend squirmed around still crying, sweating and clenching her abdomen.  The blood saturated the white sheet. Tears flooded my eyes and I asked myself, “Where am I?” It was like a scene out of a bad movie. Any moment a guy in a hockey mask with a chain saw could come around the corner. I did not recognize this place to be a hospital. The old mattresses, barely covered with tattered but clean sheets. There were no signs, only bare artless walls sprinkled with old dried blood and body fluids from other injured persons that had been there before us. It was hot. Humid. Stale air. There was no air-conditioning. There was no drinking water and the bathroom didn’t even have tissue or soap. I sat here thinking positive thoughts, trying to send my friend some positive energy and believing that pain is only temporary. A local Nica lady walked over to me and handed me a dirty drinking glass and told me to go get some water from the tap in the bathroom. We don’t drink the water here, the locals do. But that day I did.

Momentarily I remembered my father’s recent passing and for the first time in a long time, I felt alone and scared. Scared for my friend’s health and alone because I’m in a third world country without family. After the nurse and doctor successfully cared for my friend and the IV drip started working, she rested peacefully. I sat there, sending out positive thoughts, in a slight meditation. Behind my eyelids I could see two small figures and one large one. I opened my eyes to a few Nica girls and a mother with expressions of concern and sympathy for two strangers. They assured me in Spanish, that everything was going to be okay. And it was. It was going to be okay.

And then, a thought of happiness came over me and I felt grateful. It’s in these moments that we must see the beauty in all things. Nicaragua has embraced me like no other country has. I’m here because I choose freedom. Freedom to be out of my comfort zone. Learning lessons one can only experience so far from what we know. It may not make sense to you. Or if it does, you get it. We have the freedom to take risks. I feel alive here. I have to work for it. Back home, life is just to easy. These types of challenges build character. I hope. Freedom. What does freedom mean to you? I was seeking santosha and I found it. I’m content. I’ll find a way. I am the way. I let my own inner light guide me.

My friend recovered and we continued on our journey. Seeking Santosha.  We were on ‘our way.’

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