There is a well-trodden path hidden in plain sight along the road. The entrance to the path has beckoned me since the first time I saw it. Today I entered the unknown to discover the treasure in the distance. The path winds along the hillside, shaded on one side by the steep ground rising up toward the Casa de Esperanza, and shaded on the other side by tall trees bearing not only their own leaves, but also holding long vines, twisting and turning as they descend to the ground. The air is much cooler in this shaded haven, the jungle more intimate. Like a child running to a surprise, I hasten down the path excited to see what lies beyond and nervous that my adventure might be discovered. The path beckons, the trees protect, the mystery intrigues, and the thrill pulses in my being. After a few minutes of falling into the proverbial wonderland, the trees open and I can see a wooden structure highlighted by the sun. I feel intrusive as I now inch forward. I peek around the trees to see as much as I can. A fattened rooster runs past, the side of the wooden structure facing me is without windows and roofed by dried palm branches. My heart jumps from Wonderland into the heart of Africa. We passed such properties daily on our treks through West Africa.
I am not sure what this building is, but I do know this is someone’s property and I shouldn’t linger today. Perhaps someday I will meet these people and we will become friends. As I turn back, I notice the trees aren’t simply shading my path, they’re also someone’s crop. Beneath the taller shade trees there are shorter trees covering the hillside, and these trees are full of coffee bean seeds. Under these trees are pineapples growing in their magical ways. Pineapples sit knee-high on top of a little plant. As I follow the path back to the familiar, I long to grasp this feeling inside, to capture the moment in a bottle and open it every time I grow accustomed to this life.