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  • This woman was a speck in the water. I had to fully zoom in to get this shot. There was something beautiful about her. I wanted her to look up and see me. She didn't.
    I stood above her on a deck of a docked ferry boat, waiting to cross the Gulf of Nicoya from the mainland to tiny port of Paquera. She began rowing with one oar when we first boarded. An hour later, she hadn't made it far, but it didn't seem to bother her.
    Later, looking at the photo closely, I saw her fruity pants, the bandana she'd wrapped around her knee, obviously it was hurting her. The baseball cap that she probably picked up after a tourist or expat had lost it or thrown it away. Her groceries. All I could see was some form of cabbage in the bucket.
    She wore bracelets on her left arm, oblivious to how alien they were to her whole outfit in the eyes of a Westerner. Her feet looked tired, worn, callused. An umbrella lay at her side. Of course, it was rainy season in Costa Rica. Then I noticed that she was using one oar because the other one lay broken at her side. Funny how you don't see things until you look at them closely.
    As our boat left the port, I lost sight of her behind us. But I imagine that she calmly, slowly paddled on. Home.
    By the time I left this magical country, I had learnt that this is how most Costa Ricans are, men and women; completely unhindered by life's hardships.
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