University for Peace, Costa Rica, January 2019
It’s official, I read Gaia 2020 at The University for Peace. See the Times of Tunbridge Wells, dated Wednesday 9th January 2019.
It was when we were finalizing arrangements for our trip to Costa Rica that I’d got in touch through the general info email address for UPeace, to ask if there were anybody there who’d known Robert Muller. I’d been inspired by his poem, Dream 2000, many years ago before the millennium.
Ana had replied and said she’d looked at my website and asked me if I’d like to talk to their ‘Brown Bag’ luncheon club. As it happened our travelling party had a day resting in San Jose, so I jumped at the chance.
A day after touchdown, on the way in the taxi for the morning’s journey to the University for Peace, a positive sign, over a flower shop: Floristeria Gaia. An hour round San Jose and we finally turn into a 6km lane in the countryside near Culiad Colon, across a narrow wooden bridge, ‘not for camiones’. He drops me where the road leaves its metallic tarmac and turns to rubble. outside a gate to a park that seems to be the place, but is actually a memorial to peace: stone sculptures which show the earth being cradled, mother and child. And it is peaceful here, by the lake.
The shadow of a leaf falling, flickers like a butterfly.
I ask a passing workman, who doesn’t speak English but points down the hill. I ask a security guard, who asks a cleaner, who asks another cleaner, who does speak English and knows where to find Ana Lucia Guerroro. We walk through a network of interconnecting, single-storey buildings with steep corrugated rooves to release the rain, which must be noisy in a tropical storm.
Delightful to meet Ana. She shows me around with her intern, Rosie, to the low energy building which won an LEED award and houses the Earth Charter and the lovely Mirian, Executive Director, who also knew Robert Muller, and how inspirational he was!
To the gardens with a statue to Mahatma Ghandi and others who have worked for peace, among forty flagpoles for the signatory countries who support the university. Notably absent are the nuclear powers of the US, UK, France. I have a quiet walk along the unmade road before the talk, passing Robert Muller’s former home.
They seem pleased to see me. Such an honour to be here. Very friendly and welcoming-good to spend time with them, share my story of mental health and ‘recovery’, and read the whole of Gaia 2020! But not Dad’s voice, we’d lost the link (I should’ve saved the file with the presentation) although I read his poem, The Burren.
Questions on writing and catharsis, on poetry, healing – a good bunch! Charles Skinner a Quaker from Minnesota. So pleased to have made it, to have shared with some 20 postgraduate students.
I learn of the weaver birds’ nest that fell to the ground in winds the previous night, eggs still warm. The remaining nests are dancing in the trees. We part in good company, and I feel all the richer and more confident for having been at the University for Peace, and shared my story.