Our adventure to Costa Rica was quite eventful, colorful and eye opening. We spent our days throughout Costa Rica in the barrio El Carpio, a Rehabilitation hospital, a Psychiatric Institution and a Children’s clinic with the idea that bringing color, sound, music and joy to those whose lives are challenging. The idea is not to cure or to take away the suffering but to lighten and brighten the atmosphere of each place with a living joy.
On the way to Costa Rica, the muppet crew, the SDFDC (Sonoran Desert Faerie Dust Clan) and myself found ourselves in Dallas Ft. Worth waiting for the next plane. We took a cruise on the Skyline tram to our next gate for our journey.
When we arrived in Costa Rica we found a few clowns waiting for us at the airport to take us to our sleeping arrangements. Walking through security in a clown nose and reindeer horns jingling was actually not as indimitating as we thought it perhaps might be. Instead of being looked “at” strangely, we were instead greeted with the phrase … “Son los Payasos!” … the translation … “It’s the clowns!” We were all quite welcome in Costa Rica.
Each day of our journey, Patch Adams prepared us for our adventures in clowning. What to expect, how to be present and to be in the moment. The Faeries of the Sonoran Desert were quite excited by meeting all the new clownie friends from Brazil and Ireland and Switzerland and United States and Germany among other fabulous international relations!
Each morning we gathered at the Backpackers Hostel and sported our clownie clothes before departing on the awesome Clown Bus which managed to hold all 36 of us! Tutu’s , umbrellas, juggling balls, pink hats, red noses and all …. the first place we traveled to was El Carpio, one of the poorest barrio’s in Costa Rica. The barrio is comprised of Nicaraguan families who have moved to Costa Rica in order to earn money to feed their families. We connected with many of the women and children. I don’t have photos from this part of the adventure. It was challenging to see the many families living in poverty; however, all the young children gathered around us as we clowned in the streets bringing bubbles, balloons, music and face paints. The children taught us local songs. We were all grateful for the connections we shared and learned of the programs being developed to help the women and children gain education and skills for earning income beyond having to pick coffee beans.
One of the children living in the barrio loved us so much she gave us a painting she had done to take back with us….
Gonzo and Fozzie made new friends on the trip …
It was challenging keeping track of the Muppet Gang since everyone wanted to hang out with them on the trip so I put our Faerie, Scout, in charge of letting me know where they were. Fortunately we all made it back safe and sound. Our next trip was to a rehabilitation hospital where many of the residents are there full-time either with brain trauma or some form of cerebral palsy. The ages of the residents were anywhere from 6 – 86. On the bus ride over you, the readers, can see how we prepared for our funning ….
The doctors, nurses and staff who work at the hospital are used to regular clowning visits and were ready for us when we arrived … I think a most appropriate gift for one of the physicians was a red nose of course!
We all returned from our adventure to lunch and dine in the city of San Jose. Well, we, the clowns (los Payasos!) , walked from our residence to the restaurant. It didn’t take us long to take over the streets of San Jose with some clownie fun!
While Mark was decorating the statue in front of the Judicial building, we stood wait to photograph this “clown scene” … La Policia did NOT think that our clownie fun was that wonderful or funny. We were able to snap a cute photo before we quickly removed evidence of our clownie prescence.
We all thought he looked rather cute in a vibrant red nose and smiling clown teeth. …. We noticed that city employee was traversing along the parked cars by the Judicial building offering parking tickets to the mis-parked vehicles. One of our clown friends, Alexandra, happened to have smiley face stickers hiding in her pocket. “Wouldn’t you want to see a smiley face after you just received a ticket?” she asked us.
We also were afforded the opportunity to take a photo with the city employee after she spoke with trying to figure out what we were doing to the cars … leaving a trail of smiley faces after frowny face tickets …
Night came and went and all the clowns managed to survive all the evening shannanigans … we then prepared for a trip to the city’s Psychiatric Facility. The facility is divided into units housing adult men, adult women and teenagers. The campus is large but there is a large staff as well. I went with the group clowning with the adult women. The women enjoyed the music and fun that we brought with us ….
The residents are in contact regularly with “clown therapy” … some of the doctors who work at the facility regularly dress up and work with the women, men and young adults to bring joy into their lives in this way. In the photo below, the young woman in the orange wig is one of the doctors at the facility.
Not only can the patients in the facility benefit from the humor and joy of the activities of clowning, but family members who come to visit need the joy too. The little girl in the next photo was visiting her aunt ….
The Clowns all danced and played
and puts lots of smiles on all the faces
where ever they did stay ….
They leapt and bound,
and Danced and singed
and juggled to and fro
They sometimes wept
for those they met
but kept on with the show.
Just before traveling to Costa Rica I had a dream and in it were the figures of three Hopi Kachinas known as Koshare. The Koshare are known as the “Sacred Clowns” of the tribe. The “Sacred Clowns” were not born into their tribal positions, but instead it was their souls “calling” for their sacred duty in the tribe to bring humor and laughter to people even in face of events that may have been difficult. So I felt fortunate to be blessed by their appearance in my dream before the trip.
Thank you for joining us on this adventure!
(Story and Photos by: Shannon Sullivan
Adventures by: SDFDC (Sonoran Desert Faerie Dust Clan and The Muppet Gang)
Thank you to: Our Readers)