Fight the New Drug

Fight the New Drug Video: My porn recovery story

***To see my featured talk "How Love Defeats Porn" given at the Catholic Information Center in Washington, D.C. click here. ***

Sunday, January 30, 2011


Camille and Pascual at Kon-Tiki!
During our trips in January, my housemates and I stayed in a variety of hostels.  They were all different and the same at the same time.  One of our rooms, in Playa Negra in Guanacaste, was legit in a tree house.  Our room was in top of three flights of wooden stairs outside.  The hostel was ran by a young French couple, Camille and Pascual, who cooked delicious food for us every day.  Of course I was in the kitchen sometimes finding out their secrets and how they prepared this and that.  The hostel we stayed at in Playa Tamarindo had beach access at the back of it.  Not bad for $14 a night.  

Just a portion of our 26-bed room
The one that takes the cake for me in terms of unique experiences was the one we stayed at in Manuel Antonio. In the room we stayed in had 26 beds in it.  Yeah, that's right, count it twenty-six.  13 bunk beds of strangers from all over the world.  Let's just say we got to know each other real fast.  I ended up meeting a lot of people, people I ended up having a drink with later or even dancing with, but there were a few who were notable and became as close as one night would allow.  There were the siblings Craig and Casey from Idaho, Justin the Samaritan from California, Megan and Jessica the University of Illinois who helped me find that tree house hostel in Playa Negra, and of course, can't forget the really cute girls, Caro and Carolyn from Germany.  One of them had been living in San Jose like us, and asked me if I wanted to go to Nicaragua with her the next weekend because she was going to go alone.  In my head I was thinking, "You are so pretty, yes, I would go in a second," but I ended up saying, "Shoot, I wish, but we already have plans."  And we did, that was the weekend Bro. Jim was coming over.  

I loved every bit of that hostel experience, mainly because I love getting to meet new people.  We stayed there for two nights, and it's funny how you feel a little sad to see someone leave the next day or having to leave your new friends behind when you go.  To me the experience was the epitome of what we do in life:

People come into our lives, we get to know them, we get attached to them for the short (or long) period of time you have with them, and then they go.  Now maybe I'm being a bit dramatic, and I'm not ruling out that I'll never see them again (though highly improbable) nor do I rule out that I'll never contact them again (thank you Facebook, e-mail, and the telephone) but if I think about it, how many people do I plan to consistently stay in touch with for the rest of my life?  It's a short list.

The whole experience made me think about something, well, maybe someone, now that I've been here for in Costa Rica for four months.  Last semester, almost every Thursday I've started to visit this old folk's home called Hogar San Francisco with my students.  There I've started to become good friends with this blind woman named Flori.  For about an hour every Thursday (or less than that if I bring my guitar to play for everyone else) I ask about her life as she asks about mine.  It came to the point that she would look forward to see me, and if I missed a Thursday, my students would tell me that she would would ask for me, even cry.  The last time I saw her before I left the for the states for Christmas, she told me, "Te quiero Mateo, no va" (I love you, Mateo, don't go.)  

Every time I go it kind of breaks my heart.  God, this is sick.  Why am I doing this to her?  Have her become close to me (and I her) to only know that I'm going to leave in four months. (June 29th to be exact, looking at the calendar the other day...).  Why do I do this?

I proposed this question to my housemates the other night for prayer.  I asked them why do we make relationships in our lives, especially ones that we can't promise to keep, ones like those we're making here in Costa Rica, to only know that we'll have to leave this place one day.  They felt in solidarity with me, and the best that we came up with was that at the end of the day we're suppose to be here, and we should keep making and building our friendships and not be afraid of the end.

The other day, I ran into my favorite gate-keeper at the school Jose, who's the jolliest man I've ever met in my entire life.  As I pass him every school day, sometimes I linger after school and have had many conversations with him.  By now, he's let me in on his life, letting me know how he has two kids, how his wife died, how he never went to school past second grade, but he prays every day and thanks God for giving him what he has.  A couple days ago, in mid conversation, he told me that he's worked there at the school for six years.  He told me that sees many people come and go through his gate, but he knows very little of them.  He said that I've been here less than a year, and he's happy that he knows me, and that he has a a good friend in me.

Maybe I can learn something from that jolly big guy.  People come and go in his life, but he's just happy for the ones who stop and be with him for just a little longer.  Whether I just met someone for a night in a hostel, or hung out for four years of college, or a week at a retreat, or less than in a year in a country I probably can't come back to very often, I hope I have the same outlook as my friend Jose, too.


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