El Niño: Mi Nuevo Amigo

Meet Johan. He’s my new best friend.

I had a little bit of a tough weekend. I know, I’m in Costa Rica, how bad could it be. But, believe it or not, being here made it worse in a few different ways. I was unmotivated and ended up spending most of the weekend holed up in the condo.

There was a nice break on Saturday night. I went to a local bar by the beach for a few beers and met a couple of ex-pats including the bartender Tim who is one year into a two year stint with his girlfriend who is here for a teaching job. When I came back to the condo, I was invited to the rooftop deck for a barbeque. The deck is part of the penthouse and the owner is an Argentinean businessman named Jorge. As I said, he’s Argentinean so there was lots of wine and grilled meat. We all communicated as best we could in broken English and even more broken Spanish. It was a nice night.

Johan is shyly trying to get my attention.

I pulled myself out of my funk and finally left the condo to head to the beach for some photos of the area. Then I was planning on heading over to the marina for some photos there as part of my photo assignment I was brought here for.

When I arrived at the beach, the sun was shining down for the perfect lighting situation. I shot pictures of the beach, coastline and people at work and play. I even shot some HD video using a couple different lenses. It was getting hot so I decided to look for a place to sit in the shade and found an empty bench.

I was sitting there enjoying the breeze and watching the sparse activity at the mostly empty beach. A boy showed up with his father and started running around the beach doing various things that little boys find so entertaining. Like throwing rocks and picking up big branches twice as long as them and, of course, climbing trees.

He saw me with my camera and started clowning around on the tree to get my attention. Now sometimes parents get really sketchy about people taking pictures of their kids so I usually don’t do it without permission. But the cute little boy was standing in a small tree peeking at me from behind a big leaf to make sure I was watching him. I had to take the shot. That was all the encouragement he needed and he kept trying to do things to get my attention.

Ah, to be 5 years old and full of wonder.

Finally, he walked up and stood a little behind me and shyly told me his name was Johan and that I should take pictures of him. I told him that if his dad said it was ok, I would take his picture. His dad said as long as I didn’t mind, he was good with it. But Johan didn’t stay interested in getting his picture taken for very long. He was more interested in asking me questions about my camera and then trying out all the buttons first-hand.

Good thing I’m not shooting film. I let Johan look through the viewfinder and push the button and he couldn’t find enough things he wanted to take pictures of. Then he started going through my camera bag and wanted to see what each lens could do. I pulled out my iPhone to take a picture of him with my camera and it was all over. He wanted to look at every picture on my phone (over 500) and every video, twice.

I wonder if this is his 'Blue Steel'.

Johan is 5 years-old and bilingual. Which means sometimes he talks in English and sometimes he talks in Spanish. He proved the perfect person to practice my Spanish with because most questions from a 5 year-old are fairly easy to answer. It is also amazing to me that this boy, who started out so shy was all up in my personal space, not to mention my camera bag. I love that about kids.

I thought the shot in the tree was going to be the best shot of the day. But, at one point, Johan was distracted by looking at my flash, I was able to get my camera back and take this picture.

My favorite shot of the day.

Fortunately, the right lens was on the camera because I was able to get the shot before the moment passed (and they passed quickly). He was sitting right up against me so I had to use the wide-angle lens to get him in the picture.

All-in-all, it was a good day. I got out to the beach, met some cool new people and got some great photos of Johan, my new best friend. A least until the batteries run out on my camera and/or iPhone.

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