One evening, I stood with my step mother hand in hand before the tent of the Spider Woman. I was 9. My mom was beginning her recovery. My dad was on the run in Nicaragua.
I was abandoned.
Nevertheless, I was glad to be at this carnival with rides and cotton candy. I had never seen anything like it. Costa Rica could often be such a magical place when I was growing up. This night the air was cool and the night was well lit with multi colored bulbs and the bustle of people moving to and fro in light amusement.
Costa Rica had magic in the daytime as well for me. It was common to see all kinds of humming birds, vibrant jeweled emissaries, sipping delectable nectar from the orchids in my yard. They still amaze me. I remember seeing sloths on trees as I would walk about San Jose, the city. I would encounter butterflies, flowers everywhere, and that celestial blue sky of my home that is like my deepest layer of consciousness. I would gaze at this sky on afternoons after school easily for hours.
So that weekend evening at the Carnival added to a newly emerging sense of trust and safety in the world I was slowly re- savoring. I was intrigued and curious about the sign inviting us to see "La Mujer Arana" (the Spider Woman)exotic wonder of the world. One was required to travel down a lengthy narrow grass path to pass through and enter the tent.
I wanted to do it. My step mom, Leyla, was hesitant but allowed me to see for myself. She did not want to go in even though I asked her to. We let our hands unclasp and alone I went.
I walked slowly in awe not knowing what awaited me just up ahead.
I stepped through the folds of the tarp.
There were only 2 older boys there not going beyond the railing.
And there she was, suspended, just up above us, a few feet back from the rail and near the back of the tent. lights beaming on her. From each side of the orange backdrop came the ebony web that she had woven and that now she was in the center of. Her small spider body was ominous with its black and furry appendages.Her face was that of an Angel though. Her hair was long and thick. The skin of her face was radiant. No human body could fit the proportions of the spider's trunk and eight legs.
What was this? I thought.
I believe that was the first time that I felt that kind of stirring for a girl because her face was so beautiful and her voice sweet and warm. I wanted to be near her and touch her. I wanted us to play together.
The young men were flirting with her about how pretty she was and she smiled at them. They wanted to go dancing with her after wards.
She noticed me and smiled. I smiled back shyly. I gave a look at the thick strands of her web, the dry straw floor, and listened as the older boys insist that they all go and hang out but mainly I could not take my eyes of her and this feeling I had for being with her. How could the spider woman be? How was this possible?
Her eyes were gentle and weary. The young men were neat and well dressed kept insisting that they knew a place where they all could go dancing. They ignored me.
As the boys continued their flirtations and appeal, laughing, I listened to her voice as it got louder and in sad tone say to them as she hung there just above us not far from the rail:
"I can not go out dancing with you because I do not have any arms or legs, OK?".
The boys were stunned into silence as we all slowly "got" how this "spider woman" came to dangle for us.
I walked out the tent that evening without the God they were beginning to teach me about in my ritzy Catholic School. Somehow, I was lost a bit more concealing what I truly felt. My and aunt and I were both silent on the taxi ride back to the house. The carnival lights were pretty.
I spent aeons trying to give the Spider woman her dance back.