I have completely embraced and enjoyed staying right here in my own little section of the world, this place I call home. I have not needed or wanted to go anywhere outside of my bed and breakfast. If I can’t walk there by the beach, I’m not going. However, I have had a few choice opportunities to explore the land and have some fun. Because part of my responsibilities here involve guest services and speaking about the local tours, I get to accompany the guides when I am available.
My first outing since I got here was to Manuel Antonio, the local national park. This day there was a family from a nearby hotel heading to the park and I was invited to join. Right away these lovely people took me in and allowed me to be one of them. My guide was a native, they call themselves Ticos. He had much knowledge of this land, it’s history, people, and the flora and fauna. The park is not a zoo, but an open forest with wide trails. Our guide carried a telescope so that we could see the smallest of life, and the furthest away. He had an amazing eye and spotted a tree frog that is nocturnal. It is a beautiful green, with red fingers that you would recognize from photos. However, we only see a piece of its back because he is camouflaged by the big green leaf he is on. How in the heck did he see that??
The next thing we spot is a teeny tiny grasshopper. It had the most beautiful rainbow coloring. Again, it was in a tree far away, yet he knew right where to look. Fortunately, moments later we happened upon another one close by so that we could get a good look at its size, no bigger than my thumbnail. So pretty and so unique. Though these were all fine and good, I couldn’t help but wonder, when are we going to get to the good stuff? Seriously. I like the mammals.
Finally, we came across a sloth. He was hard to see with the naked eye, but fortunately we had our telescope. He was so cute! He looked as though he were posing for the camera. We all gathered around gawking, taking pictures as you do. I accepted that he may be the only one we would see, until an amazing thing happened. We came around a corner and saw a large male sloth making his way down and through the trees. The movements were slow and methodical, testing the stability of branches. He was so incredibly graceful. There were many people standing there watching, but he just kept making his way, undiscouraged by the crowd. It became clear that he was about to come all the way down and cross the street. The group was encouraged by the guides to step back and make space. We cleared a path and watched him go, one slow, fluid movement at a time, until he had completed his journey to the other side. I learned about their habitat and their predators, their nature, and their eating and pooping habits. But to witness one on the go like that, wow. What a gift.
The hike through the forest finally led us to a most beautiful beach cove. Calm, blue-green water like you only see in photos was surrounded by rainforest and blue sky. The water was an absolutely perfect temperature, warmed by the sun, yet not too hot. Upon entering the park, we were told we were not allowed to bring any food in. The reason for that quickly became evident. Two raccoons came out of the forest and sneaked their way towards a ladies bag. Onlookers tried to warn her, but it was too late. One of the little bandits reached in and snatched her bunch of bananas and took off down the beach. I mean, come on. Its kinda hard to be mad at that hilarity and cuteness.
The only wildlife left to seek were the white-faced monkeys. So after our beach break, we returned to our hike and quickly came upon them. They were just hanging out in trees like they do. No big deal. Except to me, very big deal. What a joy. I wanted to observe the natives in their element, and these guys were a part of that. It’s not a zoo. It’s nature. I noticed a few of the Capuchin a little lower down the trail so I took off to see how close I could get. And man, what a treat. They were right there walking along the fence. I walked with them along the trail desperately wanting to take a selfie with one. They were as curious about me as I was about them. One in particular stopped to check me out. Thanks guy for the photo op. I tried to be quick because I wasn’t sure of their reaction to me, and I was at this point alone with them. As we continued to walk the trail I snapped a few more selfies trying to get the best one, you know how that goes. I noticed him looking at me, though darting his eyes as to not be seen. I found it all to be quite fascinating. We even stopped to have a look at one another. Later I would learn that it is dangerous to look them in the eye. Well holy shit, that would have been good information going in. Fortunately, instinctively I knew to keep it brief and keep moving.
My next outing would be to the Nauyaca Waterfall. Yay! It’s finally happening! I’m going to get to see what is to me a natural wonder of the world. The drive would be an hour and a half further south. This adventure to the falls would be a trip through native land, their countryside. I would get to see how and where they live. I feel so grateful to be immersing myself in this culture. They don’t really know what this means to me. I watch them from afar with much affection in my heart. The mountains are green, undisturbed. There is not a lot of wealth here in the financial sense. Yet, Pura Vida is there mantra. The good, excellent life. I am enamored with their spirit. Again, I would be accompanying a family. This time though, it would be a family staying with us here at the hotel and I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to get to know them.
The first fall we visit is the smallest, yet still grand in my eyes. We are in the forest with a canopy of trees. The air and the water is crisp and cool. I may have played on a rope swing like this once in my life, though I can’t exactly remember. Today I would definitely go for it. Of course as I looked down, there were rocks. Awesome. One wrong move and I’m toast. I am told to be very careful not to jump up because the rope knots won’t hold my weight and my hands will slip off and I’ll fall into those rocks. Ok. Nothing to be afraid of here. Terrific. But I’m gonna do it. I lean back and wait. Collect myself. I receive much encouragement from this family that has taken me in. I launch and I am happy. I am facing fears, which is my life’s work. The water feels so good, like nothing I’ve experienced. We played here for a bit, and then we were off to the next.
The second stop would be a waterfall that has created a natural slide. My first thought upon seeing was, that can’t be it; that is really big. But no, that’s it. Shit. Ok. Facing fear. I didn’t climb up right away. I wanted to watch first. That rock is beautiful, but does it hurt? It didn’t by the way. It was actually really smooth and a lot of fun. The drop at the end however caught in my throat, but I did it. I played in the water for a bit and watched the local kids climb the falls and jump off. Again, I am so enamored. I don’t know why, they are not different than any boys I know. They are adventurous and crazy and live life to the fullest. But I adore them. Maybe because they remind me of my sister when she was little, climbing whatever she could get a foothold on. I admire the sense of freedom and play. For me, I am witnessing something I’ve only seen on tv or magazines. They are one with this land, and they respect it, they get it. I am fully involved and invested in taking them all in. They climb the falls like nothing, jump from highest heights. Their skin is a beautiful brown, protecting them from this hot ass sun. We are playing in their home playground. I’m in awe. I could spend the day here exploring, but its time to move on.
Before we venture to the next fall, we stop for lunch in a restaurant in what seems to be the middle of nowhere. These places are called sodas here, but I’m not sure why. This one sits on the front of the owner’s property. A family is working hard together to prepare a typical Tico meal for us. It is called a casado, which means marriage. It is a little bit of all their local offerings, rice and beans, a papaya something that is always amazing, maybe a small salad, and a meat. Though I experience this type of meal at home from our cook, this was slightly different, though delicious as usual and too much food. However, it turned out to be just the sustenance we would need for the hike to and from the next fall, the one I’d been waiting on.
The 30 minute drive to the Nauyaca Waterfall allowed time for our food to settle. It also allowed me to see more of this land. It is mountainous, lush and green. You know that ivy or kudzu that tends to take over, growing wild? That’s how it looks. The rain has enlivened and brightened the vast kelly green. As we climb higher, the air starts to shift. It is getting colder, and the clouds are prevalent. This is the first time I’ve felt cold in five weeks. I welcome it. Finally, we arrive. We are at the top of a hill and must climb down, and down, and down, about a thirty minute steep trek. Oh shit, yep, we are going to have to come back up this baby! It is beautiful though. Trees all around, I forget their name. Unique and different. Their roots are incredible, and they make brilliant stairs. Eventually I began to hear rushing water. We were close. I was excited. I had waited my whole life to see something like this. Up and over one more set of rocks, and there it was. A large clearing of boulders and mountain housed a massive cascade of falling water. There were three levels. All I could do was stare, in awe, again. “I cant believe I’m here.” What magnificence. We make our way closer and into the pool. The water is so clean and crisp. I know I’ve said that, but its true. Swimming close to the fall proved a fun challenge as the rush of water into the pool pushed back on me. Once reaching the rock, the smooth, slippery surface also made it difficult to grab hold. But who cares was my feeling. This is awesome. I hoisted myself up and sat there allowing the water to pelt my body like the hardest rain I have ever felt. Once under the fall itself the rock had good grip. I wonder what the pounds of pressure were. I sat for a while, walked about, played in the pool. Our guides had brought a rope to attach and climb up the fall. I wanted to do that so bad, but the only way down was off a 40 foot fall. Oh man, I wanted to be a part of that brave group, but I didn’t know if I could make the jump. I didn’t necessarily feel fear, more like, acceptance that I was ok saying no. I have no regrets now, but I do wonder. If I get the chance again, maybe I will say yes. Maybe not. Either way, I am satisfied.
Returning home we rest in quiet peace, full and content from our day. I am happy to sink back into my tranquil existence living on the beach. I am not in a hurry to get anywhere these days and that feels really good. I sleep, I play, I work. I still study because that is part of my nature. I have embraced the lifestyle and continue to look forward to what it will teach me. In the meantime, I live a good life and I await my next adventure.