Pura Vida

Pura Vida

Memories from the entire month guided me back home.  We woke up about an hour before dawn.  We had prepared for our journey home the night before so all that we had to do was pull on our heavy, smelly long socks and damp hiking boots.  We both threw on our backpacks: mine was filled with notebooks and books and Misty’s was filled with her camera and books.  We slid our headlamps on, but it was too early to realize the comical look of ourselves as we beamed with light from the tops of our heads.  I switched on a flashlight, and we started our trek down the hill.  Each step was slow and calculated.  Even at 4:30 in the morning, our eyes were large and wide for fear of running into a poisonous snake—an animal we had come across more than once. In fact, the last snake spotting had left the image of a snake with its head driven into the ground with a wooden stake. 

The tropical rains had muddied the dirt, and I could feel my shoes slide inches with every step I took.  Misty was right beside me, and every now and then one of us would slip too far and we would reach out for each other to steady ourselves before continuing on.

When we reached the bottom, the ocean applauded our long descent by clapping its white water onto the sandy shores.  We threw our molding duffel bags onto a dryer area of mud, and made our way to a washed up log.  We sat together and watched the sun wash the darkness away from the beach.  It would be our last time sitting on the log.  I thought about the first few times I went swimming.  We had found water pools between the rocks during low tide.  Little hermit crabs crawled around us when we laid out on the sand making it seem like the seashells were dancing just for us.  Out in the waves, an Irish man had told me to watch my step.  Another time, I swam with a couple of girls and with each wave that lifted us and lowered us, we talked about when we had all lost our virginity.  Another swim in the water changed me when a beautiful woman revealed how she saw the events of my life through her blue eyes (“Maybe this is the test.  Maybe it’s not a pass/fail.  Maybe it’s just an ‘Are you ready yet?’ test”).

Our bus followed the rise of the sun shortly.  The bus driver was a young man with olive skin.  A machete rested by his calf, and a container of coins rested on his lap.  We paid our fare and threw our bags onto some empty seats and we sat in another empty pair.  We past the Super (Super Mercado) that was the size of a tiny office.  Misty and I had bought countless bags of plantains and Trits—a discovery from heaven made of ice-cream, chocolate, and graham crackers.  Alvaro owned the shop, and every day Misty and I exercised all of the Spanish we knew with him (“Hola. Como Estas?” and “Gracias. Hasta Luego.”)  We loved his small eyes behind large thick glasses and his graying mustache.  Yes, we never said much and our exchanges were small and repetitive, but he waved every time we passed his shop.  

We drove past the futbol field.  Every Saturday the lawn was mowed, and every Sunday games were played.  A couple tribes in the mountains didn’t have enough players, one thing led to another, and suddenly Misty and I had jerseys and cleats on and were running around kicking up what we could.  We had had no idea how to play, but with referees and the entire village watching, we did our best to pretend to look like we did.   The highlight of the futbol games was when a bug the size of a golf ball flew up my shorts and into my shirt which resulted in me stripping on the field and running like mad until I had shaken the Bug of Death off.  No one had believed there was a bug until hours later when my right butt cheek was swollen up to the size of Pluto.   I could not sit or lay on my back for the next three days.  I ended up spending a lot of time in child's pose the next few yoga classes as well.

The window of the bus was passing by the Costa Rican scenery like film strips of my memory from all of June.  Next, we past through Pavones where I had received scrapes, bruises, and a broken toe from the rocks that speckled the underwater world.  Misty had surfed much better than I had and taken on many more waves.  She was always the mermaid of the family, one with the ocean, bubbles of the water… Once while riding a wave, she turned back to me and waved just before jumping off her board.  We had picked mangos off from the trees and had the best vegetarian tacos I had ever eaten in my life in Pavones.  I thought back to the bike ride we had taken to Pavones when a large metal piece flew off from the front of Misty’s bike.  We rode back with the rusty piece of shit bikes laughing the entire way back to the farm.  Thinking back now, the tires could have flown off at any second and we could have eaten the unpaved road, but in Costa Rica, you just don’t worry about things that might happen.  You simply enjoy what is happening.

The bus driver had stopped twice on the way to Golfito: once to stop and catch up with a friend who was walking on the street and once to the hack the crap out of falling branches with his machete.  There's nothing like clearing one’s own path with a machete that makes a man a true warrior in Costa Rica.  It’s pretty impressive to watch too.  The thing about machetes is that you can’t just “pussy-slap” with it.  Yep, that’s what my first swing with a machete was called.  You have to trust the weight of the blade.  You have to swing with full force and trust that your body will guide the momentum of the tropical sword.  I don’t mean to brag, but I’ve cut my share of banana leaves and coconuts with the machete.  There are few things more liberating, and I only wished I had discovered the thrill earlier.  Even Misty learned how to pop open a coconut.  Needless to say, we are pretty pleased with how badass we are now.

We broke up the trip by staying the night in Golfito.  Misty and I were in such wonderment when we felt the A/C that we moved about in slow motion.  All of the nights we had spent sweating our body weight into damp sheets under mosquito nets were blown away by a simple fan that worked by the great miracle of…ELECTRICITY.  We stood in awe in the center of fully lit rooms.  We marveled at warm water coming from the sink and showers on full demand.  I thought about the showers I had taken outside from under a pipe, surrounded by tall ginger plants.  There’s something about being naked in the jungle that makes you feel like you belong…I’ll miss showering to the scent of ginger in the rain forest…

Suddenly we had a real flushing toilet and an episode of Friends was on television (in English!) and we could hardly understand what was going on.  It was strange not being in an open room where there was no separation between the outdoors and indoors.  I missed the bats sweeping away at the ceiling eating away at insects (I remember when my roommate got hit in the head by a bat while in the room, ha!).  I missed being able to see monkeys from my bed—not through a window, not through a screen, not through anything.  The monkey and I were both simply in the jungle, separated by only the air that existed between us.  I missed my roommates already too...A sadness started to creep up on me, but thankfully, all of the non-jungle things were distracting enough to keep me from thinking about the farm.  So for the rest of the night we continued moving in slow motion and laughing like insane jungle people from a different century until we fell asleep in regular beds with dry clean sheets just after the tropic rains came to say goodnight.

The next morning we woke up early to get some breakfast in before a long day of flights.  Rice. Beans. Eggs. Fruit. Coffee. Perfection.   And iced water? Water so cold that condensation was possible?  I sipped the agua.  God bless every damn ice cube on Earth.

On our way to the airport, we ran into the taxi driver who had picked us up a month ago.  He waved and called out to us using the name Misty and I had happily accepted: Las Hermanas!  The airport in Golfito has one door and that door is to a unisex bathroom.  There was no security, and the entire baggage claim department was literally one man who took our bags, asked us if we were both sisters, and then went on to say that we were muy bonitas. 

Our flight into Mexico City was the first flight that provided a meal.  A ham and cheese sandwich packaged in plastic was a cold reminder that home cooked food made with ingredients we picked from the garden was no more.  No more starfruiting (the verb Misty and I made up as we became known for our starfruit picking frequencies), no more coconut shredding, and no more running to the kitchen garden for a little more mint or basil when whatever we were cooking (Coconut curry? Veggie burgers? Tacos? Ratatouille?) called for a little more zest.  The bread on my airport seat tray was cold and hard.  An Irish girl had taught me how to bake bread, something I had only too easily thought I would never be able to do.  Thank goodness Una had an Irish attitude to accompany her French cooking skills to help me believe in myself.  I admit, I was quite proud while I thought in my head at dinner once: Yep, those buns you’re biting into? I made those.

The white walls of the airport reminded me of the walls I had painted with the help of a man who had lived in South Africa for four years.  He taught me how to get the corners and how to spread the primer with a firm hand.  I had learned new card games from him as well.  The white walls also made me recall the temples in Utah.  I had felt foolish confiding to one of the girls (who has been traveling for 4 years straight now) that I had fallen for a Mormon boy.  “Don’t feel silly. Jade. Honey,” she said, “I fell for a Buddhist.  You’d think it would work out with Buddhism being so zen, but it went to shite too.  Religion is tough, but love’s not easy.  There’s no wrong way to go ‘bout it. Just keep learning.”  

By the time we made it through customs in Mexico City, I was ready for a cup of tea.   I gave in to Starbucks, and Misty and I ordered peppermint and chamomile tea to calm our bloating stomachs that wondered why we kept going into airplanes and flying about.  It reminded me of the cups of tea I had shared with a British girl that surfed more than she drank tea (which was a lot!).  We talked about the simplicities of life, about the future, about school.  At the end of the night, we had agreed that a cup of tea could help us get through most hurdles in life, big and small.  Yes, indeed. “A proper cup of tea can get you through quite a lot, I think.”

Coffee shop music filled my ears at the airport. Generic. Friendly. Impersonal. It was so different than the music I had heard back at The Yoga Farm.  I thought back to a concert we had had up on the yoga deck one night.  A couple of Aussies had stopped by the farm and though they had only stayed for a couple of weeks, they made a big impression on all of us.  The last big question the drummer had asked me was, “What about your friendships?”  And that led into an hour long conversation just on my confession: when it came to friendship I was beginner.  A beginner, but willing to learn, he pointed out.

Cops and their dogs greeted the passengers from Mexico City into Las Vegas.  The dogs sniffed around and reminded me of the dogs in Costa Rica.  Meggie belonged to the farm, but Tigre was a stray that wouldn’t take no for an answer.  He was small and striped (hence his name), and yet Misty and I were quite sure that he thought he was the size of a Great Dane.  Even a stray cat had made its way to my heart.  Depending on who you ask, this cat was called Catillac, Sergeant Bilko, or just Bilko or Sergeant for short.  I am not a cat person.  When this cat first walked in from the jungle and slithered over to my feet, I was very defensive.  I looked down to eye the enemy.  Sergeant’s face was all scratched up; he had some major battle scars.  I let him stay in the room, and by the end of the month, I let his tail lick my hand when I stroked his back.  (Gemmy, it meant nothing.)

I came home last night—rather this morning- thinking maybe I’ll take it easy on the writing (How am I supposed to write about an entire month?!).  However, I met a girl from Tennessee and the last thing she wrote to me was that she couldn’t wait for me to write my book.  She wanted to write letters, and she wanted to check out my blog too.  And so, perhaps thanks to the spunk of some Southern love, I woke up to write this.

The next week or so, I’m going to be telling you all about Pura Vida.

Prepare yourself for some more in depth talk on CR and some more awesome photos by Misty.  (Aren't her photos amazing?)

Also, I wanted to say that the yearly fees I pay to keep this blog up (and the domain name in my possession) has been covered thanks to your kind support.  You can imagine my happiness and surprise when I received enough in donations to actually pay for the existence for this blog which is kind of cool.  (See dad? I’m not losing money on this “hobby” of mine.)  But seriously, thank you so much for the support.  It feels great to just break even doing something I care so much about.  

The Yoga Farm & Body Positive Love

The Yoga Farm & Body Positive Love

Kanara Falls - Zion National Park - Utah

Kanara Falls - Zion National Park - Utah