What attracts me to Costa Rica so much is that it is so different than where I grew up in Canada. I was born in a city that is at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. We experience winters that can be -40 degrees Celsius. On the other end of the scale, the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica is extremely tropical. Puerto Viejo is just a small town within this jungle surrounding everything that is teeming with so much life!
But today I’m not making comparisons, just recognizing the differences that makes each place unique. It was love at first sight when I first stepped foot in Puerto Viejo back then. Each time I visited, there would be something else that would solidify the decision to make this place my second home. Sometimes I don’t even understand it. What is this magic of this place that has grabbed a hold of me and won’t let go? It’s not even just me. I have met many people, both from other parts of Costa Rica and from other countries around the world, that feel the same.
Travelling away from cities and into remote places allowed me to reconnect with nature. Ten years have passed since I first travelled to Costa Rica and I have overcome my fears of insects (spiders anyone?). By circumstance I have since walked through the jungle at night, in complete darkness. The idea of walking in the jungle at night, with no light, makes my stomach tighten with anxiety.
When I first toured Costa Rica, our group stayed on this rainforest reserve called Rara Avis. Literally a straight-shot hike up into the jungle. It was muddy and it was tiresome. Our tractor that was supposed to be carrying the group broke down twice, so we just ended up hiking. It started to get dark before the tractor was repaired. We rode in the dark uneventfully, but my vivid and very active imagination could see yellow eyes watching us from the tree line.
I have battled cockroaches, spiders, ants and even bats. Its hilarious to remember now, but honestly at the time I could have cried. There are ants that are dubbed the ‘cleaner ants’. They are gigantic and they bite. When they pass through an area it is best to just take off and come back later, and yes, I found this out the hard way.
Never mind about the bugs, there are parts of nature in Costa Rica that make me do a double take, even when I’ve seen it before. Views of the ocean and hearing the sounds of the jungle, changing throughout the day. Being surrounded by so many different hues of green that it would be impossible to count.
A friend of mine invited me, along with a few others, for an early morning hike up the jungle to watch the sunrise. I woke up at 3:45am and prepared some fresh pineapple for our light breakfast potluck. We had about an hour before the day would start to break. We had to hike straight up into the jungle. Where lies a little white house. I had seen it many times while swimming in the ocean, this small speck of white offset by the green jungle hues. I love the ocean, so seeing spread out like this had me lost for words. We all ate our breakfast in a restful silence, I guess each of us reflecting on our view.
Everyone who has ever travelled, I’m sure, will have a story about nature. There are so many different combinations of the landscapes and creatures all around the world just waiting to be marveled at.