The ring-tailed pizote blinks up at me from the base of the stilt-rooted palm. Is this a monkey? A raccoon? An anteater? He buries his long nose in the ground, snuffling like a congested toddler and suddenly my eyes sting with lonely wonder.
Costa Rica is the most welcoming country I've been to, vibrant with primal color. The locals exude charm and I – in contrast – feel raw. My gritty world view is unbecoming in this place.
It was hot and muggy when I landed earlier that day, and I was tired. I'd already been away from my family for almost a week, and the baby in my belly kept this traveling trek constantly in motion. Rolling and rolling and rolling. It got to me as I lugged my heavy carry-on beside me, and I realized I didn't fill out the customs form. Crap. Where did I even put the customs form? You'd think they could automate this stuff by now. I had stooped down to sort through my bag and felt eyes resting on the top of my ponytail.
Her olive skin and tight black ringlets stood in stark constrast against the pure white glow of the sun from the windows. Smile spread wide.
The next day, plunging flippers sunk beneath my belly into a clear expanse that was eager to be disturbed. The man on the catamaran had eyes that sparkled like the waves as he asked about my home life, interested and engaged. A true introvert, I usually find these conversations exhausting, but they've become a highlight here. We collectively celebrate the beauty of this place. It brings us together, a pulsing focal point that reflects grace onto everything in its midst.
Even the feral cat, taking up residence on my hotel balcony, seems to belong. Appropriately wild, she serves as a memorandum against the cool tile floors and the veils of circulated air. We can't tame the world. The phosphorescents, too, glow in protest against my gloss-painted toenails disrupting their water after sunset. Tiny microorganisms dancing collectively and communicating with light.
The days are short at Playa Conchal, the darkness settling abruptly at 5pm. It's as if nature is telling us that she's given enough. Time to rejuvenate is in order, and we can't force her hand. This is when humans mingle, judged silently by the snakes and grasshoppers and other creatures of the night. Loud music reverberates, twinging the overgrown, waxy leaves. Strings of heavy bulbs cast a warm glow under the pale moon; a delicate but headily-romantic setting. This, like so many loves, is fleeting.
We are all guests here. The idea is deeply ingrained in their culture. “Pura vida,” the locals say.
A constant reminder that nature and nurture are incessantly intertwined.