Costa Rica is all about the environment, much of it jungle. Thick, dense forests. Tall trees, shorter ones hugging the trunks of their neighbors, smaller plants reaching high, all sinking roots into the rich soil below and stretching above craving sunlight, other plants starting life on the branches of trees and sending long roots down, eventually settling in the ground.
Hanging Bridges waterfall, La Fortuna
I thought the jungle would be noisy. And it is, early mornings and evenings. But during the day it is eerily silent. No birds chirping, no monkeys howling, no animals rustling through the underbrush. Only the sound of intruding homo sapiens. Visitors are cautioned to tread softly and avoid loud noises, and most heed the warning. Occasionally loud bursts disturb the stillness - a child imitating a Tarzan scream or friends greeting each other too loudly.
Costa Rica seems hilly everywhere and mountainous in places, although flat expanses line the coasts. Hub and I live in a flat area, great for walking and bike riding, but not for getting into shape for mountain climbing.
Our Nuevo Arenal Airbnb sits on the edge of town, only a few minutes walk to the town center. However a steep hill leads up the main road through town. Short distance, not so short in walking time.
One afternoon hub and I hiked to a lakefront restaurant recommended for spectacular sunsets and great food. Directions were clear, but distance varied depending on the giver. Half mile, mile at most.
Sunset over Lake Arenal
Two miles later, slogging along unpaved, pitted roads and steep inclines - mostly uphill - who would think you have to walk uphill to arrive lakeside - panting and sweating, dodging dogs eager to announce our arrival and escort us, we arrived in time to enjoy the sunset.
We took a taxi back to our lodging.
Another day we hiked in the Montverde Cloud Forest Reserve to the Continental Divide, viewing both the Caribbean and Pacific oceans in the same place. The trek was mostly uphill, steep grades testing our stamina and resolve. And our relationship. Hub blamed me for not knowing the place involved a difficult forced uphill march. The positive - most of the time we were in shade.
View of Montverde Cloud Forest, clouds obscuring the forest.
Our best decision on this trip was NOT renting a car. Our itinerary took us on too many unpaved, potholed, dusty, windy roads characterized by hairpin turns, steep rises and descents. No guardrails.
Our last week in Costa Rica we are staying with friends who plan on making the country their permanent home. After a few months the driving no longer intimidates, Jim says, "it is what it is". I sit in the back of the car and (usually) enjoy the ride. The rest of the time I wish for a stiff drink and a tranquilizer, and pray no trucks come towards us.
Sometimes it takes time to ease into la pura vida.
Living la pura vida on the beach, Domenical CR.
View of Pacific Ocean.