In the jungles of Costa Rica, I awaken early to brew forte coffee in an Italian pot, definitely an expatriate addition to our bungalow. Then off to Cobano, the largest nearby town, with Patricia and Simon, riding in the back seat of their old jeep. No suspension on their car — we are riding in the dust, each bump rearranging our skeletal alignment. Never mind, for to the right, the turquoise sea in its guises of blueness snuggles against the lava rock, or at Las Manchas, Costa Rica’s answer to the Mediterranean, on white sand. All delectable. To our left, the jungle corrals pastures of white Brahma cows, serenely chewing their cuds in contemplations of infinities. Fragrances waft and bird calls decorate the atmosphere.
Cobano, and pavement at last, just in time to keep dire damage to a minimum to my body and probably the car. A little late for an appointment, Simon hurries from the car to copy some documents, secret transpirings for the attorney. Cobano is a small town, and of course, a neighbor is there delaying his mission some. Finally, he emerges, eyes twinkling with his adventure, handing our passports to us covertly. We stash them in our pockets, and it is time to part ways.
Michael and I go to Super Maya, a grocery crammed with delectables and staples. Hola to everyone…the owner, the cashier, the stockers, the customers. Gentility at this level is to be maintained at all times in this country. Purchases loaded in the packs and a final ‘Ciao’ before crossing the street to the new Italian deli in town with delectable, and yes, expensive salami. But with our Italian bread, pepperocini and tomato mix in olive oil, our requirement for picnics at the beach. Bee, a new friend waves from the Italian cafe, and I mount the steps to give her a big hello. I like Bee and her husband, fellow pioneers into this area. Surprise! Roumi is back from her two month odssey in India, still under its spiritual sway…They promise to call me when they pass my area on one of their marathon walks on the beach so that I can join them. Marathon is right — one time, they walked to Tambor! Purportedly in silliness and giggles most of the way.
Michael reminds me of the time. We have a good friend to meet, a bus to catch, and we depart with hugs and smiles. The small town crisscrosses our paths with those of acquaintances and friends often. This phenomenon is so lovely, and very much appreciated by me, a transplanted Los Angeleno. We cross the street once again to the butcher for fresh, white chicken. Hola! Hola! We save the fruit stand for last because the bounty there will become our heaviest load.
On the main counter, a bird pecks, making short work of one of the bananas. He has no cash and he is not waiting in line to pay. No one bothers him, or shoos him away. I take his picture and turn to survery the colors and textures, an arrangement of hued freshness. To keep the array vividly enticing, the vendors dust with cloths. The produce is fresh, delivered in the dawn of that day. The workers, all women, have been busy. Bags and bags have already been assembled, ready for restaurants and customers all over the area. The fruit stand owner is one of my favorites, possessing a delightful smile, both mischievous and warm. She has a new multi-colored manicure to be admired…easy to do in any language.
I cannot find the arugula. One of the women is on the task, finally emerging with a plastic bag, odiferous and fresh. Perfect for my avocado and arugula salads. We add papaya and ginger for our mandatory fruit drinks, a big head of red leaf lettuce, small new potatoes, cucumber and eggs. We are graciously allowed to leave all of our heavy packs…gracias, and ciaos…What a life! Sweetness is sprinkled lavishly everywhere here!
We are meeting Trudy at the French bakery cafe. Greeted cheerfully by the Scottish owner, we settle into a table for cafe au laits and croissants. Joy from the farm for the yoga studio joins us, with a freshly pressed lemonade and yummy looking chocolate tart. She is a veteran, and I vow to order that next time we come. We munch happily, catching up from our last lunch together in Montezuma a few weeks back. The bus has arrived, Trudy dances down the street, anklet jewels sparkling, to meet us and after good strong hugs, settles in for a serious dining: cappuccino topped with chocolate, a chocolate tart topped with caramel and a vegetarian croquet monsieur. Trudy’s cheerful wit punctuates each story to festive laughter. Joy departs to her day; without much deliberation, it is agreed we do not wish to curtail our visit for the bus schedule and will instead split a taxi. We relax into one another’s company and speak of intentions. It is time to go — Trudy needs a pineapple — back to the fruit stand to gather our packs and to hail a cab.
The taxi chosen is a small black car. He is a pirate and so will make a deal for the fare. Over hill and dale to Trudy’s house on Canopy Road. She and I chat merrily in the back seat, Michael prompting a direction from her whenever a fork in the road occurs. Right at the cemetario, left, right, left at the cemetario and so it goes. A strange noise on the passenger side. The driver nods knowingly…the fender. Michael looks out and sure enough the bumper trails on the ground but we are arrived at Trudy’s small blue house. Money is exchanged. Time to wire up the bumper. I go to greet the two dogs Trudy is sitting..one a strong South African Ridgeback who jumps, paws encircling my neck in a hug. Oops, catastrophe! The rear tire on the driver’s side is flat. There is no spare. Michael and I are walking home, or at least down the hill.
Off we go with our papayas, our vegetables and chicken slung on shoulders and necks. Down the steepness of verticality we walked every day in January for 30 days. Up and down, huffing and puffing with three long stops to somewhat catch our breath before the next assault. The day we knew to be our last, we walked it a grand occasion to celebrate. But now, fortunately, we are walking down the hill, a big difference. We pass Maraposario Gardens, gardens for butterflies, and decide to stop in to visit Josh. Josh is newly married, and his happiness is most evident. After a nice chat about new breweries, Montezuma, Michael nudges us on. The visit has now ensured we have missed the local bus, and so we take our time, a necessity going down this perpendicular mountain. A small pebble can easily induce a fall.
The Municipality has erected concrete poles painted to look like trees with newly strung electrical wires. Heavy metal spacers separate the wires to guard the monkeys from being electrocuted. We marvel at not only the intention, but also the amount of work and material to accomplish this. What a marvelous country! Currently, 94% of Costa Rican power is generated by renewables, primarily hydro. Inexpensive. No Nuclear or coal. W
We manage to achieve the bottom without falling mishap. The cobalt nuances of the Pacific Ocean shimmers its dazzles to daze us…and it does. Senor Rafa, commander of the local bus, has arrived to find us. Astonished, we wave and he stops. “Hola, Senor Rafi” I shout at the entrance and then a few more Holas sprinkled here and there for our fellow passengers. There are two seats on the ocean side saved for us with a large backpack which is quickly removed. Rafa drives next to the talking ocean, the door tied open…for more air. He is telling a story. He stops the bus for a girl waiting on the wrong side of the street. He knows his passengers. The bus roars in first and Rafa continues his story, handsome with a new mustache and goatee. I ride so happy in such a strange conveyance, viewed with suspicion by most of the tourists. They need never worry, there are many hands and smiles to assist them here.
I feel indeed I am home.!!