NOTE: I ended my last Costa Rica diary with this:
There's a great, tight-knit community here among the American expats, most of them old hippies, academics or artists and we are continuing to learn how lucky we were to find this place. There are problems and issues, unpleasantries that come with the territory, but for now the price seems worth it. We like it here.The last line was meant as a joke. I was just trying to be funny. We still like it here, although there are aspects emerging that could conceivably lead us to light out for the territories at some future date. But that remains to be seen. And the place is still great: sun-drenched tropical living on the lush Caribbean coast, a rainforest brimming with wildlife, fresh fruit and herbal goodness every day, easy-going locals, pura vida. Some of the expats are maybe a little questionable, but more about that later.
Tune in next week for why we hate it here and where we're going next.
Previous episodes in this series include:
I'm forever falling in love it seems. This time with a place. Cahuita.
This romance is in an early stage, we hardly know one another yet, but I recognize that this could be something special. It's a hard place in some ways, but it is stunning in its sheer physical beauty.
It's raining again. Softly for now. I sit on the veranda and write. The sound of the rain and those of the living jungle hypnotize me, magnifying my inner life, my creative spirit, my innate curiosity and sense of wonder, my deep memory. This is a fine place for a writer. I think I may have finally found a home.
It rained all day yesterday, and rained hard and steady all night. It took a break just after dawn. Around 5:30, I took the camera out for a spin. I thought it might be a good time to find a poison dart frog splashing through the puddles or something. I had seen one before, turquoise and black, but didn't have my camera as I was just running a short errand (I have since vowed to never leave the house without my camera). Sure enough, I found one. I got what shots I could before he hopped away. He wasn't as cooperative a subject as he might have been. Some of these creatures seem to have not gotten the memo. My best compositions of him/her had some slight focus issues. I'm still waiting for a good shot of one. They have a red and black one too, I am told. Haven't seen one of those yet. They're trippy little guys. They say you're not supposed to lick them.
I got this guy during a lull in the rain yesterday. I believe it is an aracari, a type of toucan.
Toucans are members of the family Ramphastidae of near passerine birds from the Neotropics. The Ramphastidae family is most closely related to the American barbets. They are brightly marked and have large, often colorful bills. The family includes five genera and about forty different species. The name of this bird group is derived from the Tupi word tukana, viaPortuguese. The family includes toucans, aracaris and toucanets; more distant relatives include various families of barbets and woodpeckers in the suborder Pici.My current setting is a photographer's paradise. I take a lot of photos. It's a rare day when I don't get at least one good one, more commonly I get several – and this from an old, yet thankfully digital, camera.
Here are some random shots from a day in the life:
Based on observation, iguanas spend much of their time just hanging out.
A wall at Rocking J's, Puerto Viejo.
View of Cahuita harbor.
A doorway in the jungle.
A tile craftsman at Rocking J's, Puerto Viejo.
Waldo's been at Rocking J's all this time.
Kinkajou makes his escape – extra points for use of tail.
This tree catches the sun. Many of the 894 bird species in Costa Rica love to light in the upper branches of trees like this, the upper canopy. Anything to make life harder for photographers, I suppose.
This guy solved the problem of how quickly bicycle frames rust out down here. With sufficient imagination, most problems are solvable.
Looking out on the morning rain.
Through the window at the Chocolateria.
Tall trees at the beach on a rainy day.
The jungle, early morning rain.
Of all bird species in Costa Rica, among the most numerous are the vultures. Three of them are sitting in a nearby tree watching me as I write. I pause to spread a bit of peanut butter on a small coconut cookie and pop it in my mouth as the vultures stare. It's as if they're thinking (I know, they're probably not thinking what I think they're thinking), 'Damn! That looks a lot better than what we have.'
Then I think what a lucky creature I am. No yucky carrion in my diet, just yummy cookies.
Daniel and I have had a running joke about how these guys have seemed to follow us wherever we go in the country. Why if this were a Western movie, that would be some ill omen. But the simple fact is they're everywhere.
We call them Cahuita chickens.
All kidding aside, I'm grateful to the vultures for the service they provide. They help keep the environment clean. Something's always dying 'round here.
* * *
In my last diary, citisven commented on this paragraph:
Mystery is something we all should be familiar with. After all, the cosmos dwarfs our knowledge and probably always will. It yields to inquiry slowly. In the end, it defies our efforts at vivisection and exegesis and leads us into ever deeper mysteries. Mystery will always be with us. Where we stand in relation to the unknown defines us. The biggest thing in the universe is all the stuff that we don't know. It's humbling. I think bearing it in mind provides useful context.What that observation, the acknowledgment of all that we don't know, says to me is that we need to stay flexible, open-minded and expansive. That we should reject invented, imposed or imagined limitations. That we need to think big, not small; broad, not narrow; deep, not shallow. And that arrogance and hubris are inappropriate for a species that knows so little of what there is to be known. And that it is never too late to be hopeful in a universe that is bound to surprise us in unimaginable ways.
And bringing it down to the level of human society and civilization, I think we need to recognize that our possibilities are endless, that we can reinvent ourselves to a very large degree whenever we choose. That's what the hippies did, and they were on to something there. They threw off their blinders and took a deep dive into the cosmic consciousness. In the 60s, psychedelics taught many about the infinitude within and without. Ancient meditative and shamanic practices have done the same over a much greater span of time. This is not a universe of few possibilities. We have options we've not yet dreamed of. We are not locked into the past, or the present, as thoroughly or inevitably as it may conventionally seem. Reality is bigger than what we routinely allow for. We are a species of endless possibility. We need not be prisoners of the past. We need not be enslaved by antiquated ideologies. And we must not fall victim to our own inertia. There is much that we can do to transform ourselves, and our need for transformation has never been so great.
When people muster the will to do great things, they do them. I think we have a tendency to vacillate, hesitate and underestimate ourselves. But when push comes to shove, we screw our courage to the sticking point and we do whatever the hell it is - often surprising ourselves in the process.
When people are sufficiently ready for a major change, they find ways to make it happen. Where there's a will, there's a way.
People are too quick to write off the improbable as the impossible. Exceptions noted, virtually anything is possible in a universe such as this. Surprises happen all the time. Somehow, things widely thought to be implausible, even impossible, find ways of happening...all the damned time. Certainly within the realm of humans, we may be exhausting the ecosphere but we are not coming close to exhausting the possibilities of how we might live. We're going to have to stop doing it the way we've been doing it, and do it a whole new way based on all the things we've come to understand about ourselves and our world. We know enough to do it right – or at least much better. The problem is overcoming the inertia and the bullshit and conveying the urgency to an audience in thrall, to a greater or lesser degree, to mass consumer culture that has no real focus other than profit and self-perpetuation. It's frustrating to know the right things to do and have no reliable mechanism in place with which to do them. It makes it especially hard when we are being fought every step of the way by the richest and most powerful people on the planet. But that's where we are – fairy-tales and superstitions aside.
But it's not time to throw up our hands. It's time to think big.
It's time to turn this ship around. Time to leap to a new just, rational and sustainable paradigm while we still can. Big changes are coming, one way or another. If history is any guide, we will find a way forward. May it go easy on us, and may it be a plan that benefits all earthlings equally.
The hippies had some stuff figured out. It's a shame how the dominant culture stomped on them. Hippie wisdom would do us a lot of good right about now. Peace, love, understanding, universal brotherhood, mutual regard, harmony, cooperation, pulling together? Why that would be just what the doctor ordered.
Paz y amor, muchachos.
It's raining again.