We are on the Carribean side of Costa Rica

by francine Hardaway on August 18, 2002

We are on the Carribean side of Costa Rica, at a nature retreat called Samasati, on 250 acres of rain forest. It was built four years ago, and is now for sale: $2 million. It’s a steal if you like the weather in Panama, which is just to the south. Panama’s weather , like Costa Rica’s, is good for the skin and requires no moisturizer. When you wash your hair, you don’t need conditioner, either. The makeup would run right off your face if you were foolish enough to wear any. It’s cheap to live here. One of our drivers told me that an American is building a fancy house not far from the beach, with special wood out of the rain forest, and the entire thing cost $100,000.

Good place to retire.

There is no such thing as silence in the rain forest. Someone is awake and speaking at all times of the day. At 6:30PM it’s this bird that sounds like the ones storybooks for children have. “Tweet, tweet,’ he says, “tweet, tweet, tweet.” Right out of Fun with Dick and Jane. Right in the middle of meditation. I meditate on the noise.

In midday the lizards sit in the middle of the paths, defying you to cross. After the rain, it’s the orange frogs (poisonous).

The first night we were here, there was a grasshopper on my bathroom counter. Large and green, he showed no signs of leaving, so I ignored him. Not much I could do about him anyway; he was here first.

Costa Rica itself seems very cheerful, although a native told me that they have just had a new election, and he is waiting for the new president to start fixing the roads. The new president will award a paving contract to his friend’s company. The friend then waits until the roads get really full of potholes, almost impassible, and then he begins fixing them, because he makes more money if the roads are bad. In addition, the contractor gets a percentage up front, which my new friend told me is a disincentive to do a good job. It’s as if he got paid by the pothole.

We do two yoga classes a day, one in the morning and one in the evening.They are highly meditative; both teachers are very thoughtful and very present. This morning David said the next few days would be difficult for us, because we have now seen the jungle and will long for amenities. He wished for a TV, a pizza, and the Diamondbacks. Outside of email, I don’t really miss amenities. As long as I can get somewhere for an hour a day to connect, I’m happy. Yesterday when I checked email, one of my daughters was on IM. It was as if she were in the next room.

This little laptop is the best machine I have ever had. He goes to sleep at night with the push of a button , and comes on in the morning without having to reboot. He has a digital camera built into him, so he automatically takes pictures when I want him to and stores them on the hard drive without any downloading. The software that accompanies him lets me email photos, make take movies, make slide shows, and edit. And the little guy only weighs two pounds. Of course he’s a Sony; a Picturebook. He weighs less than two pounds and has a 20gig hard drive and 256 mb of RAM. The Japanese are so artful at miniaturizing.

The rain is hard and constant. Every now and then there is thunder. The howler monkeys have not spoken yet this morning. However, during a break between hard rains, I heard one bird say to the other “is it over yet?” The other one answered “no,” and then they both went back to sleep.

My good time comes from going to town, talking to the locals, and reading email. We’re on the Carribean side of Costa Rica, which is much less developed and touristy. Only surfers and adventurers come here; the Pacific side has the European influence and the four star hotels. We have Rastafarians and wave seekers. Drugs and prostitutes. Apparently I could rent a guy if I wanted to.

I like Max, the guy who built this place. Max is burned out and wants to go on to something else, but he is a man who has lived in dozens of countries, including Afghanistan before the Russians came in. He thinks he will still use Costa Rica as a base and travel to places he has never seen, like New Zealand. He likes living in Costa Rica, however, because it is politically stable and a good place to do business.

Lucky for me it has been raining at night, hard enough to keep me awake,because it allows me to write this journal. However, it has now rained so much that the road between here and San Jose – the airport – is washed out. If you want to go to the airport, you must take a bus to the washed out part, which is about 30 meters, and then go by boat to the other side, where another bus meets you. This takes some fancy planning. Max says that the road often washes out during the rainy season. Once when he absolutely had to go to San Jose, he paid a guy with a backhoe to carry him over the washed out portions of road in the shovel of the backhoe. He thought it was fun. It will be quite an adventure if we have to do it.



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