Dense sticky air and hot gray rain pounding into palm tree silhouettes. That was my very first impression of Costa Rica, as I stood outside the airport with my 150 pounds of stuff waiting for my chauffer (yeah, I’m a celeb. Just kidding, it was a Honda Civic.) As I sat in the backseat of the car for the 2 hour drive to my new home, the same hot rain made a soothing drumming noise and promptly lulled me to sleep.
The first few weeks at EARTH, I was as giddy as a schoolgirl watching the rain pour onto campus for hours and hours on end from my office window. I think my Tico co-workers were equal parts amused and baffled by my excitement (we live in the TROPICAL RAINFOREST! What did you expect?)
I tried to explain: that growing up in rural Minnesota, rain was never just a type of precipitation. Rain is life and growth and money and happy smiles at coffee counters all over town. Rain is ever more precious than it’s slutty sister Snow, and even more rare is a good “soaker”. The kind of steady, penetrating rain that disappears into the ground and makes crops grow tall.
For weeks, I battled the rain and won. With my arsenal of an impermeable raincoat, automatic umbrella and well-timed exits from the office in between showers, I managed to go a month without a soggy incident. And then one day, I lost- in the best possible way. I dashed home on my bike and arrived home just as the first rain drops fell. I flopped on my bed and listened to the rain on the tin roof above my head (a completely delicious sound that I’ve wondered about since I was 7 years old when I read it in a Laura Ingalls Wilder book.)
I laid there and thought of the first time I was homesick living abroad in England in 2007. My mom had sent me an email (she didn’t have Facebook then, in those days it was just for cool college kids like me) and in it she wrote “It’s been raining alot these last few days, and me and Emily went out in our pj’s and got soaked. Wish you had been here!” That moment was the first time I really thought I was missing out on something in the life I left, that I had lost the chance to run barefoot in my nightgown on cold slippery grass with the only two people who shared my love of playing in the rain.
Maybe it’s a testament to the 6 years of life experience that have passed since I was that 19 year old girl living in England (or maybe it’s the pharamaceuticals) but this time, my memories didn’t make me sad. Instead, I took off my jewelry and my leather sandals and jumped slowly off the back porch of my little house in the jungle, pale feet landing in a squishy pile of lawn and mud and threw my arms out Shawshank-style and got completely, totally, evenincludingmyunderwear WET. As you can see by my photo, it was a blissfully happy event.
As if my neighbors didn’t already think I was a crazy-ass gringa.
A couple weekends ago, I celebrated my 1 Month Costa Rican Anniversary with a trip to the beach and a mild nervous breakdown (though not necessarily in that order.)
Let me explain. For the past month, apart from a few shopping trips and a less than 24 hour road trip to the coast, I’ve been on campus-where I work, live, play, exercise and sleep. I knew that moving to Costa Rica would be a huge adjustment, not so much for the language (which was obviously a hurdle for me when I left for Spain) but more so for the fact that I would be returning to a rural life, a life I haven’t lived since I was 18. In short, by the time last Friday rolled around, I was so desperate to be ANYWHERE BUT ON CAMPUS that when my plans fell through to leave for the beach, I cried. Hard. Which then resulted in drinking vodka and watching Disney movies by myself on my back porch.
After a tin cup full of Absolut Mango and pineapple flavored pop, I came to the realization that this probably wasn’t the best way to deal with my anxiety/sadness, so I went to volleyball club with disgustingly red swollen eyes and pounded out some serves and felt a lot better.
The next morning, I called a taxi to take me to the bus stop (yes, the bus stop is that flippin’ far away) and waited for the direct bus to Puerto Viejo. Now, waiting on the side of the highway for a bus is never fun, but it is especially LESS fun while obsessively scanning the hundreds the road trying to discern which bus is MY bus out of the hundreds that pass by. After an hour of waiting, a trio of three wheezing tour buses passed by all at once, one after the other….and my bus was in the middle.
This of course, resulted in another swearing cry-fest, and a hysterical call to my co-worker who advised me “Get on the next bus you see and just figure it out. And stop trying to kick a hole in the bus stop.”
5 hours, 3 buses, and many cuss words later, I arrived in Puerto.
This was my face::::::
Still, I had FINALLY arrived and wasted no time in finding a private room in a hostal and taking a well-deserved nap.
My disposition greatly improved, I spent the rest of my weekend wandering aimlessly throughout the Caribbean chillness that is Puerto Viejo. Basically, just imagine Jamaica but with Spanish subtitles. I did a little shopping, including an adorable turtle necklace carved from jade (I named her Manuelita) and a gorgeous Guatemalan style textile purse for my sister–not sure how I’m going to get it to her, but I’m sure that will be another exercise in frustration.