The gravel crunches under our shoes as we march down a steep dirt road towards Scott’s new job, which is located in the middle of the jungle in the Diamante Valley, Costa Rica. Lush, howler monkey-filled, rainforest surrounds us, and we speak in raised voices in order to be heard over the celebratory songs of crepuscular frogs and birds. It’s 6am and the weather is perfect; 65 degrees, humid, crisp. My hostel is a 1.5 mile hike from the main road, and Scott’s base camp is another ten minutes from there. I feel lucky that I picked the closest hostel to his job since neither of us knew exactly where his job was going to be.
We say an excited goodbye at the gates to his hidden jungle job. I will get to see him one more time before he heads out into the field for two weeks. I feel so happy to be alive and we are both so excited for the life change we just made. Scott is excited for the excursions ahead of him as an adventure therapist. I am excited for him and also for my opportunities to walk around the jungle, write, and do yoga. I am excited for what the future holds. We kiss, a gentle peck on the lips, and give eachother a tight hug before I skip off up the long hill back to my place.
On my return trip I started looking for plants to identify. I kept my eyes peeled for some of the species that I read about in a Costa Rican medicinal plant book I found back at the hostel. I gathered Mimosa (Mimosa pudica; a sedative), cashew fruit (Anarcadium occidentale), atauflo mangos (Mangifera indica), tradescantia (Tradescantia zebrina; a coagulent, also used in “matali” tea), culantro coyote (Eryngium foetidum; edible wild cilantro), and cas (Psidium friedrichsthalianum; an edible wild guava).
Back at the Hostel + Pipas
When I arrived home I set my plants on the bench and checked in on the baby chick we were caring for. A neighbor rescued her from a store where she had an injured foot and dim future. She was looking better and chirped loudly until I picked her up. Warm against my chest she quieted down and closed her eyes. I was staying at Somertime Inn. Set in the middle of the jungle, Somertime is a large two story house with several private rooms, a dorm room, and two mosquito net covered beds on a spacious balcony (where I was sleeping) on the second story. Downstairs consisted of large community room/kitchen. It was clean and comfortable and inhabited by a group of four younger guests that had been there for a couple months.
I return to some drama surrounding the delivery of 100 pipas (coconuts) to the wrong place. The guests at Somer’s had ordered 100 pipas to be delivered to the hostel, but they were dropped off in town instead where some of their friends paid for them. I offered to help get them to the hostel. One of the guests, Jaguar, called Fauni, a taxi driver he had befriended in town. She was willing to haul the pipas for us. Fauni picked Jaguar, Alisa and I up and took us to the pile. The three of us loaded down the trunk of her taxi with 100 coconuts. The driver charged us 20 bucks and took them back to the hostel where other guests were waiting to help unload them.
To the Feria
From town, the three of us decided to hitch hike to the large Thursday farmers market (called a feria) in the nearby city of San Isidro. We were picked up by a government official who alternated between speeding and slamming on the brakes the whole twisty-turny way there. His English was good but I tried to speak mostly Spanish for practice. It is usually a 20-30 minute drive but was more like 15 with his breakneck speed. He dropped us off on the outskirts of the city and we headed towards the big church in the center of town. It was a ten minute walk but right as we got out of the car it started dumping rain. I was glad I brought my sun hat and umbrella. I gave my hat to Alisa and used my umbrella to keep the camera and phone in my backpack dry.
The feria was kept dry under a huge metal roof and there were hundreds of vendors selling mainly fruits and vegetables. I am trying to stay on a budget so I picked up 15$ worth of food: 1 kg potatoes, 5 large peppers, 1 kg onions, 1.5 kg avocados, ½ kg cheese, yogurt, butter, 1 kg passion fruit, and a gluten free pastry for a snack. The kids I was traveling with were very friendly and talkative, so we ended up staying at the feria a bit late. We hauled ass to the bus stop and arrived just in time to catch the last bus back to Tinamaste, it was about 4$ for all three of us. We were dropped off near the big white church in Tinamaste and walked the mile and a half back to the hostel with our groceries.
I picked some Hibiscus flowers from roadside bushes on my way back to Somertime. As we walked rain began to fall increasingly hard. By the time I was home and my groceries were unloaded it was a full blown monsoon. I boiled the Hibiscus in water and drank the tea with honey on my bed on the balcony. The rain poured and I let the sounds of the jungle relax my body and mind.