The meandering road from San Jose to Manuel Antonio stretched before me like a dream—its curves enticing and mysterious, so different from my world. Indescribably bright flowers greeted me with silent “hellos” as we climbed through wavy hills and long stretches of green so bright that it seems a disservice to just call it “green.” My body yawned, an involuntary response to the dry air hanging in the plane, but my mind was exhilarated, my eyes being assigned the impossible task of trying to take everything in. The colors were jubilant; the traffic sparse, the roadside fruit stands plentiful. A smile crossed my face as I settled further into my seat, and felt the everyday world sliding off my back. I knew in that instant that the rules of life didn’t apply here—sometimes the fantasy does live up to the reality.
The days unfolded in an array of colors, heat and rain. The beaches, the colors, the mysterious allure of the jungle, the seamless integration of humans and nature—they all delighted my eager eyes. The mysteriousness of the rainforest, with its secret medicines disguised as leaves unfolded around me, enchanting every last one of my senses. Even spiders, with their ominous legs and ever expanding webs seemed relevant when in their element. Sloths cradled themselves in trees, relaxing in the shade, and hiding from the midday sun coloring skin on the earth below.
Costa Rica is a land that seduces all of the senses—assaulting each and every sense individually. From tiny houses suspended on mountain roads to flowers so bright you think they’ve been photo shopped; Costa Rica is probably the model they based “high definition” on—vivid, intricate, colorful, alive. The nose will tingle as it discovers scents like no other it has encountered before—the lingering smell of night jasmine and fresh rain, a scent of pure romance that would fly off the shelves if someone figured out how to stuff it into fancy glass bottles. The scented air intoxicates, romantically lulls me into relaxation so deep; I forget what day it is, throw away my watch. The humidity is a gentle touch on the skin, wrapping itself around my body only to be relieved by the chilly, crisp water enveloping me as I glide under waves—a hideout from the sun’s intense rays. Lounging in a hammock, the eyes close automatically, leaving the ears to act in their place. Spanish fills the air as I drift into a restful slumber, the words like a dance, filled with emotion, filled with life. Awaking from a short nap, there is hunger, the last sense begging to be fulfilled. On this one, Costa Rica delivers big time. An explosion of flavor awaits– luscious pineapple, pink watermelon so juicy your arm becomes sticky from the dripping juice, but you care not. A steaming mug of coffee from fresh beans awaits– dark, nutty and bold, the taste unsullied by storage and transport. Fresh fish, never frozen, playfully sit among cilantro, limes, onions and tomatoes in tangy cerviche, waiting to be piled on crackers and enjoyed. Plantains, smashed and refried decorated the side of the plate, a delightful detour from the standard American side of French fries. Next to them, red meat so delicate, so tenderly, melt in your mouth delicious, it’s almost a crime. Where on earth has this meat been all my life? The flavor is so smooth and buttery, an explosion of pure, simple beef flavor, not ruined by preservatives, cheap feed, or sadness.
I cannot go back, it is not possible after all I have seen, heard, tasted. I will keep repeating this sentence over and over, until I am forced to face reality.