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Costa Rica

Breakfast in the forest

We awaken to the trumpet like blare of peacocks (an alternative to the more clichéd rooster), the rustling of palm fronds and a variety of squeaks and clicking sounds from insects and animals in the undergrowth.

From the terrace of our guest-house, which is a wooden structure on stilts, painted a Frida Kahlo blue, we are spectators to magpies feasting on fruit from the nearby palms. White faced Capuchin monkeys, pass behind us and over us, chirping and whistling to each other as they too collect their breakfast. We are the interruptors, within this part of the rainforest, while nature goes about waking up.

Todd comes out and greets me, then plops down on the step below with his mug of coffee. He is one of twelve strangers that we are living with in this guest house. We are both sporting major cases of bed head, swollen morning eyes and bare feet, yet are able to sit in comfortable silence after our bonding moment of three days ago.

You see, I was taking a shower when a large crab crawled up through the open drainage hole in the ground. Shrieking and trying to put my clothes back on to make my escape, I hear Todd's voice, "Hey in there. Is it the crab?" " Yesssss!!!" "Here's a broom." He passes it over top. I grab it and brush the crab back from where it came, quickly finish rinsing off, grab bathing suit and shorts and head to my room with a blazing red face. I can hear Todd and Andrea talking outside the bedroom window. "Man your woman has a good set of lungs on her." "Don't I know it!"

The first few days, I was sneaking around (very difficult as there is only a hallway with 4 doors on each side leading to bedrooms, one large shared sink, two toilets at the end of the hall and the aforementioned shower) listening at my door to ensure no one was in the hall before tiptoeing to the toilet. I would wake up super early to attempt fixing my hair and face, in my room, before heading out to brush my teeth in case I ran into anyone. Ridiculous of me I know!

But, then the shower incident occurred. Logistics, the heat and common sense took care of the rest. And with each passing day I stripped off the unnecessary (make up, hair gel and excess clothing) and in so doing, also stripped off diffidence, self consciousness and vanity. Let me tell you...IT FELT AMAZING!

All of us sit outside on the wooden porch deep into the night talking, exchanging stories. We eat and drink together sharing food, sharing aloe vera for our sunburns and sharing balm and bandages for blisters procured on long hikes.

Giovanna is travelling alone; photographing and journaling her way across central America. Two other couples that met last year in South Africa decided to meet this year (in Costa Rica) to surf together. They will be taking the boat out to Montezuma later today along with Todd, Andrea and myself.

A young family with two small children is exposing their 3 and 5 year old to their type of travel (like ours consisting only of backpacks, a camera and lots of curiosity).

In Montezuma, we walk along semi deserted beaches, Andrea and a few others jump into a natural pool at the base of a waterfall. The entire perimeter is lined with crabs (I am starting to see a trend pattern here!). On the way to our next location, as we trek along the coast, our noses are smacked with a tremendous indescribably putrid odour. Squinting into the sun we notice a dark mound of something near the water's edge. As we get closer, we see that the mound is actually a rather large unidentifiable carcass with vultures greedily feasting on the remains.

Later that week, a seagull gets its left wing clipped by a rogue wave as it swoops down to capture a fish and remains down, floating on the water's surface, with the wing a little askew. We hope it will be able to fly again.

Nature. Exquisitely beautiful and coldly uncaring.

City life

In Monteverde we find ourselves on a portion of the Continental divide. The level of humidity in the forest is soaking us right through so we don rain jackets and continue our hike in search of the elusive Quetzal. We practice swinging from trailing vines and walk for hours silently contemplating the magnificence surrounding us.

In San Jose we do a 360, touring the boisterous noisy city. One more day and we will be leaving this corner of the world. And, as always, it all feels so bittersweet. The good news is that I am leaving with more knowledge and appreciation, more connections and learnings than when I landed over two weeks ago. And that is a really good thing.

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