Surviving The Rainy Season, Costa Rica.
Three months. Yes, it has been three months since we left Belfast. Mosquito nets packed, insect repellent in equal quantities to sun screen, beach pram with big wheels, mosquito net for the pram, travel cot packed, mosquito net for the cot; Mosquitoes love me so they might like Ella too.
Getting straight into life here and what it’s like to live is not an easy task. There’s a lot of detail: wildlife never seen before, ants in your pants- yes indeed-ants in the bed too, Scorpions hiding in your swim-wear; always be sure to shake your clothes.
Molten lava sunsets that make your heart melt and warm the soul. Rains that I welcome as they cool the air, allowing us to take a stroll outside when the sun is high. Halloween crabs that just couldn’t be purple and orange could they, why I wonder? Iguanas hidden on tree trunks, often pooping in one’s swimming pool if they can, why I wonder again?
Earth quakes that rattle the body and mind if only for a few seconds, I grabbed Ella and jumped out of bed, finding ourselves under the night’s sky, out-of-breath; the nausea hit me and I handed her to Jason. WhatsApp tsunamis warnings; missing home, missing my mother, how I wish she could see Ella.
Home made soft tortillas every day, up-side down green plantains growing wild on the side roads, I chopped my first bunch and made my first patacones, yumm. Ice cold coconut water on the road-side, straight from the coconut, top hacked off with a machete, just a dollar.
Monkeys in the trees above or crossing roads on the ropes or wires overhead which replace the trees they once climbed – always remember to look up. Last week Ella met Manolo the monkey who visits the juice-bar in the Bodhi Tree, not to drink their delicious smoothies but to boldly see what everyone’s up-to.
Friendly butterflies the size of playing cards, clapping around us, back and forth. Laughing geckos stuck to the mosquito nets like soft jelly sweets (Jello-candy for the Americans, I believe!).
Biting beach insects: Ella cried loudly on the beach one morning, I lifted her quickly, unsure what the problem could be. Then, I screamed in pain, and to my surprise a furry green caterpillar fell from inside my vest leaving behind a swollen burn the size of my thumb; it felt just like a jelly fish sting. Poor Ella had one on her little foot, but didn’t seem too bothered.
There are all kinds of surprises here. Today we arrived at our local beach, Playa Guiones, around 07:30 am, Ella in her beach pram, me ready to go running, when I noticed a family hurrying from their car, the children in their school uniforms. As we made our way to the glistening sand where the tide had receded, I noticed that their father was taking photos of what looked like small, dark rocks in the sand. The kids were jumping around in excitement. Then, the rocks moved. They were tiny new-born turtles making their rite of passage to the sea before the crabs or birds got them. We looked on in awe. I could not believe our luck; we need to go to the beach every morning, I thought.
The rainy season has had its challenges: heavy rains, mouldy clothes, mouldy furniture, thick heavy air that makes the isolation, as a mother, more palpable. But, for some it meant the flooding of their homes, the loss of belongings, landslides, and collapsed roads.
As we celebrated thanks giving in a small church in Nosara, the pastor reminded us to be grateful even in difficult times. I smiled to myself, embarrassed, but happy, as I realised that the rains had also brought us the most beautiful sunsets.