Crones en el Caribe, a story in photos
Welcome to Playa Negra, Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica, on the southern coast of the Caribbean Sea, where every morning for three weeks, I spent time in the water. Swimming, floating, diving, tumbling, spluttering, body surfing, and this crone's new love: boogie boarding.
My Cronies included Nanci, 72, who kicked my ass in the body surfing department, and Ro, 61, pure energy and powerful attitude. I've recorded my second conversation with each of them for the podcast and will be publishing that soon. I promise.
Pretty sure my rented bicycle also qualified for Crone status... based on the noises it made and the amount of grease on it's chain to keep it moving.
However, when it comes to noise, there are few things on this planet that can compete with howler monkeys: bodies the size of house cats, voices that carry for miles. They seem to enjoy competing with the jungle farm's alarm clock, roosters who want everybody up at 4am, and peacocks, the loudest of all the lawn ornaments.
Making no sounds beyond adorable nibbling noises when I tossed them puffed rice, ROUSes!
I really admire the spiders, but I won't post photos because I know not everybody is as big a fan of the 8-legged ones as I. There's even one that weaves a zig-zag pattern into its web where its feet rest, to make the legs -- and thus the whole spider -- look twice the size. Because a 2" spider is still too small in the Caribbean.
I won't even mention the banana spiders, whose females can reach 6" or more, with tiny little males who hang out at the edges of the webs. They're fun to spot.
And of course, gazillions of ants, fruit flies, and bees. Here's one hive from my AirBnB host's property.
In addition to doing a lot of reading and writing, reviewing my journals from 2019 and recording my intentions for 2020, I also donated some stimulation toys and stuffed animals for the baby monkeys and orphaned sloths at the Jaguar Rescue Center, and volunteered with my favorite non-profit, El Puente - The Bridge.
This is the organization that Nanci and her husband Barry founded that provides a soup kitchen and school support for the impoverished indigenous families that live through the jungle and up into the mountains, sometimes walking from as far away as Panama to reach this safe and supportive space. In her upcoming episode, Nanci reads her short story about a very old Bribri woman who learns about the world, becomes excited about life, and is able to hear again, because of Nanci's visits.
I also spent time with my shaman, Tup. The man who tells me we've been through many lifetimes together... me a builder, witch, and defier of authority who winds up bruised and beaten and back in his healing hands before rejoining the souls on earth to do it all again. I'll have to do an episode about that sometime. I love him.
I eat great while I'm there -- almost entirely vegan -- and love to learn new things about the flowers. At the Saturday market, where local farmers, bakers, chocolatiers, and artists sell their wares, you can a get a cold, sweet coconut (they call them pipas) as a $1 treat. First the vendor will hack a small part off the top of the pipa to poke a straw through to drink the water, then they'll hack it in half so you can run your thumbnail under the white part and eat it like candy.
My AirBnB hosts have an impressive array of plants, flowers, and trees on their sustainable farming property, including the deliciously-scented ylang-ylang (which goes into Chanel No.5) and plumeria, another hypnotic fragrance. (Just don't inhale the trumpet flowers... speaking of hypnotic.)
I thoroughly enjoyed my days in Puerto Viejo, but alas, they must come to a close. I headed back to my favorite "decompression stop," Hotel Bougainvillea, for a couple days of cooler temps, low humidity, and smooth, dry sheets before I fly home.
I was honored to meet the owner of the hotel, Hans van der Wielen, who'd built it in 1989 and has been adding to his geological and horticultural collections ever since. The hotel and grounds are so wonderful to wander through. I often think of my mom and how I'm just like she would be: stopping every few steps to take a photo of a flower or plant. There are tables of petrified wood outside, and -- I just learned, and HELD -- a meteorite inside! It was smooth with small bumps, and cool to the touch, and really heavy. When I asked Hans how much it weighed, he said he didn't know, so we played a game to guess. (Answer in second image's alt text.)
And then it was time to grab my ride to the airport and head home. It's always sort of sad to leave this beautiful place with its beautiful people, and as I let the tears roll down my face looking out the window of the plane, Costa Rica loved me back.