"Love only grows by sharing. You can only have more for yourself by giving it away to others."
-Brian Tracy, motivational speaker and author
My apologies... I'll attempt to avoid this, starting in Nicaragua, and spare you long-winded play-by-plays in lieu of more bite-sized entries post-CR.
Time constraints, budget shortages, geographic efficiency, and local offers found us primarily in the Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio (abutted to the Pacific Oceanside resort town Quepos), in addition to the remote and revered Corcovado forest upon Costa Rica's wildlife hot spot, the Osa Peninsula: "The most biologically intense place on earth," according to the National Geographic Society.
The main beach flaunts a stretch of soft sand lawns flanked with luscious jungle greenery against the blue waters. The gently curled waves of surf-worthy swells reached as far as the beach itself on either side, where dark, raw rock formations create a natural, prehistoric cradle for the tourist's delight.
US presence is heavy, here, making it easily navigated for an American and giving a strongly vacation-y appearance, to me.
Oh, and the sunsets... Yeah, those are worth it...
A few sleeping baby bats, a deer, and a handful of iguanas just about rounded off the first half of our visit.
A pretty little waterfall lay at the end of one of the trails, and a the up-again-down-again gravel-and-guardrail trails afforded a good deal of rain-forest botanicals.
We heard the hoots and hollers of howler monkeys (but sadly had no sightings) providing an effectively animalistic soundtrack for the gently winding raised boardwalks and main, two-lane road cutting through the park's woodlands.
It wasn't until our second half that we were bestowed privileged by the most sought after inhabitant of them all: The Sloth.
In all honesty, sloths just don't do it for me...
They are odd-looking and strangely assembled things, with faces that looking mockingly at observers. They're rare, yes, but beyond their renowned eccentricities they aren't colorful or exciting enough to rank highly on my Must-See List.
That said, I've been avidly searching for a sloth to snap for my little brother since we came to Costa Rica (shout out to Gavin!).
His hilarious impressions of the beloved perezoso (literally translated to "Lazy" from Spanish) making it's weekly bathroom trip to the forest floor has always been an endearing and comical event, in my past.
It's a much requested, party livelying impression at the Strawn Family house.
So: Sloth? Check.
Let's see what else we find...
We happened upon a wee lil' raccoon resting in the tree, heard the aforementioned howler monkeys in the distance providing a natural ambiance, and were able to peek a handful of timid White-Faced Capuchin on the final stretch of the last pretty beach, where we were expecting to exit and catch our bus back to San Jose.
Ever since my first tasting of Latin American sweet bread in high school Spanish class, I've wanted to attend an authentic Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration and just go mad... In November, it's finally happening!
The terrain higher up, moreso than anywhere else I've ventured in this tropically lauded land, is STUNNING.
It was wild... It was so separated... It was wonderful.
Raindrops began to splatter the bus windows and obscured the view as we increased altitude and the temperature steadily dropped twenty degrees.
The whole thing just seemed so... Untouched... Virginal... Unencumbered by and ignorant of the rest of the planet. The entire experience boasted an air of mysticism and grandeur, I felt a fool for not taking more pictures of these cloud forests to remember what had become one of my favorite views yet.
It was one of the first times that I wondered if the locals here knew what they had outside their windows and on their doorsteps. And that night I would have the opportunity to ask one..
Of the eleven siblings in this family (yes, 11), almost all still live in or around this little town where they grew up years ago.
We were immediately and warmly welcomed into the house of the matriarch (a woman I wound up naming "Santa Cecilia") next door to her daughter Margarita and son-in-law Marcos, who were in turn next door to her son Maurizio and his wife Kathia.
Both parental sets have have two children.
It was instantly apparent that we were undeserving of the adamant hospitality with which the family graced us...
These are special people.
It took some time, but we found a rhythm!
A lot could be said about what was discussed.
My favorite take-aways were two things: a fierce and fast little guerrilla kiss from the fantastically animated and lovable Gina (about four years old) and an oration from Margarita who passionately and inspirationally expressed her desire for the children of the world to learn the importance of charity.
The family-centric attitude these individuals have waterfalled down from their very impoverished but loving and generous parents, whose strong sense of values cascaded into their children "through their actions, not their words."
They asked no questions and accepted no payment.
In fact, Daniel had to be sneaky while I distracted our hostess in order to help with the dishes...
Times such as these seem to more accurately spotlight my own deficiencies of character, which I feel could really use some attention...
As a self-proclaimed over-thinker, it seems that a little more DOING and a little less thinking might be in order for me.
I know it to be a hard thing! Turning thought into action, that is.
But if what Margarita says is true, and it certainly seems that her parents lives are a testimony to the claim's validity, it's well worth a try.
I feel I frequently fail to appropriately express gratitude and convey effective thanks in such situations, but they all seemed unfazed, and punctuated our departure with a fervid and sincerely declared, "Come back soon!"
Pura Vida : Pure Life.
She could accompany us where ever we went. And when our daily duties took us beyond her boundaries, she would go to our back door to wait for us to come home.
Sadly, we had to leave her... We still talk about her almost everyday... How somehow, SOMEHOW, we MUST have been able to bring her... Osa, we miss you... Please be waiting at our backdoor when we come home...
Thank you, Holly!
We will keep exploring the world. Trying to make it better!
There is more to see than a post has room for!
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