Images are the heart of my stories. Thank goodness I have a camera to capture the feeling of the moment. Left to my writing abilities there would be much white space to ponder.
I expect it is more from my age and my inability to get around as much as before that I take pictures of people and spend time with them and find out about their lives and what makes them travel. Escaping cool northern climates are not the only reason people escape to warmer climates, many find change is essential to their personal development while others may need to escape a personal relationship or to search for new one. Here are some of the people I have met in Costa Rica this year.
Vincent and his partner Mariska co-ordinate the cabina rentals at Selvins and after coming from the Netherlands 3 years ago when they made the all important decision to raise their young boy Kayla in the tropical, mysterious wonderland of Punta Uva. Vincent has a culinary career as a notable chef for the Dutch royalty and Mariska has an enthusiastic following for her numerous yoga classes.
Ex-pats from every walk of life and continent have found this 40km (25 mile) stretch of land below the cultural center of Limon down to the roads end in Manzanillo a respite from the colder climes and lifestyle opportunities that have escaped their potential elsewhere. A common thread in their anticipation of the future is that progress will not ruin the collective calm and disrupt the uncomplicated ambiance that initially attracted us all to live here.
The Black communities that settled this unique part of Costa Rica over the past century from islands in the West Indies may have hoped for the same thing in the mid 1980s.
Typical of the 3 or 4 month resident are young seasonal workers like Brittany and Joe from the north central US who work their US jobs till they lose feeling in the ends of their fingers and toes and then hop on something that brings them to the sunshine and the beach.
It is not uncommon for one or both of the escapees to find work in construction or food service to make ends meets. Beer is only 2$ a bottle but you have to eat too.
This choice of lifestyle is usually made by those without a major commitment in the north in either the name of a house or condo, new truck or a needy family.
Women, by a long shot, either alone or in pairs represent the greatest portion (excluding conventional 2 week family travelers) of travellers that I have met.
These 2 pepper pots from Quebec City, Canada are invenerate travelers who will try anything without reservation or pre-conceptions and were always happy with whatever the results.
We laughed at all and everything during the 3 days we had together.
I eventually ended up giving directions to the attractions in and around Alajuela and then retired to my room to rest from their vigorous pursuit of the unknown.
They had both been to more places in Costa Rica than I but were always peeking around the next corner ready to take home experiences only an open mind would absorb. We all polished our french and english and enjoyed our discussions of meditation, exercise and Lucies’ great exhibition of Tai Chi. I was moved to join a beginner class on my return to Punta Uva ater a week in my favourite town in the central highlands, Alajuela.
Helene from Gothenburg Sweden put a career on hold for a month as a child care worker and decided to take some time away from her work to reflect on what she might want to do for the rest of her life. She will take time in Costa Rica to relax and take a yoga retreat to reflect back on her past 12 years. She beamed with the wonderful weather and bright sun and found humour on her first encounter with the exotic birds at Zoo Ave, nearby, and displayed a wide eyed fascination at the bustling mercado near the central park. Always fun to take a traveling newbie to the sites where you know their jaw will drop.
A sweet woman in here quest for love and life. May the wind find your wings.
Los Volcanes, until recently, has been my home away from the Caribbean. Sal, Wendy and company always make me welcome and always find room for me. This old restored home has basic and superior accommodation with a great breakfast and inspired evening meals. Rosario, a dedicated housekeeper, missed getting in this shot using my gorilla tripod gripped to the front gate.
This beauty had fallen from the palm tree in the morning and probably just before I got there so I took It under my arm and I brought It home. The large yellow coconuts have both plenty of coconut and coconut water in them but require a heavy-duty scissors in order to access the small nut inside.
The smaller green coconuts are preferred for the juice as they are younger and sweeter and much easier to open.
When the seas are calm, and in the very early morning for 10 months of the year, my neighbour has a boat and with several other fishermen bring in regular catches of lobster, mackeral and red snapper. These little guys I have here go for a buck each. Fried in coconut oil is the most succulent way to do them drenched in lime and hot sauce or an easier and more flavorful way to cook them is just chuck em’ in the pressure cooker, separate the meat from the bones and make a chowder. Deep fried or pan fried is the most common way they are served in the restaraunts.
Amigo Jeannot, from Dartmouth Nova Scotia, stayed with me for a week often creating some of his Acadian specialties in the kitchen and regaling me with his wit and depth of understanding on so many topics. We tended to raise the roof with our laughing and music which did not go unnoticed by the other tenants at Selvins. Calm has returned and once again the howler monkeys have the stage once again.
Jean has been coming to Selvins for longer than I and his gregarious nature has made him many friends including me. Ironic that we have always lived in close proximity to one another in Nova Scotia but met entirely by coincidence in Costa Rica.
An absolute joy to be with, Nancy is an intriguing, successful artist from New York city who has made many friends on the beach and in the small art community of the southern coast, engaging us with her enthusiasm and spirit of encouragement. She became captivated with beauty and calming lifestyle to the point of securing a property to guarantee her return to Punta Uva. We all look forward to spending more time with her in future.
We met at the bus depot in Puerto Viejo while together we laughed and fumbled for paper ticket proof that we would not be tossed into the sea for failure to ante up the $1.25 fare.
It seems up until the time that several U.S. states had approved sales of marijuana we were getting an adequate supply of good weed here on the coast. Direct from Jamaica, no less. Now it seems the source has dried up and we are left with harvesting strange leaves from the jungle in order to keep our demons in check. The drug problem in the north will, no doubt abate and I think that is good, but you must share!
A drug lord can be seen here measuring out a yard of hallucanagenic green for some of the other senior citizens in the complex.
Happy hour here really is happy.
Christian, from a rural area south of Berlin Germany, is typical of many young europeans that are well traveled and choose to use their resources to experience new cultures and languages. Fluent in several languages, many 20+ adults of average means from Germany, Sweden, Norway, Spain and other colder countries spend from 3 weeks to 3 months moving through central america, volunteering, surfing or just experiencing the unique and welcoming individuals that are so easy to meet.
Daily, there are competitive fruit trucks, egg and fish vendors that announce their arrival by loudspeaker to fill your larder with most everything that is in the sea or grown in the central valley at higher elevations. I stood, mouth agape one day, when a fisherman arrived at the side of the road hoping to find a buyer for a red snapper that was too large to fit in his bike basket and hung droopy over his handlebars. It was a product of his spear gun accuracy and weighed easily 40lbs of more. Mackeral and shad are most commonly available.
For more than 30 years, this wonderful woman with the most cheeriest nature, has been making friends and adding glorious colour and energy to the communities of Manzanillo and Punta Uva. She and several other women, in different caribbean style homes, live in various places up the mountain from the beach, many with limited services and resources. They all meet weekly on the beach at Punta Uva and have been doing this with other community members for more than 25 years. There is no shortage of enthusiasm and optimism in this community and although in time the characters will change they will leave behind them a lifestyle no doubt filled by new adventurers, some of whom may be just passing through for now.
The sun of the equator is higher in the sky than I am used to in Canada where I burn to a crisp in July and August. Here, while the temperature is still very, very hot it seems the rays will not burn you as quickly and a tan stays for only a few days. This log has changed many places on the beach since November, as has the reclining human, and when I left in mid April the log was all but covered with sand. The shore changes from undermining the overhanging palm trees in late december to football field sized beaches in May. A change in the weather makes no change in me.
Saskia, another independent woman who works with her amiga, Connie, at the Punta Uva Pulperia. Fair and always ready to help, these women work 12 hours a day 7 days a week to serve the public and survive an inconsistent and fickle tourist market. Good thing for the locals who gather at the “Cheers” bar for some cool refreshments.
More pictures from Costa Rica 2015