Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Sun Sets on 2013

"What an amazing year" I thought to myself, sitting on a washed up log, enjoying my last ice cream of 2013, and watching the sun descend behind the rainforest. I reflected rather profoundly on the fleeting year over my two weeks in Puerto Viejo. Whether I was lying on the beach, lying in a hammock or biking in between, my mind was replaying the highest and lowest moments of 2013, over and over like a broken record. Usually my mind gravitates towards the future, what will be, what could be, but rarely about what was. I found it rather uncomfortable, and very bitter-sweet, as 2013 may have been the most vibrant year in my 23-year-old life. For the first time there was no plan, no obligations, no road map. A part of me felt scared, overwhelmed and anxious. But a bigger part of me felt liberated and exhilarated with an appetite for exploration. 

Where will I leave my footprint this year?
It is this appetite for exploration that jetted me England and France in February, to the Cape of Good Hope and safari-ing in Hwange National Park in May. And when that was not enough, making the most dramatic change in my entire life; moving to Costa Rica. 

Two weeks in Puerto Viejo, was the perfect way to end a year of adventure and ring in the New Year, my year in Costa Rica. 
Beach Zen
Our days consisted of fruit smoothies, biking to the beach, tanning, reading, swimming, snorkelling, biking back from the beach, listen to music in the streets, drinking frozen mojitos (life-changer) and falling asleep in a hammock. Repeat x 14 days (yes, I know I am spoiled.) 

On the two odd days where we didn't follow this regiment, although we made sure we still incorporated our beach time, we visited The Jaguar Rescue Center and went hiking with friends from CATIE south of Manzanillo. 

December 26th
Post-food poisoning and Christmas day homesickness, Matija and I decided that playing with monkeys would be the perfect pick-me-up. 

I had heard great things about the Jaguar Rescue Center, another Canadian friend I met in San Jose had volunteered there and told me about the couple's work to offer refuge to injured monkeys, birds, sloths, crocodiles and other wild animals. The Center strives to rehabilitate them and release them back into the wild. The big draw is that you can actually PLAY with the monkeys, well those of them who are not out on a day-long forest field trip. As a part of their rehabilitation, the volunteers take the monkeys out to the forest during the day to familiarize them with the smells, trees, other animals etc. 

  So after a lazy morning, we finally pedalled our way towards the Jaguar Center, stopping to explore a 
Private beach pools
couple of beaches along the way. I had been told there was this one spot, but it was easy to miss, where there are rocky/corals just off shore breaking the waves. Thus creating these lovely little pools along the beach that you can just sit in. I was beginning to think it was a myth, until we stumbled across them that morning! The visit was exactly what I needed, playing with the monkeys was adorable, but I was most impressed with the snakes and birds. I got a close look at the most poisonous snakes in Costa Rica and the take home lesson was: If you see a snake, don't go near it! The birds on the other hand were absolutely beautiful, the pair of owls were stunning, the hawks' fierce and the parrots and toucans vibrant. 


You know you are on vacation when you don't know what the date is, let alone what day it is. Regardless, one day between Christmas and New Years, friends from CATIE were spending a couple of days in the area and invited us to join them on a hike south of Manzanillo to Punta Mona.

Cutest "not-too-poisonous" frog
Una linda mariposa 
 We headed along the coast through the thick forest following a 'path' that meandered out to deserted beaches, between rock cliffs. We glimpsed at the lives of howler monkeys, butterflies, birds and the cutest frogs that Marco assured us were "not too poisonous". We were about to turn back when we came to a clearing. There was a house, no electricity, no roads, but there was an operating farm with the most wonderful man who happily directed us towards Punta Mona, calling after us to "aprovechar" or to enjoy! We soon arrived to a secluded beach, with an island and reef just off it to snorkel. 

That day my mind didn't wander into the past, I was just soaking up the moment. I realized that there are times to reflect and there are times to look forward, and there are time to just be

New Year's Resolution #3: Embrace the Moment. 

1 comment:

  1. Great posts Heather. Thanks for sharing. Your placement is going so well! Congratulations! Meanwhile, we are still waiting for a departure date (now almost three months delayed!). Frustrating. Best wishes for 2014. Christine and Jelte