“I dislike feeling at home when I am abroad.” ~ George Bernard Shaw
We were not awakened by the lapping waves from the nearby ocean, no; we were awakened by a vicious parrot brawl at 5:30am. “If you wake up my baby you stupid f***in parrots, I will f*** **** **** *****, shut the heck up!” Yes, they’re beautiful, but beauty does not excuse pure obnoxiousness. When the screeching was reduced to mild chirping, I was able to soak in the ‘oh yeah, this is awesome.’ Most of the walls in the rooms of our new jungle house were composed of wooden lattice and screens, to prevent the local diverse creatures from making themselves our bedfellows. These “walls” allowed us to see the vegetation surrounding us and feel the “cool” breeze.
Because Hudson was able to sleep through the bird riots I decided to sneak out and check out our new digs, without the need to walk hunched over to prevent a curious toddler from eating a crab. The house and surrounding landscape had an intense ‘Jurassic Park-esque’ feel. The huge lizards ran like tiny raptors and the howling monkeys in the distance made me half expect long-neck-riding demons to come tromping through the jungle.
After capturing an over abundance of still-life photos, I wandered back to the house to find Luis and his team laying out a table of lush fresh fruit, homemade toast, eggs, Gallo Pinto, and coffee; coffee, give me coffee, por favor. I sat for a moment enjoying the coffee and “jungle silence,” and pondered the miraculous fact that Hudson was still asleep. Oh wait, is that a shrieking monkey or my ‘not asleep’ baby, right on cue Hudson.
After our eleven person troop of travelers cleared all food from the table, the intrepid surfers rallied for a surf excursion. Apparently, the three-foot shore break in front of our house wasn’t enough for them. We donned our Costa Rican uniforms, composed of brightly hued bathing suits, and loaded in our rental cars. The first half hour on the heavily pot-holed road went “smoothly,” until we came to The Hill. The Hill rose up from a “criver” (a river/ creek,) and was not only incredibly steep but muddy, and strewn with some serious rifts. Could our flimsy non-four-wheel-drive sedan make it? The SUV rental car went first, created some cringe worthy spinning tire clamoring, but made it.
Eric: “I got it, no problem, piece of cake.” (Infamous last words.)
Me:” I will not be in this car, with our baby, when this car goes up, then down, the hill of slippery peril.”
Conveniently, there was a footbridge over the criver for nervous mothers. As I walked sideways across the bridge, making sure my back was turned to Eric’s brazen ascent up the hill, in the rental car we weren’t “supposed to” wreck, or leave evidence of off-roading on, I heard clanging, banging, rock crunching, and then a car successfully moving up the hill. It was a miracle, but oh wait, we would have to go down the hill on the trip back.
We pot-holed our way the remaining distance to the surfer’s paradise of Pan Dulce; unfortunately for me, there was no sweet bread hanging from the palms, as the name so inaccurately implies. As our surfers waxed on and waxed, and drank the obligatory pre-surf beer, (at least those over 21,) I perused the beach for a “baby safe” hangout. I use the term ‘beach’ loosely and place quotation marks around ‘baby safe’ because the waves were not lapping/crashing onto a sandy shore, no; it was more like a giant-bruise-producing slab of rock. But, that of course did not stop us, and we picked our way into the ocean, baby and all.
Have you ever heard the term ‘renegade wave?’ I have. Therefore, I should have known better than to take my baby into a seemingly calm shore break I was wholly unfamiliar with. As soon as we reached under-boob level in the deceivingly tranquil waters, I spotted it, the renegade wave forming. I quickly calculated my chances of reaching the shore before the looming mass of water crashed atop us, but determined the effort would be futile. I then quickly calculated my chances of being able to dive under the wave while holding my 12 month old. He would hold his breathe, but the strong force of the rushing water could likely prove to be too much for his little body. Last ditch option, rush towards the wave in an attempt to jump over it before it began its foreboding crest. I rushed towards the wave gripping my child with every last iota of strength and lunged up and out of the water. We were too late, the wave had begun its crest and Mother Nature harshly slapped us in the face. But, we made it through, and were met with another renegade wave! Just kidding. After our harrowing adventure, I was water logged, and baby was stunned into silence. We high-tailed it out of the unpredictable surf and found some sandy turf, well out of reach of the grasping waves.
After licking our wounds, my mom decided she would like to go for a dip, and because Hudson had long forgotten about our five-minutes-ago trauma, he of course decided that he must go with her. The surf had mellowed considerably and we were sure there was no further chance of a slap-stunner wave….
As soon as they made it to the exact same spot I had met my aquatic match, another rebel wave popped up. Not kidding. Before I had the chance to warn my never-gets-her-hair-wet mother they were receiving another fully submerged slap in the face. Baby wasn’t stunned into silence this time, he was pissed, and he let it be known. That was the last time mom got her hair wet in Costa Rica.
To make use of these bitchy waves, I decided to grab a boogey board, and the baby, and attempt to make the waves work for me. Just kidding, about the baby part. I dove out into the tepid abyss, and floated, and floated, and floated. The car rental Gods must have been pissed that we took the cars up The Hill because the waves knew what we wanted, and were consistently providing us with the opposite; hopefully the surfers were having better luck around the bend.
I decided to make a coconut cocktail out of the salty lemons being served up, and became one with the tranquil float. Our pre-teen travel companion then joined me in the watery float and we commenced to have a beautifully spiritual discussion about past lives, hypnotherapy, the power of the mind, and iPads; that’s right, we’re deep.
As the menacing thunder-heads rolled towards us, and the howler monkeys (right on cue) began wailing, we spied our luckily-not-too-intrepid group of surfers picking their way along the rocky coast back to the awaiting muddy vehicles. We all had the same unspoken thought in the back of our minds; ‘Get to The Hill, before it becomes a wall of sliding sludge.’
We piled into the mildew mired vehicles and slogged our way back to the The Hill. Our luck had fortuitously shifted and the clouds had not yet unleashed their watery fury on The Hill. We “gracefully” slid down hill, through the criver, and up the much less daunting other side of the hill, and continued our meander down the pot-holed path. Soon after, as we stopped so I could tinkle/urinate on the side of the road, an echoing cacophony of monkey moans reached my ears, as the fat drops of downpour soaked my exposed tushy. Apparently, the car rental Gods don’t appreciate “indecent” exposure.
Coming Soon: ‘The Tale of the I-Thought-You-Were-Right-Behind-Us Waterfall Hike’