On my one day off per week from kitchen duty at the Yoga Retreat, I usually walked the four kilometres down the dirt road to Cahuita to get a real Costa Rican breakfast (because we didn’t even make Gallo Pinto—rice and beans—for the group).
Trees dripped with tropical flowers and orchids grew up from the ditches like weeds. The air hung heavy with moisture and the sounds of the jungle. I could see the Caribbean in the near distance; I’m not much of a water person so didn’t venture into the Sea. The remains of fallen coconuts were strewn about, some had been piled up, awaiting burning. I often encountered a scary-looking Rasta man hacking away at the vegetation in the ditches with a machete. But he actually wasn’t all that scary, just strange. This side of Costa Rica has a laid back Jamaican vibe.
A short distance from the retreat was a Wildlife Rescue Center and Botanical Garden. I spent half a day there discovering the local flora and fauna (that I might otherwise not see) complete with helpful descriptions.
A little farther down the road stood Casa Kiké; it was designed by Gianni Botsford for his father, a writer. The two, stilted, triangular pavilions were nestled amongst the trees; the north-facing wall of windows allowed passersby a view of the library: walls lined with thousands of books and a black grand piano in the center. I wanted a photograph; I wanted to meet the owner. The sign on the locked gate requested privacy and no photos. This writer didn’t want to be disturbed. He didn’t even respond to my email requesting an interview.
Town had little to offer. I’d treat myself to a meal and do a little shopping and wandering. Then I’d walk halfway back to the husband’s “hotel,” where I could get Wifi, and catch up on my emails. I thought I would be able to enjoy the pool when no one else was around. I found out why it was vacant. I suffered from sand fly bites for a week afterward. And … that’s another reason I stayed off the beach.
All the way through town, down at the end of the road, was the Cahuita National Park. Over 55,000 protected acres included a large coral reef with a shipwreck dive site at River Perezoso. I would have liked to spend more time exploring the park but … my feet were tired and I was short of time; I still had to walk all the way back.
Sometimes I would splurge for a dinner away from the dining room. Returning to my cabin in the dark (and it got dark early), I’d make my way down the road less travelled with the help of a tiny wind-up flashlight. I should have invested in something more efficient.
One day, I walked into town and took the bus a short distance to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca—which was no more interesting that Cahuita—just bigger.
So, although there were many aspects of great beauty surrounding me, I wasn’t able to fully to enjoy them. I was itchy, my feet hurt, and I had to go back for six more days in the kitchen (where I was less than appreciated) before I could head down the road again in search of an alternate paradise.
It looks like paradise; it sounds like paradise. But, it’s a crapshoot: If you’re on the Pacific side of Costa Rica in a beautiful all-inclusive, lucky you; you rolled a perfect seven. But, sometimes, you roll snake eyes and you have to be careful not to get bitten looking into to those eyes.