Jungle routine

Even the wild becomes routine.

Between chicken duties (doodies?), I am painting as many signs as possible, which is satisfying. Yvonne laughed to hear me say that this is the best art studio I’ve ever had, given that it’s an old woodshed that was full of junk, spiders, and one small boa. But now it’s just got two or three cute iguanas who monitor the perimeter, open air, a jungle view, a spigot. Privacy. Equipment to cut and sand boards. And it’s just a three minute walk from home.

Meanwhile, Johnathan and J. have been working together on the volunteer cabina, though neither speaks the other’s language. They communicate in hand gestures and grunts. To accompany these, they make up meaningless syllables that sound to them like the opposite language. J. has learned a few Spanish words: Buenos días, buenas tardes, gracias, carpintero, hola, café negro, vivo, y muerto. An odd smattering. He has built a new outhouse for the composting toilet, and is working on stairs that aren’t rickety and crooked. Johnathan has erected a beautiful canopied awning in front, providing much needed shade and rain cover.

On our weekends, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, we usually ride into town with Mike or Yvonne, then get our tourism on. J. is happy going from café to café, relaxing and sipping local coffee and trying every flavor of fruit refresco and the occasional milkshake. We also might rent bicycles, kayaks, or snorkel gear. I sometimes have trouble relaxing on weekends, since days off are a precious, limited commodity and must be maximized, every second! Then I drag J someplace hot, or make a less than ideal choice of restaurant, and suffer regret. One night I wound up, PMSing in a stuffy hostel room, cranky and sunworn, totting up the amazing speed with which we had burned through 50,000 colones, and felt like nothing more than crying into what turned out to be a moldy pillow. Cry me a river, vacationing gringa! If only I surrendered more easily. Our neighbor writes self help books about being intuitive and letting things flow as guided by one’s higher power. I don’t know how well most people walk that talk, but I could stand to do better.

Just as we get used to this, used to the cycles of heat and cooling, work and rest, used to sinking gladly into our plastic chairs every evening at six, clean after quick showers with a sunset view, waiting for the breadfruit fries to brown… we realize that we have less than a week of volunteering left. Just as I begin to imagine that we have always been here and always will be (which happens everywhere), it is time to hit the road. Take a deep breath, erase our domestic presence from the cozy cabina, shake up the routine again. Change takes a toll, but we’ll be ready. Tropical farm life is good, but without a car it’s difficult to get out and do anything between chicken shifts (approximately 7 am, 11:30, and 4:30 pm). Instead, we read, pick crazy flowers, play guitar, hang out the laundry, think, and cook. All pleasurable habits, but I’m still aware that beautiful Arrecife beach is three miles away, aqua and inviting and just out of reach. So… Arenal Volcano, Monteverde Cloud Forest, and who knows where else… we will soon be on our way!

P. S. Update on the household creature situation: the morning after I posted “Freakout,” I awakened to find a scorpion in the sink, scuttling around a dinner plate and fork. I pulled the girl card and got J to kill it (with the machete!). When I scooped up its body with a soon-to-be-washed fork, it sounded like a dangly metal necklace. J. found another in his shower towel. When he tried to kill it, he only severed its tail, which clung to the wall and stung itself repeatedly until it died. The body ran away, weaponless but presumably pissed. We would think it still roams the bedroom, except that afternoon we received a benevolent visit from the cleaner ants. They periodically take over one’s house and comb it like a landmine team of several hundred, consuming dead insect parts, gecko eggs, and who knows what else. While they do, it’s best to stay out of their way and let them perform their service in peace. So we think they took care of the scorpion. We’ve not seen him again.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *