Scenes from a cloud

1. Cool at last! After over a month of sweltering heat, we took the bumpy bus ride north, away from the Caribbean Coast, and up to el bosque nuboso: the cloud forest of Monteverde. Now I am hiking alone in the national preserve, feeling strong and alive. A white-faced coati rolls a log over and over. A hummingbird buzzes electrically and hovers in front of my face like a tiny, iridescent UFO. The clouds dip down and then retract. My skin sings to be immersed in such fresh air.

2. Back at the humble hostel, J. and I eat mint ice cream made by the Quakers who moved here in 1951. They were dairy folk, but milk couldn’t make it down the laborious, windy road before spoiling, so they turned to making cheese and other treats. I open the refrigerator door to pull out vegetables to chop for dinner, and the white kitten who perches on top of the fridge bats my fuzzy hair. I am in love with her. The fellow at the desk says I am free to take her with me; the hostel already has its cat, Concha. This one, Paraquita, is just a stray, a neurotic, feisty kitten. (He won’t tell me what Paraquita means; obviously something a bit naughty, not just parakeet. I can’t find the word in my dictionaries… crowd-sourced translations, anyone?) Costa Rican dogs aren’t so bad either. They are often jointly owned (or abandoned) by many, fed by many, and uncollared (because of the dangers of getting the collar caught on some bizarre forest plant). They strut in and out of the buildings and businesses freely, like fine gentlemen, since there are few doors and nobody minds. They greet each other, scout out the prospects, and trot out again, with dignity.

3. It is raining. Hard. Four seconds ago it was not raining. The rain does not dismay me. We are vacationing, but we are also just living. This means it is time to play cribbage, or fall asleep, or talk softly and laugh with each other. I wonder how people are perpetual tourists, or retirees with nothing but leisure time. Not contributing to society, unless I am unable to, would bother me. For these ten days, it is all right. But I am glad we will soon be more than consumers again, in some way, important or negligible, it does not matter.

4. Today, everyone is watching a futbol (soccer) game between two Costa Rican teams. I think it’s like when UGA plays Georgia Tech. We’re walking past the neighborhood cementario (which I think they might mean to spell cemeterio, except the graves are all made of cement covered in white bathroom tiles and ceramic crosses). Suddenly, we hear screams, car horns, cheers, obscenities, and even a vuvuzela blast from the houses and faroff valleys. The normally quiet and gentle people of this country, following the game on radios and TVs in homes, hotels, businesses, and grocery stores, bellow: GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL!!! I love it.

(N.B. We are at this moment back in the USA… but there are several Costa Rican posts still forthcoming. What a marvel it is to have a real keyboard upon which to type!)

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