When I was 20 I travelled for six months; West Africa, India, Thailand, Malaysia.
26 years later, with a family van and some soccer mom years under my belt, I find myself hiking alone up the waterfall in Montezuma, Costa Rica. I passed the “Don’t go alone. Flash floods!” sign.
A very skinny 70 year old New Yorker (who hadn’t ventured the hike) had earlier assured me it was too dry for floods. She must know.
Half way up the mountain I find a stunning waterfall and a clear pool, a cluster of tourists swimming.
I took my dusty shoes off and sat with Tiffany from Orillia whom I had met on the beach earlier in the day. Tiffany had very white teeth—a typical, tanned and leggy Montezuma yoga tourist.
Tiffany told me she had successfully done Muskoka landscape design for 13 years. When I told her I was an artist she lamented her feelings of both yearning and terror around painting.
I nodded, empathizing with fear in general. But also kept thinking, Tiffany, I would card you at liquor store. How could you have been in business for 13 years?
I resist explaining to her that while I look like her mom, really I am 23.
After a luxurious swim, I leave Tiffany and a few dope smokers and take the trail less travelled up the jungle mountain towards my shipping container “treehouse”.
I don’t know what possessed me to go solo on this trip other than a strong desire to be able to follow my nose, tune into my own channel exclusively.
And I was pumped that no one was going to ask me complicated logistical questions for a week.
I found myself in total silence. As I ambled along I find that the trail is steep enough to require dangling climbing ropes.
Grabbing smooth roots that jutted out from the sandy slope, looking 3 feet ahead for the next root, I climbed with diminishing confidence. After a while I found myself facing a barbed wire fence. My eyes scanned below my feet for the lost trail.
“I can slide towards certain injury, Or I just stay here helpless, where even if someone came along, no one could help me anyway,” I speculated.
I inched my way down to some ropes I had missed, trying to keep my body tight against the dusty slope.
Triumphantly, I found a real trail, replete with steps
Catching my breath and bobbing along with my little knapsack, I enjoyed this a nicely worn path with a sense of triumph. So civilized there were fauna signs with photos. Still, I hadn’t seen anyone in a while and the sun was really hot.
The second sign featured a boa constrictor.I shook my head, “That is ridiculous,” I thought. “I would know if there were constrictors here!”.
I was beaming when I crossed the suspension bridges and found the dusty road to my temporary jungle abode.
Later my yogi host Daniel, who speaks with a thick German accent, and frequently about the energy of the uni-verse, assured me that he had seen lots. He added that, obviously, one should not contaminate one’s experience with fear. After all, the constrictors have no ill intent.
I decided not to argue about the validity of boa constrictors. Or fear which, particularly on this trip, I’d like to drop.
I made myself a smoothie and sat on my cantilevered deck I looking up at the canopy, searching the dangling vines with added interest.
I tell myself to relax, and not energetically offend the constrictors with whom I’d like to stay on positive (but distant) terms.
This week alone has included other activities that I would rather my daughter did not do, such as daily hitchhiking.
At night I draw the curtains around my elevated glass box and put my head on my pillow, listening to the roar of howler monkeys. They sound like tigers.
I try not to think about my security too much, and unsuccessfully try to banish thoughts of nefarious characters climbing my outdoor staircase which lies about ten feet from a dirt road.
With the full moon flooding the upper windows of my space, I successfully sleep much of the night.