The Road to Chirripo

Walking up, up, up
Arriba!
The rocky path, walking stick.
My Family.

I’m a one-person cheerleading squad, with promises of visiting the Chocolate Lady when we descend the mountain.

We climb up over a lower ridge of Chirripo, ascending from our house built on top of a waterfall. This house gives a whole new meaning to “waterfront” property. A tiny house perched on top of a boulder with the rushing Rio Chirripo below.

The jungle sings. Once the roar of the river fades behind us, it is replaced by the din of buzzing insects. And then the beautiful song of a yellow bird. The smell of el tocineta and mantequilla, flowers, or cows waft through the air as we walk past Tico homes, pastures and step onto the trail. Above us circle four frigates, and a hawk chases them up into the sky.

I look back at my mom, she looks small. She steps carefully holding her walking stick, my daughter’s little hand in hers. I remember my Gramma, her walking stick, her hands. The boys are running ahead to the pulperia. They want el helado, pleading they need the energy for the long hike ahead. I give them a few colones from my pack and they race each other to the store.

Along the road to Chirripo trail, the students are walking to school, dressed in crisp, perfectly white shirts and blue trousers. The milk truck has dropped of old-fashioned milk pails along the driveways. If Norman Rockwell was in the jungle, he would have painted this.

I feel more tranquil, more me that anywhere else. I ponder that perhaps each place has a specific vibration, and the mountains of Costa Rica resonate with my internal frequency perfectly. I’m sure Costa Rica has a shadow, as everywhere does, but in the six years I’ve traveled here, I haven’t found anything dark and shadowy enough to counteract the light.

There is time here, time to discover, time to be with family, time to create. There is time here I never have in the States. I unfold and my psyche circles around and around in ever deepening spirals, a labyrinth.

We trek along, laughing and noticing the flora and fauna and cross over onto the Chirripo trail. Up we ascend, up over the ridge, we are breathing hard, feeling the humidity, listening to the jungle. On a small tree we discover an anteater. She snoozes lazily unperturbed at our excited voices.

We begin to descend toward Chuma. At the exit of the trail, we see a youth hostel with gringos milling around. We walk down to the soccer field. Martin and I walk into the elementary school and speak to the headmaster, who is about to ride his motorcycle home. He tells us there are 6 fifth graders, and 4 third graders at the school, and yes, our kids are welcome to join in next year. He shakes our hands with a big smile.

At the soda, Martin and I brainstorm about moving here. From this vantage point, the USA feels like a crazy merry-go-round spinning at break-neck speed. We want off, but how to safely jump into Costa Rica? We decide to come next year and make a promise not to have the usual amnesia when we get back to Salt Lake this year. Every time we go back there is the damned amnesia. The fog. We get sucked into what we call the Hamster Wheel. Working our asses off just to survive, never getting ahead. Busy and unhappy, full of yearning. There is that scratching at the back of my head, a static of fear and unease. Every weekday, our kids stay at after-care at school until 5pm, then we rush home to do homework, get ready for bed and then do it all over the next day.

Martin and I look deeply into each other’s eyes and make a promise. 2013…one year here in Costa Rica, beginning January 2013. We’ll leave our life intact in Salt Lake and can come home if it doesn’t work out. Even if it’s terrible, it would still be an adventure. We already know what life in the States is like, let’s try something different. It’s time for an adventure.

I remember the quote, “Opportunity favors the prepared mind.” I’ ll make myself available for opportunities. As we walk towards home, I ask the land if she wants us here. I ask her if she does want us, could she please create an avenue for us to be here?

We stroll down the road where Tao lives. She makes raw cacao dulces with local ingredients. They are the most delicious chocolates I’ve ever tasted. The kids run ahead. She stands in the doorway of her cute little house, all painted turquoise, purple and yellow. It almost feels like she is expecting us. We swarm around her trays of candy, and pick our favorite flavors….mint, ginger-chipotle, black mole, salted caramel.

We stay late, talking with her. She tells us how to move here, how to ship what we need from the States, what properties are available to rent.

Ask dusk settles in we wander home. It’s a gorgeous scene, green mountains covered in mist, with fluffy, pink clouds, and a gentle breeze. The smell of gallo pinto comes from the Tico kitchens and I am smiling.

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