The road out of Nicoya turned into a one way and I was glad Susan was asleep. The streets were narrow, busy and things were happening quickly. Street signs to Samara or Nosara had disappeared, and I was going this direction by gut instinct.
When the truck coming fast the other way filled the entire street and almost the windshield, and I had to dive into the driveway of a bus station to avoid a head-on, I was sure the swerve would wake Susan up. Thankfully, she still slept.
My daughter K.C is like that. Fifteen minutes out of the driveway, K.C.’s head tips and she’s sound asleep. Susan thought she slept for about 20 minutes. Actually, she was out for most of the five hour drive south to Samara. That’s a good thing. She missed driving that would have unsettled a passenger.
She woke when I had to backtrack and take the highway, when the creek I was going to cross had logs and branches piled in the channel, left over from heavy rains. We stopped in Santa Cruz, where we were the only Norte Americanos in sight on the busy streets.
Samara was not the original destination, but it was getting late, signs to Nosara were non-existent, and I didn’t want to be driving at night up small dirt roads in the jungle trying to find a hotel.
I knew of a place in Samara. Not a great place, but a place, and on the beach, and a short walk to food.
“I really like this,” said Susan of the place, despite the lack of soap, shampoo, and with towels that had been washed so many times they had little more than the memory of being terrycloth. I think the towels were a new addition since my visit last March. The place was rough, the lime green and purple walls cracked, shelving put up in places not easy to reach or too easy to crack one’s head.
But Susan said “Thank you for finding these places,” as we lolled on the beach before packing up the next morning.
We moved on to the Little Green Gecko hotel (Piqueno Gecko Verde), made up up a dozen or so cabinas in the rain forest just to the north of town. Not on the beach, but placed gently in the forest where the owners planted native species and took pride in being an eco-friendly. The shower was outside in a rock enclosure.
Susan had a whole baked fish for dinner, the head with teeth staring her down. It was delicious. I had chicken in Gorgonzola sauce. That too. We saved salads for lunch the next day.
I finally drifted off to sleep at 3 or so. Three hours later, fully rested, Susan said “I hear monkeys!” I groaned “I don’t think so,” or something and rolled over. She was out the door in a flash, in a strangely wonderful whatever’s handy tomboy girly girl amalgam of high heel flip flops, beach coverup and outer shirt, this time not mine.
She texted to let me know she was okay a couple of hours later, and that there were monkeys “everywhere.” I headed down to a wild and rocky beach. Then she texted and asked for the name of our hotel. Given that her sense of direction is, well, somewhat random, I was a little concerned. I texted back Blue Iguana, or something where we were maybe going to stay a few days earlier. It was Gecko Verde. Ooops.
While I was down meditating on whether poetry would be different if the moon really were made of green cheese, Susan texted that she’d made it back to the room. What she did not text was that she had befriended another coatimundi, a large raccoon-like animal with inch-long razor sharp toenails and a long, prehensile nose.
Another one. The first was several days before at Sugar Beach. “Peanut” got his name from the fact that he took an entire bag of peanuts from Susan when she wasn’t doling them out fast enough.
”Please don’t let him climb into your lap” I said, thinking that rare Central American diseases would surely follow a long rake of those claws deep into her leg.
“Appleseed” was much more polite, and loved apples, but not the peels. She also loved peanuts, and I guess I’m thankful she tipped over the bowl before Susan decided to feed peanuts by hand to her one by one.
“Where are the monkeys?” I asked, thinking Susan must surely have found one to take home in her carryon bag.
“He’s coming over tomorrow morning. May he borrow your passport?”
Susan was out of the shower and putting the salads together a half hour before we headed down to watch baby turtles just hatched from eggs head out to a new life at sea.
In the Daihatsu Bego, we followed the white Nissan pickup of our guide through the river. When I saw how high the water came up on the Nissan’s running board, I hoped the little car with it’s smaller wheels wouldn’t decide to float downstream, but we made it with enough momentum.
At the beach, tiny and incredibly cute Ridley turtles made their way directly to the ocean. Some had to make the trip three or four times, as the waves washed them back up the beach, flipped them over and left them upside down in the sand. Over they’d go again, and head to the waves.
I feel a little like that sometimes. But right now I feel like I have been caught by the wave and am moving properly out to sea.
“It just keeps unfolding,” Susan said, and it’s true. So much has happened that seems to be directed but without our intervention.
Except that tomorrow, at noon, we begin a two day journey home, back to Oregon. Across Costa Rica in one day to the airport, and fly out the next. I know this trip will fade as our context changes, as bills and jobs and tasks postponed now demand attention, reality defined by where we are and what we have to do.
Later that night, Papaya, a real raccoon, would stop by for peanuts and… papaya. Those were his favorites. Susan objected to feeding him junk food, and so he stood on his hind legs when given fresh fruit and when he wasn’t picking peanuts up in his hands like a two year old.
The hammock where I have taken up residence holds me in a crescent embrace. It rocks with the slightest push off the deck below. How to hang on to this, how to make this last?