Have you ever been in a tropical rainforest? Up until two weeks ago, I hadn’t either. Little did I know how it would change me. Costa Rica took me on a wild ride into the realm of sensation.
From the window of my bus heading into Lake Arenal, the landscape looks a lot like Northern California after a heavy rainstorm – gently rolling hills carpeted in emerald-green grass, cattle grazing, wind turbines spinning their arms in the wind. I can’t even see the volcano because it’s shrouded in clouds, and I wonder “I traveled all this way for what?”
Two hours later….. my senses explode. I sit down to watch the sunset from the deck of my B&B. Glancing up I notice the trees above my head are teaming with life. Enormous birds decked in rainbow colored plumage chatter and shake out their wings, something round and furry crawls along a branch, and mangos tumble to the ground.
When my host puts out bananas on a wooden railing, the birds swoop down to feast. Birds I’ve never seen before with long yellow beaks, blue, green and orange feathers, and little ‘hats’ perched on their heads, are so close I can almost touch them. Around me oceans (undulating waves?) of crickets chirp, frogs croak, monkeys howl, and other unrecognizable sounds become almost deafening as the sun sets over the lake below.
Through the night I sleep surrounded by sound. And as the sun rises at 5:30am I am startled from my slumber by a whole new symphony of morning calls. I pull out my yoga mat, and do my morning poses accompanied by the symphony of the rainforest.
Over the next few days I saturate in this world that is teaming with life. A Costa Rican guide shows me how to recognize different creatures that crawl, slither, jump, and fly through the grasses and trees. I learn to rely not so much on my eyes, which can’t distinguish a lump on a tree trunk from a furry sloth, as on my other senses. My ears start to distinguish different bird calls, monkey howls, and plop plop of avocado pits being dropped from a creature munching above my head. My feet wake up inside their shoes to the texture of rocks, mud, and gravel – such a relief from pavement. My skin soaks in the moisture-drenched air. My peripheral vision sensitizes to subtle movements and shifts in color and texture – which might portend a snake on a tree trunk, or tarantula peering out between roots of a tree, or a scorpion scurrying across my path.
It’s as if my inner landscape wakes up to receive the landscape that surrounds me. My mind stops fretting about what may happen next and relaxes. I relish what’s happening moment to moment, whether I’m on a five hour bus ride, asking someone directions ‘con muy poco de espanol’, savoring my ‘tipical’ Costa Rican breakfast of tree-ripened papaya and mango, fried plantains, eggs, beans, and fresh roasted coffee, or walking in the rainforest with two new friends I just met.
Costa Rica reminds me to be in the moment. To delight in the immediacy of sensation, and allow my busy mind to relax. And even though I’m back home, the gifts from this gentle country continue to reverberate in me. I’m ready to embark on my next exploration: How do I surrender into sensation in this urban jungle called Los Angeles?
Click here to listen to a Clear Out Linda recorded in a Costa Rican Rainforest.