No Artificial Ingredients Indeed

Returning from my family’s holidays in Costa Rica, I was immensely thankful that I had not only well-earned rest and relaxation with my family but had previously unimaginable exciting experiences.

The Costa Rican ad in the New York Times this Sunday contains the slogan “No Ingredients Artificial.” I’m going to tell. What about monkeys who have given us our singular call for awake swinging limbs right outside of our hotel balcony, iguanas who join us for our breakfast walk, a highly venomous snake slipping straight before our eyes, on our drive to dinner, native scrambled craftsmen who share the bar under the grass-thatched shelter where we have had our dinner mostly. It’s all around.

The frogs that resident caretaker Valencia shelted and raised were patted; crocodiles were smeared, swimming in the same water we were rafting in Whitewater and enthustingly spread the mud in our face while we were sipping an organic café in the mountain top café. We saw the volcano erupted at Arenal and went delighted to see the volcano played again at the national news that night. (I never thought I was wearing a volcanic mud mask with strangers in the centre of Costa Rica…but then I thought again I would never see them again, either.)

I must say: my more popular attire looks far more like it jumped out of the Lilly Pulitzer closet while heading to the southern end. Several bright capris, Jack Rogers shoes co-ordination and cute strokes will usually get me everywhere in the summer.

In Costa Rica, however, not. This was the place to walk boats, shorts and packs of fan. Out of my element, I was completely out.

Taking risks is one of the things for creative life which I strongly suggest. It is one of the secrets of imagination. Any creative person takes risks. You live outside your comfort zone. They undertake new practises, surround with various types of people and actively enter international environments. They build circumstances that control the result little or no.

This was my family’s situation during our summer holidays. I’ve been completely abroad. I don’t speak Spanish, and only my fluent husband and kids have had side-splitting laughs in my faint attempts at putting a “el” in front of any word with a “o” behind it (i.e. the “guide-o”). “Please, lemon soda club” was another joke at mealtime.

I don’t hang out in surfer shorts and surfer tops, either. I really can’t surf. I can’t surf. My husband and children have been taking lessons every day while at the pool, but I can’t even consider it, because of my mangled right leg (the car accident 20-7 years ago). Costa Rica is surfing everyone on the sand. There, too, I was odd-man. My husband and his sons discovered that they would not go home until they saw it on their own for a certain night’s walk in the Cloud Woods. Nor did I wish the “No Trespassing” signs to go for a night trek in the erupting volcano, (my husband and sons thought it would be irresistible to imagine what might lurk beyond the darkness?). I declared that I will not eat there for fear about malaria, after stopped for lunch at a nearby soda on the side of the road (literally). But I was starving. I was starving. I ate there. I ate there. It’s been great. I did not catch malaria. I did not catch malaria. But once more, my husband and children were laughing at me.

We have travelled through the SUV on paths that can only be identified. It would be amazing exaggeration to name them highways. They’d beyond everything I’d ever saw, even when they were going to Panama. Well, Signage was at best unclear and at worst non-existent. We thought it was the plot of the native against American tourists.

Still, we are excited to return already. The national motto of Costa Rica is “pure life.” The clean life. Or “life is fine.” Life is good. And I was very grateful to have lived with no artificial ingredients for a few weeks after all had been said and finished. No makeup on my middle-aged face. Just volcanic mud. No marks of dress… just baggy shorts and cotton t’s. No jewellery. I bought a native craftsman on the beach, except the eye cross-and-perfect-trinket of a green cat.

I walked at the incredible beaches I had ever seen, walked through the woods for a horseback, paddled down white-water levels and saw 400 metres higher cloud forest. I came home tired and weary, yet joyful and content.

My greatest challenge now is how to bring in my New England culture, family life and schedule all Costa Rican beauty and pure life. But no ingredients artificial? It’s a complicated one now.

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