My Costa Rica Commute

Volunteering in Costa RicaDo you experience bliss doing the most simple of things? You know, where your chest inflates with joy and tears well in your eyes from the sheer power of it. The kind that continues, years later, to give you a rush?

I often have them while travelling. A few happened on the southeast coast of Costa Rica. I spent three weeks volunteering at the Jaguar Rescue Centre and six days a week I would ‘commute’ to ‘work’… as if cuddling baby sloths could ever be called work!

I amble along the Costa Rican ‘highway’ on the Pink Panther, my neon pink spotted bicycle, to the Jaguar Rescue Centre. It is early morning and the sun is low enough that it still slants light through the trees creating inspiring patterns on the blacktop, sprinkled with orange blooms that fell overnight. The air is warm yet still fresh. I like to call it the soft sun. Harsh sun will come soon enough. The Howler monkeys are finally sleeping after a raucous night of, well, howling.

Living in Costa RicaAlmost every morning is like this, where I experience those all too rare moments of the joy of being in the moment. My mind takes a short vacation from its normal fretting and fussing. My monkey mind is not yet awake either. LOL

It is too early for the tourists so it is just me and the locals as we go off to work. I have done this ride enough that they, who share the road with me, feel comfortable enough to call out “Buenos Dias”. The Pink Panther has been one of the best ideas of this trip. She has given me not only a cheap mode of transportation but bucket loads of fun and independence. She has also helped me feel like I belong a little, always a gift.

As I peddle I’m always on the look out for the crimson hibiscus blooms, the baby sloths’ candy of choice. The flowers are few and far between from days of volunteers clear cutting them just to see the bliss on those adorable faces. We are their slaves, no doubt about it. I stop and pull them off when I find them and toss them into my basket… the flowers, not the sloths.

The world is a riot of lush colour, nature renewed by recent rain. Fifty shades of green are punctuated by flowers saturated with reds, oranges and yellows. Bougainvillea, ginger, bird of paradise, powder puff flower and heliconias compete like contestants in a beauty pageant.

Volunteering in Costa RicaMy mind drifts to the day ahead. I am looking forward to seeing the baby sloths and giving them a cuddle before cleaning out their little night nests. Each one has a blankie and a stuffed teddy to hang onto at night. They will scurry upside down along branches hung inside their house, trying to wrap their arms around our necks. We giggle and duck away. Little buggers are faster than their names imply. And let’s face it, they are hard to resist!

Maybe today I will be able to spend some time in the Monkey Mansion or even better, take some of the older ones out to the forest for the afternoon to be free to explore nature and being monkeys. What bliss that is! Laying on a blanket in the jungle looking up at the trees and slivers of bright blue sky. Beams of soft sunlight mottle the ground. It is cool after the brutal heat outside the sanctuary of the woods. While some of the monkeys tear through  branches, others insist on  cuddling, too young and/or too shy to venture far from the security of our human arms. We can hear the wild ones a safe distance away, curious about these outlanders. Against all odds they have allowed a few of our monkeys into their pack, enough that we remain hopeful. That is the dream and aim of the centre, the eye is always on the prize which is to set our animals free in a safe and responsible manner.

Volunteering in Costa RicaWhat a gift this trip has been in spite (or because?) of the trials and tribulations. Lots of challenges but lots of ‘be here now’ moments. Funny how all the bliss moments coincide with those ‘be here now’ ones, eh?

Even years later I can close my eyes and still feel the sun on my face as my trusty steed rolls through the country side of Costa Rica. I can feel those furry arms (and long long claws!) around my neck nuzzling, looking for any comfort they can get. I close my eyes and I am back on that forest floor laughing at the antics of the young monkeys swinging in the trees.

Do you have those little experiences that send you over the moon when you travel? Or are you a home-body and find your joy there? Doesn’t matter where, we just need to keep seeking those experiences.

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  1. Yes, “over the moon moments” are alway a treasure. Great article to inspire making more of my own. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Great article, Donnae! Makes me want to go back to Costa Rica once again.

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