Tuesday, June 24, 2014

R U Ready for Some Fresh Nar Nar?: On Pura Vida, Surfing, Urban Aboriginals, Bird Watching, Hiking, Three Stepper Fearing, and Other Antics in Costa Rica

“What would an ocean be without a monster lurking in the dark? It would be like sleep without dreams.” 
Werner Herzog

Caroline and her Jui- jitsu crowd arranged for us to go for a retreat in Costa Rica.  So in June, a group of writers, web designers, hippies, photographers, hair stylists, surfers,  feminists, body builders, cabaret performers, bloggers, metal workers, photographers, this writer, and family descended from New York and parts unknown on Nosara, in the Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica.  

Johnny Fayva  hung with us.

Perched the Southern Pacific Coast of this neutral nation where they’d rather invest in books than guns, we’d spend the week romping between the beach and Jujitsu training. Well, Caroline did the training, while the girls and I hit the beach, taking in some of the beauty and quirks of this small Central American treasure, perched between Nicaragua and Panama, where the country abolished the army in 1948 supporting suffrage and education for all.  Somehow this people, the decedents of the Mesoamerican and Andean empires, the Spanish colonists and waves of US travelers, manage to find their autonomy while navigating the region’s conflicts and quarrels.  There is a lot to learn from them.

Scenes from Costa Rica

There’s always dynamics when a group of people travel together.  And ours was no different.  But we had a grand time, going out for lunch after we arrived last Saturday, wondering what to do when you are “Really really, really ridiculously good looking."  Sitting at the bar, Costa Rica was busy decimating their first opponent, Uruguay, in what would turn out to a joyous World Cup run.   After lunch, we proceeded on our three hour car from Liberia to Nosara. 

The landscape offered rice and coffee fields, geckos romping through the trees, volcanoes, and silhouettes in the fading sun.

We even took in a few monkeys along the unpaved road.

Dave, our amicable host was there to meet us on our arrival in our jungle resort.  A southern drawl and Elvis impersonating looks, he was always there with a smile, a tip, a ride, or a joke.

We were immediately taken with the birds chirping and monkey’s howling in the distance. Some of the best moments of the trip were just these times n the morning reading, hanging, sharing a cup of coffee, and a dip in the pool at the sun rose and descended.

We romped out to playa guiones the first morning, playing along the white sands and the warm and lovely Pacific Ocean.

Dave and I talked about some of the bugs and critters dwelling in the nearby woods.  “Last year, I found a Three Stepper on the plot,” he explained. 
“What’s a three stepper?”
“Well, if they bite you, you have three steps and then you are dead.”
In the course of the week, I saw monkeys, parakeets, iguanas, horses, countless spiders, a scorpion, a turtle crossing the road (successfully), got nibbled on by a stingray, a bunch of crabs, and not a single snake.

And they trained. Occupy the space, Ariel instructed, seemingly paraphrasing the old Occupy slogan.
The body, the mind, space, and the lines in between, this is quite a journey.  Throughout the weekend, the grapplers talked about the ways they find themselves, heal, get stronger, and learn to navigate the lines between the mat and the street, the sweaty, sometimes clunky connections and contact, between  their bodies, lives and the journey which brought them here.  A lot goes on when people experience pain together. Thiis the stuff of a chemical rush, shared struggle, and built community.  
Caroline and Ariel -yulhee cho

They all seem to love the embodied experience of connecting, fighting, playing, rolling and horsing around on the mats, breaking the social line between self and other, friend and competitor, male and female and so on. 

In Urban Aboriginals, Geoff Maine talks about the ways people build space and learn from each other through the mutual experience of pain and release. 

Caroline and her entourage. She had to make some big decisions this trip.

The first few days, I concentrated on surfing, riding a long board out into lush waves, managing to stumble up onto the board lurching through the white water, stumbling forward, backward, and sometimes making into onto the beach where I careened into the sand.  Still this was a great afternoon, after decades of trying to surf, on beaches from Venice, Ca, to inch, Ireland.  Last summer the waves in Montauk seemed to pick me up, plop me down on the rocks, and then cascade thousands of pounds of the ocean on my back.   People came up with broken noses, cracked ribs, and sore bodes.  I thought of Mark Foo, who come in for  a swell in Mavericks, and never made it up again.  The surf lessons helped.  While I ate a lot of water, cracked my neck, bruised my chest, felt my nipples ache, I did manage to dance with the sea, as my old college roommate used to say after our days on the waves in Southern California.  So i rode a few waves, and found a bit of harmony between myself and the ocean, the sea and my body, the one and whole, and then bit it one more time. Repeat. These moments are fleeting, in eternal return.

Dave showed me a nature walk at the back of the jungles’ edge, warning me to look out for the three steppers. In between my look out for snakes, the short hike included old trees and lush trees unlike anything else I’ve seen, even as I watched for three steppers on the ground and hanging in the trees.

Later that night, we went out for dinner at Olga’s, enjoying the beach at Playa Pelada.  Visit Nostra notes:
Playa Pelada is arguably the most beautiful beach in Nosara. Pelada is a small, curving white sand beach tucked between Punta Nosara and Punta Guiones. Playa Pelada is still an operating fishing village as indicated by the handful of small fishing pangas that line the beach. A trail at the northern end of the beach winds up onto the cliffs of Punta Nosara and continues on to the Nosara Rivermouth. At the southern end of the beach, a blowhole can shoot water high into the air when the tide is right. Pelada is a quiet place - great for walks, shell hunting or relaxing with a book. More action can typically be found in front of Olga's Bar where local fishermen, tourists, ex-pats and workers gather daily to watch the sunset or play futbol on the beach. Pelada gives off a bit more of the local, Tico feel and energy. On the weekends (especially Sundays), this is where many of the locals from the area go to spend the day at the beach with their families.

Most every day, the sounds of  birds chirping and monkeys howling welcomed us, with time to read, thinking about the world, history, capital, people, groups, and nature, and how it is that Costa Rica can stay neutral in a world of adversaries, capitalists, tourists, and geopolitical intrigue. Still it has.
Most days, the sun shone all day.  

One evening, a monsoon poured.

So we hung out, drank rum and beer and made a night of it, hanging, talking and watching Marx Brothers moves. 

Other days, we romped about exploring the tide pools at low tide.

Thursday, we romped out through the woods for a swim a water fall.

And Friday, we made plans for zip lining through the woods, making our way out on the road between the Nosara and its beaches for an 8 AM tour. 

R u ready for some fresh nar nar? Russell asked, referring to the old South Park episode in which the adventurers endure an 8 hour orientation for their zip line tour. The send up of the Americans on their quest for adventure, felt telling and prescient. In between fears of god, broken wires, and images of bodes crumbling n the distance, the zip lines through the trees felt sublime.

Finishing the tour, we ducked into the office to watch the opening minutes of the monumental Costa Rica Italy world cup match, celebrating the Tican’s goal over Italy.

By half time, we made it Olga’s at Playa Pelada to enjoy the rest of the game, making best friends with the gang at the bar, ready to high five anyone, counting down the minutes until Costa Rica’s second triumph over a former world champ n the tournament.  Olga's felt like the lost bar n the woods in Maro Vargas llosa's novel Casa Verde. 

We spent most of the day at the beach, romping about  Playa Pelada, playing, hiking and relaxing.

Woke the next day and journeyed home.

It’s been nearly a month, since we buried dad.  Still he comes to me n my sleep then fades into the distance, of time and space, dreams and memories, maybe somewhere in the trees in the distance.   Now he comes to talk to me in my dreams, just below the surface of my conscious mind, we we make our way back home, another adventure, in a lifetime of adventures.   I’m sorry  I can’t tell dad about it.  Maybe he’ll get to read this blog? 

The day after we got back number three left for camp, setting off on her own, taking another step n a lifetime of steps.  We drove through the hills where  i used to go as a kid, drove wth my pop.   Driving away I thought of my days when dad dropped me off at camp decades prior, sent me off for another milestone.  Now he’s gone in the trees.  She’s getting older.  And life passes.

Back home we watched the US play and recalled a lovely week in time, planning another trip to move still deeper south, enjoying stories of where we had been  the week prior.

iT was a powerful week to watch and talk, study and remember, play and sit peacefully, looking at the sea and time. 

There are tons of photos of landscapes here for Russell, who loves such images.  They remind me of the crowds of friends I’ve known and known, the world out in the distance, the play of everyday life.

As Wordsworth reminds us about dancing with daffodils.

"Daffodils" (1804)
I WANDER'D lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretch'd in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed -- and gazed -- but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
By William Wordsworth (1770-1850).

That ones for you Russell!


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