I am listening to a wintertime warmth playlist on songza and as soon as I opened by blog to type, the song The Wooden Sky
by what is now known as The Wooden Sky
began. This coincidence I do not take for granted, this song was our lullaby when we were driving through the 11,000 ft Cerro de la Muerte, which translates to "mountain of death." The soothing folk was the only thing quiet and pretty enough to take the edge off the drive. It was raining, we were engulfed in a cloud at a unknown altitude, fog rolled around every corner, somehow this song was our guide. It's funny how a song can evoke a feeling and a visual of an experience tied to it, I can see the foggy road, the sound of the rain hitting the windshield, the dusk setting over the valley, there was something quite profound and beautiful about it all.
We stopped on the side of the road at what looked like an artist cabin, playfully named Jack and Charlie. A costa rican woman greeted us with excitement, we must have been the only tourists that stopped all day, it was raining season and she did have her shop on the "mountain of death." We perused her shop full of trinkets and souvenirs brightly coloured with costa rican landscapes. Alison bought coffee bean earrings and a settled on a moon wind chime. The shop owner gifted us with lilies and we hugged goodbye, and I asked her name, "Ana" she replied and I said "me too" with a smile. My Croatian name was quite popular in Costa Rica, I guess its a Spanish name too. I like how we can share these things amongst different cultures, makes me feel even more connected to this country. We continued on our drive, now with the lilies on the dash, the gesture bringing a sense of calm to the drive, our new driving charm.
We hit darkness, it crept in while we were descending the mountain, but there it was - another obstacle on our journey. I kept my focus, we were going to reach Manuel Antonio and without a scratch. At this point we felt like veterans on the road, coaxing at it, asking it to show us what its got because we were ready. We reached the town, rain still pouring but we were happy to have reached our destination. In that excitement we missed the tiny street that would lead us to our airbnb. It was ok, we got this, we just need to turn around. We pulled a u-turn and I attempted the now very sharp turn onto this tiny street and I couldn't make it. Maybe it was the darkness or the rain or both but I didn't see the incline on this turn, so there we were inches away from hitting a parked car hilariously in front of the "muchos" gym. I've been driving standard for 10 years I think I can handle backing up the hill. There were three attempts and each time I inched closer to the car, we were stuck and there was no way out. Once again we had to be resourceful, once again the ego was left in the car. Alison ran into "muchos" gym and ran up to every muscle man in there, and finally found our guy. The universe wanted to give us one last task before settling in for the night, we got away too easily on our drive.
There were many more stories as we explored Manuel Antonio, some I like to keep as my own personal stories, for those rainy days that I can sit and think back on our bravery, on our wit, on our instincts. It was beautiful alright, the kind of beauty that makes your senses light up, gives you goosebumps, makes you appreciate the colour blue, the tiny breeze that swirls your hair in a dance. I want to describe it but then I also want to keep it inside, my memories that I cherish because I was there, I witnessed it, I felt the rain - the rain that soaked me to the core. Experiencing these foreign lands is our duty, it makes time expand and makes every moment a moment of awe. I speak of this place with fondness despite some crazy things that did happen, because I feel like I would do it a disservice if I didn't speak with reverence. Because it was here that I found myself again, I found my love of travel, of people, of preserving beauty, of taking in a moment, of taking chances and mostly of trusting the kindness of people. Everyone has the right to feel this way and we should never stop exploring.
crop top and one piece: Jordan de Ruiter
Photos: Ana and Alison