OcotalMonkeyToday is our last full day of the trip.  It started by getting up at 6am and doing some quick breakfast before hopping on a bus to take a river cruise.  It’s about 45 minutes away from our hotel, and we were excited to try one last time to see some wildlife. 

It didn’t disappoint. We saw two types of monkeys, howlers and white faced monkeys, as well as a few crocodiles and multiple species of birds, some bats and as always a veritable shit ton iguanas.  Iguanas are everywhere here.  It’s mating season and the males turn orange to attract the ladies.  Yesterday a 15 pounder (give or take) fell off of our roof.  I thought it had broken a leg at first, it was like a five foot fall, but he just kind of looked around and ambled along the cement toward who knows what.

The tours we took were with MarDigi, which is short for Marvin and Digi, who own the small company setting up and executing the tours.  Digi actually gave us a ride to our hotel here the first day, it isn’t cheap at $55 but it’s about the best deal you can find for a cab, supply and demand, et al.  She is a kind lady full of knowledge and smiles.  Today, Martin took us on our cruise.  We went with a few other folks and were given some background on Costa Rica (The Rich Coast) which is one of two countries that are pure Spanish translation.  Bonus question hint, the other stands for The Savior.  Can you guess what it is?  Oh, you’re so smart.

OcotalCrocodileCosta Rica’s currency is Colones, which is actually Spanish for the person who discovered Costa Rica, as well as many other areas along this sublime land mass, Christopher Columbus.  The other Italian guy who made the maps, Amerigo Vespucci, gets credit for the overall name.

I’d recommend a MarDigi tour if you’re in CR, they are very good people and promote the Pura Vida lifestyle.  Pura Vida means “Pure Life” or good life.  Many times being here, I’ve spoken with Costa Ricans who have said that they are not rich in terms of money, but they are rich for the land they live on and their lives.  Digi told me that everyone in Costa Rica loves their lives.  It’s part of the culture that everyone views life as a beautiful thing.  Today Marvin said after lunch, “Life is the most beautiful present you’ll ever get” and he kissed the cross around his neck.  Regardless of your dogma, the obvious gratefulness surrounding life here is inspiring. 

In the United States, an impeccable amount is taken for granted.  The culture is very much ignorant of the struggles in other areas of the world.  It’s not willful, it’s simply the effect of circumstance.  Our economy is incredibly evolved.  The market has driven costs down and promoted competition in nearly every facet of our lives.  That driven commerce has been a huge boon to our society in many ways, but there are other areas where we may have forgotten how valuable the simple things are. 

OcotalHeronThe man I rented my car from described the culture by saying that most Costa Ricans can’t afford a new vehicle, they are not rich.  They work hard, but they are rich in their way of life.  Just today we witnessed people digging sand out of the river and moving it by oxen for later use in construction.  I felt guilty for watching as a tourist, but the people digging simply waved at us hello.  All could think of was how I wanted a cappuccino.  Just kidding.

The waiter I overheard last night was discussing money with some guests and he said, “I have everything I need, what is rich?”  As an American, I can say that I’ve sometimes lost focus on what exactly it is I’m working so hard for.  My family has raised me to work hard, but at some points it’s easy to forget why.  This trip has helped a great deal to analyze what I’m doing and why again.  It’s pretty simple, but things move so fast that your perspective can get blurry.

I’ll remember what Marvin said.  I think it’s important.  Most of the triviality associated with our problems would not pass as laughable here. 

I’m excited to get home and see Stella.  I’m excited for the brisk air in Minneapolis and to get back to work.  Gracias Marvin, y hasta la vista Costa Rica.