A Ping a Pela

As some of you may have read earlier, this week, I stepped into a twilight zone of golden opportunities. I truly cannot think of any other way to put it.

It all started with my successful interactions with a bilingual school just outside of Montezuma. I had scheduled an interview with the head of the board for the upcoming Wednesday at 8 in the morning. I decided to leave Sunday in order to gain my bearings to the new and unfamiliar area. I especially wanted to make sure I knew where the beach was located.

imageAndrew and I set off in his brother’s car that Sunday to surf the Pacific. I have been quite enjoyably staying at their place when I spend my time in San Jose, washing their dishes and doing their laundry as needed. Our first challenge however was getting the manual car out of the tightly spaced driveway. When we surprisingly discovered that my manual operating skills were just slightly more advanced than his (and I mean slightly), I was awarded the task of driving out of the city and out to the beach. Being that the lines on the roads are more like guidelines, my driving experience in San Jose was a bit stressful to say the least. But I am elated to say that I didn’t stall the entire way!

Once we finally made it to the beach, we unpacked our boards and headed towards the water. It was a lovely beach by a river that was inhabited by a plethora of pelicans who would soar right next to you as you waited for your next ride in. I quickly learned that I need more work with my short board game. Never the less, a day well spent.

Sunset ride on the ferry
Sunset ride on the ferry

Andrew dropped me off at the ferry later that evening around 5pm. I watched the sunset over the mountains as I made my way to my newest location. On the way, I met a man about my age from England who was traveling completely on a whim. After much discussion, he decided to join me on my night’s quest to Montezuma. He had met three Spaniards on his trip to the ferry. When we all got off, they asked me where I was headed. Again I told them of my plans, after looking at each other and with a quick nod of the head, Bernardt said, “Ok. We go too.”

And just like that, it was off to Montezuma, three Spaniards, the Britt, and me.

We all found a cheap taxi to split along with an equally cheap hostel when we arrived. It didn’t take us too long until we were out and about, exploring the three main streets of the beach town. We talked of our travels and home lives over some crepes for dinner on the “main drag”. Across the street was a Rastafarian band playing music on some stairs with their full set-up of instruments, microphones, candles and donation basket.

After a few rounds a pool, the Spaniards quickly retired to bed leaving it up to me to make some new friends for my non-Spanish speaking friend and myself. It was here when I met Tony and Jose, two locals from Montezuma. Have you ever met someone that you just instantly clicked with? As though it seemed we had known each other for years, it purely felt like this moment of meeting was meant to happen. The three of us became fast friends as I explained my upcoming interview and possible long term commitment to the area. Their hilarious antics and tricks made me feel as if I were Alice in Wonderland having tea with Mad Hatter and Rabbit. They warmly accepted me and treated me as if I were now a local.

The following day, I met Jose’s boss, Peter. Peter is a highly interesting man from Switzerland who made it huge in the candle-making industry. After selling his company, he made his way down to Montezuma. One day, he┬ámissed his flight home and hasn’t been back to the Alps in 7 years. He now owns an ATV quad rental company that I had the pleasure of working with for the past few days. Peter suggested that if I sell a few quads in the day and help trim the shrubbery around a house he was looking after, I could gladly sleep there for free. Little did I know to exactly what kind of place we were headed.

After driving about two miles on a quad up the steep Costa Rican mountain, we came to my new house. My jaw still drops just thinking about it. I couldn’t understand how this man had an entirely separate house for me to live in until he told me it’s recent history.

imagePeter is paid to take care of this house while the owners are away in the U.S. by providing maintenance and security. This requires him to stay at the home, use the oven, plumbing, and electric to ensure all the equipment stays in shape. Also to ensure that no one tries to steal anything. Recently, the owners had rented the house to another couple for the following three months. It turns out the couple did not like the rain season here in Costa Rica and decided to leave after the first month, leaving the place abandoned. It was here where Peter handed me the keys to my house and I set up my new shelter. I know what you’re thinking, I’ve really been roughing it.

We dropped off my things at my new house and returned to the center of town. I managed to interest some Germans in a quad and my work day was completed according to Peter. Tony and I headed to the beach where we enjoyed the sun and sand with some delightful girls studying to be yoga instructors. A few hours later, we decided it was time to head to the waterfalls of Montezuma.

imageWe parked Tony’s dirt bike at the head of the trail and made our way to the top waterfall. Hiking though the rainforest that day seemed so much more different than the jungle along the Pacuare River. As alive I felt the jungle was there, it seemed to double in the Nicoya Penninsula. There were birds of all shapes and sizes, monkeys, bugs and even mammals that I’ve never heard of just living their lives inside this immensely diverse ecosystem. We arrived at the waterfall and instantly jumped off of the first 12 foot waterfall into it’s pool. The water was refreshing and soothing after a strenuous hike to the site. We played on the rope swing and then swam over to the next view with much caution. At the edge of these rocks, began a 50 foot waterfall.

I don't remember what these little guys are called,  but they sure are cute!
I don’t remember what these little guys are called, but they sure are cute!

I peeked over the edge with extreme caution as I watched the water cascade and crash below. Following that pool, I was told, was the largest of waterfalls, making the jump even more dangerous being that the rain season had heightened the water level. When Tony asked me if I was going to jump, I instantly responded no, it was crazy, when shortly after arrived my three new friends from California.

My Cali friends scouting the jump
My Cali friends scouting the jump

These dare devils proceeded to not only jump off this cliff, but embrace it with backflips, gainers, and somersaults. I could hardly believe my eyes. They told me I would instantly appreciate the moment I did it, so I proceeded to the edge. My feet sunk into the rock and I became welded to the surface for a minute that seemed like an hour. No way could I make those three steps.

I stepped back in frustration with my inability to make the plunge when an Italian swam up to the rock were we huddled. We discussed our worries and fears when we also laughed at the idea of us meeting in the middle of a jungle at the top of a waterfall. Ok, now we both have to do it. I watched two of the Californians leap off of the rock, clearing the bushes and into the pool. “Breathe, Kayla, stop over thinking”, I must have repeated to myself a thousand times.

Again, I approached the launch pad. This time, I stood there for only a brief second before I let go of my fears as my last step thrusted me off the rock, over the bush and outward into the air with my arms high. I realized just exactly how high this was when I continued to free fall for much longer than expected. With a forceful plunge, I submerged deep into the pool. As I made my way to the surface, I was accompanied by the exorbitant amount of adrenaline that rose to the surface with me.

I let out a cry of sheer exaltation and quickly found myself holding on to some rocks at the side of the waterfall, staring up at the beauty surrounding me. I couldn’t stop yelling as my friends above cheered for my accomplishment. Down came my Italian friend as we congratulated each other on overcoming our worries. I took a few beats to breathe and fully embrace this moment as I watched my friend make his way back to the top. The only way up, a 50 foot scramble on wet rock. But here, there were no nerves on my end. My years of being a dirtbag climber finally came to legitimate use as I smoothly danced up the cliff. Here, I felt completely centered, completely Om.

Tony and I returned back to town and collected some food from the grocery store. We went to “my house” and cooked a decadent dinner for four. We indulged in delicious food and took pure delight in each others company. After I graciously washed the dishes in my beautiful kitchen, we decided to join the fiestas downtown.

Making dinner in my kitchen!
Making dinner in my kitchen!

Congo, the previously mentioned Rastafarian guitar player and lyrical genius, was having a concert on the beach. We went to an open deck with a stage set up for pure entertainment. Jose, Tony, and I later joined others on the stage as we jammed and created beautiful music together singing a song Congo wrote called, ‘A Ping a Pela’. This is pure Montezuman slang for ‘without a penny to pay’, being flat broke, without rum, or without any other luxury. But even with the amount of poverty amongst the town, all I could see was the pure wealth created by these locals in entertainment and enjoyment of each others company.

Peter and Tony joined me at my house for breakfast the following morning. Tony has been spending his last few days in his home town before he returned to his work providing tree maintenance in Connecticut. He suggested we take a ride down the beach and head to Santa Teresa for the day. We drove for over an hour, making our way through rugged steep roads, overly muddy intersections, and nearly inhabited, out of season beach towns. Santa Teresa, as I’ve been told, is where the World Championship of Surfing is held each year. When we got there, we were two of the very few people there.

I gazed upon set after set after set of waves on the huge oceanic strip. Completely dumbfounded at the vast and endless view. Tony took a nap and I walked, swam, practiced yoga and meditated the pureness of the life I had obtained for myself in the little time I was there. After watching the sunset on the Pacific, we returned to Montezuma. Then after feeding Jose some pasta, I quickly retired to bed in preparation of my morning interview.

Bright and early at 7:15, Jose picked me up on a quad as he drove into work down town. He ran into a friend during the drive down the mountain and decided to hop off and join him in his walk. As previously arranged, mis amigos taught me how to drive and allowed me to take the quad to use as my transportation to my interview. I truly don’t know how many teachers can say they arrived to their job interview on a quad.

Best transportation to an interview yet!
Best transportation to an interview yet!

The meeting was delightful as was the school. Khalida and I discussed the endless opportunities for the newly developing school. She even sounded thoroughly interested in making a connection with my program! We agreed to keep in touch over the next month and she promised she would contact me about the exact position that could be available for me at the school. Completely elated, I raced my quad back to town, giving two locals a ride to their destinations and collecting my things from my house.

I said my good byes as I returned all of the keys that were bestowed upon me, hoping that I would see my amazingly genuine friends again. The generosity and purity of the people I met was astounding. It is simply another example of the Pura Vida.

I continued to make new friends on my ride home, meeting two Germans making the same voyage. We worked together, guarding each others luggage, splitting taxis and sharing information all the way to San Jose. Again I sit in my room so nicely prepared for me by Matt and Andrew, planning my next move.

This weekend, I will return to Turrialba to strengthen my connections with the Jamikari and the private schools in town. So tune in next time as I prepare for my maiden voyage to Peru!!!