"Look!" I said to my friend as we saw a six-foot Iguana run across the street. I couldn't believe it! I had just seen my first wild iguana! It was like someone had just hit me in the face with ice water, knocking out my breath, leaving me with a mouth wide open and grinning. I was in a whole new world, coming from a life in a colony, into Johnny Lingo's world.
Arenal, the most active volcano, was my first stop. The drive was as accelerating as being in the Jurassic Park movie and finding out that the dinosaurs can get out of their cage. The mountains' nakedness was covered with a robe of green carpet and as the sun rose to its highest point and illuminated the earth, your breathing would slow as your mind would try to distinguish if the beauty of what your eyes were seeing was real. As we came to the top of a mountain, there it was! In the distance we could see the magnificent cone shaped, smoking peak that gave us that night an experience of a lifetime.
We checked into a motel that was located right in front of the volcano. We unpacked, ate dinner, and after got our suits on to go relax in the hot tub. At this point the sun was asleep and the stars were awake. As we sat on the edge of the tub we could feel "Arenal" breathing underneath us as if it was asleep. It continued to breath shallow, until suddenly, it awakes with its fiery power, and sends an orange flame many feet in the air that illuminates the sky for many miles.
It was as breathtaking as if the mountain itself were celebrating some secret triumph. We all watched in amazement as we saw the orange flame cascade over the mountains like the angry judgment of God. We could swear we felt the heat of the light that night; but it was probably only the heat of the hot tub. We watched until the light settled and stopped flowing. The mountain was again at peace, having experienced some mystical nightmare. That was our first night!
We woke up to the morning songs of the birds and the locals making breakfast on the burners. The locals are as beautiful as the sunrise on a beach. It seems as though their main purpose in life is to serve their fellow man. I don't think I was in want of anything when I rented a room or even went to a restaurant. The majority lives a simple life, some live in tin shakes that they make from scraps of metal, but most live in cement homes. They eat rice and beans pretty much every meal of the day with little variants, but it's as if they understand the purpose of life and they find their happiness through the simple things. Seeing the way they live their life is as humbling as a trial that takes you down to your knees to prayer.
After a good breakfast, we set off to visit a family that I know. We were invited for the morning hunt... Iguana hunt! The morning was nice and cool; the sun was crawling over the mountains, and the dogs were restless. It was time. We set out to find iguanas basking in the sun up in the canopies. We found one! We all drew back, took aim, and fired our lethal marbles into the trees. Our homemade weapons were as deadly as David's sling. We hit him, and he came falling out of the tree like a missile being dropped off a plane. The Iguana hits the floor and takes off. The chase begins. The dogs are in pursuit of the iguana, and we are behind the dogs a little ways. We catch up to the dogs, and they have cornered it in a log like a sardine in a can.
It had nowhere to go, so a guy gets a machete and cuts the log open and gets him out. Now, with a live iguana, one needs to be careful because one wrong move it can kung fu your butt with its tail and pull a Mike Tyson on your finger. Everything went well; we brought it back to the house and prepared him for eating. I watched as they prepared the iguana and thought to myself; "I'm going to swallow that in a bit." I was as nervous as Scooby Doo after him seeing a ghost. "Am I going to like it?"
I thought. "Am I going to be able to swallow?" It was finally ready, they served me a plate of meat ... I chewed and swallowed. The meat was like the texture of chicken and fish put together. It was great!
During this trip we also hit the beaches. The beaches were as beautiful as seeing the first fall of snow on the mountains tops. The sands were as soft as a body pillow under your body, and the water was as warm as water in a bottle left in your car on a hot summer's day.
The beauty of the green carpeted mountains that take your breath away; the magnificent power of a volcano that earns your respect; the beauty of the beaches that clears your mind of negativity; the sunset that fills your soul with peace; the people that remind you of humility in finding happiness in the simple things in life and things that matter most; and last but not least, the love and hospitality they serve you with…
Yeah, that's why I now want to live here! In the beauty and elegance of Costa Rica!