Note: While I fully intend to prattle on about the jungle because I am all caught up in the romance of it and the sheer physical beauty of it, I feel I must do so with the following caveat: where I am is settled, almost gentrified jungle. It is not the deep jungle, though it is right next door. It is not the sort of jungle that exlrrp and others like him trekked through for mile after mile, slept in overnight being feasted upon by the insect kingdom and crawled over by snakes while being hunted by native people with machine guns. Mine is a milder, far less dangerous and likely more pleasant experience. So take my jungle jive with a grain of salt. Salute to exlrrp and the deep jungle.
Previous episodes in this series include:
I stare at the image of an old, broken down version of myself as it reflects from the closet mirror in my unlit room through the fine mesh of the mosquito netting enveloping the bed upon which I perch. The old man in the image, in his ethereal cocoon, looks older and tireder than I feel. Or perhaps not. This life does grind you down. It humbles us all in the end.
There is something about being in the primeval jungle that I feel in my bones, in my ancient DNA. I am constantly aware of its living presence, its eternal presence. Within the timescale of humans, at least, it has always been here. It makes me introspective. I'm finding this a fine place for the contemplative life. There are few distractions and the ones that exist tend to be highly interesting. Who would mind having to set down the laptop or suspend their revelry to go look at a poison dart frog, or a toucan, or a kinkajou?
A rare daytime sighting of a kinkajou
And of course we have iguanas.
This is iguana heaven
A crabby visitor
I think this is a long-tailed tyrant. Nothing like the short-tailed tyrants we have back home.
The spell of this place may have something to do with the rain as well. It rains a lot here. We have just entered a rainy season. We have two and it often rains in the 'dry' season(s). You'd think it was a regular rainforest. The rain has its own special energy. It inspires my reverie and eases me into the flow. Most days you have both sunshine and rain, but not all. Days when the rain is constant take on a special character all their own.
The rainy season has come to Cahuita.
There is a peculiar form of silence that emerges from the unquiet jungle. A kind of white noise, a palpable tranquility made more obvious by the contrasting jungle calls that somehow seem to accentuate the silence, not disturb it. The collective sound of the jungle becomes a sort of orchestral background noise. Waxing and waning, flutes and piccolos and undreamed-of-woodwinds. It's mesmerizing. Exotic.
Mostly it's only the howlers than can break this spell. But they have charms of their own. They are part of the magic.
I've begun to identify some of the sounds in the great green orchestra. The Montezuma Oropendola makes a strange, hollow flute-like warble that seems more let slip than willfully issued.
The Toucans sound like one of those wooden box and chalked-handle turkey calls, even more of a hollow sound, a cross between a squawk and a chirrup, almost a bark.
Finally got that 'rainbow' (Keel-billed) toucan
Then I got another one
Here are two of them. See how well they hide in the leaves.
The parrots have a loud screechy chatter out of all proportion to their relatively compact size. They are very noisy creatures. They fly in pairs, fast and high. I doubt I'll ever catch them in flight. Every now and then you can catch them alight.
Parrot at dusk
So that's three sounds identified out of hundreds if not thousands. I guess I have a ways to go to unravel this many-layered mystery. I rather doubt a single lifetime would be long enough to sort it all out. It remains for now, a mystery – and I am content to embrace it as such. I'm okay with mystery. Mystery is something we all should be familiar with. After all, the cosmos dwarfs our knowledge and probably always will. It yields to inquiry slowly. In the end, it defies our efforts at vivisection and exegesis and leads us into ever deeper mysteries. Mystery will always be with us. Where we stand in relation to the unknown defines us. The biggest thing in the universe is all the stuff that we don't know. It's humbling. I think bearing it in mind provides useful context.
“God is the mystery that lies at the heart of the universe.”Anyway...
Took a little trip into Puerto Viejo with some new friends yesterday. Had a great time. He's an artist (painter) and she's a yoga practioner. They are from the bay area in Norcal, him by way of Boston. They are maybe a little younger than me but not by much – in their fifties, I'd say. They live right across the road. They're the ones who invited me over for chicken in my last diary. Fun folks, great neighbors, we had fun.
Random pics from yesterday's jaunt into Puerto Viejo:
Bread and chocolate – all natural
Rooster with motorcycle
Rent a hammock cheap at Rocking J's
There's a great, tight-knit community here among the American expats, most of them old hippies, academics or artists and we are continuing to learn how lucky we were to find this place. There are problems and issues, unpleasantries that come with the territory, but for now the price seems worth it. We like it here.
Tune in next week for why we hate it here and where we're going next.
Paz y amor, muchachos.