Today, as I was hanging on the hammock, looking at the hummingbirds sipping from the feeder, I realized how lucky we are. Living in the tropics brings this continuous stream of small pleasures in life, for which I am truly grateful.
Blue skies every day
We are now in the rainy season, which people here call “the winter”. Yet, no matter how much it rains during the night -and believe me, it can be A LOT – there is hardly any morning that is not sunny.
Fresh tropical fruit for breakfast
We used to drink packed orange juice for breakfast in Sweden, which was not bad but can not compete with fresh fruit. Here, we can simply have fresh and ripe tropical fruit EVERY day!! Usually papaya for me and pineapple for Frank, but also delicious mangoes and occasionally something even more exotic, like guanabana or caimitos. For lunch we enjoy mouthwatering avocados, which one can buy on almost every street corner.
Fruits from the garden & frescos
Not only we can have tropical fruits for breakfast, but some of them will likely come from our garden: guayabas, passion fruit, bananas, mangoes or papayas are pretty standard. We are having Frescos (fruit and water in the blender) for lunch or as an afternoon snack has become a new normal. Sometimes, we get so much fruit that we cannot consume it all. For example, last week, we got a WHOLE banana bunch to tie on the porch to ripen. Not even with the help of Kika – who LOVES bananas – we have not been able to keep up with the number of bananas that ripen per day.
Costa Rica has A-M-A-Z-I-N-G coffee, and one does not need to go to special shops to buy it. Just the local supermarket is likely to have an incredible array of coffee blends from different country areas. If you are lucky, you can even try one produced by the local cooperative. In the house where we live now, we prepare it “Costa Rican style”, that is, using a kind of sock or textile bag for brewing the coffee, after heating the water on the stove. This is called “café chorreado”- literally poured coffee.
It probably goes without saying, but unless you are really up in the mountains, the temperature is usually between 20 and 30 degrees during the daytime. Where we are now, temperatures can reach 30 degrees C during the day and about freezing 18-20 during the night. Needless to say, we sleep with a blanket and long-sleeves…but during the day…It is a pure flip-flop life 😉
Never an idle moment in the forest
No matter at which time of the day you sit on the porch and look around, there is always something going on in the forest. A flash of red as a group of Scarlet-rumped tanagers land on a tree, the chattering of the kiskadees, a pair of hummingbirds chasing each other -tchiunnnnnng-, the local kingfisher diving in the pond, the warning cry of the chachalacas as a potential predator gets closer. You only need to look at a particular tree, and within a minute or two, sometimes a couple of seconds, there will be something happening.
The sounds of birds
Apart from the hustle and bustle of the forest as birds and other animals come and go, there is this constant buzz of bird songs and calls that inter-twin with each other. If you close your eyes and listen, really listen, the forest opens to you, and suddenly, you hear so much more. The cra-cra-cra sound of the keel-billed toucan in the distance, a faint tut-tut of a Motmot, the pipipipipipi of the chachalacas talking with each other, the pipupipupipupipu -piiiiii of the clay-coloured thrush and the response or the melodious song of a couple of tiny wrens that live around the house.
The hummingbird (feeder)
One of my favourite small pleasures of the tropics is the hummingbird feeder. It was one of the first things we bought when we returned to Costa Rica. It is super fun to see them sipping from the feeder, defending it from other “intruders”, or sneaking in while the chasing pair has disappeared in the distance.
Here, houses are open, usually with a large porch or terrace and one lives outside. We have breakfast and lunch on the porch, looking at the mountain and sometimes, we can even have dinner. And even when we are sitting inside, the big doors are open, and we can see the forest as we lift our eyes from the screen.
Small talk(s), big wisdom
I do not know if it is something of the tropics or the Ticos, but I think people really take pleasure in small talks. Hardly a day passes by when the local caretaker of the land we live in now does not stop by to chit-chat with us. How did you wake up? He always asks, and then he sits on the porch contemplating the mountain. He has been looking at the same mountain for the last 50 years or so. And yet, he always says with a smile, “This is so beautiful. Have you seen the hummingbirds today? oh look, what a nice butterfly”. What makes it more impressive is that he is currently being treated for a severe illness. And yet, as he told me some days ago while we were having a coffee outside, “Tomorrow, I will be in the hospital. But that is tomorrow. Today, now, I am here. Enjoying this. The birds. The mountain. The trees. The cows.”.
If that is not mindfulness, I do not know what it is….
The art of simple living
Last, we have come to appreciate the joy of simple living. Our life can be packed in a car. We need two sets of shoes – the flip-flops and the rubber boots – and maybe a third for work. We have become quite creative at finding solutions with what is available (Well, I have. I think that Frank has always been like this): A cardbox as a computer stand ; an old plastic sheet from the farm tied to some trees plus the strings that we bought to secure Kika’s crate in the plane to make a rain cover for the car ; a plastic tray and a water hose for a bird feeder. Almost everything has multiple uses. And I enjoy the challenge of trying to find solutions with the little that is available. It is FUN!