A Green Goddess in the Rainforest
by RM Allen, author of the NH Goddess Chronicles series, 2015
If you are a very green-minded person like me then perhaps you have spent some time thinking about the lungs of our planet, the rainforest. Recently I had an opportunity to visit Costa Rica and see the rainforest up close. It teems with life, which sometimes gets so close that you get the heebie-geebies! Is that giant grasshopper/frog/iguana real… or a statue? Yikes – it just moved.
Some family members were going to spend the summer there and invited us to visit. What luck! We had a fantastic time checking out the local flora and fauna and swimming in the 85 degree Pacific Ocean waters. 85!!!! I never considered that ocean water could be so warm. Those huge warm waves crashed over me again and again and thawed my chilly New Hampshire bones.
Costa Rica borders Panama and is only the size of New Hampshire and Vermont combined, but amazingly accounts for 5% of the ecological diversity on the planet! Interestingly, they have no military (abolished in 1949) but over 20% of their land is protected via national parks and protected areas. They have 26 national parks which are grouped by habitat; like cloud forest, dry forest, rainforest, and let’s not forget the volcanoes! We stayed on the fringe of the rainforest, on the outskirts of a tiny beach town located on the Nicoya Peninsula. Montezuma is a hippy and surfer paradise if there ever was one. It took us four hours to drive our rental SUV there from the airport, the last hour being on bumpy dirt roads. Thank goddess for the GPS.
Now you may be thinking – if she thinks she is so dang green then why is she burning so much fossil fuel on a vacation? Well yes, that is a quandary. But in the end this is why after all my conservation efforts at home, this fossil splurge works: I fly to places on vacations that increase my global understanding and compassion and then try to translate that vibe into some positive action upon my return. Also, tourist dollars spent on an eco-vacation support the conservation efforts of that country and rewards their citizens for doing the right thing. It is working for Costa Rica. It is not a poverty-stricken, unsafe country – their economy is based not only on eco-tourism but also on technology and agriculture (great coffee!). They enjoy one of the highest happiness indexes of any Latin country which seems to be reflected in their common greeting, response, and general attitude: “Pura Vida” -which translates loosely to Pure Life. Isn’t that great!? I salute Costa Ricans for role-modeling sustainable, simple, happy and healthy lifestyles. Namaste.
The best place to get your goddess groove on is at Ylang Ylang Beach & Yoga Resort, which is reasonably priced, safe, very clean and includes two meals per day. The yoga classes I took always included a little something special for the mind like Kundalini Breath of Fire, guided meditation Shavasana, or crystal bowl sound meditations. The yoga room is under a huge tiki roof and is practically on the beach; during class you focus on waves crashing on black lava rocks and white sands, while the warm breeze blows all around you and tickles the palm trees too. There is no road to get to the resort, you have to walk ten minutes up the beach from the center of town. This is the real “off the beaten path” place. The English- speaking concierge was very informative and helpful. The food was fantastic. The massage rooms are up in the jungle and mischievous white-faced capuchin monkeys were having a jolly old time throwing papaya pits at the roof during the end of my massage. Browse www.ylangylangbeachresort.com and you will be transported. I can’t think of the right word to describe this place….oh wait, yes I can….orgasmagical!
One bit of oddity – even though the beaches are remote and spectacular, surprisingly they are not pristine. The amount of plastic bits at the tidal line is dismaying. I am pretty sure it is not the fault of the Costa Ricans, who live a very simple lifestyle. I read there is an annual national beach cleanup day but it seems more could be done. It would be wonderful if more receptacles were onsite so tourists would help clean the beach while they are sitting there for hours under a palm tree. If I had known I would have put a box of Hefty trash bags in my suitcase.
Listen my friends, having been to Costa Rica once this is how I would do it again (in a more green and relaxed manner). Get Costa Rican money at my local bank, have international cell phone plan, skip very expensive rental SUV and take private transfer van directly to Ylang Ylang, stay in “glamping”-style accommodations, take yoga twice a day, meditate, read, swim, clean the beach, do some short eco-tours (which leave from center of town), and hardly ever wear shoes.