Saturday, June 1, 2013

Montezuma Day 4 - The Perfect Smoothie and the True Meaning of Pura Vida

By my fourth day in Montezuma, it felt like I had been there forever. My job and daily chores back home didn’t even cross my mind since I arrived. I forgot I even had a job to go back to. Sadly, my cat, Captain Jack, who I left behind with a friend, had probably stopped eating and was hiding underneath the covers in my bed like he usually does when I go away (he has severe separation anxiety due to an unfortunate event that occurred a few years ago when I had to leave him behind with a friend for almost a year) while I had forgotten I had a cat back home. This particular morning had me thinking about my life back in Cape Breton long enough to make a few phone calls to let everyone know I was still alive and to make sure my cat was at least responding to the occasional Temptations treat.

There wasn’t much going on at Anamaya that day and I didn’t want to just spend the day by the pool so I took an early morning walk into town and spent the day exploring the little streets and enjoying the beach. It was probably the hottest day in Montezuma since I arrived and the walk down that hill was torture. I made it half way down and a young man on a motorbike stopped to ask me if I wanted a ride. I don’t usually take rides alone with strangers but there were people everywhere and there were only two places he could take me; back to Anamaya or into the town of Montezuma. I honestly didn’t think I was going to make it any further without collapsing right there and than in the sun so I took him up on his offer and a few minutes later, I was dropped off at the beach and with a wave and a friendly “Buenos Dias”, he sped off in the original direction he was headed.

Since I was practically on the beach already, I plopped myself down in the sand in a shaded area and relaxed. A storm had passed near Montezuma the previous night and the water was very rough. I attempted to go for a swim but the waves were just too powerful and the undertow too dangerous. Some brave surfers had managed to get past the rough breakwater and were trying to catch some big waves dangerously close to some jagged rocks. I thought this was incredibly stupid but they seemed to know what they were doing and provided me with some entertainment for the afternoon.

By late-morning, the heat was really getting to me and I was starting to feel dehydrated. I wanted a refreshing fruit smoothie but didn’t want to pay 7 dollars for it. So off I went, up and down those little streets, in search of a reasonable priced smoothie. Tucked away in the shade under some trees at the end of one of the main roads heading back towards Anamaya, I noticed an interestingly decorated, outdoor smoothie bar. A free-spirited and friendly young man was eager to take on the challenge of making me up something not-too-sweet and refreshing. It seemed like it took forever for him to make it as he carefully thought out each and every ingredient he put into it and made sure it was mixed to perfection by even allowing me to taste it at various points to see if it was mixed enough. For the small price of 3 dollars, I received a delicious orange-colored smoothie (I can’t remember exactly what was in it but I do remember something about Ginger) in a massive glass. I stayed at the bar, took a seat and struck up a lively and very interesting conversation with the young man behind the counter. He obviously loved his life in Montezuma and at one point, he asked if I knew what “Pura Vida” meant. To me it meant The Pure Life and it was what I had witnessed over and over and over again while traveling through the country. Natural, untouched, simple and pure. “That is how most people interpret it. You see, pura vida can be a greeting, a state of mind, a way of life. You meet someone walking down the street, you say “pura vida”. You catch the perfect wave while surfing, you say “pura vida”. You have a wonderful day, instead of saying “goodnight”, you say “pura vida”. You find a great smoothie bar while walking the streets of Montezuma, you say “pura vida”. It can mean anything but always something good. Anytime something good happens, “pura vida” is the appropriate thing to say”. Made sense to me. How can you not be living the “pura vida” in a country that is considered to be one of the happiest in the world according the Happy Planet Index. Costa Ricans live longer and better lives than people living in other countries of similar economic conditions, Costa Rica is one of the greenest countries in the world and who wouldn’t be living the pure life when they wake up each morning to beautiful, sandy beaches, pristine and untouched rainforest, spectacular scenery and an abundance of things to see and do.

It was mid-afternoon by the time I finished walking the streets of Montezuma and since I wasn’t feeling overly tired, I stupidly walked up that steep hill to Anamya instead of getting a cab. It was quite the workout but I did make it to the top without collapsing in the ditch…barely. There was still enough daylight left to take a walk to Montezuma Falls again and attempt that jump. I was kicking myself for not doing it the day before and had since been contemplating going back so I could say I did it. I changed into my contact lenses and made my way to the path that led to the falls from Anamaya. It was a steep and difficult hike down and all I could think about when I got to the top of the falls was how refreshing the water below looked. It didn’t take much coaxing for me to perch myself at the edge and take that leap 15 feet to the fresheater pool below. And, yes, it was very refreshing and I felt proud of myself for coming back. If there is one thing I absolutely hate, it is missed opportunity. I take every chance that comes my way because, sometimes, you only get one chance to do something and that opportunity never arises again!

Anamaya was once again quiet with everyone out shopping and doing their own thing. I loved how peaceful it was when no one was around and it made me think about how it would be the perfect place to be a writer although I might not get much done with the beach only a short walk away. Bedtime came early again. The next morning, I was trying surfing for the first time and I wanted to be well-rested for that!

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