Getting ready to leave here. Again. But since the last time I prepared to bid goodbye to Costa Rica I ended up coming back barely three months later, I’m not getting too upset.
I first came here just over five years ago. I was a college student then, and at that time Costa Rica had been a fantasy. An abstract destination. Over the next few months it became like a dream, a wild, exotic mystery that was mine to explore that fulfilled my every expectation and then some. Upon returning years later as a biologist with a few more tropical-worthy chops, I found it to be a trove of rich ecological treasure, the ripe potential for study, an invitation for pursuit and research. It was my playground. My eden. And now, five years and only a few kilometers from where I once began, typing this into a computer, I am forced to ask: what the hell happened to me?
I’m sitting inside, for god’s sake! In front of a computer! Grumbling because the internet is slow! The fucking internet! Right outside is my favorite paradise/domain/Heart of Darkness-esque self reflection of man’s primal nature or some shit and I’m ignoring it in favor of internet! I can hear frogs calling. It just rained—perfect night hike conditions. And yet here I am, as I was yesterday, and the day before.
When did Costa Rica become a work site? Seriously—when did that happen to me? These days I get out of bed, eat breakfast, drive to the worksite, work until it rains, drive back, eat dinner and that’s it. Entire days go by without taking photos. Catching snakes. Tracking mammals. Scrutinizing bizarre plants. Catching snakes. Wandering around aimlessly. Because I’m used to it all now.
The thing is, I’m tired. I had a long day. I deserve a break, and don’t have the energy to romp around in the jungle right now. I was on my feet all day wading in the river. And I have work to do. Job apps to send out. Real life is knocking on my door, telling me to get a real career and a permanent address and cut my hair. And you know what? I’m starting to agree.
But fuck that. Is the magic gone from Costa Rica? Hell no. True, I have been idling my evenings away cursing the internet in front of a screen but only out of necessity. Last time Life made me leave, I didn’t last three months. I’ll find my way back. I always do.
Costa Rica may have become just a place to work, but that doesn’t make it any less valuable to me. So what if some of the mystique is gone. Maybe that just means I have to pass it on to someone else. Start thinking long term about research. Grad school, maybe. Invest a in a plan to return. Because what better reason to sit in front of a screen for an hour than to ensure that you get to spend another hour outside in a place that you love?
But also I need to get a real job.