The day after I put Mocha to sleep, I got a welcome invitation from Ben, the guy who managed the pirate shipwreck house on the beach in Santa Teresa. “Would you like to come live with me for a while? Heads up – the house has been condemned and is going to be torn down. I don’t know when, but they will assign a date any day now.”
Despite the impending termination of the proposal, I could think of no reason not to go back to live at the beach.
Although, my body became heavy with dread as I looked over my material possessions spread all over the floor. I felt like collapsing when I thought about having to pack up all my things into my car just days after I had unpacked it.
“You have too much stuff,” said Tiger.
Sick of the heavy burden, I gave her over half of it.
She seemed super pleased.
I was left with a car trunk full of crap and a couple suitcases and I shifted my focus to the complicated logistics of moving to the beach.
I couldn’t drive my car to Santa Teresa. I had to figure out where to store it along with my possessions I had left that I couldn’t carry on my back or roll behind me. I hadn’t worked all year, so my budget was as little as possible.
Ben had a solution. “Just call Sal. He knows someone for sure.”
Sal was his connection in San José who acted like a fixer for the wealthy gringos in Santa Teresa. Need 50 cases of champagne brought to you in the middle of the jungle for your birthday? Sal will do it. Need a tow and a new clutch after breaking down on the side of the highway? Sal will handle it. Need to store your car packed with your belongings in a garage where someone will drive it every once in a while so it stays healthy? Sal will find someone trustworthy to handle it.
Or so I thought. But I don’t find this out until much later in this story.
So car storage handled. Tiger loaded up with new-to-her clothes, art, and kitchen accessories. Mocha buried.
I was ready to move to the beach in Costa Rica. Again.
I felt lighter and looked forward to the ways in which being on the coast would help me process through Mocha’s death. The sand and salty air rejuvenates my skin. The rhythmic sounds of the waves crashing at night out my bedroom window gift me with deep restorative sleep. The sun and fresh greens feed my soul.
I arrived and within a week was bedridden with Dengue or Chikungunya.
I don’t know which one, but the symptoms are undeniable. The lab test in Santa Teresa cost $80. I didn’t have the budget to contribute to government statistics or the energy to leave the bed. Makes you think twice about how reliable that data is, huh?
After suffering a week, my roommates brought me some papaya leaf juice. All of us doubted it would do any good. I took a shot, passed out for a few hours, then woke up with enough energy to go downstairs and prepare food for myself. Huge accomplishment.
Papaya leaf juice really does cure Dengue symptoms. Bonus – I used it later when I was diagnosed with a debilitating fungal infection that I’m still treating. More on that later.
After the fever and recovery, life at the beach house in Santa Teresa evolved into a fantastic dirty paradise.
“Be careful, by entering this house you accept all liability,” warns Ben to all visitors.
I already mentioned the house was condemned. This meant that as things broke, they weren’t fixed.
Floorboards failed and left gaping holes and dangerous steps. Plants grew with abandon threatening to overgrow the house. Rain penetrated the failing roof. Termite poop dust fell on every surface including my face at night. Touching certain walls would result in a jolt from failing electrical wires.
Power would go out at the slightest storm.
The path to the beach was dangerous, laden with potential skull-cracking coconuts that would explode as they hit the ground throughout the day and night.
The town was in a drought and city water had been shut off. We had to order expensive dirty water from a company that delivered it in rickety dust-covered trucks. The rationing was so extreme that any violation of the house water rules would result in immediate expulsion from hippie shipwreck island.
I was sharing this house with 5 others. Competition to get a room was fierce. Despite all of its escalating problems, people couldn’t help but be enchanted by the powerful feng shui and good vibrations. As soon as anyone stepped into the house, their breath was taken away.
A typical day for me on hippie pirate shipwreck island was like this:
5:30 am – Wake and meditate with the rising sun.
6 am – Walk on the beach with my tiny dog Mali.
6:30 am – Teach private yoga lessons on the deck by the beach.
8:30 am – Breakfast cooked by my hot host who was a little too old and kind of a dick, but made playtime really fun and was a master of intriguing conversations.
10 am – Art and play time.
Noon – Lunch next door at the pirate hippie surfer man cave, cooked by my friend Laura who came from San Francisco to chef for a season.
2 pm – Art and play time.
3:30 pm – Sauna and cold plunge. Repeat. Repeat…
5 pm – Beach for sunset.
6 pm – Dinner cooked at home or next door, always a quaint social event.
7 pm – Movie or hanging out.
9 pm – Bed time.
I only left the house to walk on the beach or to go to the grocery store that was across the street. The long path through the jungle to the road sheltered us from the dusty coked up town of Santa Teresa and life really was like living on a secluded island.
I forgot about my troubles, I felt like I was home again. Then reality came calling.
“The date came in. The house is being torn down August 8.” said Ben.
“It’s time,” I thought.
I bought my ticket back to the US.
It felt wrong, but I had to see how it was. Could I live there again? Maybe it would be wonderful. More convenient? Easier? At least I wouldn’t have termite poop dust falling on my face every night.
With two suitcases and one tiny dog, I left Costa Rica. I had no idea the obstacles that awaited me in the United States.