5 Lessons from Jungle Living

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Four days ago, I arrived at the Blue Osa on the Osa peninsula. The Osa is about as far south as Puerto Viejo, but on the Pacific side of the Costa Rica, so the climate is remarkably similar. Same gorgeous beaches, same gorgeous weather, but where I’m staying on the Osa is a little less jungley. This is a huge contrast to staying in Puerto Viejo, where my little cabina was in the jungle.

In addition to all the herbally goodness I learned, I surprised myself with a couple revelations that came to me by just experiencing day-to-day life in PV. Here are some of the gems:

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You can live with way less than you think

When I first saw the little cabin I was staying in, I have to admit, I kind of panicked. It was a simple wooden cabin with a bed inside, and a fridge and little table on the porch. There was an outdoor kitchen, a rainwater shower and toilet in the same little structure right next the cabin. But it was SO different than what I was used to: it seemed completely foreign and so…outdoors. I briefly considered getting a room in a nearby hotel. But as days passed, I grew accustomed to my beautiful little cabin, adored waking up in the morning and making coffee, and swinging in the hammock on my porch. When I needed to go into town or to the beach, I’d ride my cruiser along the rocky gravel road that lead to the main street. What else do I need except somewhere to sleep and cook and practice? Obviously, it’s nice to have little luxuries (I miss my Vitamix dearly) but they’re just that…things we don’t need. It was so nice to get back to basics, and I’m making it a for-realsy intention to pare down what I’ve got back in Chicago.

Expose yourself to as many scary things as possible. Eventually, they’re not scary anymore.

I have been startled by jungle fauna at least daily. There was the crab in my shower, the aggressive rooster I almost hit on my bike, the first time I was bitten by a tick (it’s little head is still lodged in my arm)…I could go on and on. While I’ve never been afraid of bugs, per say, being in such a buzzing, crawling environment has challenged my city girl sensibilities to say the least. But gradually, these things that startled me became commonplace simply because I was exposed to them so often. It all makes me wonder what other risks I can take to make diving in less scary.

What the Earth provides is paramount

When I first arrived in Puerto Viejo, they were in the middle of a mini-drought. It hasn’t rained for days and my cabin, supplied completely from a rainwater system, was almost bone dry. People get up at 5:30 when the sun rises to get their work done before the hottest time of the day, and begin to wind down around 6pm, when it get dark. I routinely found myself sleepy by 8 and in bed by 9, just early enough for me to get a good night’s rest to be up with sun the next day.

When you live so close to the Earth, away from light pollution and street noise, your body begins to synch up. You get sleepy when it gets dark, start to wake up when it gets light, and even lady-cycle up with the moon’s phases like in the old, pre-agricultural days.  Things like the amount of rain and harvest times and what is growing vs. what’s not doing well start to matter because there is no middle man. You only get what the Earth is providing. This is a huge reminder to take responsibility for the environment around you because it directly impacts your life.

Don’t scratch

You will get bitten. Often. By mosquitos, by ticks, by bugs you’ve never even seen before. You could scratch that initial bite til it bleeds, then deal with an irritated, itchy welt for ten days. Or you can resist (it’s so hard!) and have it disappear by the next morning. I’m sure there’s a life lesson in here somewhere, too.

Pura Vida

OK, this is a cheesy albeit given. I thought the whole “pura vida” was the ubiquitous tourist’s maxim for hostel-hopping in Costa Rica, excusing the inevitable belligerent drunkenness and waterfall-leaping (Check. Check.). But Ticos say “pura vida” and mean it. It’s used as a greeting, a goodbye, in place of saying “you’re welcome,” or “that’s pretty sweet.” It’s a lifestyle; living in the moment, living close to the land, enjoying every second of this existence because it’s paradise. Not only in this country, but wherever you happen to be. Finding pure delight in the fact of just being. How cool is that? While I won’t be dropping the phrase on the regular when I get back home, the concept is totally worth holding on to, don’t you think?

It’s incredibly the growth that happens once we’re taken out of our regular environments, even for a short while. What are some realizations you’ve come to while out of your comfort zone?


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