Cicadas and Monkeys and Macaws oh my!

Jan 17th:

Last night we had a funny jungle adventure. We got all snuggled up in our new bed only to realize there were two cicadas in our room! Cicadas are pretty large insects with large bulging eyes and they make the LOUDEST sound I’ve ever heard an insect make. They fly around constantly just banging in to things – they kind of look drunk all the time. Luckily they landed in our blanket so we wrapped them up and transported them outside.  I’m sure this would be the first of many cicada adventures…

I decided that every morning I would climb the hill up to the gates and back, and then do some stretching on the yoga deck. So this morning we put on our runners and headed up. It was about 10 minutes, but super tough. A few breaks were needed but we were taking in all the scenery. Checking out the plants and trying to spot the monkeys. We saw some beautiful Tucans and then of course the stunning view of the ocean. But the best part was our first sighting of the shockingly colourful and gorgeous Macaw.

Stretching on the yoga deck is definitely my new favourite morning activity. It was probably only about 7am but most of the jungle was up. Laying on our backs, stretching out our legs, while looking at the view – I feel like that in itself made my muscles relax!

Later this morning we found ourselves in Dominical, a surfing town about 20 minutes drive from where we were.  It was our first time leaving the mountain since we arrived, and the first time we would see anything outside of the retreat center in the day light!  Definitely a different feeling on the mountain roads in the sun versus the dark.

We arrived at Café Mono Congo in Dominical. It a favourite spot for expats to eat and work and I can see why. The patio (I say patio but everything here is an open air setting) sits on the river bank, the bathroom is clean, the coffee is good, and the food delicious. We shared an avocado toast, huevos rancheros, and a mango turmeric smoothie. Yum!

The internet connection was terrible, to the point of frustration, so we decided to head back. On the way we visited the festival grounds for the first time.  Everything was still under ‘construction’ but you could see the bones of the stages and they were massive and unique. Most of the staff and volunteers live on site, which would have been a true jungle adventure if we hadn’t hit the jackpot with Selva! The retreat is definitely a leap from living in Toronto, but the festival site would have been on another level.


Jan 18th:

Today was the first real day of work for me at the retreat center. It’s a very different type of work than I’m used to, being on my feet rather than at a desk.  You learn to appreciate that type of labour, especially in the heat!

Lorcan went to town to pick up some groceries while I learnt the ropes of being a Front of House Assistant.  Bathroom and Pool sweep, coffee and tea bar, and general maintenance of the Casa Grande. As I have never had a job in the hotel industry this is all new to me. Not complicated, but new. In the end though, it really is all about attention to detail and customer service – things I’ve learned in all my positions.

Lorcan came back with a nice collection of items from the store – he was the most proud of his gigantic bag of oranges. All in all, what you see was $24USD. Much better than Canada, fairly expensive for Central America though. That said – fresh organic mangos? Yes please!

I assisted in the kitchen in the afternoon.  I wouldn’t say I’m a bad cook by any means, but this is a whole other world of cooking. Everything is fresh, made from scratch, new recipes for me, and I was working with a lot of items I didn’t know anything about. But more importantly, because a lot of it is farm to table food, we have to learn about all the steps involved. It’s not like going to the store and buying already picked, cleaned, and beautified items. I now know though how many nutritious and delicious parts of, for example broccoli, is just thrown out! So sad. We ended up with fresh salad, gayo de pinto (this we would come to know is a staple here!), and a yuka, potato, broccoli, and quinoa dish.

My next duty was to make all the door signs. For whatever reason this took me a long time, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Sure I’m just taking chalk and writing names and drawing patterns that were created by someone else, but just the act of doing something artsy was really satisfying!

For a snack Lorcan and I tried a couple oranges. With excitement we peeled in to them and devoured them. I did notice it tasted a bit strange but I wasn’t going to waste it. As I was cleaning the counter a few of the tiny orange pieces kept moving! Maggots. We ate maggots. Just keep moving. Just don’t think about it, it’s the only way to get through that!

In the evening everyone headed to the owner’s house.  He lives on the property in a beautiful home that has the same great view of the ocean. Except his bedroom is on the second floor and it is all open air. The bed faces the sunset every day. That is where we watched the most amazing sunset I have seen yet. And for the first time since I arrived, it felt like nature was talking to me, giving me signs. In the ocean the clouds formed shadows that to me, looked like a map of the world. : )

Can you see the map of the world???

At around 3:30am my bladder was so full that I was wide awake, trying to decide if I should venture out or just wait till 5:30ish. I kept hearing sounds in the reception area, which is where our room is, so I was a bit scared. Then I heard a plate move – and that was it – no way I’m going to be introduced to a monkey or something for the first time in the middle of the pitch black night by myself.

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