“Embrace those parts of yourself that you’ve skilfully avoided until now. That’s your true adventure.”
― Gina Greenlee, Postcards and Pearls: Life Lessons from Solo Moments on the Road
Right now, in front of me, I can see two Cinnamon Hummingbirds, a male Cherie’s Tanager (also a bird), two enormous Turkey Vultures, and the noisiest House Wren ever. We’ve also seen a Brown Basilisk (iguana), and lots of other small lizards, birds that might either be Toucans or Aracaris (they move too quickly to make a positive identification), and a White-Headed Parrot happily having his breakfast.
There are also dozens of beautiful butterflies and moths, and I am becoming very good at rescuing day-flying Green Urania moths from our enclosed porch. I’ve managed to get to a place where I can calm myself enough enough to get them to sit on my fingers so I can take them to the window. I love watching them go free.
I know what all of these things are because we have a book and a pair of binoculars and I am my father’s daughter. I also know what they are because they have a) kept a respectable distance and/or b) they are not scary.
We also now know what a 2m Bird Eating Snake looks like close up, and that the Spiny Pocket Mouse can climb up a rope bannister, leap off of tall buildings in a single bound, enjoys hammocks regardless of their occupants, and will climb a window screen to try to get out of a room (see photo above).
And don’t even get me started on the ants. In our bed.
When we decided to move to Costa Rica, one of the things we bought was a book on the wildlife. It all seemed rather foreign and wonderful from a distance, kind-of like the country itself. But when foreign becomes your day-to-day experience, things change. I’ve done it before – moving from Canada to the UK – but in many ways, that was a different sort of foreign.
When you decide to change your life, you have to mean it. You have to go all in. If you go in half-way, or go in not knowing if it’s something you really want, or if you are running away from something, then the dream can become lost when the little things seem hard.
In the UK and in Canada, a mouse in the house would simply mean buying a trap and getting on with things. Here, it meant trying to reason with my hysterical mind while wielding a dustpan and helping my husband try to chase it out of the open front door in the middle of the night. The same woman who two hours earlier was happily freeing butterflies, was nearly in tears saying, “I can’t do this.” But the thing about emigrating is that in time (hopefully) a mouse in the house will just be a mouse.
Perspective. Timing. Fatigue levels. It all adds up. Every problem is as big as you allow it to be.
We’ve chosen this life. All of it. And for every 91 degree day, there’s body surfing in the sea. For every loss of comfort, there is the most delicious avocado ever (and I do mean ever). For every Spiny Pocket Mouse, there is a Blue Morpho.
Just like being in love, changing your life requires daily decisions. And maintaining perspective.
And hopefully, eventually, I will even be okay with the ants.