We were mapless.
chucking our battered suitcases in the back of a touchy four wheeler, my aussi friend jess and i floored down the streets of ipis, costa rica, the lush, humid air so dense it felt as if it were combing through our fluttering hair.
flashes of green bombay shoots whooshed past as i steered in and out of the winding streets of this surreptitious, model-like village. locals walked along the mossy canal waterways, disappearing into colored houses jumbled against one another.
it was the beginning of our love affair with south america.
we were sitting cross-legged in a small seafood shack on the corner of the street, feasting on crab legs and calamari, catching glances and sometimes smiles from passerby's. and i realized that this was it. wholesome living. caught in the fear of missing out, i had forgotten that at the root of it all was something as simple as deep breaths, fresh food, glances and, if necessary, words.
the rest of the night is a blur of faces and spanish phrases i still can't translate. it was a mingling of conversations over spilled coke and hymnals sung in a local cathedral, followed by stops at exotic fruit stands and latin dances with men whose hips shake better than any lady I've ever seen. and then i again took the wheel. where to? the wind would be our compass, our intuition our guide.
as the miles under our wheels stacked up, time measured by thoughts rather than minutes, we ventured into the rainforest terrain. it was pitch black, but beyond our car window there seemed to be a vast unknown something — something which seemed to suggest that we were cradled in the palm of some mysterious, immense natural wonder. we drove through tall vegetation and across what had to have been towering bridges, under the guise of nightfall, untouched by the prying eyes of tourists. and at that moment i swear we had become part of something bigger than ourselves, as if we were swimming in a vast, undiscovered ocean that was neither east nor west.
i felt a sense of possession. i wanted to lay claim on it, call it my own, without the dictates of paperwork or the convention of bills.
the road took us completely across costa rica, to the pacific ocean, where we ran headlong into the waves. we breathed in salt that stung our noses and purified so much more than our air passages. we fell asleep in our car, to the gentle lap of water at the edge of this continent.
we had determined it would be our little secret, this place that remained hidden from the cheapness of a brochure. this place touched by the gods — or rather, as i would believe, one god.
Rachel Lowry, The Tepui Chronicles part i