Saturday, December 29, 2012

Casa Cayuco

Sometimes it's hard for me to describe things while I'm right in them. Describing takes a certain amount of stepping out and looking in. Something I haven't really had a desire to do in a place like this. I like to be 'in it', feel the present moment. Now that I'm about to be on my plane home (see count down) I've been able to see things from the outside perspective, and realized I haven't really described where I am.

A photo my mom took while visiting
The property of Casa Cayuco is a very special place. I've never lived so close to nature, with my accommodations having no full walls. Sometimes there is just a railing where a wall would normally be, with the option of lowering a partition if it happens to be raining with a wind. There are no screens on the windows, it is not in any way a sealed house. Even the bathroom doesn't have four full walls, the shower stops at chest level so you have a full view of the jungle from almost all sides, at all times. The tallest walls still leave almost a foot before reaching the roof to let air pass through, helping to keep the rooms a little cooler and well ventilated. It might surprise you that the kitchen is equally open. Don't worry, every food item after being opened is immediately sealed and put away to not attract bugs. The only place you'll really see a screen is for the specially made fruit and vegetable cabinet.

The bugs are an attraction themselves. Not the usual ones I'm squeamish over in the city. Here the bugs are talked about and pointed out and given funny names, like 'the doctor bug'. Most are crazy colours and can be eaten by something else right before your eyes. The mosquito nets protect you while you sleep but is made better with a gecko to capture any intruders.

The ocean doesn't stop at the beach, the sound carries to almost every corner of the property. As you're going to sleep the swell usually pics up on the beach nearby so you can usually hear those waves even if the front beach is calm. The water is a light blue with lots of turquoise. Looking forward you can see the mainland with mountains far in the distance. Looking out and a little to your left you can see the islands of Zapatillas that is about an hour's ride for a strong kayak-er.

The beach is white sand that gets raked almost every day to clear any debris the tide may have brought the day before. Occasionally big conch shells find their way to shore, so the dock and property have become decorated with them. One large conch shell had the top point cut off so it can be used as the trumpet that lets everyone know a meal is hot and ready. You can comfortably walk 45 minutes along the white sandy beach if you go to the right (passing by an old 'survivor panama' award challenge location), but have to go a little inland on the trails if you go to the left. Palm trees are everywhere and it's highly recommended that you don't stand or walk directly under where the coconuts may fall.

Coconuts are the only thing to fear here, because you don't want one falling on your head (highly unlikely). Anything that may bite you will only give mild irritation that can be tempered with a cream or antihistamine. Fresh coconuts are basically the only thing you can get whenever you want it, right away. Here, at Casa Cayuco, coconuts are shredded and toasted to use in an amazing granola. The stray ones that fall are usually collected by the Ngobe women and fed to their pigs on nearby properties.

The moon and stars are breathtaking, especially when the moon is full, like tonight. It lights up the island as if someone left the lights on, and there's no need for a flashlight, unless you feel like walking deeper into the jungle. The opposite of that when the moon is a sliver, the darkness eats any light you try to put into it.

The rain in unlike anything I've ever experienced. It's warm rain for the most part and usually falls straight down. I'm used to sideways rains that are cold and make life dreary. Here there can be a few sun showers and after a morning rain all the colours are more vivid and lush. The rainforest thrives and all the birds come back chattering to each other.

The birds are vibrant neon hues. They can camouflage by being brown and yellow, vivid green or bright blue. The butterflies follow the same colour scheme and can flit along your path at any time. The hummingbirds are everywhere and there's more than just one type. Lizards bask in the sun and are just as diverse. The occasional nonpoisonous snake can be spotted if you have a good eye. I've been lucky enough to have a vine snake cross my path, but that's pretty rare. The two bully's are actually sweethearts and they have an insatiable need for love (see photo above).

The staff are a whole other wonderful element. Back home the 'who' is so important, it can make or break an experience for most people. Can you imagine living on the same island as all the people in your office? It may be hard to believe, but the crew that works together here is a team. It's hard to pick a favorite person, but I think Paulina's smile makes me happy every time I see her. Everyone jokes around with each other and it's an environment that everyone seems happy to be at. Lloyd and Sue are constantly engaging their staff and pushing them to learn, and they obviously appreciate it.

I've recently been able to see the place in action, with guests coming and going all around. It's quite a change from having the whole place to myself. I've gone from seeing no one new for seven weeks, to not quite knowing who will show up on the dock and when. Everyone comes for their own reasons, and so far, it seems that everyone appreciates the break to a true paradise.

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