I lived in Costa Rica for two weeks in 2015. I worked on an organic, vegan farm/homestead run by an American woman, close to nature, off the grid most of the time, and it was a fantastic experience. (Fun fact: One of the catalysts for this trip was the Landmark Forum, a life-changing course I did in 2015. I can’t recommend it enough.)
Being close to nature will teach you things, about the earth, and about yourself. Here are some of the things I learned, about myself, and about Costa Rica.
1) It is profoundly easy to wake up. The sunlight and sounds just invite you out of bed. There is very little struggle. It’s not entirely about feeling “rested” based on the “amount of sleep” per se – because sometimes you maybe could use more sleep. But it is a feeling of being synced up with the clock of the natural world, and it just makes it so much easier to get out of bed.
2) The ants here do not fuck around. They are not like docile city ants. They are aggressive and they will snap at you the minute they touch you! It’s like they know you are alive too and must immediately show you who is boss. LOL. I have lots of little bites! Mosquitos too.
3) I love the sound of nature. Approaching the river and hearing it made my heart beat with joy. Even the bugs at night, the birds in the afternoon – it was a symphony of its own. I feel lucky I got away from city noise and was able to hear the rainforest for a while.
4) You learn quickly that dirt is everywhere. Yay, mud! Healthy for you anyway.
5) Do not touch pejibaye tree bark with bare hands, you will get splinters! Ouch!
6) I love the taste of pejibaye, malanga, camote and tiquisque. Guanabana (soursop, graviola in Brazil) is pretty good too. Yummy.
7) Eating local is awesome: the sugar we use comes from an actual sugar mill. It’s a paste-like cake of brown syrupy, grainy goodness. It’s perfect.
8) I love dogs and dogs love me. This is not new information, but the pups here make life pretty nice.
9) Farming is awesome exercise. I have totally shoveled manure (about as fun as it sounds LOL), used a garden hoe to clear lots of weeds, cleaned a pig pen, engaged in lots of container gardening, walked through the mud over and over in both boots and vibrams, having to stabilize myself constantly on slippery and unstable surfaces… fed and cleaned animals, prepared group meals, opened large gates and doors, swept and cleaned spaces of various sizes, climbed hills, thrown brush over fences, harvested plants, etc. It is so much work, but you are constantly using your core and you are getting sunshine and breathing fresh air and using all your muscles! It feels great and I love working outside.
10) Everything is perfect, in its own way. Things that looks like problems in nature are not problems – they are solutions for other organisms. A tree falls down, and it becomes a home for another animal. Problems are in the eye of the beholder – for example, if your computer breaks down, it’s a problem for you, not for the computer. I saw how perfect thing are – even when there is change, death, or brokenness in an ecosystem, it rights itself, it is patient. Or, in the words of Lao Tzu: “Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.”