Monday, October 25, 2010

Don't Blink

I've had a draft of this post in the works for weeks. I think about it periodically, maybe jot down a sentence or two, but can never seem to complete it, choosing instead to bump it down the road in favor of other topics. So I sat down today to figure why I can't finish it, and in the process, do exactly that. Who says my life here isn't challenging?

There is a particular quality about this place that I can't quite put my finger on, try as I might. The quality is one of motion, of change, of fluidity, of predictable unpredictability - a phenomenon that challenges my powers of articulate description.

It seems ironic that in this place where my life is so very low key, where I am grounded (albeit sometimes unwillingly) by simplicity, it is amidst a perpetually moving backdrop. But there you go.

Nosara seems to be defined by a constant state of flux. There are the environmental factors, for one. The ocean, though predictably there every day, never looks the same. Waves change shape, offshore breaks come and go, the color changes from blue to gray to brown to green. One day water rushes out of the jungle carving a deep wide river that meets the sea, and then is gone without a trace the next day. The sand shifts, covering and uncovering rocks, building and removing hills and valleys. The jungle itself is a breathing living thing. Thousands of insects are born and die every day, trees grow at an astounding rate, vultures make quick work of the larger dead, and decomposition changes the ground beneath my feet at a pace I am consistently amazed at. Even the howler monkeys change routes periodically, apparently in response to a toxin the trees create.

Then there is the town and its inhabitants. The roads, for example, exist in a state of continual degradation, followed by unexplained bursts of isolated fixes, followed again by a steady disrepair. The predictable nature of this cycle is such that the signs are permanent (literally, "the road is in a bad state" - indeed). Bridges get washed out, are rebuilt and are washed out once more.

All over town there are buildings are half built and abandoned, or perhaps they are fully completed and now half disintegrated - the jungle is a formidable foe of development. For sale ("se vende") signs are everywhere - on empty plots of land, on peeling billboards showing fancy condos that may or may not ever have been built, at construction sites, on fully operational hotels. Everything is for sale here and whether or not it ever sells seems to not be of critical importance. Our house is for sale and has been for several years. A mere million and it's yours.

Opportunity is here for the taking. Want to start a business? Build a hotel? Sell boats? Import cars? Of course, failure is rampant as well. Restaurants and businesses come and go by the season. Most people I meet here come from somewhere else. And most have plans to go somewhere and do something else eventually. This is the land of reinvention. From a lawyer to a real estate agent to an ice cream maker. No one seems to be defined by their profession because, after all, who knows what it will be tomorrow?

In some ways living amidst all this change is unnerving. How can I get my bearings in this place when it is always in flux? How can I carve my niche where niches come and go with the weather? Will everything and everyone please just stay still for a minute? What sort of place is this where the resident iquana is the only thing I can count on day after day? We've named him Izzy (short for Israel) and he is a beacon of steadfast and dogged tenacity. He never moves from his branch and for that I am often grateful.

At other times, I find this constant state of change rather reassuring, in the way that less than desirable behavior from children is reassuring. That is, you can always blame your child's backtalking snottiness on a "phase" and look forward with certainty to the end of the distasteful but surely temporary state. The old adage about weather applies to the entire ecosystem here - if you don't like Nosara just wait five minutes.

In addition, I am struck by the amazing way in which humans and nature are intertwined here. Sometimes they fight, sometimes change in one is a direct response to change in the other, sometimes there is mutual assistance, and sometimes they seem to simply pass and wave to each other hurriedly on the way to somewhere else. It is ecosystem-based living in a way that I am enjoying participating in.

And finally, of course (predictably), there is the intriguing nature of change itself. Change is inspiring in its possibilities for innovation and transformation, for renovation and refinement, for evolution or revolution. I think even Izzy can appreciate that.


  1. So true. Change is necessary, if not just part of what is. It is our job to evaluate (not too much) and move with it. Shed the snakeskin, flee the poisonous tree. Even if you are steadfast on the branch while it all takes place around you, it's for good reason. The fluid embrace.

  2. Thank You, Thank You, Thank You ...
    I am in awe of your observations & writing .

  3. Take away the tropical flora and fauna and you have the Bay area in 1967, at least the part I moved through. I flashed on it (kinda).

    I'm lovin it and my family and their adventures. Thanks for letting us in.