A 40th Birthday in the Rainforest
My buddy John just turned 40. Turning 40 is definitely a milestone in one’s life. While the Costa Ricans don’t seem to fret too much about age, for Americans living abroad it’s a birthday destined to be celebrated in a significant way.
But how does one celebrate a 40th in Costa Rica? What exotic, adventurous commemoration does an ex-Outward Bound guy and professional photographer have in store to celebrate his 40 years on Earth?
The answer: Friends, beer and corn-hole.
When you live in the rainforest, sometimes simple things can be exotic pleasures. The location set a perfect stage: An old, revived drug-lord’s estate, set upon a majestic mountain just south of Dominical. A half amphitheater of solid vegetation spilled down to the rocky shore of the Pacific ocean, and beyond–deep blue. Past the mountain’s shoulder stretched the famous Whale’s Tail–the beginning of Marino Ballena national park, extending south to encompass Isla Ballena, the Three Sisters, and numerous beaches. Isla Cano hovered like a dark mirage on the Pacific horizon. And in the far distance were the shadowy mountains of the Osa peninsula, impersonating dark clouds.
The game was corn-hole. For those of you who have never had the pleasure of playing corn-hole–it is a remarkably complex and skillful game, revolving around tossing corn-filled ‘bean-bags’ at a wooden target with a hole in it. Endless fun.
Unlike the typical 30th, this 40th was a family celebration. The kids splashed around in a pool fed by a mountain spring. A knot of women lounged on a grassy knoll overlooking the ocean views while others prepared a feast inside the villa. The men… well, the men played corn-hole, drank beer and ate ribs. Not much was unique about the activities, but the setting was glorious and the vibe copasetic. The howler monkeys howled, hidden in the billowy canopy of the rainforest. The toucans sang their banner song, and flew by in twos. Distant squalls looked like still life upon the blue backdrop.
Sunday morning John and I went for a walk through the labyrinthian estate, down palm-lined, paved roads to overgrown plantels and abandoned structures. The old ‘restaurant’ was nothing more than a decrepit floor and roof straddling a crisp stream. We competed to see who could find the most poison-dart frogs. I found three. John found seven.
It’s great that such places exist just a short hour from Manuel Antonio. If a 40th birthday is an opportunity to stop and assess your life–finding yourself in such and exotic AND familiar setting, surrounded by good friends and good food–is a good place to be.
Feliz Cuarenta, John!
Which reminds me a of a little joke–appropriate that it should be in Spanish:
- Pregunta: Que le dijo el cuatro al cuarenta?
- Respuesta: ‘Si quieres ser como yo, tienes que ser sincero.’
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