The day started early with an old friend the oscar mayer wienermobile returning to pick us up and make the four to five hour drive to Monteverde. As we drove through the city at morning rush hour, it was a sight to behold, the drivers are even more daring then Massachusetts drivers. Cars, buses, motorcycles weaving in and out, with soft sounding horns, saying “excuse me, I am coming in” and just like that the sea of cars opened, and a car safely snuggles into the traffic flow, imagine NASCAR being remixed with a night at the orchestra. The roads are very narrow, later I learn the city roads are considered wide, and with our open windows, we were at the counters of all the small local business on the edge of town. These shops reminded me a lot of the Jersey Board walk, shops selling all sorts of stuff and food, right atop of each other, decorated in those bright beach colors. After clearing the streets of San Jose, we arrived on the meandering road known as the Pan-America highway, next stop Fairbanks, Alaska, although possible, I mean Monteverde!
With the city fading in our rear view mirror as we traveled on this wondering highway, so did my mind with the highway and hills, as I stared into the jungleside, a tropicalism I came up with meaning countryside found in the tropics, I begin to think, I know, this could get dangerous, and the more I looked out the window at the weaving road, that seemed to be almost intertwined with the land of Costa Rica, a thought started to grow and continued to grow into an idea as we continued our trip further and further away from the city and closer and closer to the untamed lands of Costa Rica. The roads were sculpted into the hillsides with the most amazing vistas, framing the lush green jungle that draped the distant volcanoes, mother earth sure did have some fund creating this place. A sunny mist was present, the strangest thing, and as we traveled down these hairpin curves deep into the valley, the jungle was reaching right into our windows and at anytime you felt a jungle creature was looming in the mist, waiting to meet you, a meeting I was not yet ready for. Around another curve and the mist was gone and the road before you was looking more like a level from Mario Kart with turtle shells and banana peels included. On some of the hills the bus was doing its best impression of the engine that could, and I was its biggest cheerleader.
As you can see it is very easy to get distracted out here, back to the thought, which was beauty in nature. The roads we were traveling upon were part of the land, they were not put there by force, in an act to control like the roads I travel on back at home. At home roads are just a means to get people, products, or services from point A to point B in the fastest way possible, beauty, what beauty do you see on your way to work on 128, or 495 or 93? Now for the idea, drum roll please, American progress has possible removed the beauty out of the trip, figuratively and literally. The United States tends to look at the world in seconds, and even now microseconds, what company if given the chance would want a 75 mile trip to take five hours, if they could do it in and hour and a half. Some American companies would look at this trip and come with the conclusion that to get there quicker, we should build a tunnel right through the mountains; the engineers would have to confirm that none were volcanoes, as that could be a hot mess, literally. Imagine all the beauty that I would of missed if the trip to the cloud village consisted of a mega tunnel and an super elevator, or worse if all the trees and brush were cut down and a super highway was put in, we all know how that worked out for the human military when the Tree of Soul was attacked on the planet Pandora, you don’t mess with the Na’vi and Eywa.
Again, this does not just apply to the transportation system but the idea translates into American work- processes. Think about having a specialty craft or mass manufacturing product, watch an artist paint, as we did on one of our breaks at a small roadside collectible place, which is another example of the polarities of progress vs. nature at battle, this local venue felt more like an airport gift shop then an Costa Rican open air traders market, I believe Bruce Springsteen was even being played over the speakers as we walked in, #BornInTheUSA. When time is taken to make a product, it’s a beautiful process, and the final product usually has a higher quality.
Back to my artist, who with every stroke, was breathing breath into the canvas and making it come alive. Opposite that is a mass produce print of a painting, there is no originality in that. Another example, home grilling pitted against eating out at a chain restaurant, the process of creating food is exquisite, we all have a little Ratatouille in us, and with some time and preparation, I can promise I can make you the best Bahama Mama burger you ever had, it’s got pineapple in it to make it Bahama, still not sure why they call it mama. What is so beautiful about: two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun, other than it has the need, a need for speed, for someone to eat on the run to get to another meeting on time, poor Goose, still brings tears.
I understand the need for progress and how it appears to be pitted in a never ending battle with nature, however, I feel it is more important than ever to take a page from Costa Rica and remember to be part of the land and live Pura Vida. All of the companies back and San Jose we visited with, made it clear how important the environment was and that they actively participate in green incentives throughout the company. I applaud Costa Rica for balancing nature and progress and hope they continue on the path they are on and not fall into the progress “speed trap” that other countries do, as I for one, would like to stay above ground and travel with and be part of the beauty of the lands, rather than traveling faster in dark tunnels below it all.