A lot can happen in a year

One year ago today I touched back down in the UK after 11 years away. What had started as a one year career break to travel through the Americas turned into an incredible 11 year journey of discovery with some of the most amazing experiences, most of which took place in the jungle of Costa Rica. I still had a day to wait until my dogs arrived but our journey was nearly over after three days of travel.

Coming back to the UK from a tropical Caribbean coastline in December wasn’t one of my best decisions. To say that it was a shock to my system is an understatement. I hadn’t quite anticipated the time it would take for me to acclimatise, in fact I really didn’t until the weather got warmer. I suffered with bad respiratory issues due to the cold outside, and from the extreme dryness of a closed and heated home. Homes are completely different in Costa Rica and mine was about as open as they get with metal bars downstairs and poorly fitted clapboard up. My body loved the humidity of the rainforest: the dogs fared much better with the transition than I, seeming to love the cooler weather.

My home for 5 years
jungle home

It was nice to experience a traditional Christmas again. Christmas just never felt right in 30°C and 12 hours of daylight. The pot luck gatherings were some of my favourite social events but they just weren’t the same as a Christmas Dinner with the family.

I’ve not experienced the four seasons for many years so I have thoroughly enjoyed the transitions over the past year. In Costa Rica we have wet and dry seasons with around 12 hours of daylight year round. The length of day only varies by around 60 minutes throughout the year, unlike the UK where it varies by nearly 9 hours between the shortest and longest day. The shortest day just before Christmas is only 7.49 hours!

2020 brought us gradually lengthening days and an incredibly long dry season lasting from Spring through to Autumn. Something I believe the whole country was grateful for given the whole World went into Lockdown in March. Who could have imagined that?

The isolation of lockdown had little impact on me. I’ve lived a fairly isolated life in the jungle for the past few years but I think my mum was pleased to have the company. The lockdown however did affect my ability to establish my business, and to find my tribe and become a part of the community. Instead I used my time wisely to evaluate the direction of Jungle Goddess and to formulate my vision for the future.

The last few months have passed in a blur and I can’t quite believe that a year has passed since I left the jungle. I still believe that it was my time to leave, and I am still working on my future direction but in the meantime I am enjoying this crazy ride that we call life.

 what do I miss of jungle life?

The beauty of nature and the diversity of the flora and fauna. The jungle is alive. It is a place where you are never alone and where you never experience silence.

The howler monkeys waking me up at 5am, shortly followed by the parrots, parakeets and macaws flying overhead. 

The great raptor migration; especially on their way south in September / October. Watching thousands of birds of pass overhead and roost nearby is a sight to behold.

Rainforest storms. There really is nothing quite like it.

Flip-flops being the ideal footwear for literally any possible occasion. And the added bonus that snakes and scorpions can’t hide inside.

The friendliness of the people and the sense of community. Puerto Viejo is the only place that has ever truly felt like home.

Popping out for ten minutes and it taking two hours because I would stop to catch up with so many friends on route.

Living in a country that embraces Pura Vida. I carry Pura Vida in my heart but I miss it being all around me. 

Literally “Pura Vida” means “Pure life”. Emblematically Pura Vida” is a feeling, an emotion; it is the embodiment of a way of life; the act of living in the moment, and being content with all that you are, all that you have, and the where, why and how of your existence. A true understanding of Pura Vida comes only from experiencing it in person.

Addresses that are based on location. My last address was ’2 storey house of metal and wood, 75m south of the AYA water tank, Black Beach, Puerto Viejo’.

Homesteading. Keeping chickens, growing my own food and my making own medicine apothecary.

Trade instead of cash. Like the time bought a 750L water tank with quite a few jars of yogurt.

Speaking Spanish.

The simplicity of life.

What don’t I miss?

The constant sensation that something is crawling or landing on me.

Cockroaches the size of a pet mouse. Oh and they can fly!

Rainy seasons that could bring the equivalent of one year of UK rain in one month. I will never consider England, Scotland or even Wales to be a rainy country ever again.

The crime. Having never been robbed before leaving the UK, I am now in double figures. Not feeling safe travelling at night and never being able to leave my home unattended for more than a few hours. I’ve also had to say goodbye to way too many people that shouldn’t have left this mortal plane.

Dirty water, no water, no electricity, bad phone reception and extremely slow and unreliable internet connection.

Anything electronic dying in record time. Anything metal rusting even quicker.

Washing everything in the kitchen before use as well as after. 

Harlequin Beetle

A few upsides of urban life?

Fast Internet and reliable water and electric services.

Hot water.

Cheese. So many different types of cheese. If fact I have a long list of food items that I’ve missed while living in the jungle.

The four seasons and the changes they bring.

Long summer evenings and light summer mornings.

Long and beautiful sunrises and sunsets.

Having a choice. Choices are fairly limited in the jungle.

four seasons

A few downsides of urban life

My UK coastal urban village is not a tropical surf beach village neighbouring the rainforest.

Appearances matter. I’m having to remember how to dress nice again and put a face on.

The taste of tropical fruit is a big disappointment here. When you grow pineapples, bananas and papayas in your back yard, exported fruit just doesn’t compare.

I feel a lack of community here. So few people even look at me when passing, never mind acknowledge me. Oh for a smile and a ‘good morning’ (sigh).

Television and the number of hours that people spend in front of one.

The perception of time and ones capability to do things. Phrases like ‘I don’t have time’ and ‘I can’t do that because…’ are all too common here.

tropical fruit

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