Things have been different recently, since I’ve plunked myself down in Los Naranjos. This place is full of characters : eccentric expats, surly co-workers, insanely hospitable waitresses, selectively affectionate dogs. The beauty of sticking around for a few weeks is that day when I pass the preliminaries, when the expats invite me over to taste a naranjino and the co-worker who looks younger than I am gets to telling me about her teenage daughters, the waitresses pull me up a chair after lunch to chat until it gets dark, and the dogs go on loving me when they want their big fluffy backs scratched.
The beauty of being in the right place at just the right time has little to do with how long you’ve stuck around. This weekend, a few of those characters of mine bought a mountainside. What I can describe about this land is 82 acres of primary cloudforest with stretches of abandoned coffee farm, sprouting the odd fruit tree and wild berry bushes and rickety wooden rooms on stilts. Then, I can mention sitting on a big rock rising out of a field of sprawling beans to stare at the canopy covering the slopes on the other side, where a few gaps reveal darkness so uncompromising that plants don’t grow below the trunks, and a few leviathans reveal a compromise so brilliant that an entire ecosystem thrives on a single tree. Through binoculars, we can just see a few spots of bright orange petals blossoming from one of those incomprehensibly gigantic trunks, soaking up sunlight 50 meters above the rest of the canopy.
I should mention – they’re looking for volunteers to help build an eco-lodge and explore the forest, starting this summer. If you’ve got any big ideas about sustainable construction, agriculture, energy, or other environmental research and might be interested in seriously creating something new, let me know and I’ll e-mail you some details. Sorry about the pitch. I’m excited is all.