The strange and the familiar

There are strange bird sounds made by unfamiliar and unseen birds and the sound of crunching footsteps on the dirt road just the other side of the hedge full of flowers I don’t recognize coming through the screened window of my hotel room in Puerto Jimenez.  There is air-conditioning but I am leaving it off for now as I try to acclimate to the heat and oppressing humidity before my three day hike in Corcovado National Park.  I flew in from San Jose this morning after landing late last night and sleeping little.

I don’t know the birds here, I don’t know the plants and I barely know the language.  I really don’t know the birds and plants at home either but there I don’t think about it.  They’re just part of a familiar landscape I navigate without seeing, like not noticing when your partner gets a new haircut because you barely look at them anymore

Here it’s all new and different, and I want to know what things are, what they’re named.  I wish I had a field manual to identify them all.  Hotel rooms can do that to you.

At night returning from dinner their were hidden animals making these sounds:

The heat isn’t as oppresive as I thought it would be. It’s bad, for sure; my skin and clothes will be damp so long as I am here.  But it’s not unbearable, and I thought it would be unbearable.  The general lack of caring is evidenced in that most people live with there front doors open or sitting on their front porch.  If you wandered often enough and slowly enough the streets of PJ, you would probably learn the story of everyone’s life.  It’s hard to imagine that kind of shared life, probably an odd thing from someone who has just started to blog his.


This is the farthest south I will be, which is why I didn’t my breaking with my land-only plan to get here.  from here, I head in a generally northerly direction, sometimes sideways, but never south again.  The most direct line via roads would have me back in Manhattan after about 4,000 miles, but with my sideways meanderings here, and crossing Mexico to Baja and up to Los Angeles, so I can cross the whole great mass of America before getting home, it’ll probably be twice that.

It’s not so bad when I break it up into 3 days here and  then a bus and 2 days there.  By the time I’m done here in  PJ, I’ll be 10% toward seeing S again in Belize, and 5% toward getting home. In segments, it seems like it’s over before it ever started.  But laying that whole calendar out in front of me, thinking about those 8,000 miles, it seems like a lifetime.

Tomorrow I head into Corcovado National Park for three days with a New Zealand/Australian couple and a guide named Jose.

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