Every night ends around 8 PM simply because I am having difficulty acclimating to the 2 hour time difference (not that I’m trying very hard because, I mean, what’s 2 hours?) and also because I wake up every day between 3-5 AM. It is a cycle, you see. When my head hits the pillow, I fall asleep almost instantly and sleep like a rock through the night because the heat takes so much out of me during the day.
Morning rolls around, and I’m up before the sun. I blink a couple of times and rub the eye crispies away. I don’t move for about 10 minutes, only contemplating about getting up because I know once I start moving, that means facing the heat. When I finally do, I put on the same sweaty clothes I had on the day before because there’s no point dirtying perfectly clean clothes with another day’s sweat. I get up to wash my face, apply some gel under my eyes to reduce the bags, and tie my hair up in a messy bun. In a land where people walk around in bathing suits, tank tops, flip flops and some ladies go braless under their dresses, I’m not going for anything fancy. Slowly, I make my way to the dining area to refill my water cup and drink my tea before the majority of others wake up and file in for breakfast at 6 AM. Silence is observed until 7:30 AM so the mornings are blissfully quiet save for the chirping birds and waves crashing against the shore. It’s my favorite time of day here because of how tranquil it is, and because it’s still relatively cool outside. A balmy 85 degrees.
I smile at Jose or Olga or whoever may be working in the kitchen that day. It’s a comfort to know that I’ll be greeted by their friendly faces every morning. They work hard, swiftly moving around the kitchen, chopping fruit for morning’s breakfast, sweeping and scrubbing every appliance, washing every dish as soon as it makes its way back to the kitchen, and chasing the dogs and cats out of the dining area during mealtime. On the mornings where I have to leave for an excursion before breakfast is served, they leave a generous fruit plate out for me or if I return after lunch, they’ll save a plate full of more food than I can eat. I’m grateful for that. Making sure others are well fed and enjoying their food is a universal gesture of love.
On my way back to my room after breakfast, I usually run into Fillo who is around most days to tend to the gardens. Without fail, every morning he greets me with a whispered “Hola, como estas?” to which I whisper back “muy bien” or “I’m tired.” Fillo is the man of the land, the Papa Bear, if you will. He knows the grounds of Blue Osa like it is his own home. He is always full of stories, shows a genuine interest in whatever I have to say, and is willing to go out of his way to help. It is because of him that I feel safe here because after getting stung by a wasp for the first time in my life, he gave me an ice pack, told me I’d be okay, and put my worries to rest.
Most of my days, I spend resting, reading, scratching my growing number of mosquito bites, and building up my energy for my personal training sessions with walks on the beach. Sometimes, I get a massage or a body scrub from Sandro, a man of few words but great at his craft. I feel sorry exposing my mosquito bitten legs and arms because it looks like I’ve got chickenpox but c’est la vie. The pressure, as his fingers move up and down my spine, is so deep it feels like he is forcing the demons out of me and by the end, I can’t tell if I’m more or less sore than when we started. Nevertheless, I leave the spa feeling both sleepy and rejuvenated and wishing I was this spoiled at home.
The later in the week it becomes, the more anxious and unmotivated I am about my personal training sessions. As I close the door to my room behind me and head for the yoga studio, Rafa rounds the corner with whatever equipment we’re using that day and when he sees me, he smiles and comes in for a big hug. I’m sweating before we even begin, and we still have an hour of intense training ahead. We workout using equipment like TRX bands, medicine balls, and weights, all of which are foreign to me. Every day, I am pushed over my limit, and sore muscles pile up on me every 48 hours. By the end of the week, I am unable to move my arms 2 inches without sending pain coursing through my entire upper body, across my shoulders, and down my obliques. Somehow though, I feel strong when I walk, and even though it feels like hell working out that hard, I’m addicted to how good I feel when it’s all over.
With my second shower of the day behind me, I lazily mosey back to the kitchen where I lean over the bar and ask for my daily smoothie. They smile because they’ve been expecting me and they know exactly what I’m going to ask for. An Osa’s Chocolate Dream smoothie, made with a few of my favorite ingredients: cacao, peanut butter, and avocado. Smoothies are the way I cool off. They hand it over the counter, I say gracias for the 10th time that day to which they reply “me gusto” and it never gets old. As I’m sitting in the yard and enjoying my chocolate dream, the cats come over occasionally and stroke my leg before dashing out into the yard to catch a lizard for lunch. The mosquitos and flies enjoy their lunch as well. Me.
The current bug repellent I am using clearly isn’t working so I go to the reception office to ask Jorge to borrow the staff’s secret stash of Deet. “The mosquitos love me.” “That’s because you’re so sweet,” Jorge says. I laugh aloud in disbelief that people still say things like that but I secretly love it. The Deet works like a charm. He offers to let me keep it, but I return it on Wednesday before I leave.
At night, with the food laid out before us buffet style, the guests gather to listen to the chef as he explains what is on tonight’s menu. There’s a short round of applause before people grab their plates to serve themselves. While I’m waiting in line, Michael, Blue Osa’s manager, taps me on the shoulder just to say hi and see how my day was. My answer is always “uneventful,” as most days at Blue Osa should be, and that is the extent of our conversation. Once I’ve gotten my plate of food, I sit down with the volunteers, Scott, Sunny, Chris, and Holy, at their designated staff table so that the group that came from Colorado can eat together. I like sitting with them, it’s like being at the kids’ table at Christmas. We chat about nothing in particular, merely any highlights in an otherwise low-key day. Mostly, we enjoy our food because we are hungry and it’s so good it demands all 5 senses to enjoy.
After dinner, everyone makes their way back to their respective rooms, and I follow suit, using the flashlight on my phone to guide me. A toad hops into the bushes when it hears my footsteps, a couple of small crabs skit across the graveled walkway, and I’m keeping an eye out for snakes. Once I make it back to my room, I’m feeling grateful to be on the receiving end of such kindness every day, and I make a promise to myself that I will make it back here at least once a year. When I go to brush my teeth, I smile at myself in the mirror and say goodnight to nobody in particular but rather the whole universe. Afterwards, I switch on the ceiling fan, shut off the lights, and crawl into bed. I fall fast asleep only to wake up the next morning and do it all over again.