I greatly underestimated how little line there is between Man and Nature here in Costa Rica, at least in the area that I am in. From what I had been told by one of the other volunteers here via email, the boundary was more subtly segmented space for Man with nature surrounding but never crossing the line and less Nature just going and growing wherever the hell it pleases. Not that there is anything wrong with the latter, however much it might seem like it the first few times you need to evict a millipede or lizard from your bedroom.
There are for all intents and purposes, no lines between where People start and Nature ends or vice versa. Even the way the houses here are designed means that there’s really never any part of the interior (with the exception of bedrooms, bathrooms and occasional storage) or immediate exterior (or really as far as you can see before jungle gets in the way) that is not open for observation and entry by anyone or thing. Not quite shoo the snakes out territory, but getting pretty close. Most of the actual animals like snakes and birds don’t come into the house, but small lizards and bugs are another story.
In many respects its an invigorating way to live, as an outsider, because you never really know if the shadow you thought you saw moving was actually a shadow or if you really want to know where its gone now. To my credit, I think, I didn’t really go nuts when I could find the lizard in my room after looking away from it for a moment. The great irony is that all of the non-indigenous population is INCREDIBLY Catholic, yet live their lives so intimately entwined with the natural environment.
Do let the rose tinted glasses fool you however as there are definite drawbacks. For all the romanticized ideals attached to living ‘at One’ with the natural environment (though that statement in itself is very, very subjectively defined) things like drinking water that wont make you projectile vomit all day are not that great. All bar one or two of the volunteers here are foreigners, Americans, a Canadian and a Norwegian, myself and a couple of others and while about half have been in Central/South America for a year or more and have been able to adapt to natural water here it is not free for the drinking if you’ve not been here for a long time. Which is to say that it tastes fine, but your insides simply cramp up and go ‘Nope!’
I’ll leave it to your imagination to work the rest out.
As the Canadian put it when I was asking him about the water: “I drink mostly bottled water, but the local water doesn’t bother me too much. But I’ve got all kinds of parasites inside me… I’ll worry about those when I get home.”
He’s been in Central and South America for almost a year now.