A walk in the rainforests of Costa Rica might be as unsatisfactory as a walk through your own city at rush hour. Even surrounded beauty, you won’t see it. There are two words to enjoy the rainforest: Slow and Silent. And that… yes! That goes for life itself too! Find here, how I learned this.
As a naturalist tour guide in the rainforests of Costa Rica, I have many stories. I met thousands of people and could tell a story about each of them. Yet, there are some things that we humans have in common.
And I learned that too.
One of the most striking things I learned guiding in the rainforests of Costa Rica is that never mind where you go. You go with yourself.
One of the main questions in my mind was “They come all the way down here, pay all that money… Just to keep the stress… Really?”
People who were angry and pressured. People who were still at their own rush hour.
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Once, I was on a tour in Manuel Antonio National Park, and I was the only one who stopped to see and take pictures of n agouti mother feeding its baby, right on the trail!
I was the only one who fully enjoyed this precious moment of life! When I looked up, the passengers were looking at me like “Hurry! We have to go!”. We were not going anywhere. We were taking a walk in the rainforest.
You come all the way down to the rainforests of Costa Rica… and don’t have the time to enjoy them? Really?
And then, there is the other example… The person who thinks that the more you walk and do, the more you will see… Beep! Wrong!
The rainforests of Costa Rica don’t care about your stress to see wildlife. Creatures come and go. They are not there for anyone. They are free… as the rainforest itself.
It is there, and all you have to do is to stop and walk…Slow.
“Slow” turned into a threatening word lately, everywhere you go. You have to go fast, there is not enough time. Pressure is biting. It seems that we are all going somewhere always. We cannot stop, and we cannot be slow.
And yes, this might be true if you are at work, have a deadline and feel that your job depends on it.
Yet, sometimes, when traveling, we act as if we were working.
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And then, I learned to live without a watch. Funny uh?
Naaahhh! Of course, I had to know the time! Our jobs have to do with itineraries and hours… I used my phone to see the time but removed the wristband ticker. (I even told my passengers: “I am the only one working here, and I do not have a watch… Remember you are on vacation”)
Why?… Well! I learned that to get my passengers to relax, they had to let go the idea of time biting their ankles as a furious pit-bull.
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Now… How did I get there?
Well! I must say that when I started tour guiding I used to be like an army general… We had to be on time, always! And well! I tried to squeeze as much in a tour as I could. And when walking through the rainforest it was a “Fast! Fast! Fast!”. See as much as possible in the least time.
That was until I started to work with Seniors. And that changed the game forever.
I had to be patient. Not everyone could take my fast pace, and wiser than me, they wanted to stop and smell the flowers (So to say).
And little by little I learned to stop and smell the flowers myself. At first, it was hard, I’ve always been a bit hyper and forced by my passengers’ pace to take it easy was not easy at all. But then, I started noticing that the slower I walked the more we could see.
I could explain better the plants and trees… yes. But also, I started to notice more things to show to my passengers. As a rainforest is actually made of details. That one ant, this small orchid, the curled tiny viper on a fern, an emerald basilisk hidden in a path hole or the movement of monkeys coming our way.
I also started to pay more attention to the sounds. I talked less while walking and waited to get to certain special places to give my speech. Just to listen to what the forest had to say.
Because if you listen, the forest talks. And it can be quite loud.
Sometimes it says that there are toucans up above, or buzzes about a big wasp with bright wings… And sometimes it talks about serenity and the present moment.
And that’s how I learned the second important word: Silence.
Another threatening word. Yet… liberating, once you start enjoying it.
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There is also a scientific fact to talk about here:
In the rainforests, all living creatures are predators… and pray. Yes, both! And hiding is a survival tactic. If you are noisy… You are a predator and everything will hide. If you are walking fast… You will not see a thing: Fact.
So, now you know… Slow and silent. Full, complete and utter attention to the magnificent magic of the tropical rainforest.
Written by Olga Sáenz for Camino Travel – Read about the author here