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  • “It takes an entire ocean and the moon to erase your footprints.”

    Perched atop a jagged boulder that’s normally covered in high tide, we watched the waves beat endlessly against the rocks on the beach. A small cove had been formed in front of us from a massive piece of stubborn earth that jutted out about 20 feet from the beach. Water rushed in around it from both sides, creating a small vortex of furious ocean in a contained pool in front of us. We watched as water rushed in and filled the pool, slamming against the rocks. Then new waves would come and the pool, already angry, would push against them. But the power of the incoming waves would always win, and again the pool would swirl, slamming into the rocky walls.

    And on it would go, all the while the water slowly rose.

    On the outskirts of this pool, something waded closer to the shore, bobbing up and down in the growing surf. As it got closer, we saw it was a coconut that was trying to reach the shore. It wasn’t an easy task though. Every time it got close to being beached, the waves would carry it away. And each time, the waves took it closer to the vortex pool.

    It was cooler now, but hours ago we walked up the beach collecting sea shells left behind from the low tide. The sun was too intense to get more than a kilometer down the beach before we started to burn.

    “I’m melting,” Angie would remind me (she burned quicker than I did), and we would retreat to shade.

    Rounding a point on the beach where the land dipped backward, I rushed up to an eroded boulder that looked as though it normally was underwater. When I reached to top, I immediately heard the dozens of rushing footsteps of something directly below me. Dozens of crabs scattered all over the rocks where the water met them. Excitedly, I turned to Angie and shouted, “Look! Crabs!”

    Movement out of the corner of my eye made me jump. Only a couple feet to my right, I realized I had ruined a romantic moment between a couple who had found a natural pool in the rocks, and were trying to get close. For the most part, this was a private beach. Or, at least, it wasn’t a public one.

    I’m pretty sure we were allowed to be there.

    Pretending I had seen nothing and that their ‘If we don’t move, he won’t see us’ strategy had worked, I climbed back down and found Angie, who had made a new friend. A puppy had crawled out of the brush atop a boulder on the beach where Angie was resting from the sun. He refused to come down, even for water, but still we did the best we could to get him to drink out of a dried leaf bowl.

    Silently, I named him Carlos.

    Stray dogs were all over the place in Costa Rica, and at first, I felt awful and distantly entertained the possibility and logistics of adopting them all, to ‘save them’. That is, until I realized that they had the life of kings here. Just before meeting Carlos, while craning our heads down to the beach to look for sea shells, my eye caught a tail in the water. I wheeled around to find a dog laying in the shallows of the water - not drinking it, just laying there trying to cool off.

    This same dog blew our minds yesterday when we found the beach. While walking up the sand, we watched him trot down from the brush, paying us no mind. He looked thirsty and at first I thought he was coming down to the water for a drink. But he just waded into the water for a moment and let a wave wash over him, then trotted back up the beach and into the jungle.

    Upon seeing him again this time, he stood and made his way back into the jungle again. Out of our lives forever.

    Somehow I felt more guilty ruining his free time than the I did ruining the couple’s moment.

    After the beach, we caught a taxi into town, trying to avoid the heat. Playa Carmen is only a kilometer away and the only town around that we can walk to. It’s mostly a one street town busy with quad bike traffic, surf shops and tourism - all built on a road that was falling apart. A lot of the people there are english speaking. It came more as a relief than a surprise when we walked into the local grocery store and found that we recognized a lot of what we saw - pepsi, fanta, pringles, Costa Rican pringles, chocolate, booze, cereal and soy milk. It wasn’t that we thought we’d walk in and not be able to find food that we recognized - I’m all about trying a the local food of a country, but it was just nice to know we’d be able to find meals that we could eat cold or cook out of a small coffee pot.

    As we were leaving town, we stopped to get a closer look at some monkeys that were eating lunch in a tree on the side of the road. After a final survey of the town, we mentally noted a few restaurants we wanted to check out, then started our trek back to the lodge. There was enough shade on the side of the road to keep us from melting any more than we already had.

    Few times have Angie and I ever known how to do nothing and not feel guilty about it. But we spent the rest of the day lounging by the pool, making new friends with some of the other lodge guests, and eating ramen noodles out of our miniature coffee pot. About 20 minutes before the sun set, we set out onto the beach again.

    Angie walked along the shore, collecting shells and sea glass. She even found a part of a bone that had been broken down and smoothed by the ocean. Meanwhile, I found a comfortable groove atop a boulder on the edge of the water and watched the waves tackle the shore.

    The days seem to last longer here. My usual hours of being awake are from 6:45am - 9pm at the latest (last night I went to bed at 8:30pm). It’s only when I travel that I gain a kind of clarity that I think I crave when I’m back in the states and in the familiar.

    What am I going to do?

    That’s always the question. Big or small, impulsive or calculated. What’s next? Sometimes I find the answer is, ‘nothing. Enjoy the moment. There’s no reason to think about tomorrow.’ And then there are other times when I still feel like I’m in the middle of a nebula, trying to pull it all together.

    Angie has finished hunting for sea shells and has joined me on the rock, both of us silently staring at the sea. At the coconut thats trying to grab hold of the shore.

    Clarity and what comes next are the ebb and flow of the tide. It’s rising now and before long, this will all be under the water. Who knows how far that coconut has come?

    The sun had set now and pulled all it’s light below the horizon with it. Angie and I had packed our things and set off back to the lodge, leaving the tide to bring in all things lost to the sea.

    *Photo by Angie Kane.
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