John M. Edwards compares Costa Rican ecotourism vs. narcissism
I awake from a Magic Realism dream, evaporating.
I am once again surrounded by evil anacondas in the charmed atmosphere of Costa Rica’s “Monteverde Cloud Forest,” breathing the bracing air of golden pre-Colombian pagan gods talking in exceedingly loud voices.
I astounded myself by the fact that I had fallen asleep in my chair inside the hostel common room, filled with Canadian backpacker babes smelling like biblical clay or “Cutter” ™, flirting with the local Romeos.
Like awakening from a dream within a dream within a dream, when we travel abroad, we reinvent ourselves as really ourselves, albeit with a false front or practiced persona. Yes, the bio matters.
So once again, I was in search of the elusive rare Blue Morpho Butterfly. (Forget all the endangered Poison Arrow Frogs). All the locals here across the board were civilized Quaker “Friends” playing Backgammon and Parchesi in yet another attempt at a utopian society.
An amateur Quaker ornithologist of uncertain mestizo ethnicity, claiming grandiloquently to be “a citizen of the world,” ruminates over a decent Costa Rican brew, dark roast, resembling crushed asteroids. He was also eating a piece of artisanal cheese made by the local “Friends” (not “Joey”).
Return journeys, especially to protected PC paradises such as this one in Costa Rica are always a matter of ecotourism vs. narcissism. With my Mac PowerBook G4 laptop, I intended to write fairly decent poetry. Why here? This “expatriate community” was a little reminiscent of the Jim Jones experiment in Guyana, sans the poisoned Kool Aid ™. Even so this was a good loci to explore the extreme adventure sport of doing absolutely nothing at all.
Now the very idea of “Utopia,” explored in detail by Sir Thomas More, who was beheaded for an apocryphal affair with Anne Boleyn, by the advisors to the Tudor King Henry VIII, who introduced a Martin Luther-inspired revisionist “Protestantism” called the “C of E,” in order to bag as many babes as possible for a son to carry on his dynastic claims, seems to many an absurdist impossibility.
–(I’m still a firm believer in “the divine right of kings”)—
I felt like the Utopian cultists Christopher Isherwood and Aldous Huxley, gregariously being inducted into a new kind of alt movement, who prefer hiking over drug-smuggling.
Surely, I had been cast as an extra in a remake of Irwin Allen’s “Land of the Giants.”
With a self-reliant grin, I pulled from my Jansport daypack ™ a scholarly treatise on Transcendentalism, including clips from no less worthies than Emerson, Frost, and Thoreau. I casually tilted the book at a meaningful angle, as if I might have in fact compiled the collection myself.
And I had, in my own mind, at least.
Here no one took people to account for what other people said. We were all free to opinionate without omnipresent paranoia and polite interest, on religion, politics, economics, and of course, the environment—the three staples of roundtable discussions along the so-called Gringo Trail.
They say the body is composed of eighty-percent water, and after a series of siestas I begin to think that maybe this was true. It was the rainy season and I felt wet. Then an antiquated yellow school bus drives in on the rocky dirt road, unloading unwashed humanity and excited poultry.
The earth spins on its axis, we all think at least, maybe it even wobbles. At last spotting a strange being of otherworldly fluttering blue, the rare Blue Morpho Butterfly, I decide it is time to set off on a vigorous hike to find even more along the carefully tended paths right through the Monteverde Cloud Forest, resembling both sustainable heaven and hell on earth. . . .