January 21: I’m writing under the fog of mild heat delirium, not exactly sunstroke or anything you need medical training to manage, just that loopy slightly stupid feeling of having been out wandering the full hot humid glory of the finca for 8 hours without enough food or water and then you have a (1) beer with friends and now you are finding it hard to remember why, four lines ago, you titled this blog what you did.
In summary: summer, it seems, has finally arrived to Osa.
I’ve been down in Osa for 2 weeks now and up till today it rained every day – big afternoon or evening thunderstorms, the kind of weather we get in September or November, never in January. January is for beach afternoons and flowering treetops, for all-day sunshine that feels welcome after months of mildew. This weird rainy spell is pretty much all anyone has talked about since I arrived.
Needless to say, it’s probably somehow linked to the same Gulf Stream aberrations producing record numbers of U.S. Eastern seaboard Facebook posts featuring grumpy friends in puffy winterwear entertaining their children during official snow days. Climate change. How can you feel happy about it? Plus the rain is going to spoil the incipient corteza tree bloom and is knocking the flowers off my damn mango tree. Climate change is fucking with mango season! It’s not quite a starving discolored polar bear shambling over melting permafrost, but it’s dire.
However, my baby trees love this weather. As I’ve mentioned before, January through April is a bit of a gauntlet for a seedling just trying to establish itself; the sun pounds and crisps your tender leaves, the soil not-so-gradually loses its moisture (especially in shade-less grassy fields). Growth rates slow and plants slip into survival mode. Two weeks of no rain and Carlos is filling up the Ghostbusters backpack pump and repeatedly carting 44 lbs (20kg) of water upslope to keep our trees alive. This January, though, my trees are putting on new leaves daily and look healthier than ever. Carlos and I are stoked to be working under cloud cover, which keeps the sun-stupidity at bay. I have felt more than a little bit grateful for the weird weather.
The halting start to summer also fits my new year’s state of mind. I spent November and December in EIA overdrive taking rock stars and indigenous activists to the Peruvian jungle (read a professional blog about it here and a nice article here). I then got back on a plane to spend quality time in beautiful places with my alarmingly adorable niece and nephew, all members of my family, and multiple beloved friends. I landed back in Costa Rica with a hangover from all that love. My situation in San José felt cold in the literal and metaphorical senses of the term. Once I got down to Osa a profound exhaustion set in, and the usual questions: does it still make sense for me to be here? Why have I created a life spread across so much damn geography? What would it take to feel coherent?
But this place restores me, every time. Somewhere around day 12, tree #688 of my randomized pilón monitoring count, I felt whole again. That’s a mixed blessing too, in some ways. I love it so much, I never want to leave. But it’s sort of hard to be an environmental policy professional based at la casita amarilla with mediocre internet on the wrong side of the River Barrigones. I haven’t entirely figured out the balance, much as I think and write about it. For now off I go, back to the chilly evenings and broader bandwidth of San José.