Monday, May 2, 2011

Road Babe Dispatch From Manuel Antonio

When I arrived in San Jose, the baggage claim attendant pleasantly informed me that my suitcase was lost. I didn’t trust her. Anyone who smiles when they tell you they fucked up isn’t trustworthy. The next morning, I was going to the National Park in Manuel Antonio, to meet up with the rest of my family who had gotten there the day before. “Come ready to swim,” my sister said. “We're heading out to snorkel as soon as you make it.” At the time, I was wearing a bathing suit top as a bra. Convenient - but the lower half was another story. At least I hadn’t gone commando, but the stringy something I was wearing wasn't much.

Costa Rica is a tough place to describe. The lush tropical forest climbs over the mountains and dips its toes into the turquoise waters. Sloths dangle upside down, hoping their weight will eventually slide them into the wet blue as well. Metallic butterflies the size of my face flutter past, while monkeys sing to each other in the canopy. It feels like it can’t be real, and that sensation is perfectly fine when accompanied by a pina colada.

I almost forgot about my bags in that captivating place where nature dominates the efforts of man. It’s an eco-playground with every natural ride imaginable. We zipped out, about sixteen of us on the boat, part family and part strangers. Soon, we were chatting it up like the best of friends. I was half-outfitted for the trip, donning my dirty travel pants to cover what I wasn’t wearing underneath.

When we got to the best fish-watching spot, everyone stripped off their cover-ups and jumped in, popping their wet heads up instantly to shout at each other how amazing this color or that creature was. Riddled with jealousy, I sat with my hard-core cyclist hottie of a grandmother, who doesn’t know how to swim. The crew surveyed me curiously. Finally, my grandmother leaned over to me and said, “You’re only young once.” With that inspiration I dropped my pants, leaving a shocked crew behind me as I dove into the water. When my backside rose to the surface with bobbing cheeks in clear view, I realized why the Spanish phrase for mooning is las ballenitas or little whales.

Mittie Babette Roger is from Louisiana but lives in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. She received an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Naropa University and authored the book It's Better to Visit the Shaman Without Questions to Ask. She travels the world volunteering to help disadvantaged children and promoting Blue Iguana Tequila to empower serious drinkers.

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