Looking out over La Casona in Santa Rosa National Park, I can see a landscape of harmony between man and nature.
To my right is a man-made monument, physically crumbling but still very much alive in symbolism to the Ticos. Directly in front of me is a collection of bushes and grass teeming with frogs and insects, just a tiny parcel of the country’s massive biodiversity. In the background are mountains and volancos. There are also lights from houses and cities and an airport.
It is the night, and it is challenging to visually discern every detail.
Except for the sky.
Every detail of the sky in Costa Rica is obvious. All the stars, the planets, the galaxies. From this spot at La Casona, the sky is yours.
It’s the same sky as my own sky above my house in Los Angeles. It’s the same sky as my sky in Columbia, Mo. But my sky in Costa Rica just feels different. It’s a mixture of no pollution from the power plants and lights and factories in the United States. It’s because of the fresh air I breathe in with calm, relaxed breathes. And it’s the silence around me. No cars, no voices, no cell phones ringing. All those things together are part of the feeling I get when I look up at the sky.
The sky in Costa Rica is a living photograph of what feels like nearly every star in the universe. Some sparkle, some shoot. But unlike the sky I usually see, this one is not shrouded by pollution or smoke or lights. It is clear.
The clear Costa Rica sky clears my mind, my worries, my anxiety. Under the Costa Rican sky, I don’t need to worry about what clothes I’m wearing, how much I need to work out, what I need to eat, whose text message I need to return, what essay I need to write, which party I’ll go to. Because under the Costa Rican sky is just me and the earth.
Today I look up at the sky and dream of Costa Rica. It’s the same sky, but it feels different. But I still have in my mind the memories I made under the Costa Rican sky.
Those are memories of a coffee farmer who is working to get his exceptional product shipped out of the country to share with us. A fisherman who never got a college degree but who probably knows more about the ocean than any marine biologist. A little boy who cares more about his cows than what’s on TV. A bus driver who drove to another city to surprise someone with a birthday cake.
The common theme among them is they live for something greater than themselves. They all contribute something great to society, but are dependent on the help of others. I leave Costa Rica with that knowledge. I look up in the sky, and remember that I am just one out of a galaxy of stars.