HUGGED BY MOUNTAINS


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Our house sits in a bowl of mountains, looking at a peek of the ocean. Our daughter Emily, her Costa Rican husband, Chan, and their two little girls live a hundred yards from us in our open-air caretaker's cottage. We can see for miles around, and aside from one other house about a half mile from ours, we have the whole valley to ourselves. Well, there aren't any other people, but we're hardly alone. The hills surrounding us support numerous troops of howler monkeys, a band of white-faced capuchin monkeys, big cats (very elusive - we've never seen them but we know they're there), coyotes, anteaters, pizotes (the local name for coatis), armadillos, opossums, frogs, toads, every kind of bug, snake, and spider you can imagine, deer, skunks, and the list goes on, as Costa Rica is considered to have the highest concentration of biodiversity anywhere in the world. The animals teach us a lot:)

Originally our plan was to buy a beachfront lot, build a simple little house, and spend every afternoon reading in our hammocks. Somehow we ended up buying 120 acres 12 minutes by car from the beach and building an estate that requires constant maintenance. My life has always played out like a reality TV show (from what I hear - I very rarely watch TV) so I don't know why I thought simply moving to an entirely different culture in another country would change that. I have finally accepted the fact that, like Lucy Ricardo, chaos follows me wherever I go, so I might as well just go with it. At least now I've learned it's not what's going on around me that matters, it's what's going on inside me that counts. If I can't stop unwittingly inviting craziness into my life, all I can do is shift my focus from letting it frazzle me to stepping up to the challenge of trumping it with inner peace.

Ah, inner peace. Although my life here is as busy and crazy as it's been all along, the difference is that it's so much easier to put things in perspective when what you hear all day and night are the sounds they use to make relaxation CDs. We hear birds and bugs and frogs and breezes underscored by the distant roar of the ocean. Our windows and doors are always open so we are continuously connected to the earth's symphony. Spectacular panoramic views of nature at its finest fan out in every direction from our house so it's easy to remember what a small role we play in the greater scheme of things. We are humbled and inspired at the same time.

Bill and I have always been homebodies but I've recently realized we can now be classifed as hermits. Except for trips to the U.S. to visit family, we are almost always at our house. Why would we want to leave?