The Monkey Farm…
We hear about a “Monkey Farm” about 15 minutes from us, and because of my obsession with monkeys I insist we check it out. The Monkey Farm is a group of international volunteers who are in the process of turning an old farm into an organic, sustainable farm that also acts as a monkey and wildlife rescue center. Volunteers fly in from all over the world to volunteer and live at the farm, located in Playa Ocotal.
We follow all of their colorful signs and pull into the farm. We’re off to an interesting start as a baby raccoon immediately sprints up to greet us, and runs in between my legs. I don’t know if I should scream and run or pick it up and cuddle it. We are greeted by a girl named Molly, ironically from Portland, OR, who tells us that Oliver, the baby raccoon, is harmless and just very curious.
Molly is at the farm volunteering for a month and gives us a tour. We spend a good 20 minutes entertained by Oliver playing with Heath, the baby howler monkey. They are best friends and tackle & wrestle each other constantly. Oliver seems to think he is a monkey too as he leaps onto the hammock and swings from the strings. Molly tells us they hate to be separated and howl for each other when they are apart. I could watch this all day and wonder how the volunteers get anything done with all this cuteness around them.
Heath & Oliver playing:
Heath, the baby howler monkey, flies across the outdoor kitchen and lands on the shoulders of a volunteer who is cutting up potatoes for lunch. She continues to cut the potatoes, seemingly unaware of the monkey now perched on her back.
“Oliver!! Stop that!” shouts Molly, as she runs over to keep Oliver out of the basket of fresh fruit, which is for the volunteers, sitting on the table behind us. He fights her off, tackling her ankles, trying furiously to get back to the basket. She tells us he can be a little rambunctious and rebellious and that keeping him out of everything is almost a full-time job, which is proven as she has to interrupt our tour a few more times to discipline baby Oliver.
Molly shows us the adorable baby goats that were born yesterday. We tour the aquaponics coy pond system, the rabbit pens, the hedgehog pen, the duck cage with baby ducks, the medicinal herb and plant garden. They also have a tea herb garden and Molly tells us she will be building a salsa garden on the roof of a shed this afternoon.
One of the baby goats:
We learn that the Monkey Farm gets day-old produce from all the local supermarkets for free, to feed their animals. They also are given used barley from the local craft brewery, Angry Goats Brewery, to feed to their goats and pigs. They are working on becoming self-sustainable by growing as much of their own food as possible.
We make a donation and they send us off with seeds from a Moringa tree, also known as the tree of life, and the miracle tree. The leaves of this tree are good to eat on a salad, or ground into a powder, or make into tea. They have more calcium than milk, more iron than spinach, more protein than yogurt, more potassium than bananas, and more vitamin A & C than any vegetable or fruit. She tells us we may need to hide them in a sock to get them on the flight home. I have a feeling when we finally leave Costa Rica that we’ll have suitcases of socks full of many different seeds.
The Monkey Farm was such a fulfilling and peaceful way to spend our morning. They also offer horseback riding tours on the beach. If you’re ever near Playa del Coco make sure to stop by the Monkey Farm. They have many fun volunteer options, long-term and short-term. Check out their website: http://themonkeyfarm.org/
Heath & Oliver send us off with a good message. Witnessing a baby monkey playing with a baby raccoon is a clear message that we should all get along. Be nice to your neighbor, even if they are different. We should all accept each other for who we are. With all the violence happening in the world around us, if more people were to act like Heath & Oliver, the world would know more peace. Peace isn’t something you pray for. It’s something you are, something you do, something you live, something you teach.
Open minds are the best kind…
“Try to keep your mind open to possibilities and your mouth closed on matters that you don’t know about. Limit your ‘always’ and your ‘nevers’.” – Amy Poehler
Don’t be afraid to be open-minded. Your brain isn’t going to fall out. Two of the hardest things to say in the human language are ‘I’m wrong’ and ‘I’m sorry’. Being open-minded means to embrace being wrong. It means taking advantage of the opportunity to own it, admit it, learn from it and become a better person because of it. The eyes are useless when the mind is blind. Spiritual awakening occurs only when narcissism is put to bed for good.
“Above all, remember that the most important thing you can take anywhere is not a Gucci bag or French-cut jeans; it’s an open mind.” – Gail Rubin Bereny
Close your mouth and open your mind. We have two ears and one mouth. Maybe we should take that to mean we are to listen twice as much as we are to speak. Open-minded people are free of illusions. They know nothing is impossible. Let your opinions change with new information. Never stop learning. Question everything, but deny nothing. Maybe there is no right or wrong, no normal or weird, but only different ways of seeing, different ways of being.
“Let yourself be open and life will be easier.” - Buddha
When you judge another, you don’t define them, you define yourself. When you open your mind, you open your life. So be open-minded. Things aren’t always what they seem to be. Don’t believe everything you think.
“Be curious, not judgmental” – Walt Whitman
We head to Playa Conchal for the day, with our snorkel gear, our hammocks and Sophie. Playa Conchal, we both agree, is the prettiest beach we have seen so far in Costa Rica, the same beach where we got stuck in the sand and the local teens had to come to our rescue. It is a pristine, white sand beach with see-through, clear, turquoise water. No snorkel gear is necessary, I immediately spot multiple fish in the water around my feet. A blue/green trumpet fish swims past me, on a wave. I point him out to Andy, but he is the color of the ocean and is hard to see through his natural camouflage.
The ocean looks like glass today and we can see all the way to the bottom. The water feels extra salty and buoyant, it is easier than ever to lay back and float effortlessly. The best feeling is having nothing to do, and all day in which to do it.
The clouds ripple past us above and melt into the horizon. The sky slowly paints itself grey and the scent of a storm hangs in the air. The rain suddenly envelops us, we are surrounded by raindrops meeting the ocean surface with a vengeance. A school of small fish jump into the air, on the hunt, mistaking the raindrops for bugs. We continue to float on our backs, the ocean supporting us from below while the rain cleanses us from above.
The storm eventually passes onto the next beach. Life begins again and souls reappear. Two identical Catamaran sailboats hover near the shore, dancing with the weather. Happy couples stroll up and down the shoreline, holding hands and taking pictures. Vacationers on jet skis rip through the water, laughing and screaming as they fly across the ocean surface. Two horses gracefully gallop down the white sand beach, one breaks off and runs into the ocean, splashing in the surf.
We spend hours floating in the ocean but eventually drag ourselves out of the perfect water. But we should all know by now that nothing is perfect in life, not even perfect Costa Rican beaches. As we dry off we are swarmed by tiny black bugs, which bite. The bites sting but the bugs are so small you don’t even see them. We dance around, swatting at the jerks, as we pack up and make our escape. But it is too late, we are both covered in bites (me more so than Andy) by the time we reach the car, and they turn out to be the itchiest bites of all time. I count 43 just on my legs. We spend the next 3 days itching constantly, which taints our memory of the perfect beach. If we do go back to this beach we will need full-body bugsuits.
Hang your worries out to dry…
“Don’t worry, about a thing. Every little thing is gonna be alright.” – Bob Marley
What worries you masters you. Worrying doesn’t stop bad things from happening, it only keeps you from enjoying the good. Worrying will never change the outcome. The more you worry, the more you complicate life. Don’t fill your head with worries or there won’t be room for anything else.
“Worry is interest paid on trouble before it’s due.” –William Ralph Inge
If you can solve your problem then what is the need of worrying? If you can’t solve your problem then what is the use of worrying? Worry gives a small thing a big shadow. It’s the same as betting against yourself. It doesn’t prevent disaster, it prevents joy. Don’t worry about things that don’t worry about you. If Plan A doesn’t work, stay cool. There are 25 other letters.
“I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.” – Mark Twain
Worry is a misuse of your imagination. Worrying is your imagination creating things in your life that you don’t want. Don’t worry about what others are doing. Worry about why you’re worried about what others are doing.
“A day of worry is more exhausting than a week of work.” – John Lubbock
Say it with me, NOTE TO SELF: everything is going to be okay. Don’t worry, be happy. Smile more, worry less.
Take it from me. The girl who is scared of everything, the girl who gets stung by sting rays, the girl who gets 178 mosquito bites to your one. Shit happens, (mostly to me), so don’t worry.
Kari Pinkerton Silcox
It would be a tragedy to die, having never really lived. Which is why my husband Andy and I quit our jobs, sold our house and decided to chase our dreams. We moved to Costa Rica without a plan, and this is the story of our adventure.