A note for 2009 Costa Rica Program

by Brianne Esmeyer

I am hypnotized by the delicate creatures fluttering about in the butterfly garden.  I slowly look around me, overwhelmed by brilliance. The dominant paradigm of color which I have held for thirty years is quickly transformed by this alternative palette. The softest pink coupled with the deepest blue surrounded by an inexplicable blinding white. I am breathless. I want to capture everything I see, and I fear forgetting this beauty. The camera does no justice to this incredible experience. It is time to leave for another adventure.


I close my eyes and allow the warmth of the gentle sun wrap around me. Although my eyes are closed, I am confident I am glowing from its embrace.  It is not blazing, but rather comforting as it follows me everywhere I go.  Often, I stop and smile, flooded with tranquility. I am standing on the bank of a white sand beach listening to the water gently lap onto the shore. Again, it is time to leave; there is so much to do.

I reach my home stay and instantly begin to salivate like one of Pavlov’s dogs. I know my mama has something cooking. I am eager to enter. I walk in and take a greedy sniff. Then I inhale slowly and deep. I sigh as I release the savory air. I attempt to figure out what the sensational aromas are. I am confident that fresh cilantro is nearby, but the other flavors dancing in the air remain a mystery. Daily I tell my mama,”Mi estomogo esta alegre otra vez! My stomach is happy again! I am surprised that the fruits which I have enjoyed since childhood now have a different flavor. A richness unmatched back home and a subtle sweetness which leaves me yearning for more.


The freshness of the fruits, vegetables, and cheeses are made apparent by their tantalizing colors. Deep greens. Soft yellows. Warm reds. Creamy whites. I retire for the evening eager to explore more of this beautiful region tomorrow.

 I feel as though I am strolling through one of Georgia O’Keeffe’s paintings when suddenly, I am seized by a wave of an alluring aroma. Rich robust. Coffee. I am compelled to stop and have a cup, not to be ruined by sugar or milk. I hold the cup and inhale the brew as it cools. I then take my first sip. My palate awakens. Time no longer exists as I sit in the café enjoying my fortune.

I continue my journey through the painting alone. It is dusk. The warmth remains, but the radiance of the sun has retired for the day. I have no fear walking alone. Everyone is cordial and I continuously hear “hola” encompassed by warm inviting smiles. I am in a strange place, but I feel as though I am at home. I wander through friendly shops browsing at the wares. Desperately searching for something to captivate the beauty which I have come to know. Nothing compares. I am forced to hold onto the memories I have stored. I return to my home stay. Another day quickly passes me by.


My family greets me with warmth and love excited to hear about my day. Again I am greeted by the arresting aromas emanating from the kitchen. I talk about the diversity and allure of the rainforest and eagerly divulge my fascinating adventure in the butterfly garden. I attempt to recreate the experiences that I hold.

Time is not my friend. The days pass by without warning. I know my journey is coming to an end. I toss around the idea of not boarding the large cold plane and disappearing into the rain forest. Begrudgingly, I take my seat. One greeting plays over and over in my mind as I look out the plane’s bleak window, “Welcome to Costa Rica”.

flower spider mountain