While I may be many hundreds of miles away from family during these past two years of tropical guiding, I can’t say I’ve been lonely, thanks to new friends, young and old. Passing the winter holidays in Central America makes for a confused state of mind, being that I’ve grown up accustomed to the changing leaves followed by an ever-growing chill in the air. For me, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years are associated with cold days hiking in forests barren of leaves except for the crunching underfoot. Layer upon thick layer of coverage never seems to be enough to keep the frigid air at bay and yet that doesn’t dissuade us from taking to the trails with puppies frolicking ahead or sniffing and rolling in the unknown behind. Glimpses of foxes melting into the underbrush, red-shouldered hawks stark and stern against the crisp blue sky, bluebirds playing keepaway and chickadees, titmice and kinglets like little ornaments flurrying in the branches overhead, this is what I equate with the holidays.
Here, rather, my closest connection to home is the neotropical migratory birds such as the northern waterthrush and chestnut-sided warbler which whisper hints of a long lost northern summer. Tropical holidays are warm and humid, Christmas trees look out of place, and Tranquilo Bay is brimming with guests in their escape from the frosty north while bringing the jolly right along with them. Happiness and love were a constant as families gathered and reunited. Generations joined together, sharing high spirits which were nothing but contagious as I guided jovial and obliging families along kayak jaunts through mangroves searching out upsidown jellyfish, snorkeling explorations overtop impressive reef awash in fire coral, brain coral and blade coral, even bat-caving adventures through dripping stalactites in water up to our chests on Christmas day. No moment was left unfilled, even the evenings were alight with games and stories. It was an absolute blast. Exhausting, but satisfying.
As we emerge from holiday festivities to greet the new year and things have slowed down for a moment, I’m re-energizing for what 2019 has to send my way. Health and happiness are of the utmost importance and I’m still learning something (or many things) new every day, be it about nature or about humanity, relationships, struggles and forgiveness. I am every day more and more impressed with this team I’ve joined and their endless hard work that makes Tranquilo the phenomenal lodge that it is.