A Blustery Month in Tilaran, Costa Rica

We left Tamarindo on January 25, packing up the car and driving down a long dirt road to reach Paquera, Costa Rica. The small town is nestled at the end of a peninusla. I chased butterflies in the yard while Kayla and Andrew washed the car.

The next evening, Andrew and Kayla left me and headed out into the dark. They went to a kayak rental shop and joined a guided tour of the bioluminescent waters in Paquera Bay. With each paddle stroke, the water glittered with millions of tiny stars. In places, the algae was so thick that a splash of water lit up like daylight, the individual stars indistinguishable in their brilliance.

It was magical.

They returned late and we slept together after chasing a few geckos. The next morning, we drove north and up. The road narrowed as it wound up steep mountain passes, the trees growing thick with epiphytes. The wind howled across rippling plains full of droopy-eared Brahma cattle, and my nose caught the scent of farmland.

After several hours, we reached a steep driveway that curved up a hill to a three-story house. We’d rented the middle apartment for a month. I wish we’d been on the first floor for the yard access, but the humans wished for the top floor for the view.

And what a view. The apartment overlooked a giant lake. The shadows of clouds raced hundreds of whitecaps from one edge to the other, palm trees bent double in the wind. Kayla and Andrew settled in to work, leaving the windows cracked for a constant stream of cooling wind and fascinating scents.

My walks and runs with Kayla were limited in this gorgeous hilltop neighborhood. A dog just a few houses down had killed another not long ago, and packs of farm dogs ranged far and wide. Best to stay within our fenced yard. Kayla put my weight vest on to play the scentwork game and we learned many new tricks (leg weaves and selfies and chin rests and bows and more).

The internet was spotty in the apartment and Turtle the car went to the shop for new brakes and suspension, so we were essentially trapped inside the apartment. Kayla’s birthday came and went uneventfully, though the humans did walk to the nearest tiny restaurant for a modest Costa Rican meal of rice and fish.

When the car returned, Kayla started driving me a few miles a way to a stretch of highway that was remote enough to be dog-free. We spent our days running through rainforest, chasing toucans and letting the wind tangle our hair. The screaming wind kept us cool, even on the steep mountainous climbs.

The next weekend, Kayla’s mother arrived from Boston. She and Kayla and Andrew went to hike the Hanging Bridges near Volcan Arenal, swinging on suspension bridges far above the ground. I’m glad they left me behind – dogs should not fly in my opinion.

The next day, they all worked. Then I joined the women on a run, and they ate.

The next two days, I was left behind while they went on adventures. First, Kayla and Lisa drove to Rio Celeste for a hike. No dogs in National Parks, so I warmed Andrew’s feet as he worked. They hiked several miles to a brilliant blue river, made cloudy with celestial particles that mix from two different volcanic rivers. I couldn’t see the blue in their photos, but I could smell the sulphur on their boots.

On Wednesday, even Andrew left me. They drove to Monteverde on a terribly rough road, then spent the day winding on a narrow path through the cloud forest, catching views of the mountains and listening to the calls of birds.

While I resent being left behind, I’m glad that they’re getting out and leaving their laptops behind a bit more.

On Thursday, the alarms sounded preposterously early. The humans piled into the car, leaving me alone in the dark. This is my nightmare – they packed their bags and left without me. Kayla has never before packed that giant black bag and then left me behind.

Andrew returned 20 minutes later, but Kayla and Lisa were gone – on a bus to San Jose.

Kayla is leaving me as I write to go home for a ski race. We took fourth in the Barkebirkie skijour race last year, yet she’s leaving me with Andrew this time. Planes are not very dog-friendly, I’m told. Lisa is going home to Boston.

Andrew and I will share this beautiful, windy, and somewhat lonely apartment for another few weeks. He and I spent Valentine’s Day in the dark, the power out. Kayla spent it alone in San Jose, tapping away on her laptop while couples drank wine and shared pizza. Lisa was on a flight, also alone.

Kayla and Andrew say they’ll celebrate the holiday next month instead, on 3/14/19 – the two year anniversary of my adoption. I suppose I can share my holiday.

Author: Barley The Dog

Barley is a four year old border collie who absolutely loves fetch. His zest for life keeps Kayla and Andrew on their toes. He’s also really, really, ridiculously good looking.

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