“I found the perfect Costa Rican tour to celebrate our anniversary!” my husband, Nate, exclaimed the minute I walked in the door.
“Oh, yeah?” I was skeptical. I thought I had found the perfect Costa Rican tour the day before, but he had quickly nixed it as a boring trip for middle-aged people.
Nate watched over my shoulder as I read the tour itinerary out loud. “Day 1: Jungle Night Hike. View the giant insects, snakes, and tarantulas in their natural habitat.How long have we been married?” I asked.
“Why?” he seemed genuinely surprised.
“ You don’t remember that I hate bugs, snakes, and spiders? Maybe you should take your brother.”
“Oh come on!” he implored. “I didn’t even see that part. Read the rest, that’s what I’m talking about.”
I read on:
“Day 2: Three hour horseback riding journey around a mountain lake that was created when the lava flow dammed the river during the most recent volcanic explosion. (Would I ever be able to walk again? And how long ago was this most recent explosion?)
“Day 3: Level 5 whitewater rafting.” (What are the chances of falling out of the boat on a level 5? Aren’t there crocodiles in Costa Rica’s rivers?)
“Day 4: Zip lining through the rainforest canopy.” (Was this a modern version of Alfred Hitchcock’s Dial M for Murder where the loving husband is the real killer?)
“Day 5: Repelling down waterfalls.” (See question asked for Day 4.)
“Day 6: Snorkeling.”
“When do I get to lie on the beach and read a book?” I queried.
“Boring!” he replied.
“I’m going to come home exhausted!” I fretted.
“Oh, speaking of exhausted,” he hesitated a bit. “I thought we could take the red eye flight that leaves at 2:00 in the morning. It will save us a lot of money.”
When my husband told his friend about my boring middle-aged tour and his exciting adventure tour, his friend tried to convince him that his agenda was a bit rugged. “Hey, have you looked in the mirror recently?” he razzed Nate. “Haven’t you signed up for your colonoscopy yet? It can’t be too many years until you reach fifty. I hate to break it to you, but you ARE middle aged. You just don’t know who you are.”
Nate just laughed.
That night I had a dream that an eight inch centipede was attached to my forearm. My husband also had a Costa Rican nightmare, but he was dreaming about fighting off robbers with an oar while we floated lazily down the river. (I guess he thinks rapids would be safer than the quiet waters I suggested since whitewater moves so fast no thieves could catch us.)
I began to pour over Costa Rican information. “Wear rain boots to keep the critters from chewing on your toes,” one website suggested. I took the advice seriously. I bought knee-high black and white polka-dotted rain boots with pink trim. I felt relieved that no poisonous snakes or tarantulas would be able to chew on MY toes.
When my husband saw my boots, he guffawed. “You’re going to die of heat in those things! Just wear sandals.” I returned the boots to the store and exchanged my peace of mind for returned anxiety about things chewing on my toes.
W e did indeed leave at 2:00 AM on a Saturday morning. We arrived in Guatemala at 6:15 AM and slept on the airport floor for a six hour layover.
The first day in Costa Rica we compromised on a level three whitewater rafting experience, which was an exhilarating blast! Our guide gave us clear instructions which often included the broken English phrase, “lean in, lean in”. Translated this meant: “get into the middle of the boat so you don’t fall out and crack your head on one of those volcanic rocks.” During the only calm spell I remember, Costa Rican children jumped into the river from bridges and Tarzan ropes. (I guess they would have voted for Nate’s adventure vacation.) They swam, laughing, to our raft and climbed aboard. “Hola, Buenos Dias, Como Estas?” they chatted with our guide in Spanish and grinned at us with white teeth gleaming in faces that lit up their beautiful brown eyes and copper skin. When we approached the next set of rapids, they scampered quickly out shouting, “Adios” as they swam for shore.
The second day we opted for a jungle cruise to replace the waterfall repelling. Bottom line: It was boring. We watched some rare birds and floated lazily down the river. I was yawning all afternoon and could barely keep my eyes open. Maybe I should have considered waterfall repelling after all.
Day 3: Nate decided that despite the rain we should bike – up a four kilometer volcano. Of course, we didn’t know that the roads were mud and rock. Halfway up I stopped and sat down along the side of the road.
“I can’t go any farther,” I complained.
Nate ignored that comment. “Do you realize what is growing behind you?” he asked.
“Do I care?” sarcasm bit back.
“Marijuana,” he said.
Sure enough – an entire field of it – apparently as legal as eating beans and rice, the staple of every meal in Costa Rica. Never have I been tempted to smoke marijuana, but that day when every muscle was screaming – I remembered that some people wanted to use marijuana for medicinal purposes.
All this biking up so that we could hike down steep steps to the bottom of a waterfall, and then of course hike back up and jolt our way down the volcano trying not to fly over the handlebars as we hit the rocks (not stones, mind you, rocks – in the road).
The waterfall was worth every minute of the agony of exertion to get to it. Did Nate have to be right about everything? I must say, however, that the ATV vehicles that zipped passed us seemed like a better mode of transportation. (At least I felt that way until we road ATV’s in the Smokey Mountains. On that trip Nate took our entire family down the most dangerous path available. He almost had a heart attach, we left one ATV in the mountains, and broke the axel on another . . . but that is another story.)
We did zipline – which I would consider weekly therapy if it were readily available. I felt like Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Richard Bach’s gull that thought he could soar like an eagle. Flying 500 feet over the jungle is not an experience I will soon forget.
We hiked for hours in the jungles, usually in the rain. (“It is, after all, the rain forest,” Nate reminded me.) We crossed suspension bridges that swayed with the wind and endured driving rain as we searched the jungle canopy, through binoculars, to find monkeys and Quetal.
Our guides did recommend rain boots to hike in the jungle. I threw Nate an, “I told you so,” glance as we both pulled on rain boots that were much less stylish than the ones I had wanted to bring. Not more than 100 feet into the jungle hike, however, my socks were sliding down under my feet and the boots were rubbing painfully on my ankles. We were going to be hiking for hours. Nate stopped our guide. “Please, can we go back and get our hiking boots?” The guide reluctantly agreed, and Nate didn’t give me any, “I told YOU so” glances – at least not any that I saw.
We soaked in hot springs at the top of the volcano, ignoring our guide who reminded us that the volcano was active and that these luxurious pools had an evacuation plan that would do us no good if the volcano did indeed erupt. At this point, I thought maybe I liked the guides better whom I didn’t understand.
We snorkeled over volcanic rocks and coral reefs to spot the tropical fish that looked like God had fun with a paintbrush – bright blue fish with white spots, see- through fish with dark stripes, yellow tangs, black fish with blue faces, and one six foot long skinny something that began to rise up out of the sand. I did not stick around long enough to find out what it was.
Twenty-nine years ago Nate and I stood at the marriage altar and asked the Lord to help us to glorify Him with one voice. We sll find compromise and unity challenging at times, but with perseverance and the Holy Spirit’s grace, we are learning to give preference to one another in honor. Be the issues trivial (like a trip to Costa Rica) or critical, God uses compromise in marriage as a tool to mold us into His image by teaching us how to sacrifice our own desires for the needs and desires of our spouse.
“Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus; that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 15:5-6 (NAS)