By the time she steps on to the beach, the tide has fallen. A silver glaze of water coats the sandy shore. She watches the ripples her feet make as they touch the ground beneath her, softly, as if she’s walking on glass. The wet sand feels cool between her toes, a remedy for her blistered feet. Over the past nine days they’ve carried her over rocky mountains, down muddy slopes, across rivers of rushing water.
It’s 5:30am. Early. Her body is weary, her eyes feel heavy, forced open and not quite ready to face the blazing sun. If there’s anything Costa Rica has taught her, it’s to rise. Always. Even when you’re not ready.
She stands on the shore, now ankle deep in the Pacific Ocean. The cold water pushes and pulls against her legs, prying her from her drowsiness. Her left hand is wrapped tightly around her violet sarong, holding it up to keep the bottom from getting wet. She wonders what the nearest coastline is. Maybe New Zealand, 12,000 miles away.
“Nothing before me, everything behind me,” she thinks.
The sun is just beginning to rise, deciding which colors it will paint the sky and sea with today. Gazing into the expanse of sterling pastels before her, she breathes in, filling her lungs with the salty air. It smells of the sea, and of the mangos howler monkeys pulled off the trees behind her. They take a bite of the ripe fruit, and then throw it to the ground. A nightly ritual. In the morning, the walk to Santa Teresa’s beach is always punctuated by the smell of abandoned mangos.
Waves crash all around her, whispering things she can almost understand. She closes her eyes and feels the cool mist of the ocean kiss her skin, her dark hair blowing wildly about her shoulders. Her fingers loosen their grip on her skirt, she lets it fall to the water.
Years from now she’ll remember this moment. The moment when gently, and then all at once, the wind howled, and she was changed.