We’re in an infinity swimming pool high above the Pacific, mountains in the distance. Iris plays a favorite song for me on her pink cell phone and, on the roof of the pool house, a large blue iguana rocks out in time to the music. We’re here because, for her graduation present, Iris wanted to see a sloth. On our first day, as we walked a steep path down to the ocean, we almost bumped into a sloth making his furry, three-toed way down a wide-leafed tree. He settled at the base and then, after his bathroom break, began his 5 minute slo-mo climb back up into the tree branches. A sloth descends to the ground once a week to make potty. His toilet was our magic moment and Iris caught it all on video. On that same walk to the sea, white-faced monkeys did monkeyshines in low branches over our heads. A bullyboy (Roy Moore?) monkey insistently pulled the tail of a smaller white-faced monkey, she evaded. Squirrel monkeys cavort across our deck and at dawn we hear the call of the elusive howling monkeys.
A morning’s walk to breakfast revealed two sloths high overhead and camouflaged by leaves, a flock of small green parrots, and the carnival flight of large multicolored ones; an aguiti crossed our path with a long-limbed amble. We’ve seen macaws, hummingbirds, butterflies, a small shiny black bird with a royal blue crest and a two-toed sloth with her baby clinging to her belly.
While Rick worked at the computer in Saturday’s afternoon shade, Iris and I went body surfing on the long pale stretch of public beach, and—back at the resort—made a poolgrimage: We visited (and swam in) all five swimming pools hidden in the jungle of this 30-some acre rainforest resort. After supper (Iris’s vegan, my plantain shrimp tower and Rick’s roasted snapper) we three went to a small local bar perched on a rickety deck above the sea and forest. A dad twirled his blond barefooted three-year old daughter like a flaming baton, tossed her in the air, caught her, and then flung her over to her mom so he could pick up his guitar and be the 2nd in a two man band, performing with Greg Altman’s ancient double—both of them really good and playing songs where Iris knew all the words. At the third song, a silver-haired black man impulsively left his table of ladies to pick up a set of bongos and create a rock n’ roll trio; he grabbed two beer bottles and banged them together for extra percussion. He was apparently moved to join the two musicians he’d never before met. They were still jamming when we left the bar with sleepy Iris.
The three of us had gone early Saturday morning into the national park rain forest with a guide and saw more creatures, flora and fauna, than I could ever hope to remember (or spell). But we learned about “The One Day Moth” that goes through the usual cycle: larvae to caterpillar to chrysalis to gorgeous winged created. This moth is born with no mouth and has but one day to mate before she dies. The metaphor is overwhelming. Then our guide told the story of a never-to-be-forgotten ‘stay at home dad:’ a small male frog who watches after the larvae the female has abandoned and, as the tadpoles begin slowly to appear, he loads them—one at a time on his back—and climbs a long flower stalk to deposit each infant tadpole into the water-filled tube of an orange flower. Dad then goes back for the next and the next, until all the infant tadpoles have been deposited into individual flower floating incubators. Their species are cannibals and if the tadpoles were left to mature together, the siblings would devour one another. There is probably another metaphor in there somewhere.
Sloths have a damp green fungus, on their bellies, inhabited by little beetles that ride down the tree for that once-a-week bathroom visit and lay their eggs in the sloth poop (then quickly hop back on for the plodding upward return), thus perpetuating their species. A lot of stuff going on in these rain forests.