The agouti who lives beneath my my cabin is a beautiful creature. Think large guinea pig with long, thin legs. His coat of harsh fur is a beautiful brick red mixed with black and he moves quickly, gracefully between the buttress roots of the jungle trees. His tiny feet hardly make a splash as he trots through the clear water of the stream. I watch my agouti from the wooden deck of my cabin. I watch him brush through the lily pads that are beginning to bloom on the surface and they part, silently, with only the gentlest of ripples as he passes.

I am in Puerto Viejo once again. This is my annual pilgrimage to this small town on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. In Puerto Viejo I can breathe easy between the rainforest and the beach as my winter-bleached skin browns under the hot Caribbean sun. My cabin is in the rainforest. It is embraced and held in the humid comfort of green. All around me the cacophony of jungle sounds mingles with the crash of the waves on the shore, and this constant and natural orchestra wakes me in the morning, and lulls me to sleep at night. Once the harsh and suffocating reality of an eleven hour flight followed by a four hour taxi ride becomes merely something to forget, the sheer enormity of nature begins to seep into my consciousness. I become both less and more than I am; humble in the face of indescribable beauty, strangely confident in my ability to feel it. And I do feel it. The lifeblood of the jungle begins to move through my veins as if my pilgrimage has been to receive a transfusion.

I must remain very still on the deck. My agouti is shy, timid, and he flees from me if I move. He is feeding, sitting upright on his haunches as he bites into hard seedpod that he clasps between his tiny front paws. Agoutis can bite through coconut shells and, along with macaws, they are one of the few species of bird or animal that can open Brazil nuts without the use of any tool. My agouti’s teeth are exceptionally sharp and strong. His eyes are bright and full of a wisdom that I, we, as humans cannot know.

I am writing, I am reading (Zona by Geoff Dyer, about Stalker by Tarkovsky, Bluets by Maggie Nelson, about blue, Death by Todd May, about mortality…and more…) and I am feeling. I am in Puerto Viejo.

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