23 August 2010

equatorial radiation

the days are consistent here in the tropics. when we arrived in san jose it was already long dark, past ten p.m.; i woke up the following morning to the bright light that doesn't indicate the time of day. i walked three parks in a row, picking up various flowers. i didn't bring my cell phone here and don't ever have a clock on me so i've spent the last several days unaware of time. the sun is always either vaguely obscured by cloud cover or else at some ambiguous high point over the horizon so it's virtually impossible to tell time - or location - by the sun. i am a little bit disoriented but absolutely on vacation. i like costa rica. i like the giant jungle leaves and dripping flowers and industrious hummingbirds and warm saltwater and the easy rhythm of being a tourist. i can't imagine living here though. i wonder how the structures made of wood in this country don't simply disintegrate in the humidity. there is so much beautiful wood here, and so many furniture factories and stores. things are close to the earth. it seems much more than reasonable to use trees as fenceposts, especially, i guess, when they grow so fast (and given the amount of light and water they get, you know they do). before last week i'd never seen cows and horses grazing the same field before.

despite my unpredictable travel rhythm, my days are uniform. the sun sets around five forty-five and by six thirty it is totally dark. the sky doesn't seem to let in any celestial light; the heavy-hanging nocturnal clouds blanket you, effectively shutting out the stars. so the darkness is complete. but then around ten to six in the morning it is light again, almost fully bright. this is when i keep waking up. it's hard to say when (or where) the sun rises but it gets bright fast. by nine it feels like noon. by eleven a.m. yesterday i'd already taken a walk, observed coffee and banana trees, and watched a mountain - a volcano, rather - puffing smoke. for me, being close to the equator means being close to earth. but i couldn't get a grip on 'reality' here if i tried.

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