On the back cover of a free tourist magazine for Guanacaste Province in Costa Rica, there’s an advertisement promoting the nation that features a photo of a hummingbird perched on a branch. The tagline reads “A Small Country With A Huge Vision”.

Following the tagline, the ad reads:

This hummingbird lives in a country where nature surrounds you,
where educated people choose peace over conflict,
where quality products are made and shared,
and where talent, innovation and dreams abound.

Costa Rica is an amazingly blessed place. Following a bloody civil war in 1948, it abolished its military. One of the most striking reminders of this is an unnamed work of art in a courtyard outside the Costa Rican Art Museum in San Jose. Old rifles lay partially buried in concrete. exposed to the elements, leaving their meaning and significance open to interpretation by the visitor.

Certainly Costa Rica is not without conflict. Tensions and vigorous debates persist over further development of the nation’s natural resources, creating truly renewable energy options in the face of global climate change, preserving and protecting the nation’s amazing natural biodiversity, and providing for the needs of current and future generations of “ticos” (the nickname Costa Ricans use to describe themselves).

But what really struck me was how generally happy, upbeat and positive ticos were, and this was highly infectious I felt an upwelling of tremendous peace and contentment while traveling together with Erik in this small nation with a mighty heart.  I felt a huge release of sorrow and sadness about my mom’s passing last October meld into the heavy tropical rains that fell one afternoon and evening at our jungle lodge on the Pacuare River.

That same afternoon, I awoke from a deep sleep, then climbed into a small private pool adjoining our cabina that overlooked the jungle and the roaring river below. Toucans flitted by, and small lizards scurried across the deck. Huge blue morpho butterflies flitted throughout the canopy, and howler monkeys boomed in the distance.

The pool was not chlorinated, thankfully. The water, sourced from the hills above and later repurposed for other needs at this remote setting, was a nice, refreshing 70 degrees or so, in contrast to the muggy air temperature and high humidity accompanying the heavy rains.

I plunged in, re-surfaced, opened my eyes and looked out at a revitalized world full of promise, potential and possibility. We all came from and come from here, it seemed. It was great to return, to feel at home in a place where all things came and belonged together.

“Welcome home!” the jungle seemed to speak to me. Even now, at home in Montana, I can envision and sense that same deep sense of peace and belonging.

Welcome home.