Molded from innocence and purity, the swollen river spilled over the lush Costa Rican mountainside, showcasing her magnificent, unblemished rainforest. Like David, I stood facing the head of this mighty Goliath, feeling numb from the weight of heavy, thick mist hanging over my anxious frame. A rarely spotted jaguar paced back and forth in the tall grasses nearby. Our whitewater rafting guide called out, interrupting nature’s formalities. “It is imperative that you keep your arms tucked in at your sides if thrown from your raft.” I held my breath, and Goliath struck his first blow! Our seasoned leader looked like a chiseled warrior sculpted out of bronze. He passed our gear around as he shared how readily limbs were broken if beaten against the jagged rocks that lay hiding just beneath the river’s surface. He knew his opponent well and her appetite for intruders. All eyes glanced my way, apparently agreeing that I, the one wearing lipstick, would find myself flailing about in the churning waters at some point. I cried out to God asking him to hold back the breakfast I ate earlier so that I would not embarrass myself by desecrating this sacred paradise. Then in one giant leap of faith or an unknown death wish, I climbed into the raft.
For the next 4 hours, the river would wind us through the most captivating landscape this side of Heaven. Magnificent blue butterflies, wings spreading up to 8 inches, danced in and about the luscious layers of plant greenery. Hummingbirds and colorful parrots added a jewel-like detail to the already extravagant forest tapestry. Our senses were heightened by the luxurious perfume of 1300 species of exotic orchids. The radical change in the river from calm to ferocious reminded us that we were not welcomed guests on the river. And guests we were, for that was the very last excursion allowed before the public closing, aimed at preserving the river and her home’s integrity.