• Kamille D. Whittaker

Of Rivers and Volcanoes

Guanacaste Province, Costa Rica

There’s little to nothing on the drive from Liberia to Costa Rica’s Papagayo peninsula to which the Pacific lays claim. Nothing, as in no busy town squares, bustling markets or other city dweller conceits. Instead, sugar cane fields and pastures that line the road measure time and space in the earnestness of squints and the errant broods of cattle that break up the vastness.


It is wet season and all things heaving with breath are moody and restless -- pleading for touch. Beneath wisps of mist, volcanoes gestate at the edges of the expanse, a benign distance too far to carry omens.


They flank the country’s seven provinces and when with child, belch new landscapes and vistas -- all nerves, and skin and bone -- to coax the brooding river into forgetting its place when the rains come as they did each year.


When under siege, the river rises on the slopes of the Rincón de la Vieja Volcano in the Cordillera Central, swelling and coursing south toward town before joining the Tempisque and folding into the Gulf of Nicoya downstream to seethe, then wallow.


In its wake, orchestrated chaos; drowning many and downing trees, bridges and roadways where the landslides hadn’t. It resists containment in lieu of an ancient truth: Flooding is the river remembering where it used to be and, with its perfect memory, forever angling to get back.


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