Friday Postcards from Rio Sucio in Costa Rica
Death stared up at me as I watched the blue-swashed, emerald-green water rush towards the muddy Rio Sucio. There wasn’t much between me and those two gushing rivers, so different but soon to be the same, crashing over rocks as they ached to mix together, get to know each other and mingle into something new. As we stood on that bridge to get this view of nature in one of her most beautiful states, I knew that one soft breeze could push me, or maybe better put, one truck could swerve and catapult me over the edge. This was Costa Rica, if only a single moment, but it would be an experience I would find I was willing to take in order to see the beauty this country had to offer.
During my recent trip to Costa Rica, as we headed out of San Jose, our guide began to describe a beautiful merging in nature. Two rivers joined together under a bridge to become one. The best way to see this is to walk to the center of a (barely) two-lane bridge that the rivers pass under. There is no pedestrian walk way. There are no sidewalks that bring you to this bridge. You simply walk along the side of the road and make your way across the bridge, squeezing yourself against the concrete side, which wasn’t quite hip high even for the shortest member of our group. If I’m honest, it was a bit scary. Large trucks hauling cargo around the country now that the old train system was down pushed air against my back as I tried to crouch a little bit so the bridge protected me, but not so much that my body was out in the road. There was no shoulder. There was just me, a one-foot wide wall and the trucks.
Lucky moments appeared when no trucks were coming from either direction. My group and I would relax a little, take a step back, snap a few photos together and with the rivers, but suddenly a truck would come around the bend and we would push ourselves against the hard stone wall that was our only safety from the depths below, but not the trucks behind.
Dangerous moments like this don’t always seem so dangerous when you are in the moment. I’ve been on high bridges in Washington State with a walkway for pedestrians that can barely fit a family walking single file. The winds would push against us in a way that made me feel like I wanted to crawl across the bridge instead of walk calmly along side the road. Staring down at the Rio Sucio in Costa Rica, I knew that I would never allow my children to walk across that bridge to view the rivers merging, but in the moment, I was glad I had taken the risk and seen this wonder of nature that had joined together, carving a path until they could become one.