Entering Costa Rica from the air is an experience that challenges description. First there are the clouds, massive cathedrals, alive, in an immense, many-layered landscape. No wonder, then, that the ancients decided that heaven, if it was anywhere, it was up here. From aloft, the view is of a snowy plain peopled by giants, the land of Michelin men and Pillsbury Doughboys.
Then the descent, through a floor that is wafer-thin, into rooms upon rooms of mist and vapor, each one thinly roofed and floored and thrust through with cumulus plumes. Through one, a rainbow arcs between vast cumulus-walled canyons. We turn until the sun is exactly right, somewhere above my right shoulder, throwing the shadow of the 757 before and below me and I suddenly see, embossed upon the layered clouds, the plane’s silhouette ringed in a golden circle of sunlight. The impossible image, framed by the sun’s aura, is copied in ever-smaller circles, spilling coins of sunlight upon all the layers of mist.
Lower we spin, buffeted by water-filled turbulence, as the landscape appears, first water, then surf and estuaries, then a crazy quilt of forest and farms and tall, steep-sided mountains. I wonder at the lack of snow, then I realize it is the tropics, and they are green all the way to the top.