Learning to Love “The Brown Season”

When people ask about the weather in Costa Rica, it’s hard to answer them without going into a prolonged explanation of the country’s incredibly diverse topography and climates.

There are twelve distinct, clearly defined “micro-climates” in a country roughly the size of West Virginia. Rain forests, cloud forests, volcanoes, beaches, mountain peaks and valleys make for a wide range of elevations and their respective flora, fauna and weather patterns.

Our home province of Guanacaste is easier to explain as it only experiences two distinct seasons in a mostly dry forest region. While the average temperature doesn’t vary much (it’s always hot), there are months when it rains and months when it does not. Hence, the classifications of a “rainy” season and a “dry” season.

Costa Rica’s marketing experts have a superbly descriptive name to offset any negative connotations that the phrase “rainy” season might evoke. Instead, of emphasizing the precipitation, they call it the “green” season. That perfectly describes the environment.

Green, green, everywhere.

Most of that verde is lush tree canopy that creates thick, humid jungles and ample screens between homesites.  Yes, it rains but we have yet to experience a days-on-end storm session (although I hear it does happen) and are instead treated to regular afternoon cloudbursts that refresh and replenish all of that gorgeous green.


dryseason-leavesAs a contrast to that luxurious humidity, we’re currently living through our first “dry” season in Guanacaste. The locals often refer to it as the “high” season as that is when the tourists come to visit, clogging up roads and crowding restaurants for the weeks around Christmas and New Year’s Day. While “high” and “dry” are both adequate, I believe I’ll start referring to it as the “brown” season.

I know that travel agents won’t like that, but it is very, very brown outside. The near 100 degree afternoon temperatures and early-season winds offer no reprieve for the thirsty plant-life. Leaves are savagely stripped away and the heavy traffic on unpaved roads create a haze from the streets that carry over to the adjacent forests, coating the remaining foliage with a heavy jacket of khaki brown.

It’s not pretty, it can be hard to breathe due to the dust in the air and water rationing is in overdrive, with service completely shut off in the early morning hours.

Still, I love this place.

As much as we rave about the natural beauty that surrounds us, it’s the constant opportunity for deep personal interactions and experiences that inspire symbolic roots of our own to permeate the dry, rocky ground. It’s not just the green on the trees. Or the blue of the ocean. Or the brown of the dirt.

As I went on a run this morning from our mountain top down to the beach and back again, I felt every degree of the heat, suffered from slight claustrophobia thanks to the dust mask covering half of my face and grimaced at how badly the leaves needed a dusting.

But then I took a deep breath of my filtered air and expressed gratitude to feel the rocks beneath my feet, the slightest breeze across my forehead and the closeness of the vast, primal ocean. As I slowly made my way up the hill I gave thanks for what I have and what is yet to come. The return of the green will be here soon, weather cycling like life itself, giving the chance for new memories to be made.

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