Pristine white sands…deep blue waters…light blue skies, dotted with puffs of white clouds…a cool breeze blowing softly, making the palm fronds sway gently. I was in heaven on this earth and it made me think, Ya Rabb, if a tiny piece of this earth that is worth less than the wing of a mosquito in Your eyes can be so beautiful, how much more beautiful will Your jannah be? Ya Rabb, just as You have granted me the opportunity to visit a place this beautiful on this earth, grant me the opportunity to enter jannah as well. And the best part was that this world and all its beauty was temporary, but jannah? Jannah was everlasting, eternal.
A slight rustle to my right caught my attention, making me turn my head from the scenery before me. Ahmed plopped himself down on the lounger next to mine, clad in nothing but shorts. I eyed his muscular body appreciatively then blushed when I caught his gaze on mine, the knowing gleam in his eyes telling me he knew exactly what I was doing. His gaze left mine in a leisurely appraisal of my body, much like the one I had treated him to. The look in his eyes turned appreciative. “I could get used to seeing you like this always,” he said huskily and my blush deepened. I wasn’t wearing much myself, clad in a top that knotted at my midriff and shorts. The perks of having a secluded villa on a deserted stretch of beach. I was so grateful that I had married someone whose ideas matched mine. If I had married someone who didn’t take the concept of purdah as seriously as I did he would have booked us in a five star popular hotel that tourists mainly frequent. The facilities would have been much better but it would have been crowded and I’d have had to keep my purdah on all the time. What Ahmed had done was book this private villa for us in an unpopulated area, twenty minutes south of Jacó which was a town on the Pacific coast. We had hired a SUV from the airport in San José…the man at the car hire office had told us we would need a SUV to get around the rough terrain…and driven down here. It was basic and self catering, lacking the comforts of a hotel but it came with the hefty bonus of my freedom which made the small compromises more than worth it. And since it wasn’t peak season right now the beach was completely empty. I kept a cover up on hand just incase but so far I hadn’t seen anyone else around.
“What you thinking about?” Ahmed asked, drawing patterns on my arm softly.
“How lovely this is…having the beach all to ourselves…I’m glad you thought of this instead of a hotel,” I said, smiling at him.
“I knew you’d prefer this. I saw how much you love the beach house at home. Besides, I wouldn’t have missed out on seeing you like this for anything.” His hand moved purposefully, the smile appearing on his face again. I gasped and tried to catch hold of his hand, only to lose my train of thought a moment later. Turning to him I lost myself in his touch.
Our days followed the same dreamy pattern, lost as we were in each other and the natural beauty of our surroundings…until I woke up early one day, my sense of adventure rearing it’s head finally.
“Where you going? Come back to bed,” Ahmed said sleepily, tugging on my hand. I tugged back, trying to pull him up. When that failed I sat down next to him and tried to heft him up; an impossible task, considering the bulk of his body. Finally I used the one weapon I could, my tongue.
“Get up, sleepy head. Let’s go somewhere today.”
“Where?” Ahmed squinted blearily at me.
“First get up and drink this. Then I’ll explain.”
“You serious, huh,” Ahmed remarked, eyeing the cup of coffee in his hand. I cradled my own cup in my hands and nodded at him seriously.
“We’ve been lazing around doing nothing these past few days. Let’s go exploring today. See this place since we’ve come all the way here.”
“I wouldn’t call it ‘doing nothing’,” Ahmed remarked, eyeing me with that gleam I had come to know well by now. With a laugh I moved a little further away.
“Oh, no, you don’t. And yes we’ve spent our time very nicely……”
“More than nicely. I can’t think of a better pastime infact,” Ahmed interrupted, raising his eyebrows.
“Okay yeah it’s lovely but that’s all we’ve been doing! We can use our nights for that but let’s do other things during the day now. Let’s go exploring!” I reiterated, waving my arms about for emphasis. The coffee sloshed dangerously in my cup and I hastily put it to my mouth again.
Ahmed gave a long suffering sigh and swung his legs out of bed. “I had hoped your sense of adventure would stay buried for this trip. Or come out in bed only,” I blushed again at his look. This man was incorrigible! “but okay. Where do you want to go?”
My face lit up as I lunged towards the laptop sitting on the side table. “Let’s see……”
There seemed to be loads of things to do in Costa Rica. I searched for places close to Jacó and found several. I finally clicked on one and jabbed my finger excitedly at it. “This one!”
Ahmed scanned it briefly then turned to me with a dubious look. “With your abaya and niqaab? Will you manage?”
“I’ve done ziplines before in abaya. I’ll manage inshaAllah. Let’s go!”
I’d had an adventurous streak a mile wide from the time I’d been young. I loved camping, hiking and other outdoor activities. I loved nature and would rather go camping in the woods than shopping or to a spa. Not that I didn’t enjoy shopping and spa days as well but I loved this much more than that. So I was buzzing with excitement by the time we reached the place. My mood must have been contagious because Ahmed started to look eager as well.
Costa Rica was mainly forests and wilderness. They came right up to the beaches so our villa was nestled between the forests and the beach. We’d decided to explore part of the rainforest today but not on foot. No, this was much more elaborate and creative. We climbed aboard a tram for a one hour aerial tram ride that took us through all different levels of the rainforest. We saw all different kinds of fauna and flora on our way; sloths, capuchin monkeys, toucans, hummingbirds, to name a few. The tram ride ended on a mountain side where the only way down was by zipline. I laughed and whooped in exhilaration all the way down, my face feeling pink from the exertion even under my niqaab. We took a walk then, seeing reptiles and snakes on our way back to the car.
We spent the afternoon lazing around on the beach but my sense of adventure had well and truly woken up and Ahmed seemed to sense that…or maybe his own sense of adventure had finally been roused because the next day he actually woke me up!
“What on earth…have you seen the time??” I asked indignantly, convinced that he must have knocked his head somewhere and gone a bit coo-coo.
“Yeah but if you want to go on the cruise to the island you have to get up right now. It’s a day trip and we don’t have much time. It leaves at ten and it’s already nine-fifteen now.”
That perked me up. “Cruise? To which island?”
“Tortuga Island,” he said, pronouncing it the Spanish way. I laughed and hurried out of bed to dress up and whip us a quick breakfast. “Leave the breakfast,” Ahmed said, seeing me in the kitchen, “the package provides breakfast at the docks.”
We drove to a private dock where we had a lovely breakfast of fruits, yoghurt and scones with coffee before heading for the large boat docked nearby.
“This is a catamaran,” Ahmed said, gesturing to the boat.
“I see. Taking Spanish lessons, are we?” I asked, smirking at him.
He laughed. “Nope. Came across it on my searches. And it’s not a Spanish word, just a plain old English word. Come on.”
The ride to the island was wonderful. There weren’t many people aboard with us so we sat on one side where I could lift my niqaab and enjoy the salty breeze whipping across my face. The island itself was beautiful and picturesque, with white-sand beaches and forests behind it. We didn’t stick with the group but wandered off on our own, exploring as much as we could. We came back at lunch time where luckily there was fish with steamed vegetables and fresh fruit available. “I’ve never eaten this much fish and veg before coming here,” I said laughingly to Ahmed.
After lunch we were given a tour of the many small islands around the area before heading back to the main shore.
“When did you book that tour?” I asked Ahmed curiously as we drove back to our villa.
“Before we came here,” he replied.
I gaped at him. “So your whole performance yesterday about how you were wishing my adventurous side remains buried blah blah blah…???”
Ahmed grinned at me. “Hiking through the wilds is adventurous, going on a boat ride to an island is not. And I knew you’d like it so……” he shrugged.
I shook my head and smiled. My husband knew me too well. Alhamdulillah, I said softly for like the millionth time.
Contrary to his claims Ahmed did prove to be as adventurous as I was. We didn’t go out everyday, preferring to spend some days just waking up late and relaxing at the lovely beaches. Yes, beaches. Plural. Another thing I found out was that Ahmed hadn’t booked us at just one place for our three week stay. He had booked us several beachfront villas at different beaches scattered across the Pacific coast…and the Caribbean side as well.
“A tree house???” I gaped at him in laughing disbelief when we reached our second ‘villa’. It was in Costa de Pájaros, a slight distance from Jacó. It was beautiful with just as gorgeous views…and looked just like a typical African style chalet, complete with a vaulted wooden roof and polished wooden furniture and cabinets. The large open balcony looked out over lush greenery and beyond that, the ocean. A nature lover’s paradise, I thought, and commented as much to Ahmed. He grinned at me in response.
“I knew that about you from the time you mentioned Costa Rica to me all those years ago. I was curious, you know, and googled it up. I knew then that you must be the outdoorsy type. This place isn’t for pampered princesses.” I laughed at his last description. It was true. I couldn’t imagine Amira or Aliyah in such a place. They’d probably go running off to find the nearest city as soon as they could.
“I’ve forgotten half the places you mentioned to me that day,” Ahmed said softly from behind me. He turned me around to face him, “but this place stuck in my head. I couldn’t hear about it without thinking of you. And whenever I saw pictures of it anywhere I would picture you in them…lying on the beach…or standing here like this,” he brushed my hair back from my face softly, “the sun behind you, making your hair shine…this happy smile on your face,” his fingers skimmed across my lips, “smiling at me…only at me like that,” he brushed his lips against mine, “I tried to push the thoughts from my head, you know. I knew it was wrong,” he leaned back, smiled wryly, “but these certain images used to persist. Drove me mad sometimes.”
I slipped my arms around his waist, leaned against him, breathing him in deeply. “Only you, habibi,” I whispered into his chest and felt his arms tighten around me in response.
We spent the rest of our days alternating between relaxing at the secluded beaches and enjoying each other’s company, and going out exploring some more. We went to the Monteverde Sky Walk one day. Consisting of a series of eight suspended bridges connected by walking trails, it was a long hike through the rainforest, catching glimpses of birds, monkeys, sloths and other animals along the way. I was definitely glad I had thought to bring my sturdy walking shoes along! We explored the coffee plantation afterwards which I totally didn’t mind since it came with free coffee samples that warmed me up from the inside and soothed my aching limbs.
A couple of days later Ahmed surprised me again, this time with a sport that I hadn’t tried in years. Horseback riding. And on the beach of all the places.
“Do you want to go?” Ahmed asked me hesitantly, “I remember you telling me a while back that you used to love riding horses when you were younger but you hadn’t had an opportunity to do so in years so I thought you’d like to try this. But if you don’t want……” he cut himself off with a gasp as I launched myself at him, knocking him onto the sofa which was luckily right behind him.
“I want! I want! Of course I want!” I squealed excitedly, “did I also mention that it’s been my dream for I don’t know how long to go horse riding on the beach? I saw it somewhere and it just looked so awesome!” Ahmed shook his head then laughed when I peppered his face with excited kisses, squealing, “I love you so much!” in between.
“I should find out more of your dreams if it will get me loved like that,” he laughed when he finally managed to extricate himself from my clutches.
Ahmed had his conditions though. Riding a horse astride in abaya wasn’t exactly a walk in the park and he worried that my legs might end up showing. In the end I wore a long pair of socks coupled with my knee-high boots that I had luckily thought to bring along, and pants that didn’t keep riding up. Attired to our satisfaction we finally left for Rancho Monterey for our afternoon tour. It was just the two of us this time with Diego, our guide. It felt strange being on a horse after all this time but exhilarating as well. We rode through a forest trail, ending up on the beach at just before sunset. Diego was slightly bemused when we made him stop in the middle of the two hour ride to pray our asr but was quite accommodating and understanding as well. Riding along the smooth stretch of sand, the sun a bright orange globe dipping into the fiery water, the sky a magnificent splash of reds, pinks and oranges was the most beautiful experience of my life. I snapped countless pictures with the new camera Ahmed had gifted me with just before we came, capturing the moment in my heart as well as on film.
A few days later we moved to another villa, this one in the small village of Sámara. It was small and basic but secluded once more and it came with a small swimming pool. We took a drive up to Tamarindo the next day for another tour, this time to the Tenorio Volcano National Park to see the famous Rio Celeste. The water here was a lovely hue of turquoise due to some some volcanic chemical reaction as our guide explained to us. It was beautiful, unlike any other stretch of water I’d seen before and the waterfalls which we came to after a slight walk took my breath away. I stood there hand in hand with Ahmed, completely entranced, letting the falling cascade of water ring in my ears, letting the fine mist spray over me. We crossed a weatherbeaten hanging bridge on our way back though Ahmed was a bit trepid about that and stayed behind me the whole way, his hands resting lightly on my waist.
A few days later we moved again, this time to the other end of the country, the Carribean side. The beaches here were different with white and black sands and clear waters. Ahmed had booked us a large and fancy villa this time, complete with a swimming pool, sauna and Jacuzzi, to make up for the basic ones on the other side, he said. We stayed in Cahuita for a few days and in Puerto Viejo for our final few days. We hardly went anywhere those last few days, spent them in solitude on the secluded beach, swimming in the warm ocean and in the pool, sunbathing on loungers and having long, intimate conversations. We grew extremely close on this trip, our bond strengthened by the long hours spent in each other’s company, getting to know each other in and out. These three weeks were undoubtedly the best weeks of my life and as I lay wrapped in Ahmed’s arms I made shukr to Allah once more for blessing me with such a wonderful husband………
Aaaannnddd here we are! The final post of Season Four. Which means I’ll be taking a break now😁 but since I’ve already taken a long break in Ramadhan I’ll take a short one now. I’ll be back next week Monday inshaAllah❤
Enjoy and drop me your thoughts and feedback xxx