What exactly is it about our house high in the trees in Central America that, once we are there, changes the way in which we view the world? This is a question that is without an easy answer. Perhaps a hint may lie in its name, Junglavista, which in Spanish means jungle view.
How Jeanne and I happened upon this special place is another story for another time, but jumping ahead I’d like to share some useful background on this somewhat unique house: the treehouse is located in Costa Rica in an eco-forest high on the side of a mountain overlooking the warm, blue Pacific Ocean which is just a few kilometres to the west.
This incredible house which sits on four pillars is constructed of steel, teak, and glass. It consists of three levels with a kitchen, dining area, two bedrooms (one a large master), two bathrooms, and a comfortably rattan-furnished living room which is wide open to the surrounding forest.
The second floor has wildlife viewing platforms on each corner. The uppermost (third) level is a meditation deck with hammocks and is open on all four sides. A wide teak staircase leads up from the ground through the centre of the dwelling. We have owned this amazing house for twelve years now and during that time have shared it with a good number of friends and guests – many visiting when we have not been there.
After hearing from, and talking with, most of our visitors and looking back at our own treasured time at the treehouse, I really now think that the positive impact on us all has something magical which has to do mostly with the trees. These indigenous trees, over sixty five thousand of them, were planted some thirty years ago when this land was mostly a barren, compacted, eroding cow pasture. The forest had been cut to clear land for cattle. Then the planting project restored these two hundred and fifty acres of what had once been a tropical dry-forest, almost back to its original natural condition.
A few of these trees, especially the very large ones – for example the Ceiba, were spared the axe and they now conspicuously tower above the newly rising forest. Some species of this tree can grow to 70 m (230 ft) tall or more, with their straight, largely branchless trunk that culminates in a huge, spreading canopy. Many of these trees flower in the appropriate seasons in vibrant colors of orange, yellow, white, red and purple. The diversified bird, animal, and insect life hosted by these trees is abundant and incredible.
When the trade winds arrive in January and February, especially the stronger Papagayo winds, the trees really sway back in forth. To watch and listen to them swirl around is quite riveting and exciting. These winds are unusual, to say the least.
So, as you move about the house (some areas, like the living room, have no walls), you get this feeling of being an integral part of the surrounding forest. The experience can be mesmerizing, rejuvenating, spiritual, de-stressing, and cleansing. Besides the spectacular nearby beaches, the friendly and helpful local people, and quaint little restaurants of this rural setting, it’s the trees that are what really grabs us. And that’s one very large reason of many as to why we absolutely love it there.