I have now lived half of my life in Costa Rica, and as I have no plans to leave, my reality is that I will die here. With the recent Dia de los Muertos fresh on my mind, I have been thinking about what I want done with my body when my final day arrives. The standard cemetery burial is out. I was dragged to too many cemeteries when I was young, to put flowers on the graves of people I never knew. My only visits to a cemetery since then have been to bury loved ones.
Always a solemn experience. I want my demise to be a celebration and not an expensive lowering into the ground to whimpers and sniffling. I have been narrowing it down and have come to a few contenders for how to dispose of my remains.
I may still choose to be buried, but not in a cemetery. There is a new possibility on the horizon that allows you to be buried beneath where a tree will be planted. Called Tree Pod Burial, your body is wrapped in a biodegradable pod, rolled into the ground, and a tree planted directly above.
As the egg begins to break down, the body is exposed to the earth and undergoes its own process of decay. Nutrients and microbes from the body then nourish the tree which will continue to grow well after the body has wholly disintegrated. What better way to go out here in Costa Rica than as the base of a future tree! This is presently number one on my list.
There are other possibilities, all taking into account the amazing array of nature we are blessed with here. We have five active volcanoes here– Turrialba, Poas, Irazu, Arenal and Rincon de la Vieja– and I like the idea of having my body dropped into one. The logistics and permits required would likely be challenging, so if this is my winning choice, I would need to plan years in advance.
Another option goes the opposite direction of a volcano’s fires. I could have my body taken via horseback up our highest peak, and be left permanently frozen high on Chirripo to serve as a human signpost like those on Everest.
As they have rules against bringing dead bodies into the park, I would need to have an entrance paid for, and a way of propping my body up on the horse to make it look like I was alive, just in case we crossed path with park rangers. This is another option that would be difficult to pull off, but still in the running.
As this region of the world has a past in practicing mummification, I am considering being mummified and mounted on a boogie board, and then put on display at any of our beautiful beaches, maybe even placed on a pedestal as a companion piece to the Mermaid of Playa Esterillos.
This is a longshot, as I doubt Costa Rica has anyone with mummifying credentials. As all of the above involve some expense, and there is always the possibility I die broke (I recently calculated my net worth and it came to four figures… with a decimal point halfway), I have a couple of inexpensive options in mind. One would be to leave my body below the Tarcoles River bridge as food for crocs. And if putrefaction has begun to set in, to leave my body in a field as food for vultures.
As there would be over 200 pounds of carrion, it would be a buffet for zopilotes. All of the above are preferable to the standard, expensive and wasteful burial method used in much of the world.
According to the Green Burial Council, burials in the United States use about nearly 5 million gallons of embalming fluid, tens of millions of feet of hardwood, millions of tons of concrete and tens of thousands of tons of metals, including bronze each and every year.
All of my body disposal possibilities are different ways of going green and being one with nature–and isn’t that one of the main reasons we are here.