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My Costa Rica Adventure

It was 5 am.. the sun slowly rising, and the beginning of my Costa Rican rainforest adventure. I had been to Costa Rica 5 years prior, but this time was different, more remote, and more magical. After eating a home cooked breakfast by our gracious hosts, an ATV was waiting for us at the beach. My travel companion Alex, myself, and a local Costa Rican man all squeezed on the vehicle and off we went down the beach towards Corcovado National Park. Hanging on the back, we went up hills, by few houses, through an overflowed river to the Los Planes ranger station. The driver dropped us off, told us to hike two hours into the park, where our guide Alfredo would meet us, and waved goodbye. We were both unaware of the adventure that we signed up for.

After seeing the driver leave, Alex and I started our descent into Corcovado. Corcovado is Costa Rica’s first national park and one of the most biologically diverse places on the planet. Unlike other parts of Costa Rica, the peninsula, and the park, Alex and I had the trail completely to ourselves. This hike was magical and unlike any other I have done. First, the rain forest itself is a virgin forest, untouched, and has never been cut down. Unlike “hikes” in Florida I am used to, there are hills and it is not just flat. About an hour into the hike, we spotted toucans! Undisturbed by us, we were able to admire their beauty from a distance. About ten minutes later, a man appeared out of the dense forest and greeted us. This man was Alfredo.

The Los Planes Entrance to Corcovado National Park

Luckily Alex speaks Spanish, because like me with Spanish, Alfredo does not speak English. It was another hour to his house. In this time, I could already see both how knowledgeable Alfredo was about the rain forest, especially its different plants, and also his love for the forest. After telling us about a lot of different plants, we made it to the Jungle House, where we would be staying for the night. Alfredo told us how he has lived on this land for 38 years, even before it was deemed a national park. He is a steward for the land protecting and taking care of it. For seven years he lived in a straw like hut for 7 years before building the house we stayed in. With no air conditioning, this was a true “jungle house” and better than any fancy hotel. Surrounded by a garden Alfredo has planted over the 38 years (we will get to this later), this home is unlike any I have seen or stayed in. After walking up the wooden steps, there is a breathtaking view of the rainforest, with a stream at the bottom. The table to eat at is here along with 4 large hammocks. Walking through a set of doors, is Alfredo’s music collection. An avid fan of rock and roll, Alfredo has a collection of signed albulm, posters, anf other music memorbilla. This was the most impressive collection I have seen, with the majority of everything SIGNED! We are talking the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Queen, you name it and he had it. Alex and I we in awe, knowing this stuff is worth a significant amount of money. It is not about money for Alfredo, it is all about happiness.

This is only a small section of his immersive collection

After having peanut butter and homemade jam sandwiches, it was time for more hiking with an added surprise. The hike was again heavily forested, but went over many creeks, rivers, and true natural beauty. We walked down a hill to a cliff and waterfall. Unaware of this, Alex and I just went for it and jumped! The combined heat and humidity made this refreshing, and made us want to stay there all day! After 5 jumps or so and relaxing under the waterfall, we hiked further down the river and saw many different birds, like kingfishers, toucans, as well as frogs. I have never felt more at peace than in that moment.

We then went back to the house for the most delicious rice and beans dinner with some Beatles music and more stories about living in the rain forest, such as encountering jaguars and harpy eagles. Once the sun went down, it was time for another adventure… a night hike. The night in the rain forest is completely different than during the day, with new creatures and critters. We got our boots on, flashlights out, and were ready to go, not knowing what we were going to see!

As many people know, the rainforest, and Costa Rica in particular, is home to many venomous animals, including snakes. Wanting to see some the whole trip, now was our chance. Before embarking on our walk, Alfredo showed us a paper with snakes to look out for, and one, the Fer De Lace, that causes the most problems ini the country. While it is not the most venomous, it leads to the most deaths. Alex and I walked out of the door down the stairs and the first thing we saw was a juvenile Fer De Lance five feet in front of us! Believe it or not, juveniles are more deadly and dangerous than adults, because they do not know how to control the amount of venom they release in one bite, so they release all of the venom they have at once. Alfredo quickly joined us on the walk and nonchalantly picked up the snake with a stick and moved it aside. We continued the hike for an hour around his garden, finding many interesting insects, flamboyant frogs, and slithering snakes. We then went back to the house and fell asleep in hammocks looking to the stars and hearing the sounds of the rain forest.

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