6am! After the most FANTASTIC sleep … great dreams, big smile on my face, I suddenly remembered my dear sweet roomie – I sat bolt upright, my crazy hair in every direction, I looked at Karen and said… “Well?” her response… “Jazz, I think your husband is lying to you… I didn’t hear a thing”… “Really?? Are YOU SUUUUUURRRRE”… “Yup, nada, zip, niet”… well, what can I say – clearly the Tropical Rain Forest works well for those suffering from my condition…
Its dawn and the sounds of birds and howling monkeys fill the air, you can literally feel everything come alive and waking up around you … (in the rain!!!) All the nocturnal sounds are now a distant memory…
We both set off to meet the rest of our crew for a 7am brekkie… which was like most meals thus far in Costa Rica – YUM-MEEEEE! Although the whole rice & beans at the break of dawn is a little much, but that’s just me…
After the hotel inspection with Wilman, we were ARMED and READY TO SEIZE THE DAY!!…. Our Wilderness Guide Max appeared out of nowhere with Bamboo sticks made to measure (our 3rd leg) as we set off (in the Rain) on our 3 hour hike into the DEEP, GREEN, WET, DAMP, WILD, 90 DEGREE HUMIDITY, RAIN FOREST… I was ready – I was dressed in an outfit that would have made Indiana Jones proud! As if I had been born into this vast, untamed jungle of BUGS!!! For the LOVE OF GOD! (I swear I found religion on this trip…amongst many other things)
I mean seriously, how hard could this “HIKE” be? I am SURE it’s easy-peasy and really quite therapeutic! Yeah right! WHAT-EVER! By the first 10 minutes I was breathing so heavily I thought I was going to have a heart-attack…Talk about a cardio workout… I mean my trainer Lil Kim, works me hard but this was unlike anything I had done at Crunch! The only thing crunching was the mud beneath my feet and whatever else I was stepping on. I wasn’t sure where the rain started and the sweat began as they had come together as one!! I was DRENCHED… my heart pounding. All my hard work in the gym seemed to have vanished and I was this sweat soaked pathetic woman whose endurance SUUUUUUCKED!! But GOD DAMNIT! I was not going to give in! Besides I looked GRRREAT on the outside! (Thank you Patagonia!) Only 2hrs50 to go! Our path was literally a vertical 90’ angle trek… in the RAIN! And it’s not like you can take your time and stroll along and chit-chat… No sir-eeeee, what with avoiding *bullet Ants* about an inch in size and have a bite that will leave you crying in pain for hours and GAWD knows what else… Bugs I can’t even describe or name… did I mention that I am a COMPLETE arachnophobiac?? Yes that’s right between that and my sleep apnea I am what they call “ARACHNOPHOBIAPNEATIC” We are a rare species!!! I guess now was a bad time to give up glue sniffing! Shirley you can’t be serious – yes I am, and stop calling me Shirley!
Keep on swimming, keep on swimming… wait – I mean walking, keep on walking just push through… Think TARZAN meets JANE meets WTF am I doing?? 2hrs later, Max was CLEARLY VISIBLY worried about my HEALTH we would take breaks as often as possible so I could get into a Zen like state, calm my over-active heart and try to string a sentence together whilst ensuring there wasn’t a poisonous insect crawling up my 3rd leg – (the Bamboo stick obviously!!!! Sheeeeeeesh!)
EUREKA!!! We made it to the top. Our mission was to visit this Indigenous tribe called the Cabecar Indians in the Talamanca Mountains.
Ok Jazz, Get your S*** together WOMAN! YOU ARE SPAAAAAAAARTAN!
We finally reached our destination and my heart rate had finally become *normal* (whatever that means), and I was speaking the English language once again…
The Cabecar unlike most indigenous groups do not live in Villages but prefer small family units scattered throughout this isolated region that also happens to include the Pacuare region.
A young man enters the hut and tells us that his grandfather Don Juan is going to join us. So here I am, not sure if Don Juan (known as The Zutkia) is a Chief, Sharman, Priest, Medicine man, Wizard, Magician, Fortune Teller or just some guy who is sick and tired of us westerners appearing un-announced at his door step sweating and looking like CRAP after what they call their “daily Jaunt” (you see some of the family work at Pacuare and it takes them 30 minutes to climb down to the property and about 45 to 50 to climb back-up! (Show offs) The trail we took is the same trail the Cabecars have hiked for centuries…
We are all sitting in a circle when Don Juan enters, we do a traditional greeting which is responding to some words he utters…one at a time he looks at us and we have to nod our heads and say “wee-wee” … oh yes this is going to be interesting. Once seated Max asks us if we have any questions for the Don, and his grandson will translate… one by one we ask a series of questions about their traditions, for some reason the grandson is having a hard time speaking and if it wasn’t for the fact that his eyes were as clear as day I could have sworn he had smoked some wacky-backy.. Finally it was my turn… the Chief Don had this long saliva drip hanging from his mouth… not a good look!! “What kind of ceremonies do you do?” (typical Jazz, always wants to know about the Party aspect, don’t you… yes, yes I do) the Chief then spat on the floor and somehow my question lead to him agreeing to sing a song called THE VULTURE we were asked to all stand up and stand in a semi-circle with our arms on each-other’s shoulders and we started to sway and then we began to circle (think – Ring-a-Ring-a-Rosy but different)
Hey-ho, Hey-a Hey-a
Ooga Chaka Ooga Chaka
Ooga Ooga Ooga Chaka, I got this feeling, deep inside of me” (sorry wrong song).
After 7 minutes of spinning one way and the other way the Chief Don let out a huge sigh to signify the end of the song… PHEW! We all sat down and as soon as we did the Chief decided to sing another song called THE ANACONDA. Once again we had to all stand up and stand in a semi-circle our arms on each-other’s shoulders and sway…
Hey-ho, hey-a hey-a
ooga chaka ooga chaka
ooga ooga ooga chaka. Wait a minute, wait a minute – isn’t this the same song he just sang? I was overcome with a fit of giggles and literally could not look at any of my *compadres* in the face, I was crying with laughter, biting down on my lip so hard trying to stop.. round and around we went, waiting for the SIGH to signal the end of the song… I was getting dizzy with all this spinning and chanting!!! 7 minutes later the SIGH… and we sat down. The Chief was clearly enjoying himself and had us right where he wanted us… I”ll show these westerners, yes that’s right, you got it! Yet ANOTHER song called THE ARMADILLO … 7 minutes later we staggered our way out of the hut as quickly as possible before the Chief could say “come on, just one more…. It’s wafer thin”
We said our farewells and “wee-wee’s and head off for the LOOOOONG downward journey home (in the Rain)
The Forest was thick & dense and all I kept thinking about was that SURELY going down was going to be easier the going up! Well think again my fellow followers… the mud was so slippery (coz it was raining) we had to be extra precautions not to slip and fall… we were desperate to get back to our safe haven… 1hr later we could hear the river, WE’RE ALMOST HOME!
What a relief!!! By now I had qualified as a Botanical Botanist… Max and Edward (our Costa Rican Trail EXPERT) had showed us every plant, bug, bird & then some – between that and my volcanology I was feeling pretty pumped!!
Roberto, the owner of Pacuare had arrived on property and greeted our disheveled group as we emerged from the forest…It was like a scene from LOST and Roberto was JJ Abrams!
Time for a Cocktail or 2!!
Story time!! Once upon time about 25 years ago, Roberto was a handsome 24 year old River and Forest guide, he would bring guests to this very spot of land with a team of other guides down the Pacuare River on rafts and they would set up camp. The guides would pitch all the tents and cook and then the following day they would pack everything up again and off they went down river to continue their camping expedition. They would pay the landowner a small sum of money which he would in turn purchase cows and cut down trees to make a pasture – well this was a NO-NO for Roberto, so a few years later he bought the land outright. They built the first shelter which consisted of a roof with 2 big plastic containers underneath where they could store all the equipment and not have to haul it all back and forth. Eventually Roberto would bring chefs to cook for the guests, which upset his fellow guides as they all considered themselves excellent cooks!! A few years later they built 5 garden view rooms and over time little by little this piece of heaven was created and 5 years ago 70% of what we now see was completed . Roberto is now 49 and still as handsome as the 24 yr. old he once was AND to top it all off 60% of the guides who started this journey are STILL with him – Our Max being one of them… the other 40% ended up running off & marrying the guests over the years and moved to the US, Sweden Finland, UK and Canada!! Hehehe!
There are now 19 units, Garden, Jungle and River View Rooms and the Linda Vista Suites. They run the kitchen and hot water for the rooms on Propane gas and solar panels and are in the process of experimenting using methane gas that comes from the Pig farm they have. All the recycled compost and black and grey water passes through these filters that the pigs then consume and as they “do there Do-Do this creates Methane gas which in turn will power the kitchen and hot water… it’s pretty genius if you ask me!
We had a wonderful dinner with Roberto and drank fine wine… yes, you heard me! Even in the middle of NOWHERE, surrounded by Mother-nature you will find a wine cellar stocked with the finest wines and champagne – Roberto is no fool!! and I am happy as a clam!
After dinner, a guitar miraculously appeared out of nowhere, and Oli, who also moonlights as a singer/songwriter began to serenade us as did Max – the man of many traits! Twas a lovely night!
Lovely Karen and I retreated to our Morpho Suite where we were once again greeted by the Wide-Mouth-Tree Frog doing his thang, the thunder of the raging river and of course THE RAIN! It was going to be another silent night on my end…
Tomorrow is another day… White Water Rafting! Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek!