BOB CORBETT'S TRAVEL JOURNAL -- 2005

Costa Rica 25 -- September 24, 2005
Utterly exhausted, but awesome day

By Bob Corbett

Folks,

I woke at 4:50 AM, and I still have my clock on St. Louis time. But that was 3:50 AM here and today was the FIRST TIME I forgot the difference. I was at the bus station for my bus an hour early at 5:15 rather than 6:15 for a 6:20 bus. No matter.

I took the bus to Monteverde Forest Reserva and was worried I would have to go with other people or a guide. Happily I was the second person in the park and since I wanted to go the LONG trail that circled the park near the perimeter, I was the first one on that trail and alone.

Folks, I donít possess the ability to describe what I experienced. It is beyond my ability to do it justice. Early on, as the sun was rising on this glorious day, there were two sun experiences that were incredible. The first were rays of sun filtering through the gigantic trees like spot lights on performers on stage. And one could see insects in those beams and rain or mist, even though I could feel none at all. The second phenomena were places that were like if you sit in the back of a movie theater and look up at the projection booth. You can see a sort of ghostly mist of light going forward. The forest was like that.

I was in my heavy sweater and my rain coat, not because of rain, but because I was freezing and for protection. At the gate going in the young woman asked me if I had insect repellant. I said I had none with me, but I had had no trouble with mosquitoes. She said here you will, and she gave me her bottle to take some from. Iíve covered my forehead, brow, nose, neck and ears. But since I had on long pants, the sweatshirt and rain jacket I didnít need to cover more of me. Oh yes, I covered my hands.

Iím now on to them. That wasnít mosquito repellant she game me, it was something that attracts bugs. The park is trying to save every creature, including the insects and they probably canít afford blood to feed the mosquitoes, so they trick us unsuspecting visitors into putting on this stuff that sings to mosquitoes to hurry to the feast. They were all over me. I finally put on my rain hood, and zipped everything up tight. Good thing it was cool (read -- cold), I could get away with it. Even tucked my hands into the sleeve of my coat.

The forest is like a fairy land of greens and moss and water and dripping and birds and beauty like Iíve never experienced in nature in my life. Peace, quiet and awesome grandeur. I was in awe.

The perimeter path took me 3 1/2 EXHAUSTING hours, up and down three very large mountains, from the rivers (creeks) at the very bottom to the tops, some 5,000 feet and higher. THREE TIMES I did that up and down. Going up is so hard for me. I walk 10-15 steps, pause and try to breath, working for breath, then go on. Going down I always have to lead with my left (worse) leg and follow with the right.

The absolute highlight of todayís walk was the continental divide. I got to this sign saying: (in Spanish and English) 200 meters to the continental divide. Iím at 5,600 ft. I went there and was overwhelmed. There was a cul-de-sac path with a small set of flowers and small trees in the middle. It wasnít 10 yards across. On each side was a small wooded fence or railing to lean on, on 1 x 4 boards, flimsy. The sign in the middle said: All water to the left of this sign flows into the Pacific Ocean. All the water to the right of this sign flows into the Atlantic. Then it went on to say the continental divide begins in Canada and runs all the way to Argentina and this was it at this spot in Costa Rica. I was just in tears of emotion of being the only human anywhere near me in this stunning sunny spot, with nothing to the horizon in both east and west directions but millions of tall trees. (This forest is 400,000 acres.)

I finally came back to the start, just so weak in the legs I could barely stand. I hadnít seen an animal, only birds and insects. I got a gator aide drink and was sitting on a picnic table with some Swedish people comparing notes and the young man says look!!!!! And across the parking lot and right up to where we were sitting comes a full grown brown fox. Just walks right past us, not 10 feet away, totally unconcerned as tourists waiting to go into the park all falling all over themselves to get their cameras out, and as if on cue, the fox stops to check out a trash can before disappearing into the forest. It was really cute.

I am weak. I made it up the steps to my favorite restaurant, and had a monster meal and now Iím home for the day. Itís only 2:30 PM, but I am so exhausted I honestly think I could go to bed for the night!!!

While waiting for the bus this morning I met a British couple (London folks) and they told me Granada, Nicaragua, where Iíve been seriously considering going next, is just marvelous and so cheap it is embarrassing.

If I can keep my eyes open for a while Iím going to look at bus options for me. But, Iím not RUSHING away from here. Tomorrow is back to St. Elena Reserva, which is on the opposite side of the same park.

What a wonderful day!!!!!!!!!!

Walking up those difficult hills I did think, hmmmm, Iím out here all by myself. If I were to have something happen, Iíd be toast. And I thought, hey, that wouldnít be all bad. Someday I have to go, no doubt about it, we all do. This would be the best way in the world for it to happen. No fuss, no muss, no funeral no burial. Animal chow. I like the concept!!!!

But, Iím in no hurry, Iíd take it in about 25 or so years.

Bob

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