Beware of the Peccaries!
There once was a man backpacking his way through the wilds of Corcovado. Along the way, he came across a clan of crazy white lipped peccaries. They snorted their snouts in his general direction, and caught wind of the sweet sugary snacks stuffed at the bottom of his pack. They made an advance. He turned and ran.
Up the nearest tree he went, scrambling like a squirrel monkey in search of a nut. Only he had to hold on for dear life. And hold on he did, for three days straight. All the while, the pack of fuzzy boars waited for him with frothy mouths and dirty looks until they finally got the point, and realized that he wasn't worth the wait. So they begrudgingly went off on their way in search of a simpler treat to eat.
Such are the urban legends circulating through the dingy hostels and cantina's of Puerto Jimenez, the main entry town to Corcovado. Needless to say, tales such as these were flying through our minds as we set out on the second day of our hike, pushing further and further inland, right through the center of the rainforest. This trek would take us 20 kilometers into the thick jungle, and images of slithery snakes waiting under crackling leaves with fangs full of venom, and steel plated crocodiles sunning themselves along the riverbanks, kept us open-eyed and turning at every sound.
Puckered Lips and Wrinkled Brows
A little over 5 kilometers into our hike, we heard something that sounded like cantaloupes being thrown from the treetops. With a short pause and a look around we discovered that it was a family of white faced capuchin monkeys heading off in the opposite direction. Their bodies were dark and shiny up to their necks, where a contrasting puff of silvery white fur grew around their creamy faces like a mane.
As they made their way from branch to branch, twitching their tails and chattering to one another in their local tongue, little white faces randomly peeked out at us through the rustling leaves, curiously observing us with puckered lips and wrinkled brows. It felt as if we were the zoo exhibit and they were the curious schoolchildren. They were lively and carefree, and slightly bigger than I'd expected.
In the Heart of the Jungle
In the heart of the jungle, the trees soar to dizzying heights above your head and create a canopy of filtered sunlight. Their trunks grow down, thick and ancient, deep into the soggy mud, with gnarled roots and knotted appendages twisting their way around your scraped up ankles.
The air is heavy and sweltering, and the slightest breeze that manages to trickle through the heaving canvas overhead is a welcome respite from the sticky heat that surrounds you. When the rains come you can hear it heading in from the distance.
It begins with a far clap of thunder booming like a single drumbeat, deep and resounding. And then far ahead of you to the north, the sound of sand falling on thin paper slowly moves in. As the rain shower nears, the canopy above your head begins to flutter and shake and random leaves shower down, bobbing and weaving back and forth.
The echo of what sounds like lightly pouring sand increases around you until it reaches a crescendo, resounding like a jar of marbles being poured out onto pavement. And then it hits you, a single raindrop on your upturned cheeks, not soft and misty like the morning fog that rolls down the hills of Lana'i , Hawaii at dawn, but thick, fat and heavy and refreshingly cool against your clammy skin.
You look at your companions and smile or laugh at your first taste of the coming downpour and the shiver of expectation that trickles down your brow. And then you find yourself in the middle of a rainstorm, enveloped by sheets of cooling rain rolling over you like a waterfall.
I'm JR. I come from a long line of adventurers, some were nomadic explorers of the sea and others wandering cultivators of the earth. Ultimately, this legacy of drifters has deeply affected my view of travel. Read more...