Of Peanuts & Goblins
Here is the fourth chapter of a 5-part series chronicling our "Trek Through the Wilderness." This story is about three of us, average friends, all globe drifters with a love for life. We stepped out of our comfort zones and into the wilderness for a three and a half day hike through the rainforest of Corcovado, Costa Rica. It turned out to be a trek that took us from the edge of civilization and back.
If Peanuts Were Monkeys, They'd Be Squirrels
Huh? I mean squirrel-monkeys. These little guys seem to be extremely social. They're no bigger than a cat, and their round heads are perfectly proportioned to their bodies.
They have dark, watery eyes that are round and bright, and their button noses give them a comical sort of a look. They cling tightly to tree limbs, jumping from branch to branch, singing and chirping at the same time.
A whole troop of 20 or so greeted us with squeaky chirps and curious glances. As we neared, they moved a little more in from the trail, but still stayed close enough for us to observe them. I settled on finding an old tree and sat down on its thick gnarled roots to kick back and enjoy the peanut monkey antics.
Scott and Ash took to them quickly, firing off shot after shot with their digital cameras, trying to get the perfect picture. Off in the distance the howler monkeys screamed out their spooky goblin like cries, and the tiny squirrel monkeys clung to each other tightly, shivering like babies on a branch.
At nearly the eighth hour of our hike, Sirena Ranger Station came out at us from nowhere.
We had just cleared a little stream and scrambled our way up the crumbling embankment, and there it was in front of us. Sitting in the center of a clearing on acres and acres of green grass, and surrounded by the throaty echoing calls of the howler monkeys and the flapping wings of dark black vultures, Sirena Station stood out from it's wild surroundings as if it was a hunting lodge in the jungles of India.
Arriving at dusk, we made our way across the clearing to the front steps, where a sign instructed us to remove our shoes and care for our belongings. On the left side of the structure were what seemed to be the ranger's quarters. Several hammocks were strung out and occupied, and a few of the lounging men threw half interested glances our way, the rest just went on relaxing. We were approached by the head ranger, a serious looking middle aged fellow with deep wrinkles and bare feet.
"From Los Patos?" he asked us.
We nodded in acknowledgment. He looked us up and down solemnly. "Did it rain?" he asked.
"Tons," Ashley said.
He gave a half interested shrug and than signed us in and took us to our sleeping quarters.
Scott, who barely got any sleep the night before, immediately plopped himself down onto his mattress and passed out. I took advantage of the few minutes of remaining daylight and explored our surroundings, and Ashley was sent out on a mission to woo the rangers with her exceptional Spanish and get us a nice hot meal for the night.
Unfortunately, as she discovered, dinner for the night had already been cooked. It seemed that we would have to fend for ourselves in this crazy wilderness.
Visions of Sugar-Plum Ticks
With Scott above us already dribble snoring his way into dreamland, Ash and I sat down and pow-wowed over our remaining grub.
I had 2 remaining packets of army rations, (meatloaf and gravy). Ash had three packages of Spicy Chicken Ramen noodles, a bag of granola bars, cookies, a can of refried beans, a package of nori (pretty random I might add), and an avocado. And Scott had a couple of sweet rolls left.
After a few moments deliberation, we decided to eat the Ramen for dinner along with the nori. The bars and cookies would be our fodder for tomorrow morning, and for lunch we'd have the sweet rolls with meatloaf, refried beans and avocado.
Satisfied with ourselves for being so decisive, we stepped out onto the deck to enjoy the closing of the day and listen as the jungle night life came out.
Just as dusk was coming to a close, Scott came stumbling out of his room with a distressed look on his face.
His right arm was up and over his head, and he turned his shirtless back to us to show us something he suspected. Upon closer inspection, we could see that he was right. While he was asleep on the bunk bed, a tiny brown tick had managed to lodge itself into his skin. It had already burrowed its way in to the point where only it's rear end poked out from the surface.
A simple and effective remedy for unwelcome ticks is to light a matchstick, blow it out, and prod the intruder with the smoldering sulfur tip until it backed its way out. Immediately flustered, Scott flinched and moaned as Ash and I smoked the little bugger out slowly by slowly, one matchstick at a time.
As we were operating on Scott, another camper walked by.
"Is that a tick?" he asked. We nodded. "Just wait until you wake up tomorrow," he said as he walked away.
That night I coated myself with 100% deet and threw down layers of material over my mattress. I went to sleep to the sound of the howler monkeys still calling out their spooky throaty howls, (were they getting closer to our camp?), and visions of sugar plum ticks invading my body.
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...