Home on the Highway - San Francisco to Ushuaia, Argentina in an 87 4Runner
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Chuck Cheese
(defrag4) - F
re on 06/19/2012 11:25:47 MDT Print View

We were up with the roosters in Puerto Viejo. We had to truck it from the Caribbean coast back to the interior of Costa Rica to pick up Lauren's dad from San Jose airport.

We waved goodbye to the Atlantic knowing soon enough we would be seeing the waters of the Pacific. One of my favorite parts about Central America is you can drive from ocean to ocean in one day. Bored of the Caribbean? Let's check out the Pacific!

After we grabbed Lauren's dad we headed out to the Pacific. First order of business, Lunch and drinks!




Lunch visitor


After fueling up we headed to Playa Bejuco, Costa Rica. A small little beachside community south of Jaco and north of Manuel Antonio. A perfect basecamp for relaxing on the beach and taking in the sights. This time Carly found a nice little beachhouse for us to stay in while Laurens dad visited.

We unloaded our junk and hit the beach!


We spent the next week exploring the area and eating/drinking our faces off! My favorite kind of activity.

Ed working the grill. These Central American coals take finesse!


Poolside cocktails


Many an Imperial were drank. The official beer of Costa Rica.


Every night was spent beachside watching the amazing sunsets.


We were there for the "Super Moon" as well.



It was nice to take life in the slow lane and enjoy some family time.


After a week of hanging out in Playa Bejuco it was back to the airport once again to drop off Lauren's folks and prepare to pick my Mom up the next day.

I am getting to know the San Jose Airport pretty intimately....

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
The saga continues on 06/19/2012 14:03:31 MDT Print View

James: thanks for the cool updates!

Chuck Cheese
(defrag4) - F
re on 06/27/2012 09:59:51 MDT Print View

After dropping off Lauren's Dad and Sister we prepped for my Mom's arrival.

Originally the plan was to take her around in the 4Runner but after a hell-raising few days of dealing with a mentally unstable mechanic who will further be referred to as "Bill the Butcher". We threw in the towel and got another rental car. More on that later...

We grabbed Mom and headed out to Dominical, Costa Rica. I have a long-lost Uncle who has been running the Bella Vista Lodge out here in the jungle since the mid-70's. However, none of us had ever been.

We learned that he recently leased it out to another ex-pat named Bert. We arrived not knowing exactly what to expect.

What we found was a wonderful blend of the mountains, jungle, and the ocean. Basically, We found paradise.


Every sunset was matched with "Sundowners" of course.


Toucan's would wake us up each morning with their distinct call. In the background, you could hear the howler monkeys hooting a response.


We spent a few days at Berts, relaxing, taking in the nearby beaches and doing some horseback riding through the mountains with my long lost cousin.

Some of the gorgeous Costa Rican countryside and jungle we rode through.




We parked the horses and started hiking out to a secret waterfall

We crossed the river via this crazy trolley my Uncle rigged up years ago


Mama enjoying the wild ride


Our reward for our hike. We swam in the crystal clear and COLD waters of the falls. It was a refreshing dip after a long ride and hike


On the way bike we found this beautiful Strawberry poison dart frog. It was about the size of a dime and BRIGHT red. Don't touch!


More of the story and the rest of the pics on the blog at http://homeonthehighway.com/mamadukes-visits-costa-rica/

Chuck Cheese
(defrag4) - F
Bill the Butcher on 06/27/2012 13:19:51 MDT Print View

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I have sat down to write this post 3 different times. It is such a convoluted story and I am so teed off every time I write it that I just end up mashing the keyboard with intelligible nonsense. Here goes Round #4

A few blog posts back I had mentioned we were having problems with the 4Runner running properly. It did not have much power above 3K RPMS. The Check Engine Light was on and throwing an O2 sensor and a TPS sensor code. Simple enough I thought? Ill throw a new O2 and TPS on there and see how she runs.

Well it turned out finding parts in Costa Rica was harder than I expected.

Luckily our friends from DriveNachoDrive whom we were staying with were recently recommended an ex-pat mechanic in Atenas, Costa Rica. They had just left their van with him to get some work done. I figured it would be easy to have him track down and install the parts of my truck as well.

We ended up meeting Bill up at Brad's house. Seemed like a nice enough guy and we discussed what needed to be done and my hard date of 2 weeks when I would need the truck back to make airport runs and take my Mom around Costa Rica in the 4Runner.

No problem! Have her done in just a few days.

Sounds good! We left our baby in his hands and tooled around Costa Rica via rental car with Laurens parents for the next few weeks.

So far so good right?

Well... Brad would walk/hitch a ride down to Bill's shop every few days to check on the progress of our vehicle repairs. Despite much pleading and prodding he was sorry to report that after the first week nothing had been accomplished on either one of our trucks.

OK, I guess he does have another week to get the job done...

Unfortunately after having our truck for almost 2 entire weeks Brad reports that practically nothing at all had been done to it. He said they managed to finally pop the hood and start wrenching on random things but had no luck in tracking down a new TPS.

Fed up and in need of my truck to make an airport run the next day, I phoned Bill from Playa Bejuco and asked him to return the truck to Brad's house in Atenas and forget about the whole thing. After all, the truck still ran decent enough to get us around for the past month or so.

Bill assured me that he would have all the parts that day and have it up to Brad's early the next morning before we arrived to head to the airport. I reluctantly agreed to this...

Next morning we pull up to Brad's house in the rental expecting to see the truck. It's not there.

We call Bill. He doesn't answer.

WHERE THE HELL IS MY TRUCK?

I go into panic mode. We had less than an hour to put Laurens Dad and sister on a plane. The only car we had is the rental which needed to be returned. We would end up stranded down there without the 4Runner.

Brad felt bad but with his truck stuck in the same situation he couldn't offer a ride. I call in a favor from our buddies over at LifeRemotely.com who graciously agree to cancel their plans for the day and scoop us up from the airport after we drop the rental and put the family on the plane.

OK mild crisis adverted. It's good to have friends.

We get back from the airport, wave goodbye to Life Remotely, and start blowing up Bill's phone. No answer.

WHERE THE HELL IS MY TRUCK!?

Brad and I hatch a plan to walk down to his shop, about 5 miles away and start busting skulls and steal our trucks back.

The phone suddenly rings. It's Bill.



"Oh hey! My partner Rick is on a parts run, We should have it all done this afternoon."

BILL, WHAT THE HELL!? I NEEDED THE CAR THIS MORNING! WHAT HAPPENED!?

Oh, It wasn't running right so we couldn't bring it.

NO PHONE CALL BILL!?

We'll have it done this afternoon.

BILL! FORGET IT! JUST BRING ME MY TRUCK

OK OK I'll bring it up to you this afternoon as soon as Rick gets back.

BILL I AM BEGGING YOU I NEED MY DAMN TRUCK TODAY. MY MOM WILL BE AT THE AIRPORT AT 10AM TOMORROW AND I NEED TO PICK HER UP!

No problem, No problem, I'll have it for you this afternoon.

FINE!



I drink a few beers to calm down. We head over to LifeRemotely's pad for some dinner and await Bill's call that the truck is on its way to the house.

4PM. No call
5PM. No call
6PM. No call
7PM. No call. I start calling Bill.

Phone rings 3 times, then goes to voicemail.
I call back. Straight to voicemail!

BILL IS HIDING FROM ME, WHAT IN THE F!

I ring back 3-5 more times, still straight to voicemail.

WHERE THE HELL IS MY TRUCK!!!?

I start frantically pacing the floor imagine my truck being chopped to bits and shipped off to various parts of the globe. What is this man doing to my poor baby? What in the hell is going on!?

Brad mentions he has this "partner Rick's" phone number and maybe we should call him and see if he knows what is going on since he supposedly went on the parts run today.

I phone Rick.



Hey Rick, This is James with the 4Runner. You heard from Bill or know anything about my truck?
WHY THE F ARE YOU CALLING ME!? I DONT EVEN KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THIS TRUCK. I DONT EVEN KNOW WHO THE F YOU ARE.
Uh... Ok calm down buddy
MY SISTER JUST DIED AND I JUST FLEW BACK FROM FLORIDA. I HAVE NEVER EVEN SEEN YOUR F'N TRUCK
Uh... Bill said you were getting parts for it today
F YOU CALLING ME UP HERE WHEN MY SISTER DIED I DONT KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT YOUR F'N TRUCK
Uh....
F YOU!
*CLICK*



I stare wide-eyed back at Brad who was listening to the manic screaming on the other end...

I tell Brad what just went down on the phone. Brad tells me he has personally seen Rick working on my truck twice. So his story makes no sense....

WHERE THE HELL IS MY TRUCK!?

We again start hatching a plan to break into the orphanage (I did mention Bill butcher "shop" is actually just a covered garage area next to an children orphanage?) and steal my truck back that night.

Thoughts of a rapey Costa Rican jailhouse and 2 lanky gringos caught busting into an orphanage full of little kids quickly squelch that idea from our mind.

OK NEW PLAN, TOMORROW MORNING WE GO DOWN THERE AND STEAL MY TRUCK BACK AND GET THE HELL OUTTA THERE!
YA!!!

We all rally around and continue drinking, plotting the battle versus "BILL THE BUTCHER" and his sidekick "Rick".
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We wake up at 6AM the next morning, Dress in all black (Looking back dressing in black doesn't help much during daytime capers...) We grab 2 crowbars, a lance, and a rabbit pelt from the garage and head towards the door. Prepared for battle.
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Phone rings. It's Bill.

Hey guys! Going to come by the house and pick you up to take you to the shop.

No apology, No explanation, No recognition of anything being wrong whatsoever. I start to think this man may just have severe mental problems.

We decided to play it cool, let's catch the ride down to the shop and I will just drive my truck away. We put away our spears and lances.

About 30 minutess later, Bill pulls up cheery as can be as if nothing was amiss. I say nothing to him, fuming in the backseat just hoping I can get quickly get my truck as far away from this madman as possible.

We pull up to the orphanage, little kids running around happily playing. Not realizing there is a group of lunatic mechanics working just feet from their paradise.

My truck comes into view. I run up to her with my toolbag.

Are you OK!? My poor baby! My poor baby! Daddys here. Daddys here. Everything is going to be alright.

I start the truck. More to say. I try to start the truck. It barely turns over and when it does it is running HORRIBLE. Barely able to stay running unless I work the throttle like a madman. The RPMs swaying frantically from 100RPM to 5000RPM in a state of utter confusion.

WHAT HAS HE DONE TO YOU!!!?

I jump out and examine the carnage under the hood. Oily paw prints all over every sensor, hose, and clamp. Nothing properly tightened. I can tell every sensor has been messed with, the TPS is limply dangling from its screws, the sealed AirFlowMeter has been pried open and fondled. Vacuum hoses hacked, slashed, and lying unplugged across the engine bay.

Oh god, Oh god. My poor baby. I just want to get you out of here. Tell me where the bad man touched you...


I start trying to repair her as best I can to at least limp it out of this house of horrors.

A few minutes into me repairing the truck... Guess who shows up. Crazy ass Rick!

He makes no recognition of my presence. I make none of his. Just focus diligently putting my baby back together.

About 10 minutes later I hear Bill talking to Rick about something. Rick starts cursing at Bill saying

WHAT THE F IS THAT GUY DOING HERE!?
IS HE PAYING US TO USE OUR GARAGE!?
TELL HIM TO PAY US OR GET THE F OUT OF HERE!


I grip the heavy socket wrench in my hand tightly, visions of swinging it down on Rick's face like the hammer of Thor run through my mind.

No James, focus. focus. You gotta get outta here.

I tighten the last bolt, jump in and start the truck.

Oh man she is still running absolutely horrible. But she is running enough to move now. I pop her in reverse and pull out of the bay lurching and bucking like a wild bronco.

I'm sorry baby, It's for your own good. We gotta get you away from these butchers.


I walk up to Brad, whisper to him I am getting the HELL outta dodge. He nods in reply but says nothing not wanting to set off any alarms with these two madman.

I say to Bill, "Going for a testrun!"

Then I lurch and buck the truck up the hill and out of the orphanage. The truck is running so poorly that I have to keep it in 4LO to get enough gearing to climb even the most docile of hills.

I throw the CAUTION lights on and limp my poor girl the 5 miles back to Brad's house. It takes me 45 minutes of stalling, clutch slipping, and basically raping my truck to get her home. She screams in protest but I assure its for her own good.

When I finally make it home Lauren is waiting in the driveway, She runs out and hugs the truck. I open the door and collapse in a heap on the ground.

What a friggin day. It's not even 9AM yet.... and we have to be at the airport in less than an hour...

Chuck Cheese
(defrag4) - F
re on 06/28/2012 08:38:18 MDT Print View

So how did the story end?

Basically because my truck was so screwed up and I only had an hour to get the airport I got the neighbor lady to call me a cab. $60 ride to the airport! Ouch

On the way, I am telling the cab driver my nightmare with Bill and he tells me he is so sorry and we should never take our car to an American mechanic in a foreign country. No one likes them and they just get screwed over at every at every parts house they go to.

The cab driver told me he is good friends with a local mechanic who in charge of repairing the towns fleet vehicles, rentals, and taxis. He says he can fix anything and on the super cheap.

He took me to his shop on the way to the airport. I met the mechanic who was a younger fellow, probably around 27 or 28 with a lot full of taxis, newer rental cars, and locals old junkers. Even though I could barely understand a word he said, I trusted him. He said his friend has the exact same truck and he could test parts between the two instead of just throwing money at it.

After I picked up my Mom from the airport, I dropped the 4Runner off with him and left for a week.

Got a call 2 days later that the truck was all done!

Came and picked up the truck and she was running better than she ever has before.

The mechanic said it took him a long time to just to figure out just what the hell the last guys had done. In the end he re-adjusted the AFM back to stock, cleaned and adjusted the TPS, cleaned the injectiors, replaced the O2 sensor, dropped the fuel pump and discovered it was fairly weak and not pumping properly, replaced that. Replaced the fuel filter and a few other adjustments. The final bill was steep since the fuel pump was around ~$150 but I was just happy to have the truck back and purring once again!

She has been running amazing for the last few months, starts on the first crank and getting around 20MPG.

Gotta love Toyotas!


Moral of the story: Wrench on your own truck when you can, and stick with the locals when you cant! at least I know I am.

Edited by defrag4 on 06/28/2012 09:16:47 MDT.

Chuck Cheese
(defrag4) - F
re on 07/11/2012 17:52:53 MDT Print View

Costa Rica is a beautiful country, jammed full of amazing wildlife and breathtaking scenery. It is a safe, well-developed country, with fine infrastructure. It has become the #1 tourism destination in Central America for good reason. That being said, We were getting tired of running the "gringo circuit" and having every place we show up be overrun with tourists, price gouging tour operators, eco-tour this, eco-tour that. Where was the REAL Costa Rica? Someplace that hasn't yet been bombarded by ex-pats looking to make a buck off of milk-faced tourists coming down on holiday. We were hunting for someplace where the smooth pavement ends and the true Costa Rican jungle takes back over.

When we last met up with our Costa Rican friend Erick, we were planning a 4x4 trip out to the "Osa Peninsula". Dubbed Costa Rica's last wilderness frontier, The Osa is rich in wildlife, sparsely populated and, until recently, very difficult to access. Much of this densely forested area is conserved in national parks and private reserves. Here, towering rainforests line undeveloped beaches and untouched coves, making this region one of the most beautiful anywhere on Earth.

Osa as seen from space



We loaded up the 4Runner and Erick loaded up his Nissan and we headed out from San Jose towards the jungle.


We are humming along when all of the sudden a huge thunderstorm hits us. It is coming down in sheets, we can barely see the road in front of us. I am losing sight of Erick who I am following out to the Osa, when all of the sudden the 4Runner bucks and then completely dies. Try to turn it back over and it just cranks and cranks but never turns over. Great.... broke down in a thunderstorm.

Luckily Erick's truck is equipped with a HAM radio setup and he had given me a Walkie, So I radio up to him that I am having some issues and he circles back.

We jump out in the rainstorm and pop the hood trying to figure out what the hell is going out. Getting soaked to the bone in the process...

After some fiddling I realize that while driving down the bumpy and rutted roads the MAF sensor plug has wiggled itself free. Plug it back in and hit with a few zipties and we are back in action! I think 90% of our truck is held together by zipties at this point...

We cruise along the Osa peninsula with no real destination in mind. We eventually decide to head out to "Bahia Drake".

We arrived in Drake and find a small fishing village with a beautiful rainforest lined sandy cove.


We drive right out onto the beach and setup camp for the night.



We share some beers and celebrate our arrival on the peninsula. We are honored with a beautiful sunset over the bay.


The Osa peninsula is one of the wettest places on earth, getting hit with an average of 360 inches of rain per year. It doesn't take long till she starts dumping once again and cuts our celebration short. We both retreat into our individual homes for the night.

Next morning we are up early eager to explore more of the Osa. Erick talks to a local fellow who gives him the scoop on a beautiful beach that we need to go check out. He says the road out there is pretty rough with lots of river crossings. Excellent!!









We make it to our secret beach. A beautiful palm lined beach with not a soul to be seen.


We hear loud squawks and look up into the trees above. We find a family of Scarlet macaws hanging out gnawing on nuts.



We spend some time exploring our exclusive beach


The jungle is THICK right up to the shore. Who knows what kind of beasts lurk inside?



We decide to move on. Lauren and I are planning to backpack further into the jungle and need to pick up some permits from Puerto Jimenez.

Our new friend Erick and his truck.


On the way to P.J. we come across a MACK truck who was no match for the rough roads of the Osa. Good luck gettin' AAA out here...


We grab the permits from the office and head down a wild road to Carate. The furthest south you can possibly drive in Osa.

Here we setup camp along the beach, have dinner, and prepare ourselves for the adventure to come. Backpacking Corcovado National Park. The most biologically intense place in the world.

Chuck Cheese
(defrag4) - F
re on 07/11/2012 17:57:44 MDT Print View

It had been far to long since we did some backpacking and Lauren and I were getting very excited to visit Costa Rica's Corcovado National park. Corcovado is located on the isolated and undeveloped Osa peninsula. It is considered the crown jewel of the Costa Rican park system. Corcovado contains the largest primary rainforest on the entire Pacific coastline and the largest lowland tropical rainforest in the world. National Geographic called it "the most biologically intense place on EARTH". We were stoked.

We signed up for a 2-day permit at the park office located in Puerto Jimenez and picked up a trail-map. The cost was $10 per person/per day plus $3 per day for camping. There are also meals available at the Sirena Ranger station. However, meals must be scheduled far in advance and are very costly due to the necessity of all supplies to be packed/flown/boated into the remote ranger station.

The next morning we loaded up our backpacks with food and gear, parked our truck at a crotchety old ex-pats tienda near the trailhead and started off down the beach.



The ranger informed us when we signed up for the hike that it was around 20 Km (12.5 miles) or so total to the Sirena ranger station where we would be camping. The hike is a mix of beach hiking and rain forest trail. Trudging along through the wet sand, Lauren and I were immediately reminded of our backpacking trip on California's Lost Coast.

The scenery was breath-taking. Tropical rainforest butted right up to the pristine beach. Similar to the Lost Coast, we had to be wary of the tides. There are 2 stretches of beach that could only be crossed during low-tide. Get stuck in the middle when the ocean comes up and you are shark food.



Within 2-minutes of hitting the trail we started to see our first wildlife.

A Coati (sort of like a tropical raccoon) is feeding on the beach.


They say hermit crabs are signs of a healthy beach. I would say this one is in pretty good shape...


Continuing along the beach we crossed a few small rivers and streams leading out of the jungle into the ocean.



We continued hiking through the sand and made it to our first beach pass. Tide coming up on us already? We are going to have to boogie if we want to get through the second pass before the tide is too high.


Making it through our first stretch of beach hiking we cut up into the rain forest. Immediately the temperature drops 15F and the intense sounds of jungle replace the sound of waves crashing the shore.




The forest is full of thousands of "Halloween Crabs" who make their burrows in the soft soils of the rainforest. They scatter as we approach filling the forest with the noise of claws scratching on the trees, branches, and deadfall of the woods.


We are deep in gigantic old growth rainforest.



We are peacefully walking along taking in the sights and smells of the woods when suddenly Lauren screams and stops dead in her tracks.

I run up to see what the hell is going on, She stops me and whispers. "I think I just saw a jaguar" Nonsense, I think. Jaguars are extremely rare and a nocturnal creature.

She points through the trees. Sure enough I see a black cat with long tail and piercing eyes staring back at us. EEK! It is a jaguar!

The cat stares back at us nonchalantly then takes a few steps into a clearing. I see now that it is certainly not big enough to be a jaguar but definitely some sort of large black feline. Lauren steps back to safety behind a tree. I on the other hand grab the camera and inch closer as she whispers "What the hell are you doing!?"

The cat is just sitting there staring back at us... in perfect view for a picture. I ready the camera, aim, focus, fire. *BEEP BEEP BEEP*. The serine silence of the forest is broken by a mysterious foreign sound. The cat bolts into the jungle. I look down at the camera which reads MEMORY CARD FULL. The forested mountainside echos with the sounds of me cursing at the top of my lungs.

We later learn that what we encountered was not a jaguar but actually a "Jaguarundi". Someone with a larger memory card than us snapped this photo of one.


We have encountered small bobcats before in the wild but certainly nothing as strange, exotic, and possibly man-eating as this. Our senses are on high-alert now. I grab a stick for protection, Lauren huddles behind me, and we press further into the jungle. The fact that we are the strangers in a strange land fully sinks in. This part of the world is still extremely wild and we are the intruders. We suddenly get the feeling we are being watched as we traipse through the woods.

*CRASH* The sound of breaking limbs, branches fall from the sky, and the forest fills with screeches and screams. We jump 5ft backwards then stare into the tree-tops. We find an entire troop of 15 white-faced capuchin monkeys swinging and playing around. We spot one lazily munching on bananas. My mind was blown as we stared at the stereotypical "monkey eating a banana" scene play out in front of us. I thought this stuff only happened in cartoons!



Eventually we break out of the woods and back onto the beach. The beaming sun was a warm-welcome after our harrowing time in the dark jungle. Unfortunately, We had taken far to long lollygagging around getting attacked by Jaguarundis and staring at monkeys in the rainforest. The tides had risen quite a bit and we found ourselves at the beginning of the second stretch of beach that was impassable during high-tide. By the looks of it we had maybe 30-minutes before high-tide was in full swing.



We had 2 choices.
Number one. Make a run for it and hope to cross the mile-long strech of beach before the tides reach the cliff-walls and drag us out to sea.
Number Two. Wait out the tide for hours and possibly end up spending the night in the man-eating jaguar infested jungle.

We looked at the beach, We looked at the jungle. We looked at each other. Then started running.

We sprinted as fast as we could with our 30Lb backpacks down the beach as the waves crashed inches from our heels. As we advanced we were pressed further and further towards the cliff-wall. Eventually the ocean was too high, we could not go any further. To our right was a semi-dried up waterfall to the left was the ocean bearing down on us. We scrambed up the dry waterfall and bushwacked it through the jungle.

Eventually we found a faint trail. Exhausted we through down our backpacks and enjoyed a victory meal of crackers and tuna fish. We had made it through the second pass.

The trail wound through the woods a bit then came right back down the beach but further in the trees away from the tide.



Palm tree being born from a coconut


We continued our trek until we come to our third and final obstacle. The Rio Claro.

The ranger had mentioned the river contained crocodiles and BULL sharks. But what he failed to mention was that it was over waist-deep and over 50ft wide during high-tide which was of course... when we got there.



We walked up and down the river bank trying to determine the best area to cross. Further into the forest the river was slow but very deep and wide. We figured our chances were high to be eaten by crocs or sharks before we made it to the other side.

Closer towards the ocean, the river was not as deep or wide, however when the ocean tide crashed into the river mouth it ripped the current so fast the banks were eroding and we watched 400LB fallen trees trunks being drug out into the ocean.

We knew the Sirena ranger station was less than 1/2 mile past this river. If we did not make it across we would have to sleep in the jungle, which at this point was not an option.

I threw down my pack, grabbed a stick, and stood on the river bank watching the tide come into the river mouth. If we timed it right we would be able to cross when the river was low, the tide was slow, and the crossing would be simple. If we timed it wrong and the tide crashed into the mouth while we were crossing there was a high probability we would be pulled out to sea.

I waited for the tide to slow and stepped off the bank into the river, I slowly picked my way across the river with the water coming up about waist-high. As I was half-way across I looked up and yelled to Lauren "Hey, A crocodile!" and pointed towards a large croc resting about 40ft in front of me near the river bank. No big deal...

I made it safely across with no drama aside from the croc sighting. OK, Well now we know its possible. I waited for the tide to recede again and crossed back.

We hitched our packs up as high as possible on our backs, waited for the tide to calm, looked around for the croc who had since vanished, and stepped in.

We were slowly picking our way across when all of the sudden, ROUGE WAVE. The river mouth started to flood with ocean water and the current began ripping the sandy river bottom from beneath our feet. I abandoned my crossing stick and turned to see Lauren stumbling and about to go face first into the ripping river. I grabbed her by the pack as she fell forward and drug her along as we clamored up the opposite river bank.

We made it! We sat on the bank for a while catching our breath and checking out our packs. The bottoms had gotten wet a bit but overall were surprisingly fairly dry. Luckily Lauren fell forward instead of backwards, she got her clothes soaked but her bag stayed dry.

I took this moment to remind Lauren this is the 2nd time I have saved her from dying in a river. She was almost swept away once before while hiking the Rae Lakes loop back in the Sierra mountains of California. Yes, I am a pretty awesome boyfriend.

We collected ourselves and trudged on as the sun was setting, 1/2 a mile later we came upon a clearing in the woods.

We had never been so happy to see a clap-boarded weathered station! Sirena Station, How we loved you!



We sat for a while taking in the whole experience and resting our bones in the old reclining chairs on the front porch of the station.


Set up our tent on the elevated covered platforms, stripped out of our wet and stinky clothes, and had one of the best sleeps of the entire trip.

The sounds of howler monkeys and squawking macaws woke us in the morning. We made some coffee and suited up to trek around the various trails found around the station.

We read this sign on our way out to the trails... I guess running towards the feline and trying to snap photos is not the correct procedure.


Lauren and I are avid hikers and backpackers. We have visited tons of parks, reserves, wildlife areas, etc all across the U.S. and in Central America. Never in our life have we seen anywhere close to the amount of wildlife that we saw in Corcovado. It is literal zoo without cages out here. You are constantly stumbling across natures creatures just going about their business in the wild. It is an amazing place.



Spider monkeys crawling in the trees.




More Coatis running across the trail.


And my favorite sighting of the trip. A wild Tapir munching away in the jungle. We were less than 5ft away from him. He did not have a care in the world and just kept on grazing as we snapped photos.



That night we were visited by all kinds of weird, giant and interesting bugs I have never seen before.

A gigantic grasshopper.



This crazy flying leaf looking bug


HUGE flying cockroach


Unfortunately all good things must come to an end and the next morning we packed up from the platform as we prepared to set off.


We made some new friends at the station and we all decided to set off back to Carina together.


Back down the beach we go. This time we timed it perfectly and all the beach/river crossings were easy.






Not done with the wildlife yet! We saw an ant-eater plodding along through the forest.


Stopped for some beach-side fresh coconuts.


Not a bad view for a break.


Also spotted some poison dart frogs along the trail




We passed the final ranger station on the way back to Carina where we stopped for a break.


While resting we spotted a weird bird. Upon closer inspection, it was actually not a bird but a GIGANTIC moth. This moth is called the "White Witch Moth" and has the largest wing-span of any insect in the world.




We hiked the last stretch of beach in silence. Taking in the jungle, the beach, and the last few days experience. If you are a biology/nature lover you need to get your butt down to Corcovado National Park. I guarantee you will not come away disappointed. The hike out to Sirena station is challenging but worth every step.



Back to the truck, we loaded our stinky gear and headed to Puerto Jimenez where we got a cheap motel and enjoyed a long hot shower.

The next day we hit the road, Destination: PANAMA.