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Guest-Column

Family jungle adventure

I desired to visit the jungle with my family to experience a taste of earth’s raw wilderness before it is gone. Corcovado is that place—a small, untouched section of Costa Rican jungle and one of the most bio-diverse places left on earth.

Getting there is not easy. Two long plane rides deliver us from British Columbia to San Jose. After a five hour van ride (driving under monkey bridges), we arrive in the Osa Peninsula at the small town of Sierpe. Next, we board a small boat and travel along the mighty Sierpe River for a half an hour. We pass by palm oil plantations dotted amongst dense jungle forests. We reach the bank of our vacation property and then hike for ten minutes up a steep hill. Our jungle abode sits high on a cliff overlooking the Sierpe River—no Internet, no television and limited solar power. We are home, sweet jungle home.

 

Fierce Jungle Nights

Life takes turns sleeping in the jungle. The jungle is hot, noisy, dark and mysterious. There are no walls in the jungle. Mere insect-screen walls separate us from the raw wild world. My three daughters cannot sleep. Jungle shock takes hold and thus, it comes to be that, five Canadian cowards decide to sleep together in the loft bedroom. We are primates, returning to our ancestral roots—safe in the treetops.

Jungle air, heavy with oxygen and water, is our blanket. Musky and delicious jungle scents intoxicate us into a light sleep. At four a.m. Armageddon is upon us—a roar, an earth shaking, heart stopping roar…

“Is that a jaguar?” I whisper into the night.

“No. It’s a howler monkey,” my daughter Tabitha whispers.

Howler monkeys are the loudest terrestrial animal on earth and the one roaring in the tree behind my bed must be the size of King Kong.

Setting Sail on the South Pacific

As the sun peeks above the river, the trees surrounding our loft shake with life. Capuchin monkeys have come to check out their new neighbours. They crawl on branches above our heads and peek at us in our beds. We count eighteen; three carry babies on their backs. Morning has come.

Corcovado National Park is over a two and a half hour boat ride along the rugged South Pacific coast of Costa Rica. One cannot access the park without a profession guide; thus, I have hired Caesar. Our destination is Sirena Ranger Station; the area is extremely remote and tops for animal sightings.

Caesar picks us up at our dock at seven a.m. For the first hour, we travel down the Sierpe River, past huge crocodiles asleep in the morning sun. Finally, we reach the end of the seemingly calm waters of the river and attempt to enter the rough ocean. Our small craft charges into the unpredictable currents of the South Pacific.

Our life jackets are ancient. Caesar says the ocean is relatively calm compared to later in the rainy season. He says they’ll use a bigger boat in few months time. I’m thinking, now would be a good time to bring out the big boat!

The South Pacific Ocean is an adventure in itself. The Corcovado coast is uninhabited magnificence with craggy rock cliffs, dense jungle canopies and waterfalls crashing into the sea. A large pod of dolphins swim along side our boat and leap from the ocean. A South Pacific storm soaks our crew in warm rainwater before we hit shore.

There is no dock to access Corcovado. The boat drops us off in rough currents and we walk to shore with our gear on our heads.

We’ve timed our trip just right, at the start of the rainy season. The animals have returned to the coastal trails along with shallow streams. Later in the season, the streams will turn into torrential rivers that are difficult to cross.

Our overall jungle attire appears more Roxy-Roller than safari. We wear colourful rubber boots with tall, striped socks that reach above the boots (to prevent blisters). Caesar’s impressed and says that we’re well suited for the day. Most travellers bring expensive hiking boots that are useless in the wet park.

 

Zen Jungle Days

Life exists surprisingly calmly in Corcovado. The jungle is an organized ebb and flow of wondrously busy organisms and creatures. I let go of my otherness (humanness) and feel the flow of life that I exist amongst. Everything falls into place in my mind, my being. Life suddenly makes sense. I get it. As strange as it may seem, I feel as though I have finally come home.

We follow Caesar closely and silently as he tracks a large tapir, careful to avoid the deadly and aggressive Fer De Lance viper that hides on the jungle floor. We walk amongst an overwhelming plethora of life: quiet (yet determined) mating ant eaters, new world monkeys moving through the trees overhead, prehistoric looking birds, huge orb spiders sitting on indestructible webs and celestial butterflies that never land. The fauna is equally impressive: animal-like mangrove trees with a placenta that nourishes its infant tree, trees that shed their leaves in dry season and use their bark for photosynthesis.

 

We Are One In The Jungle

I feel earth’s vulnerability in the jungle. If one of us is hurt, eradicated from the earth, we all are at risk. Together we thrive, alone we die. We are more than a tribe of humans; we are a connected tribe of mammals, a connected tribe of animals, a connected tribe of earth’s life. Every living organism on earth: plant, animal, fungi—a fluid entity of undetermined proportions that I am a part of along with every living organism in the universe. Our energy flows as one—one consciousness, a life circle of symbiotic connections.

 

 

Mix Hart is a multimedia writer, novelist and artist. She blogs, writes novels, junior fiction, picture books and freelance articles. Her first young adult novel Queen of the Godforsaken will be published by Thistledown Press this fall 2015. You can learn more about Mix at MixHart.ca



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