April 2: - Corcovado Tent Lodge
the Chacon Farm at 7:30 a.m., headed for San Jose and a 10:30 flight to
Carate. On our way to the airport, we passed through Cartago which
was the colonial capital and not far from San Jose.
took this time to tell us about the most famous church in the country.
It is the Basilica de Nuestra Senora de los Angeles, built in honor of La
Negrita, Costa Rica's patron saint. The church is built over the
rock where the tiny stone image of a black Virgin first appeared to Juana
Pereira in 1635. The faithful and hopeful come to the holy water
that flows from a spring behind the basilica.
August 2, all roads lead to Cartago as thousands of pilgrims gather at the
shrine for the Day of Our Lady of the Angels, many having come on foot
over long distances. Charlie also told us about making that
pilgrimage with his wife last year.
was quite windy at the airport and that made for a somewhat bumpy climb to
altitude. Jim, who has an inner ear disorder, was a little green
around the gills but his normal color returned when we evened out over the
coastline. The strip at Carate was dirt and the pilot put us down so
gently that we hardly knew it.
door of the plane opened and there was Philippe welcoming us to Corcovado!
It was HOT! as well as being mid-day. All the luggage and supplies
were loaded onto the horse cart as we began our trek along the beach to
the Tent Camp. In less than 5 minutes almost everyone was soaking
wet with perspiration. It must have been 98 degrees and 98% humidity
- quite a change from the cool misty Savegre River Valley! But this
was to be the way it was for the next three days. Marco had warned
me that it would be hot at Corcovado. What I had not considered was
that it would be extremely humid as well! I was considering it now,
big time! And for the first time I was not welcoming the humidity as
I had at all the other places!
arrived at camp about an hour later, dripping wet and red-faced, just in
time for a hot meal which was the last thing I wanted. But I knew
that I would need to eat something so I did and drank lots of water.
Charlie had mentioned to me earlier that day that he was concerned about
the difficulty of the hike necessary to reach the canopy platform.
After lunch he announced that at 3 p.m. we would all go to check out the
trail and hike for a short section. I knew then that he was going to
assess each of us.
the hike, we had cold showers (the only kind there and the only kind we
wanted!) to refresh ourselves and rested a bit before the evening meal.
dinner, it was decided that Irene, Arnold, Jim and I would leave the next
morning at 6 with Aron, our canopy guide, to begin hiking and that the
others who were going would follow at 7:30 with Philippe. That way,
they would arrive about the time we were finished on the platform.
for larger view of tents and grounds.
Lodge consists of 20 permanent tents, 2 bath houses and 2 large open-air,
thatched roof structures. One of them is the kitchen/dining area and
the other houses a bar and lots of hammocks. The entire site sits on
a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean about 10 degrees north of the
equator. There is a generator to produce power for the kitchen and a
new satellite dish that is used only for communication with the home
office. In the evenings there was electricity in the bath houses as
long as the kitchen needed power. By 9:00 p.m. everything was dark.
We slept in our 10-foot by 10-foot tent on camp cots. We were given
candles but we never lit them, just used our flashlights when it was
treks to the bathroom often uncovered night creatures on the path. I
encountered three huge brown toads one night but managed not to step on
any of them. In addition, Jim surprised a Halloween land crab on its
way to the beach to lay eggs During the day resident iguanas munched
the grass and plants growing around the tents and on the last morning
there we discovered a family of little bats living in the palm tree above
our tent porch.
one of the "poison arrow" variety, this Chocolate Mint Frog is not
dangerous to hikers. (Click for larger version)
April 3: We were up at 5 a.m. for breakfast at 5:30 and I was too excited
(and perhaps a little apprehensive) to eat very much. Besides it was
already about 85 degrees. At 6 a.m. we hit the trail with Aron and Charlie
who planned to go back and forth on the trail with both groups. He
declined going up into the canopy with a comment that he once helped build one
of the structures. By 7:30 we were at the platform area, having stopped
for a look at an ant nest made of leaves hanging near the trail, and to watch
and listen to a whistling wren - a tiny, tiny bird with a very big voice.
for us at the platform area were the Bad Boys. These workers are the ones
who buckled us into the harnesses and winched us up to the platform.
Extreme strength is the number one requirement for doing this job. (We were told that all winch operators are called Bad Boys, but no one could tell us
exactly why.) The first piece of equipment was the body harness.
There were all sorts of buckles and links, then we were fitted with helmets and
walked in turn to the hoisting area.
we were getting suited up, Aron had already lifted himself up to the platform
which is 120 feet in the air. He was there to “catch” us as we
arrived. The system that CRE uses to lift participants is fail-safe.
In addition to a safety line that was hooked to the back of my harness, there
was a canvas boson's seat that each person was hooked into. That line was
the one actually used to winch us up. The line hooked to the harness was
there just in case the boson seat line failed. Safety is of the utmost
when one participates in an activity such as this and CRE is certainly a safety
Bad Boys and Aron communicated with whistles and soon I was slowly being
lifted into thin air. It took about 3 minutes to make it to the top.
I had decided to keep my eyes open and look straight out in front of me
for the duration of the trip. It does not do for me to look down in
situations such as this.
I approached the platform, Aron caught my knees and swung me over,
whistling at the same time so that the Bad Boys knew to stop winching.
Before removing me from the boson's seat and unhooking the safety line, he
clipped me to a tether that was attached to the tree. I couldn't
stop smiling - I had made it to the top! I pretty much stayed right
by the tree on which the platform rested, only venturing to the railing
once - no need to push my luck!
harness that took Jack to the canopy.