February 17, 2008
Corcovado National Park Trek Day 1
Richard and I were ready before dawn and were joined by a few others for our ride into the park in the back of a truck. Along the way we passed a bunch of oceanside mansions owned by rich Americans. A construction worker got off at one of the works-in-progress, explaining that rich people were his favorite to work for. A few hours later, we were in Carate and were officially in the park.
The trek started with a short walk along the beach. It seemed as though we were walking at the beginning of our own movie, with the waves gently crashing to the shore and the thick rain forest awaiting our arrival at our side.
Soon there was a sign for La Leona, the first ranger station of the park. We left the beach to find a location that was far more luxurious than we had expected, with private cabins surrounding the main building and a group of patrons having a large breakfast, polishing their huge camera lenses for birdwatching, and relaxing on their beach side hammocks. We sat near them and began cooking porridge on my stove, but soon an employee told us to leave. I protested, stating that I had obtained permission to enter the park, but the employee explained that this was the La Leona resort, not the La Leona ranger station. So they gave their place the same name as the ranger station and were not at all sympathetic when I pointed out how confusing that was. I think we were just too grungy for the other patrons, who were staring at us like that scene in The Blues Brothers where they try to recruit their maitre d' friend. Apparently being boated into this luxury hotel for a few days was actually some peoples' idea of going into the jungle.
We found the much-more-rustic La Leona ranger station a few minutes down the beach and checked in with the real rangers. They sent us on our way as the path went slightly into the jungle, but still within earshot of the ocean. We got poured on in the middle of the day, but it was actually a relief from the heat. The path was moderately interesting, and we saw lots of crabs and a raccoon-like coati, but it was still too close to the ocean to achieve that "out there" feeling. Just before reaching our camp, we had to wade through a knee-deep river, thus ruining my hopes of keeping my shoes dry.
La Sirena ranger station was filled with commotion. It had a landing strip, so most people's "jungle experiences" consisted of flying in, looking at birds from the rangers station for two days, and flying back home. We were forced to camp under a shelter packed in tightly with a dozen other people because of the threat of creepy crawlies outside. Most people were doing the same trek in the opposite direction and warned us of the long, arduous journey in store for us tomorrow. It was nice to have a little camaraderie with the other campers, but most of them had no idea what a real adventure was.
The photo album for this entry is here.