I’m counting down the days, minutes, hours…
Until the hike is over.
Until I check my email.
Until I’m wearing clean clothes again.
Until my bug bites heal.
Until I’m in California.
Until I see my mother.
A Hike Through the Costa Rican Rainforest, Days 8 and 9
This morning our task is to hike from the home of the Lopez family to the home of Hernan, another local farmer in the village of Piedras Blancas. The hike will last less than an hour, and on this hike we will walk alone, spread out in intervals of 20 minutes.
I am the first in the group to set out and I follow the river to a narrow, wooden bridge I cross to continue the trek.
The river rushes loudly below me and the bridge looks like something from Indiana Jones or some other-worldly adventure. I stop half way across the bridge to take in my beautiful surroundings, and my heart pumps fast with the same adrenaline I felt while rappelling the waterfall yesterday – an adrenaline that only comes when I am truly happy and feel I am having an adventure.
Across the bridge lies the “downtown” of Piedras Blancas, which consists only of one school and a house. A calf is tied to a tree next to the school, and further down the path a horse blocks my way.
Other than these animals I find I am completely alone and I start to sing, at first softly and then loudly, as if there were no one else in the world to hear me.
I sang the same songs I same last summer, as I walked down the Seine by myself to the Eiffel Tower on my last day in Paris. It brings me peace to know I am singing the same songs I sang in my beloved Europe and for the rest of the walk it doesn’t even feel as if I am moving – I only feel happiness.
I reach Hernan’s home and wait for the rest of my group to arrive. We spent the afternoon learning how to make cheese, banana bread and helping Hernan with some chores such as removing corn kernels for his animals.
At night we sit with Hernan and he tells us how he came to Piedras Blancas many years ago, when all that was here was an uninterrupted symphony of nature. He built a trail, with his own hands, from the nearest town, and a home for his family. More families followed. At its heyday, the town was home to 26 families but today only seven remain.
On day nine, we cross the river in small baskets, pulling a rope hand over hand to make our way over the quiet rapids.
A hill awaits and we climb it, leaving Piedras Blancas behind us.
After hiking for a few hours, we reach the summit of the mountain trail and pause to look back at the tiny town near the river. Our entire route stretches out below us. The homes of the Lopez family and Hernan are covered by trees, but we can see the patches of land where they stand. Our guide points to behind the hills, and in my mind I see Magda, standing on her front porch, bouncing Kimbra on her hip. Our instructors point to the left and I envision the start of the trail in Santa Maria where we started our trek so many days ago.
In every journey there comes a point when you know it’s over. The day’s hike is only half way through and we still have to hike ten miles tomorrow, but, regardless, standing atop this mountain, looking at Piedras Blancas unfold below, this moment has come for me. The journey is over for me because there are no longer any doubts in my mind that I will not be able to finish this trek.
We hike away the afternoon, stopping at Rancho Tinamu, a tiny eco lodge where we will spend the evening. At the eco lodge we pack one last adventure in the day, hiking down to a waterfall, this time to swim.
The water is cool and fills me with peace.
One night’s sleep, breakfast, a six hour hike, a four hour van ride and I will be back in my room at base.
Actual time spent hiking: 5 hours
*Note: This post is the sixth in my series recounting my experiences during a ten-day hike with Outward Bound Costa Rica, leading through varied landscapes and small pueblos in Costa Rica’s Central Valley. During the trek we camped under tarps and stayed with local families for a culture exchange. I hiked with seven students and two instructors, however, out of respect for my fellow participants will not mention their names or stories in this series, but rather focus on my own journey of self-discovery along the trail. Read the rest of the posts in this series here.
Recommended Equipment for Hiking in Costa Rica