I’m sat in a cloud, an actual big fluffy cloud. Not wandering as lonely as one, just sat in one looking over the sprawling mass of patchwork greens in front of me. The vultures are hopping from one foot to another, totally ignoring me, busy drying their huge wings after the regular afternoon downpour. Costa Rica is known for its lush green landscapes and mountainous terrain. I watch as the vultures dine on a not very tasty looking armadillo.
I’m in a National Park, La Cangreja, apparently named after its crab like appearance from the skies. My role as Communications Officer has brought me here to photograph and write about the projects the NGO I’m working for has going on. Only a few KMs away there are a group of volunteers digging trenches and clearing trails, but I was off to interview the park ranger.
Park Rangers are an interesting breed. Totally married to the job, due to the hours and the need to live within the park. In my limited experience they’re a little bit eccentric and Stephen King’s Misery character Annie Wilks springs to mind. Leo was cautious at first, but then enjoyed telling me about his day-to-day life. Assisting researchers, rescuing sick tourists, preventing forest fires and catching poachers are all in a day’s work. To prove a point he led me to his car and revealed some beautiful, delicate, blue birds all in tiny cages.
Nights in the park are filled with the loudest animal orchestra imaginable and scorpion hunting before bedtime is essential. The little fuckers love a nice warm spot to hang-out, so sleeping bags and boots are the vicious creatures BnBs. Costa Rica has an insane amount of both animal and plant species. The fact that made me take note was within 10,000sq meters you’ll find 615 species of animal, compared to the USA where you’ll find 110. Many animals make themselves known with their high pitch almost alarm like calls, but then you have the tarantulas and sloths who keep a low-profile.
Camping, cooking outdoors on trangias, navigating using only a compass and Costa Rica’s dodgy maps (there’s no army so no up-to-date maps), are all skills I’ve picked up in my time here. Life back at Fieldbase, that’s our home and office has to be experienced to be believed. I’ve always fancied myself as a bit of a hippy and I’m learning a lot about what I can and can’t tolerate. I waved goodbye to any personal space when I landed. Anyway, more of that another time.