This morning at 06:00 we get a cup of hot chocolade milk. Hereafter we go up behind the lodges via a muddy trail to the high trees, Jason pointed out yesterday. The mud is very slippery and you easily slip away. We are looking for the magical Quetzal, the bird of paradise.
Very distinct birds they are, but very difficult to photograph. At the first attempt it flies away, leaving a blurr of colors.
They are sitting high in the trees above us. I am almost photographing vertically, having a bright white sky as background,…
… which I crop out considerably to get descent photographs.
After a short while we find the female as well.
Every other 10 minutes, they fly to another tree and we walk with them.
But the photo’s are not getting any better.
After an hour we return for breakfast. In any case I do have some photographs of a Quetzal! This, I would not have thought when I got here.
Now follows a 6 hour drive to Tiskita Jungle Lodge. I have received a map with a route on it but that does not seem to be completely right. The last part I have to ask around. On the final road I drive not far enough, return only to discover what I have done wrong. I turned only a few hundred meters short of the entrance.
The welcome is very friendly. A slender blond female sitting next to a table, just started working here and gets the owner for me. A little, happy woman that explains everything to me. Three meals are included at 07:30, 12:30 and 18:30. She warns me for Fer-de-lance and Coral Snakes that live here on the compound. At night in particular this is potential danger. You have to scan the whole path in front of you with a flash light, before continuing. She drives with me to show me te cabin. A nice place with an outside toilet, -shower, hammock, rocking chair and a view on a piece of jungle and a couple of hundred meters further the ocean.
The fridge in the main building is full with fresh fruit juice and water that you can take. She hears some monkeys and tells me to follow her for my first picture. They appear to be Howler Monkeys. One of the is carrying a juvenile. I quickly setup the tripod, get camera and lenzes only to discover that all lenzes are completely fogged on the outside. Wiping it off doesn’t help, because it returns immediately. Shooting photographs is not possible. All equipment has to acclimatise first.
First I go to the beach. But this is quite boring at the moment. On the way back I see a couple of monkeys running on a fence: Squirrel Monkeys they are. Quite shitty, I can’t do anything.
Not long after there is dinner. They all eat here at one big table, Peter and Elizabeth are the owners and Clyde is the son. Soon they start telling stories. Tiskita Jungle Lodge is both a lodge for guests and a fruit farm. It is a large area with around 15 kilometers of trails, partly jungle, partly plantation, but completely hilly and forested.
Peter tells how he has to guard his compound against poachers. At night he goes on patrol with one of his employees, wearing a bullet proof vest and carrying a gun. Poachers are armed as well after all. At several occasions he has disarmed poachers and send them away. In the end the keep away, but patrols are still a necessity for preventive reasons. At night you have to walk very careful and slow, because most poisonous snakes are active. He tells about several incidents with Fer-de-lance snakes.
He lights the next 5-6 meters of the trail and walks very slowly foot by foot forwards until he has covered those 5-6 meters. Fer-de-lance back flip at the first agitation: the head flips back and the snake coils up, ready to strike. Once Peter heared this happening very close by. Despite looking very carefully he hadn’t seen the snake beforehand, but he heared it jump away. On hearing he could find the snake then with his flash light.
‘So he does give you a chance’, he says. If you irritate it again by getting too close by, it does bite. But what you don’t know, is whether the snake already jumped away for something else just before. In other words, it can also bite immediately. It has also happened that he had a Fer-de-lance lying between his left and right feet. Had stepped over it without seeing it and the snake did not react. In most situations these snakes are very aggressive.
The blond woman that welcomed me, appears to be Dutch, Daphne. At dinner we sit next to each other and talk. The food is very good. Around 20:00 everybody is going to bed. Daphne has a very peculiar story and we talk almost until midnight. She has ended up here a couple of days ago and works for food and a bed. She does not get paid.
Years ago she has broken with her familie because of het insane mother and departed to Portugal. She has lived there for 7 years and had work most of the time. She didn’t like the organised system in The Netherlands anymore. She had always wanted to live in Africa helping animals, big cats in particular. The emigration to Portugal was a first step in that direction but in fact an escape from here familie. Only her father had her telephone number but never called her. After a while she moved to Kenia, but has never found the work she liked to do. Meanwhile she experienced a couple of very creepy situations in Nairobi.
Her cash card was stolen as well. The bank does not send you a new card, when you do not have a fixed address. The ambassy doesn’t help here either as one is not allowed to use their address to send the card to. In the end she found one of who she could use the address. Then first she had to send an address change notification to the bank before getting a new card.
A couple of months ago she went to the US together with someone she had met. Here she worked for a while with wolves and monkeys. Because of problems with her teeth she went to Costa Rica. Because here doctors that have been trained and educated in the US charge four times less than in the US. The waiting room overthere is full with rich Americans that pay 20.000-40.000 to change their whole set of teeth or a part of it.
She doesn’t really know what to to and lives off her saved money that diminishes very quickly. A bit weird is that she can’t kill animals. Not that that is my favorite activity, but she finds killing a mosquito really horrible.
To complete the disaster, last week het laptop has been stolen in a bus to Quepos, including all the photo material she shot in Afrika. To save costs she ended up in the Tiskita Jungle Lodge. If they like her she can stay during the high season. For the time being her bank account is safe.
She tells me, she has never been actually happy and she can’t find the work she would love to do. She barely has possessions: two backpacks and a couple of other things is everything. In fact she doesn’t want to own anything anymore and only work with animals for a place to sleep and food. She worries about how this is al going to end. She is actually done with it all and wouldn’t mind to stop existing. She is only very afraid about the way this is going to happen.
If I have to believe everything I have heared then her life is a long chain of miserable happenings. Such a shame, she is a nice and attractive woman. At first sight you would expect that she could have pulled more out of her life, but apparently things can go differently.
We philosophize some more about how things will go if you don’t have any money anymore to continue your passport. Then you don’t have any official identification anymore. You can not leave the country and you wouldn’t be allowed to stay there either…
Maps, Charts & Downloads
GPS Map with color coded altitude information
Color coded distance/altitude chart
Download the original gpx file here.