Costa Rica-New Chapter

Yesterday was my first day without the group I've been traveling with for the past month. Our last week together was action packed and as usual I was meticulously documenting each moment. These last few days were some of my favorite of the trip because I got to do two things I've never done before, ziplining and white water rafting.

After we left the village we headed to Monte Verde where upon our arrival we practiced yoga for an hour and decompressed from the bus ride and our village stay. After a night of relaxation we made our way to the zipline "course" and flew thru the Jungle for a couple hours.
The next day we were set for a two day excursion down the Rio Pacuare. This river is considered to be in the top 5 best places in the world to tackle the o'l white water. The rapids weren't to challenging, at least not in a big multi-person raft, but I guess it could get pretty tricky in a personal kayak. Having done these "class 4" rapids I might just have to go check out the class 6 rapids which I'm told is the highest ranking. The river was absolutely beautiful. Throughout the entire 14 miles you are surrounded by jungle walls stretching hundreds, sometimes thousands of feet high. The guides make sure to steer you straight under the several waterfalls that pour into the river as you make your way down, surely the unique terrain must have something to do with the river being ranked among the best in the world.
Once we had a taste of what the river had to offer we paddled ashore to the Pacuare Lodge. The accommodations here were amazing and as unique as the river itself. The Pacuare Lodge is a 5 star "hotel", where the rooms have no electricity. The focus is on making a connection with your surroundings and being 100% sustainable. EVERYTHING has to be rafted in, from the ice in your drink to the candles that light your room. I lucked out, and for the second time on the trip had a jungle shack all to myself :) The next morning we continued down the river in disbelief that it was our last day of the trip. It seemed as if we had only met just a few days ago. It all came to a close as we neared the end of our river adventure.
One things for sure, after all the places we went and stuff we did together, I certainly wont be forgetting the people I shared these experiences with....

Especially these characters ^ (the guides). Travel on amigos...

For the next few days I will be traveling the coast in search of waves and more adventure. Check back soon for an update with a bit of a change of pace!


Costa Rica- Jamming

Been playing the gee-tar lately. One of the guides bought a local hand made guitar at a tucked away work shop close to La Fortuna. We left the village today after having been there for 2 weeks. It was a surprisingly emotional moment, leaving our host-families behind. Its crazy to think we shared so many moments together in such a short time. Going into the village I never would have thought that I would have felt such a connection to the people there. Now I can say that if I have the time to go back next time I visit Costa Rica, I absolutely will.

A couple days before our departure I found my self in a contemplative mindset. During sunset, the afternoon before we planned to leave I found myself on the front door “steps”, guitar in hand. I should mention that I am by no means a musician, not even in the slightest. So to find my self in this situation was quite intriguing. None the less, I began to strum some of the few chords that i know. I transcended into a place of acceptance for the local way of life. I was truly at peace with myself and my surroundings for the first time on the trip. So often, while travelling you become hyper-focused on what you’re doing or what to do next that you almost miss whats really going on around you. This was a moment where I felt apart of the moment and the life around me.
Anyways, enough deepness. I’m now in Monte Verde which from first glance seems like a pretty rad spot. Green, obviously; hence the name. It seems to have a lot of similarities to the village which makes sense since its a “hilltop town”, but with a more touristy twist to it. Tomorrow we will be ziplining, my first time. This should be interesting, as I plan to do it while simultaneously shooting video and taking pics. If youve been following the last couple blog posts thank you! More coming soon...


Costa Rica

One of the many "cow like" locals
View of the village

A few months ago I was put in contact with Guru from Campfire Creative. He told me about his company and how they were planning to work together with Walking Tree Travel. Now, for the remainder of July I am working as a Campfire Creative Media Guide on a Walking Tree Travel trip (Immersion Group B) in Costa Rica. Here is a glimpse of my life here so far...
Para-sailor close in Manuel Antonio

One of my host families Parrots eating my thumb

Costa Rica is “tranquilo”(chill, laid back). Super tranquilo. The locals will probably add “pura vida” to drive home the point. They essentially make it impossible for you to stress yourself out over pointless things. This may be part of the reason I’ve been able to get a lot work done, while still enjoying my trip. After being here for the past 2 weeks I’ve become accustomed to the culture differences. The days start early here; the locals or “Ticos” in the village wake up @ dawn or earlier to tend to their cows. The family I’m staying with happens to be one of the families that owns cows (13) and so breakfast is served at 5:30 am after the cows have been taken care of. Most people would say the food is something that you have to get used to, but thats not the case if you’re from San Diego and Spanish dishes are the staple of your diet. I suppose the second biggest adjustment if not the biggest would be speaking spanish ALL THE TIME, which I don’t mind. However, i’m certainly accustomed to being able to get away with speaking Spanglish to the mexicans back home. The ticos, especially in the village, know not a word of English which is constantly improving my Spanish.
Me milking a cow for the first time

Local nino and his new puppy

When I have time to step away from shooting the group, editing or joining in on the community service w/ the group I’m not able to keep it too tranquilo as there are still many other things to do. I keep busy by shooting landscapes and lifestyle photographs of my surroundings. I just had to run outside to corral three (family) cows that escaped their pen while I was the only one home! Classic! I keep the two kids in my family entertained Maria who is 3 years old an Justin who is 6. Occasionally I join the group leaders who are staying with a family down the street for coffee and a game of cards.
Group leader Jonathan enjoying our make shift bench press

Waterfall close to pura suerte

Although the first two weeks have gone by fast, its hard to believe that we still have 2 weeks left. We have a little over a week left here in the village and then were off for some more adventure, via ziplines and white water rafting. I’ll be sure to post a blog or two along with video of the remaining time with the group. After that my friend Steve will be joining me down here for a week filled with surfing and hopefully some fishing as well. Until next time, tranquilo mai(take it easy dude)!
Lightning storm in Pura Suerte
Lo mismo


Blog post for Walking Tree #2

Hola! We’re back with Immersion B’s second weekly blog. We are just coming up on the end of our first week here in Las Brisas, a small village located in the northwestern hills of Costa Rica. Las Brisas is a close-knit cooperative farming and dairy community, in which we are working to make improvements to the local “escuela”(school). We are each living with our own local host-family during these two weeks and learning the ins and outs of daily life in one of the countries rural zones.

Before we dive into all that is Las Brisas, we have to share a little bit about our jungle adventure. On the morning before we left for the village, we went on a hike through Manuel Antonio’s state park. The hike was more for leisure than exercise for a change. As we hiked through the jungle, we were greeted by sloths, jungle crabs, vultures, and numerous monkeys. Our trail led us to a tranquil, white-sand beach, where we swam and soaked up the sun. There, we took some time to reflect on our trip thus far, as well as speculate on what Las Brisas may be like.

We arrived in the village after a half-day bus ride. We bid farewell to Felix, our trusty “conductor” and introduced ourselves to our new neighbors. In the next few days we accomplished a lot. We’ve been painting walls and fences, in addition to mixing and pouring concrete by hand - which we can assure you is quite exhausting. Everyone has maintained an impressively positive attitude throughout the difficult work and the occasional dose of culture shock. The traditional basic foods, afternoon downpours, and lack of wifi hotspots have demanded a certain amount of flexibility.

When we’re not working at the school, we keep busy by participating in a variety of sports. Our group members can be found at the local soccer field, in the gymnasium playing basketball, or hanging out with the local kids who are enjoying their summer break. Just the other day, we celebrated the 4th of July with another Walking Tree group that is staying in a nearby village. A great time was had by all! We ate pizza, chips and homemade guacamole with some local desserts to top things off. After we had our fill, we felt the itch of the “soccer bug” that inevitably spread through the group. Despite the downpour we made our way to the local cancha (soccer field). It was a big game, Immersion Group A vs. Immersion Group B (us). Apparently our practice in Pura Suerte made the difference as we went on to win 5-3. Before the match, we bet that the winners got to paint the other team with mud... you’ll see some amusing photos below.

This weekend we plan to take a short break from our work and tour a famous active volcano in La Fortuna and visit the local hot springs. Hope all is well back home, stay tuned next week for another update on our community projects and side adventures.

Blog post for Walking Tree #1


Group B's travel guides here with our inaugural blog post of the Costa Rica Immersion B trip. First of all, whew! - we made it. The midnight flight was long, but we hit the ground running, as there was little time to relax. Adjusting to the Costa Rican way of life (“Pura Vida, dude!”) and running errands in Alajuela, a town on the outskirts of San José, was the first order of business (phone cards, changing $, etc). After wandering about In the first afternoon rainstorm, we made it to Merecumbé for salsa and cumbia lessons with our instructor William. The consensus was that salsa is hard! However, everyone had a smile on their face. Calling it an early night, we crashed after dinner.
The next morning we met Félix, our driver, for a quick coffee and breakfast before heading out for Pura Suerte on the southern coast. Félix is from San José and quickly became a friend. Along with his expert knowledge of the country’s geography, he is happy to chat up everyone. He gives perspective to the laid-back Costa Rican lifestyle, pretending to call the clouds to ask if it will rain (“Pura vida mai!”) He also joined our hike to the Nayaca Waterfalls and our surf lesson.

Next, we spent two nights in the picturesque, jungle bungalows in mountainous Pura Suerte, i.e. “Pure Luck”. How lucky we were! That afternoon, we took a tour of the Pura Suerte farm, learning the usage of indigenous plants and the characteristics of the local ecosystem. Later while on a rather challenging run up steep hills, we came upon a soccer field overlooking the valley. No sooner had we started to kick around an old, deflated soccer ball, a bunch of local kids came out for a game. Through this impromptu match, we were able to appreciate first-hand the universal language of “futbol”.
The next morning, after having passed through the rural farmlands and mountains, we descended into the sounds and smells of the Nayaca jungle. The hike to the Nayaca waterfalls, or “cataratas”, was strenuous, but scenic. We soon realized that the water was a force to be reckoned with, as we swam out and stood under the falls. Downstream, clear blue pools awaited us. After soaking and enjoying a picnic, it was time to hike back. Later that afternoon, Noemí led the group in a yoga and meditation session on an open air bamboo yoga studio.

The evenings have been filled by many games, the most popular of which have been Apples to Apples and cribbage, which Jonathan and Cody introduced us to on the bus. We even taught Felix and our hosts how to play.

Casados (combination entree) and pintogallo (rice and beans) are true staple foods here, the latter being a perfect mix of rice and black beans and the former the national dish. Also the list of new foods includes guanábana (a tropical fruit), star fruit, and the most delicious, golden pineapple that melts in your mouth.

Yesterday, we waved goodbye to mountains. Our next stop was Manuel Antonio. Here there were amazing outdoor patios, pools with unobstructed views to the ocean beyond, surf lessons, walks on pristine clear-water beaches, fresh coconuts, sloths, and monkeys. We’re hard-pressed to say what has been the best part of the past two days, but perhaps the most exciting moment was when we swam out, turned around, caught a wave, and road it all the way in to the beach.

All of these moments have been meticulously documented by Cliff, our media guide, aka Sueco (“The Swede”). Hailing from San Diego and a professional extreme sports photographer, Cliff has melded into the group dynamic with ease, always willing to share his expertise or a joke. He has been shooting the group at each turn, practically living underwater to catch everyone’s first ride on the waves here in Manuel Antonio. Tonight is our last night in this beach haven, and tomorrow we are off to Las Brisas.

Las Brisas is a village in the northeastern mountains near the volcano, La Fortuna. Here we will begin our home-stays, each student living with a different local family and working with the community on various service projects for 2 weeks. We are all nervous, anxious, and excited to start the most important phase of this journey and look forward to updating you in our next blog post!


Costa Rica First Video

This is the first time I've shot and edited video in 5 years +...hoping to continue to improve my skills throughout the remainder of my time here and when I get home as well. Week 1 of the groups travels here in Costa Rica...