Costa Rica: Take a Hike (to El Tigre)

Coffee. I awoke at 5:30 to the beautiful music of a river running from its source and all I could think about was coffee. Today we would hike, so I dressed accordingly and slathered on the sunscreen.

My two goals for this trip were: to not get sick and to not get sunburned. So far I was doing well on both counts, despite a 24-hour bug running through a few of the students and hours outdoors under the near-equatorial sun.

I packed the sunscreen and first aid kit in my daypack. I tucked in a light, long-sleeved shirt for when the sun became too much for me. I filled up my water bottle and packed that away as well.

I knew the coffee would be close to percolated so I grabbed my binoculars and headed down to the dining area of the ecolodge.

We watched the parrots, toucans, and a heron while the smells of eggs and bacon frying wafted out to us.

Take a Hike

After breakfast we started hiking away from the ecolodge and back up river to where a basket and pulley system crossed the river. Four students at a time shuttled themselves over to the other side of the Pacuare as the locals had done for generations.

It took an hour to get everyone across. Then we started to hike up. And up. And up. Through the rainforest, over creeks, into fields under the bright mid-day sun. I hung out at the back of the pack to help sweep. It’s a great place from which to cheerlead too. We paused briefly in the shade of the awning of a community center before continuing on into the center of the hillside village. We found a little store where the students bought ice creams (as did I), Cokes, and machetes (as you do…).

We stopped at the primary school where our raft guide David had attended school for a few years. The kids, who were on a lunch break, were excited to see our students, played hackey sack, and took selfies with us.

Mariposa del Pacuare Project

We couldn’t stay. We continued hiking up to the Mariposa del Pacuare project, a butterfly farm run by Mario Achoy with help from Rios Tropicales owner Rafael Gallo. We enjoyed lunch and then Mario showed us around the butterfly farm where we could see pupa and adults for ten varieties of butterfly.

Tree Planting

We hiked a little further to a 2,400+ acre rainforest reserve where we planted walnut and almond trees to aid the reforestation efforts.

We hiked back down the gorge via 900 steps (someone counted?) and crossed a suspension bridge, arriving back at the lodge downstream from where we’d crossed earlier that morning. We’d been out nearly eight hours and I felt amazing. Some of the students may have been a little worse for wear but all in all there were a lot of happy faces.

Each night in Costa Rica ended with a short lesson. The students had done much of their coursework online before leaving Ontario. But there were a couple of modules that were better suited towards live discussions.

At the end of this particular night, I let the students who weren’t feeling 100% know which room was mine (just in case) and headed off to sleep.

For photos of our hike, from the farm, and while we tree planted, click here.

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