So I bought a piece of rainforest I couldn´t find nor did I know what to do with it.
The only logical next step was to get to know it. And I wanted to get to know it well.
In order to do that – I was already back in Munich/ Germany at that time – I decided to find a few adventurous co-explorers to accompany me. I put up a few ads in local adventure stores:
“Looking for team to explore rainforest in Costa Rica.
I have no idea what is expecting us.
I have no experience with the environment.
I do not know if we will come back.”
Interestingly, three people actually replied and joined me:
Carol – mid-40s, programmer and motorcycle and car enthusiast
Chris – partner of Carol, similar age motorclycle enthusiast (after her husband had died in a motorcycle accident)
Rainer – late 30´s, very down-to-earth, working as a grave digger – no shit!
(if you are reading this, I would love to get back in touch and catch up!)
So I had my team and a destination. And to tell you the truth, I was a bit scared, too. But I warned Carol, Chris and Rainer… so I did not feel bad about dragging them with me.
When we arrived in Bribri, the capital of Talamanca near Puerto Viejo and Cahuita, Gio, my Costa Rican partner in the undertaking, had done his homework and guided us to the cabin we had built as a base on the land. It consisted of two bedrooms, a small kitchen and an open living room with an ample terrace for observation. About 10m away, we had an open rainforest shower with running water and a basic “toilet”. The cabin was situated near one of the numerous streams on Aiko with a natural pool and picturesque waterfall ideal for getting rid of the sweat from hiking around.
This all seemed much less adventurous than I had imagined. A nice cabin in the forest. No noise, no cars, no internet or phone… perfect place to disconnect, relax, read, talk, think and hike around. We prepared our first dinner on the gas stove with food we brought from town accompanied by a few still cool beers. I almost felt sorry for my guests who were prepared to go through hell.
During dinner, things started to turn. Well, the sun set. It got dark. Really dark. And suddenly it wasn´t all that silent anymore. The light of millions of stars and the moon with a circular rainbow around it formed by the humidity added to a few candles we lit on our dinner table. Curious insects from out of space came to see us and we spotted a rather large spider whose eight eyes reflected our flashlight. We called it Karl, he came by every night and much later we learned he was of the most venomous species found in this area – not lethal though. Hours passed by in a blink as we were consumed by this flood of new impressions. And to be honest, despite all tiredness I did not really sleep much that night. Sometimes it´s more scary what you imagine around you based on unknown sounds than actually seeing what´s there.
Just on time around six in the morning, the rising sun and howler monkeys heralded our first fulll day in the rainforest and we were ready to explore the area after a plentiful breakfast. Armed with boots and machetes, we took off in one direction. Any direction, as we didn´t really know anything yet. Apart from a suttle Indiana Jones feeling, however, there wasn´t much of a thrill about walking through the jungle at first. It wans´t until we learned some basics about the flora and fauna and how the forest works, that we started discovering amazing trees, flowers, amphibians, birds and all that lives and coexists within.
We spent the following two or three months exploring, reading, building things and learning – about the forest, ourselves and each other. This first potentially lethal visit to Aiko turned out to be an overwhelming experience we would never forget. We learned a lot about the rainforest first hand. We also learned a lot about ourselves and us as a group. We had a lot of fun while being completely disconnected from our usual environment with all it´s amenities and discomforts. We adopted new perspectives and priorities during our visit, some of which would stay with us after returning to our “normal” lives.
In the end, this trip was our first Aiko-logi-Tour! Little did we know how fulfilling, exciting, relaxing and inspiring a stay at Aiko would be.