Tortuguero was a bizarre place. Kids would follow me everywhere. I had become the village attraction.

I walked into a few shops that sold souvenir junk and empanadas. I loved cheese empanadas. I could eat 10 a day. I bought a few from a young dark-skinned man of otherwise unmemorable appearance who stood in one of the many wooden shacks. I tried not to notice the sniggers behind me as I mumbled my Spanish thank you.

The boat we had come on, which also happened to be the only means of transport into the National Park, transported us along with another 20 tourists. They were nowhere to be seen. Probably they had made the better decision of walking around for an hour or so and go back to mainland. We were spending some nights here. We had come for the rainforest.

Sunset
I believed it for years afterward, telling everyone I knew about it until I was finally bright enough to Google the whole thing. A sham.

Our guide showed up at 5 in the morning. When I say our guide, I do mean that hung-over American dude with the long, straggly beard, some earrings scattered around and the very obvious beer belly. He had come highly recommended. He chain-smoked, wore a weatherworn baseball cap and a random rock band t-shirt. He was most certainly not who you would expect an expert ecologist to be. We had a second thought before getting into the motorboat. Then, we both shrugged. What else was there to do?

Reaching destination, we jumped out on land quickly as the man steering the boat was already turning around leaving us no choice but to make a rapid decision. We looked at him heading away. Our guide coughed out a lung and then set off into the forest, lighting a cigarette. He stopped often to take his breath and get rid of the nausea.

Red Dart Frog

Sunset
There are loads of zombie theories surrounding this fungus, if you were to Google it. I did.

Though unusual, our guide turned out to be quite interesting. He fed us the story of the walking trees.

“These trees have multiple trunks. They act as feet. They move around to follow the sun. ” he said. “If ever you were to come back here in a month, everything would be in different places.”

I believed it for years afterward, telling everyone I knew about it until I was finally bright enough to Google the whole thing. A sham.

Tortuguero

We were also told of poisonous fungi that attack ants. Once infected, the ant will climb as high as possible until the fungi takes over and starts growing through its head finally killing it. There are loads of zombie theories surrounding this fungus, if you were to Google it. I did. It turns out the fungi is real, I will not comment on the zombie stories.

We discovered a cave full of bats. Tiny, red, dart frogs jumped all over the place. They were massively cute and so obviously poisonous. I can’t say I remember much more of the facts. I remember our guide struggling for breath. A high-pitched whistling came from his throat in the calmness of the rainforest. I remember him sweating profusely and smelling of it. I remember the damp odor of the forest and the view on Tortuguero. When we came out on the beach, it was 10am. High time for a beer. We sat sipping in silence, watching the boat approach in the distance.

             

The Writer

I write stuff for fun, if it was for a living I would be homeless.

Find out more about me, Stefanie, here.

Quotes

There is nothing safer than flying – it’s crashing that is dangerous. Theo Cowan