Have Twins, Will Travel

La Amistad International Park

Biolley, Costa Rica – La Amistad means “friendship”. La Amistad International Park spans the border between Costa Rica and Panama, creating the largest (inter)national park in Central America. It’s gigantic. And remote. Not the kind of place you would want to get lost.

It is also the scene of one of my scariest travel moments, during my first Costa Rica gig in 2006. I think you know where this is going.

“You are very close to the biggest national park in Central America.”

I went for a (supposedly) short one-hour hike along a marked trail. But this place does not receive many visitors and the trail was not that well maintained. Unbeknownst to me, I detoured onto an unused research trail that eventually petered out into the forest.

By the time I realized there was no trail there, I could not figure out from whence I came. I was afraid to search too much, for fear of wandering even farther off track. So I sat tight and hoped the park rangers would soon realize I had not returned. (I was the only visitor in the park.)

I waited all afternoon. The sun set. It got cold and very very dark. The forest came to life. It seemed unlikely that I would get eaten by animals (except mosquitoes) but I wasn’t sure. I sang show tunes to keep myself entertained and relatively calm, to scare away animals and to alert potential rescuers.

Finally, about one hour after sunset I heard a gun shot and voices. I started yelling and two rangers came plowing through the forest. They were about 18 years old and very excited. “This is the first time somebody got lost!” Which made me feel pretty inept but at least I gave them a sense of accomplishment.

And the moral of the story is… always make sure somebody knows where you are hiking and when to expect you back. You never know when you might need to be rescued!