Looking for a path in the Costa Rican Jungle

Years ago while driving towards El General valley in Costa Rica my friend Sergio Sanchez and I were daydreaming about creating a new route.

Everything started with the sentence “no mae, es imposible!!”.

Years ago while driving towards El General valley in Costa Rica my friend Sergio Sanchez and I were daydreaming about creating a new route.

Everything started with the sentence “no mae, es imposible!!”.

The Cerro de la Muerte
If you are Costa Rican you know about “El Cerro de la Muerte” (The mountain of the dead), you know is one of the highest peaks of the country (3491m) and you know there is a good reason for its name, running (or walking) from there to the Pacific is believe to be impossible, we used to share that opinion too.

Exactly one year after that conversation we were back in the same place, somewhere in the middle of the Tapanti and Quetzales national parks but this time with our Machetes and our friend Estaban Umaña, If there was a path we were going to find it, (or at least we’ll give it a try).

Who is Sibü
That morning we started from 3000 m following a trail that soon disappeared, we knew there use to be a path, but nature reclaim space at incredible speed in the Jungle, hours of tracking, playing a game that required the attention of the three of us, losing and finding again the old lost path, cleaning the spaces in the middle with the machetes.

This is the way we’ve found many of the trails we run by in Costa Rica, we set a plan, we go for it, it looks like it’s going to work, then we go too far and it gets dark.

It’s almost like Sibü (God of the Talamanca mountains) is manipulating us, giving us hope, then taking it away, and then when we’re just about to give up making the path appear again until the night gets closer.

I’ve never felt that kind of cold before, not in the Alps, neither in the Pyrennes, it was hard to find our way back, there were moments of uncertainty and even fear, but somehow Sibü allowed us to live another day.

The next morning Sergio, Esteban and I were, eating Gallo Pinto at Chespiritos, and saying, whatever let’s try again.

That day we were luckier, we found a trail that let us descend in the right direction, overcoming two valleys, after 7 hours of running we were where we wanted to be, Providencia.

After talking to local people in the small village of Providencia, and having all of them recommending us not to do it we decided to run down to Zacho’s house (a man that lives in the middle of the jungle about 18km south, We had still 5 hours of light, we could do it.

Arrogance is the one sin that Sibü wouldn’t allow, is like he is always trying to teach us a lesson, and this time it was: “distance means nothing in the jungle”.

In the middle of one of the most beautiful descends I’ve seen in my life, running full speed downhill, our GPS was indicating little progress, Why? How?, and then it happened, one of us got injured (won’t tell you who), another failure day? No, we tried to keep going, but after a moment it was obvious, we decided to go back, and it got dark again.

It wasn’t that cold that night, we were at lower elevation, but one of us couldn’t even walk normally, we were going slow.

Maybe Sibü is a merciful God, maybe it was a coincidence, but everything that happened during the previous two days was worth it, far away up in the mountain we saw a light and took a path that was leading as in that direction.

Hungry, thirsty, injured, in need of help we got to Doña Noire and Don Orlando house, and we said the magical words “Señora, me regala un poquito de agua?” and food, clothes and a place to sleep we were given.

Live had taken me to live away from home, to feel and adopt profoundly new identities, to see good people in different places of the world, but the sweetness and warmth, and more importantly that sense of equity and familiarity that we Costa Ricans share, got to eats peak in that place that night,

Don Orlando, Doña Noire, and their kids Nelson, Deily., and Dario, adopt us and took us into their family for that night.

This family of coffee farmers is now the place we run towards, they are our first stop, we found them by chance and are now an indispensable, essential part of what we do in Costa Rica.*

The next day was one of the most epic days in my life, but that’s part of a different story.

*We sleep there every time take runners to Costa Rica.