Spiders, Setbacks & The Kindness of Strangers

It’s no secret that tropical forests have an astounding diversity of life.  This creates surprise – and sometimes disappointment – in some who visit down here when they find that there’s not a jaguar behind every tree.  The life is here, but while some of it’s obvious, a lot of it can be tough to see.  The birds are often way up in a dense canopy, easy to hear, but hard to find.  The snakes and frogs are masters of disguise.  The cats are secretive and tend to come out only at night.  And so on.  But yet you know a riot of life surrounds you at all times, and one reminder of that could be found this week on the simple walk between the Cerro Osa dining hall and the bunkhouse.  Each night, when heading for bed, we’d find the path lit up with hundreds of neon green pinpoints of light, twinkling like some fictional constellation. Hone in on one, and you’d find two eyes that belong to a little spider, just one of untold thousands that seem to blanket the station grounds at night.

Last night’s spiders, on the heels of a sunset hour at Matapalo beach (with the requisite macaw flyovers and beachside monkey battles), were a welcome up-tick from a frustrating morning.  We’ve spent much of the weekend trying to track down an action packer of our gear that had to be left in Puerto Jimenez. Briefly, yesterday seemed to be the end of that mini-saga — another trip to town resulted in the box being located quickly, to be followed only by a brief stop at the grocery store before returning to the field.

No dice.  Car dead upon exiting the store. The usual remedies were tried (i.e. jump the battery, etc) to no avail. And then the guy below discovered the battery was completely dry.

Following an unsuccessful push start, another guy down the street walked up and took over – roping our rig to his, and pulling us to a start.  Off we went, first to fill the battery with new water, then to drive around a bit to hopefully generate a little charge.  This done, we tested our newly basted battery to see if it was once again functional.  Nope.  Turns out it’s cracked, and the liter of water we put in the top took about 5 minutes to exit out the bottom.

OK, so be it, buy a new battery.  Nope again.  It’s Sunday, hence the nearest place to get a battery is on the Panamanian frontier….six hours drive away.  So off we go to the local rental car joint to get a replacement rig for the day.  At which point the guy running the rental car outfit (Gerardo) jumps in with both feet, just as the others in town who have assisted us on this morning.  He closes up shop, hops in the car with us, and proceeds to steer us to a variety of local homes, where he tries to wake up whoever might be inside, as each denizen apparently has some connection to possible sources of batteries.  Here’s Gerardo rattling the cage of the guy who owns the auto parts store:

It was ultimately an unsuccessful attempt, so back we go today to try to replace the battery.  But it was a reminder of another reason we love this part of Costa Rica:  the people.  The kindness and generosity we experienced in town yesterday was not an anomaly – it seems to be the rule down here.  Got a problem?  Move over!  We’re taking care of it.


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