December 9, 2020

The Road Less Traveled [Palo Verde National Park]

Costa Rica
Difficult

Hey everyone, Mark here! Our next stop in Costa Rica was the Palo Verde National Park. We went there a couple of times in the last few weeks because it was just so beautiful. The park was filled with wildlife including monkeys, alligators, pumas, and snakes. The views were breathtaking. We have had a smooth experience every time we have visited the park; however, this last time didn’t go as planned. 

Road Less Traveled 

On our last visit to the Palo Verde National Park, we were feeling adventurous and decided to take the “road less traveled.” This route took us on a winding road that was over five miles long and went through the marshland. Unfortunately, our car got stuck in three and a half feet of mud. The worst part was it was less than two hours before sunset. We knew that the park gates would close soon, and we were afraid we’d be stuck in the middle of the jungle overnight. We spent about forty minutes trying to dig the mud out from under the tires with sticks, rocks, and wood, but nothing seemed to work. There were animal sounds all around us, which was a little freaky. 

Fortunately, we remembered there was one little part of the trail, about a mile away, where our phones got service. We knew all we needed was one minute to either call emergency services, the car rental company, or our family. There was finally hope of getting some help. However, walking away from the car, the only protection we had from the jungle animals, made us very nervous. We prayed the whole time that we wouldn’t run into any snakes, monkeys, pumas, or crocodiles. So, we started on our mile-long walk towards cell reception taking all we could from the car including knives, bug/bear sprays, mace, and clothes/boots. We were very lucky because we found reception and were able to contact our family. Thankfully, they were able to contact the car rental company.

Noises at Night

While we waited, we had two options. Option one was to stay where our phones had reception in the complete darkness. Or option two was to walk back to the car and hope somebody was coming to get us because we had no way of communicating with anybody once we were back in the car. Honestly, either choice was terrifying. We decided to walk the mile back to the car, which was one of the craziest and scariest walks I’ve ever taken in my life. 

They have howler monkeys here, which are called “howlers” because they scream at the top of their lungs when they’re disturbed. We saw a troop of them in the trees above us while we walked back to the car. Oh, and the cherry on top was that I also stepped on a mound of bullet ants. If you didn’t know, these are giant black ants that have a bite worse than fire ants. Needless to say, we booked it as fast as we could back to the car hoping that someone was going to be there before the sun completely set. However, it took two hours before any help came. We felt very panicked and stressed sitting in the car while surrounded by total darkness. I swear the noises from inside the jungle got louder once the sun went down!

The Rescue

About four hours after we originally got stuck, we saw the most beautiful view, headlights! At first, we weren’t sure if we should get out of the car to investigate the bright lights coming towards us. We knew this had to be help on the way, but then the car turned around to leave. As our hearts sank, Chris quickly put the hazards on to signal that we needed assistance and we jumped out of the car. Fortunately, he was just turning around so he could back up and pull the car out of the mud. It took him a good twenty-five to thirty minutes to get the car out. He was a great guy and was very kind throughout the whole experience. 

As we were driving out of the park, he explained that it took him so long to reach us because he had to wake up the park rangers to open the gate for him. He did such an amazing job helping us, so I told him that we were going to give him excellent reviews and tell the car rental company that he was astounding. We also gave him a very nice tip. I think that’s the most beautiful part of the story because now he will be able to pay for his children’s Christmas gifts. He came to help us, and in return, we were able to help him. 

Life is a Trip

This was one of the scariest experiences of my life. I know there had to be something watching out for us because it’s near impossible to get reception out there. I am so grateful we were able to get help and exit the park safely. This experience has been unforgettable. The one positive thing to come of this was being able to help the man who came to rescue us. Life is about seizing the day and taking opportunities to make the best out of every situation, and that’s how Chris and I approached this experience. We felt so lucky to be able to give back to this man and his family.

Thanks for checking out this storytime blog entry. I love this platform and being able to share my experiences with you. See you next time as we continue to explore Costa Rica. Feel free to read more about me on my site.

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Big Guy Big World is a travel blog, following Mark Jacoby’s journey as a big guy on a bigger journey, exploring the world during a global pandemic. Follow along as we experience some of the world’s most beautiful and exotic places.

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