Saturday, July 16, 2011

Tropical Eye Candy

Shangri La Valley - Selva Verde, Costa Rica
Canon 5D MarkII + 15mm Fisheye - HDR Processing of three images @ +1, 0, -1 stop intervals
Our second day at Selva Verde began with an ass-whooping hike into the primary forest. We met our guide and friend, Michael Sevilla, at 5:30 a.m., shared a quick cup of café con leche, and crossed the Sarapiquí River. At first, the walk seemed somewhat pedestrian as we traversed the suspension bridge and hiked the river trail. Walking along the Sarapiquí, the birdsongs at first light was a chorus for the musical river that crashed along the rocky shore. Michael stopped at what appeared to be a random point, withdrew his machete, and hacked at a palm that was blocking the poorly worn path up the mountain. Barely awake and feeling the heat of a tropical morning, we began our ascent. It wasn't that the hike was particularly challenging, steep ...but not too bad; the disconcerting part of the journey was in the unknown. We had just swept a poisonous viper off the trail, and now we were hiking through thick vegetation. Our path was unmarked and seemed to be worn down by the feet of a peccary, coati, or some other small animal. We climbed higher, but I had no clue as to our final destination. Thorny vegetation, colorful palms, and spider webs slapped against my sweaty arms with each step into nothingness. At some point I turned to the rear and realized that Tamy and my sisters were gone. We all began as one, but now it was Michael and I. Sucking in the thick air, I yelled... "Marco...," and listened. "Polo, we're here..." So we continued the climb. All along, I couldn't help but think, "Where the hell are we going?!" I didn't dare ask the machete wielding man who had so kindly awakened on this Monday after Father's Day to take us on an adventure, but I couldn't help wonder "...would it be worth the hike?" Just as the doubt crept in, I gazed, breathlessly, into the valley. The sun was now peeking above the horizon, the thick virgin forest was to my back, and dew filled the landscape. This vista was my mornings' reward, this was my  'Shangri La.' 
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