Misadventures In The Premontane Wet Forest Of San Vito

What not to do while hiking in San Vito.

San Vito, Costa Rica
PHOTO SOFIA JOHN

My first mistake: entrusting my fate to the hands of 20-yrs-olds. I should have been more concerned as a group of my inexperienced friends fumbled over a map in search of the alluring “Water Trail.” It was a lazy afternoon in Las Cruces Biological Station in the small town of San Vito, Costa Rica, so some friends and I decided to hike to a waterfall.

My second mistake: leading the group. The tame beginning of the path gave me confidence; the sky was clear, giant blue Morpho butterflies flittered across the trail, and nothing too scary lurked in the shadows. About half a mile down the trail, the path completely transformed and the sunlight became oppressive, butterflies were replaced by a minefield of anthills, and chiggers, parasitic mites that lurk in the shade of tall grasses. I stayed brave at the front of the group until I marched straight into a massive spider web, catching a good portion of it in my mouth. Naturally, I had a good old-fashioned tantrum before running to the back of the group. Luckily we soon found the waterfall.

The water flowed down from a twenty-foot natural stonewall, slick from erosion, collecting in a round sandy pool just large enough for several people to swim (read: splash) around in. After an hour of tanning, splashing, and absurd photo-taking, we decided to head back to the field station base. This time we abandoned the trail, and decided to hike through the river.

San Vito, Costa Rica 1
PHOTO SOFIA JOHN

This is where I made the third blunder: hiking barefoot in a river. My feet were already wet, so I decided to continue without shoes in the fast-flowing, murky Rio Java. It was only a matter of minutes before I scraped my sole on a sharp rock, cue the panic attack. Open wounds and tropical infections do not make for a good combination.

Finally, the last mistake was not actually my mistake at all: a friend threw her iPhone in the river with claims that it was waterproof. The issue was not in the waterproofing of the phone, but rather in the water itself. Unfortunately for her, the river ate her phone. Fortunately for the rest of us, we all survived the adventure intact. Thus the moral of the story: you should always go with the flow, unless of course you’re an iPhone.

Sofia John

After living in Costa Rica for quite some time, Sofia developed a travel style that is "expect nothing, embrace everything." She loves Spain. When she travels, she can't live without...clean socks.

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