Our driver, as he was shutting the minivan door asked us for our hotel information. I said, “Rainsong Wildlife Sanctuary.”
He said, “Rainsong?”
I said, “Rainsong.”
With a slight smirk of confusion he said, “Okay.”
I wondered if he knew the place and of course, he did.
Thus far it seemed normal for all drivers in Costa Rica to be on there cells while driving, so I thought nothing of the fact that he made a few calls as we slowly travelled down what, in parts, might be the worst dirt road I’ve ever experienced.
We passed through Montezuma and I thought, what a nice place. Small, but not too small, quaint, right on the water’s edge, an all around good vibe. At the eastern edge of Cabuya the driver suddenly stopped at a hotel and got out to speak with a man there. The man then got on the phone and Georgia and I were wondering what was happening. There was no cause for concern, it just seemed they had some business to discuss and it was a convenient time. After a few minutes the man walked up to the van with the phone, handed it to me through the window and said, “Mary.” Mary is the owner and manager of Rainsong. Mary wasn’t at Rainsong. Mary was at a hospital in Puntarenas recovering from emergency gallbladder surgery. In preparing to volunteer at Rainsong both G and I had to fill out applications and communicate with Mary via email to settle all the details of arrival date, length of stay and lodging. Everything was set, or so we thought. Mary wasn’t quite sure who we were, how long we were staying, or where. One might chalk this up to the surgery, but she was quite clear about all other matters. She just didn’t know us. A huge storm, literally, was coming and she highly recommended we stay at a guest house for $10 USD a night a couple of km from the sanctuary as a tarp that acts as a roof and wall at our lodging on the farm had recently been stolen. We had already wired $160 USD to Mary prior to leaving Vancouver to reserve our lodgings at the farm for the month, but with the storm coming and her insistence, we went to the guest house. It was small, which is fine, but it wasn’t at all clean, had no windows and was made of concrete. It felt like a tomb and having no idea where we were or where Rainsong was in relation, we politely said no gracias, and asked the driver to take us to Rainsong. He reluctantly did so, stopping along the way to speak with a man who apparently worked at Rainsong. After some conversation he agreed it was okay for us to be taken up there. When we arrived 30 seconds later we tipped the driver for his efforts as although we couldn’t communicate well, I could tell he was genuinely trying to help us. We went in to a mini jungle to find five early twenty year olds sitting around chatting. Four guys, including twins from Florida were from the US and the lone girl was from AUS. The twins were nice, as was another guy who’d been there for two nights sleeping on a mattress on a small patio in the middle of the sanctuary, which is about the size of a Vancouver backyard, that Mary didn’t know was there. The other guy was a skinny white kid wearing a wife beater with an I’m a bad ass attitude supposedly from LA, but probably from Thousand Oaks, who had been there forty five days. And then there was the girl from OZ. I’m still not sure if her name was Char or Cher, but she was cool. She’d been there two weeks or so, she wasn’t quite sure. After 2.5 years backpacking through Mexico and Central America time just flowed. She was “in charge” while Mary was away, and the stress on her was apparent. Everything was in disarray and there was no money for food. She was doing her best, but she didn’t know how things worked there, she just spoke spanish better than the others. She showed us around to the different sleeping options, including our reserved spot, and G describes the events that followed in an email. “The “honeymoon hut” was a filthy shack with the roof (being a tarp) having been stolen recently and a wicked storm coming. The bed was wooden frame with a soggy foamy on it, and an ant colony living under the bed, on the bed, and in the bed. So, we weren’t going to stay there. Our other options there weren’t great either, and the general vibe of the place was not at all good, or what we were looking for. So, we walked into town and got a bite to eat, and a chance to talk about our next step- whether we stay in the town at a hostel and work at Rainsong, whether we pitch our tent at Rainsong or stay in one of the disgusting sleeping options, or whether we say fuck it and leave. While mulling things over a woman at the next table over asked if we were on our way to Montezuma (about 7km from Rainsong), and if we’d like to share a cab so it’d be cheaper. We took this as a sign and a welcome opportunity to get out of there. So, needless to stay we left. Me walking away from baby animals is saying a lot about the place!!”