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Meet a Travel Guide Who Loves the "Soul Massages of Nature"

Costa Rica Guide, Tex, relaxing in a hammock

As a traveler, one of the things I always look forward to most are the amazing people I meet whenever I venture abroad. It's usually just a happy coincidence, but recently, I went on one of REI's adventure travel trips to Costa Rica. Here, I met Marco or, as his friends call him, "Tex".

Full disclosure: I work in the Adventures department at REI, so I knew we would have Tex as our guide for this trip—it was no coincidence. But, I had no idea how meeting him would take our adventure to whole new level. Tex's knowledge and passion for nature is awe-inspiring. I felt like I was right inside his stories. He truly lives to share his country with others in hopes they will also fall in love with nature and work to protect it.

Though Tex is not a native English speaker, his eloquence and enthusiasm shine through in this interview:

What is the reason you guide? Why do you love it?

Tex describing Costa Rica microclimate to an REI trip participant, Artie

"First of all, because as nature lovers, or nature warriors, we're trying to preserve the rainforest where we can leave a better habitat—especially for the people who are coming up behind us, which are going to be our childrens. And we're gonna be leaving monkeys in the forest, we're gonna be leaving toucans and snakes in their natural habitat and not in the books where they are to see them."

How did you get started?

"I was helping some of the tour guides to get the equipment ready and also to do the jungle train tour and doing a day tour from San José all the way to Limón. As soon as I got involved and heard a lot of United States citizens talking English, I decided to learn some English words and then later on I started taking some biology classes, ornithology, herpetology, and then, I will say, a few botanology which has got me on the business and that's how I got to be in this great place."

What part of guiding do you like the best?

"I like the best the people. Learning about people behaviors. Learning about people looking up a rainforest, not a rainforest as a special book where they can read. But the most important thing is, when the tears come up from their eyes, it means they're gonna be taking care of this planet much better. And that's my favorite spot. Families. I love to work with them a lot because they bring up their kids. And the kids—they are amazing explorers. And then, my specialize, it will be especially on snakes and birds, as an ornithology."Tex laughs with REI traveler, Joe

What's your favorite snake?

Costa Rica's Yellow Eyelash Viper Snake"All of them. I like the ones which they like to camouflage. And the ones which you have to take extra efforts trying to find them. I like the golden eyelash viper, plus 3 out of the 5 coral snakes that we have in Costa Rica where the colors reminds me of the happiness of the people because they always have burning colors and then sometimes the sadness of the kids, of the childrens, when they blend so well into the forest and they don't want to say any words to all the human beings."

What unique wildlife experiences have you encountered in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica Jaguar"Two of them, which they come up to my mind, is when we were in Tortuguero getting the boat ride across the Jalova Lagoon, we saw momma jaguar, pappa jaguar, and the baby jaguar sunning their selves right by the Tortuguero National Park.

The second best experience is when I saw a Howler monkey female, a pregnant howler monkey female, with a midwife helping the mommy, the new mommy, to get the baby out of her beautiful belly. And that was one of the best highlights of my life.Costa Rica Howler Monkey

But the most spiritual stuff is when the clouds are flying into the forest and you feel your soul coming up from your body and that's what I say, 'that is a special moment, right there'. Those are the ones that really take my life as a nature lover, as a nature warrior, or as a Costa Rica ambassador, to really keep enjoying my country as a special office."

What do you do on your free time, while not guiding?

"My free time is when I'm gonna be watching more birds and, like, trying to find more stuff. And also, trying to listen to learn more of their calls, which is very important because some of them have like 15 bird calls, one species. And then, also probably getting deep myself into the jungle and planning what are going to be coming up in the future. And that's gonna be my special time there.

The beach area I like for hiking, I like for sweating, I like to explore as trying to be a Costa Rican swimmer, or rock fish, which means we can sink so well to the bottom of the water. But, on the other hand, I would like to float like a special dolphin, or a special rake on the bottom of the ocean and discover another beautiful world."

Costa Rica Guide Tex looking for wildlifeCosta Rica Wildlife - Quetzal Bird

Have you ever scuba dived?

"I haven't done that yet, but I have been doing a lot of snorkeling to almost, like, 9 different places in Costa Rica. And one of the best places is on the Southern region, which is called Caño Island which is close to Corcovado Rainforest.

When you see monkeys, when you see birds, when you see toucans, and you see a resplendent Quetzal bird flying into the cloud forest it's like seeing a beautiful rainbow flying inside the rain and the cloud forest. That's how I can describe it—the wildlife that we have in Costa Rica. They are eye massages, they are ear massages, but they are especially soul massages, which makes our body flying into the forest—not to walk."Tex "flying" over a small stream in Manuel Antonio

Tex has guided for REI for 9 years and was a recipient REI Adventures' Top Guide Award in 2009. He also guides for REI's other Costa Rica adventure travel trip, the Jungle & Sea Adventure, as well as the Costa Rica Family Adventure. Tex has 2 daughters, Mariana and Daniela. He lives with his wife, Letty, in the Aserrí neighborhood of San José.

If you will be in California's Bay Area this September, you can meet Tex and hear his passionate stories about Costa Rica. He will be speaking at the REI Berkeley store on September 20 and the REI San Carlos store on September 21. Another Top Guide recipient, K.P. from REI's Royal Trek in Nepal, will be joining him in Berkley. This is a free event in celebration of REI Adventures' 25th Anniversary.

Who are the standout people you've met in your travels?

Posted on at 11:33 AM

Tagged: Costa Rica, REI Adventures, Travel and guides

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