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, "
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.
What is the reason you guide? Why do you love it?
"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."
What's your favorite 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?
"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.
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
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."
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
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
If you will be in
Who are the standout people you've met in your travels?