My review of The Adventurer’s Son got a “Like” from the author, Roman Dial. I finished the book and liked it much even if sad. A guess all of us who venture into the wilds realize the dangers but still go because of the great joys! I would have guessed that in Corcovado he most likely would have died from a deadly snake bite and would never have guessed from a tree falling in a storm – but such are the surprises in the wilderness and in life and death. And I’m glad it was not “foul play” from a bad human as some had thought throughout the story. It was an emotional read.
Those were the last words emailed to the parents of Cody Roman Dial as he entered the famous and notorious Corcovado National Park on the Osa Peninsula of south-western Costa Rica on the Pacific coast near the Panama border, July 10, 2014.
I am currently about 85% through the Kindle version of this memoir of the loss of Roman Dial’s son Cody Roman Dial here in Costa Rica the same year I moved here, 2014. It all happened in one of the wildest jungles in Central America, the kind with dangers that attract young men like Cody! From snakes & jaguars to illegal gold miners.
The book is The Adventurer’s Son by Roman Dial, the young man’s father, and it starts slow as a childhood biography of Cody helping you to love the adventurous boy as if you were his parent too. Then later he adds as many details as he had of Cody’s solo adventure hike from Mexico City to South America through Central America as an invincible-feeling 27 year old with enormous experience in the wild since his young childhood, most with his parents or sometimes with just the father, who is a lifetime adventurer, explorer, scientists, college professor and part-time explorer for National Geographic. The young man sort of had a reason to feel invincible in the wild. On his trek he climbed the highest mountain in Mexico, used his Spanish language to relate to locals, did an impossible off-trail hike through the jungles of El Peten, Guatemala and boated through the dangerous La Mosquitia Swamp in Honduras before coming to Costa Rica. All of the above were already amazing feats!
Because Corcovado National Park is one of my favorite places in Costa Rica that I have visited 3 times now, I was naturally quite interested in the story and the book.
I will not try to summarize the book or write a full review right now (I’m still reading it), here I give links to public information on the book (the above title link is to the Amazon.com source of the book). Below are three reviews. Plus I have added the reports of the father’s search by our local online newspaper Tico Times and some other news media reports below that. Lastly I have added links to the photo galleries of my three visits to this wilderness national park that took Cody’s life.
There are many more stories online about the mysterious disappearance of Cody Roman Dial and and the ultimate conclusion that he was struck by a tree in a storm and killed in the wilderness of Corcovado National Park, hiking off trail which is against the park rules and hiking without an official guide which is also against the park rules. Sometimes rules are for your own good, but a real adventurer doesn’t always think so.
The book and the live news stories are heartbreaking for parents (I empathize because I’ve lost a child), but this story shows the infrequent yet possible dangers in the wilderness that any adventurer knows are possible. I would personally have thought a poisonous snake more likely there, but even the less likely falling tree is possible, especially in the many storms there.
I remember backpacking solo on Fiery Gizzard Trail in TN with fewer dangers but real dangers anyway. Then one day in 2012 on just a day hike there I stumbled and fell on a rocky mountainous trail and was serious hurt requiring stitches in my head. Maybe a life of adventure is always a gamble to some degree, but many real adventurers feel they must continue the gamble! But, like with so many things for me, I tend to be a moderate, wanting adventure but with more caution than many require, especially the young invencibles!
And yes! I will continue to go to Corcovado National Park (see photos of my 3 visits linked below), but always I go with a guide on an official trail, as tame as that may seem to you Cody’s out there! 🙂 I am basically a risk-adverse adventurer! And yes, that is compromising the very meaning of “adventure,” but I’m an old man who is still alive and still having fun! 🙂
My Comparatively Tame Corcovado Adventures
2018-March-13-17–Danta Corcovado — At Los Patos Entrance on above map.
Our trip to the river Thursday yielded more species of birds than any other of my now 9 trips on the Tarcoles River! I got photos of 35 species and know we saw several others, but I only count my photos! 🙂 And this was in less than 2 hours on the river! A good place for birding!
It has been a difficult and rushed job to get the photos ready to post while also getting ready for my trip Sunday to Heredia for Spanish Immersion! I’m only including one shot of each bird in this post, but for more of each bird plus crocs, other wildlife, and other photos, see my “TRIP GALLERY” 2020 Feb 20, Rio Tarcoles Birding Trip for more photos!
This bird (above & at right) is a Tropical Kingbird (click name for more about him). He is the first one photographed on my terrace this year, at breakfast, January 1, 2020.
Just three weeks before I visited Tapirus Lodge in Braulio Carrillo National Park Christmas Week, David Attenborough and a BBC film crew visited the same lodge and park! I have trouble keeping up with all his documentaries, but hope I see whatever he filmed there! 🙂 Maybe it is part of his new “Green Planet” Series which is being filmed all over Costa Rica?
As usual, this park and lodge are different from all the others I have visited in the past – a very good experience indeed! Difficult to compare with not as many birds as many other places I’ve visited, but I got decent photos of the rare and hard to find White-tipped Sicklebill Hummingbird, a “Lifer” for me. Also first time shots of a wild Tapir! So those two alone were worth the trip! 🙂 The lodging and food was below what I’m becoming used to in the many nicer lodges around Costa Rica, but the real rainforest experience makes that minus worth the trip! I recommend it with the alert that it is not a luxury hotel! 🙂
Someone may remember that for “2018 in Review” I did a “Photo a Month” and decided then that it was not the best way to choose favorite photos – like it or not, the best or “favorite” photos are not evenly divided among 12 months. 🙂
So . . . this year I decided to try my personal favorite photo in each of several categories for 2019 – but yikes! This was not easy either and I really wanted more from the category of Birds, which is what I photograph the most – but this is what you get this year and since I used a different bird on my electronic “Christmas Card” earlier, you got that bird too! And now I’ve decided to include two photos from my December trip to the rainforest AND there’s another bird! 🙂
I kept adding categories to include more photo! Cheating? 🙂 Here’s my personal favorites (not necessarily best photographically) – photos that mean something special to me in each of 18 categories listed alphabetically:
Art & Architecture
Insect (not a butterfly)
And yes, I realize that I kind of stretched the landscape category with other “scapes” which I won’t do next year but maybe try for my top 12 favorite photos (17 here) which had I done this year would have been mostly birds. But hopefully these “favorites” will give you an idea of what it is like being Retired in Costa Rica! 🙂 And 2020 will have a lot of great new photos! 🙂 I’m sure!
“As long as I am breathing, in my eyes, I am just beginning.”
Yes, it is called “Tapirus Lodge”but is owned & operated by “Rainforest Adventures” and even the lodge employees wear Rainforest Adventures shirts and do other jobs within the bigger operation. It is 10 rooms available inside a huge outdoor, nature-oriented rainforest amusement park on the border of Braulio Carrillo National Park, with a second, smaller facility near Jaco Beach on the Pacific side. Most of their business is day visits from nearby hotels including in San Jose plus from cruise ships in Limon on the Atlantic.
Someone responded to one of my blog posts this week with a comment that she was coming to Tapirus Lodge in the next three months and my posts helped her to choose her “tours” or activities but asked for more info. I am copying what I told her earlier today (Sunday) and will then present several slideshows to illustrate what I am saying:
If you love nature you will probably like it very much! Be aware of a few things that are different from what is implied in their lodge website:
(1) It is a tiny room, very basic with non-reliable hot water in the shower. And I had to ask for fresh towels each day the first 2 days until they learned I wanted them daily. So humid that a used towel never dries! There are 10 rooms in 5 buildings (like duplexes). (2) It rained constantly for the 6 days I was there, day and night, with maybe 3 hours of sunshine one morning. You can still see and do a lot in the rain, but expect it any time of year there. It’s a rainforest! (3) The food in the restaurant is basic with limited choices, the “tipico” (Costa Rican) breakfast being my favorite. Lunch is a buffet with lots of day visitors not in the lodge including from cruise ships some days. I avoided that and it did not look that appetizing. For dinner there is a choice of chicken, fish or beef with a couple of preparation options. The staff is wonderful! Super nice young waiter (just the one)! No bar, but beers & wines available. (4) They have one of the longest zip-lines in the country and the longest canopy tram ride which this old man preferred and rode twice! I don’t zip in the rain! 🙂 All of this gives the place the feel of an amusement park, though deeply immersed in nature! Their “Birding Tour” was super good and worth the cost! The room comes with free morning & night nature walks of about an hour each. Great! Don’t miss those! (5) Their butterfly garden had only one species my week (blue morpho), but the frog and snake exhibits were extensive and the orchid garden limited but nice. Some hiking trails are open for residents and a few require a guide. (6) The National Park is just 5 km away if you have a car. I did not and the lodge took me in their shuttle bus. Two very nice trails that are easy to hike, even in the rain! 🙂 But I did not see many birds or other wildlife except for one wet sloth. A lady ranger was very helpful there, but you are own your own hiking.
Later I will have a photo gallery posted of my trip and will announce it on the blog.
In short, I prefer more “creature comforts” and gourmet food than I got here, and less rain, but overall it is a great place to experience nature in a rainforest – including the rain! 🙂
My second time to ride the canopy tram here and first time in the sunshine! It was better with a few more birds this morning after breakfast, but still difficult to photograph moving birds from a moving gondola! Sorry for not better photos, especially of the tiny Tawny-capped Euphonia!
I also walked around the campus again and down to the river and got two more Sunbittern – the featured photo – a rare and elusive bird that all birders desire! It was not from the tram! 🙂
I leave tomorrow morning from my different and good rainforest experience. Though difficult to rate, I will try to do so in another post and on TripAdvisor. And . . . oh yeah, of course it is raining again as I type this! 🙂
Thursday morning was my time to hike one trail and part of another in the national park IN THE RAIN! Which meant no birds but I did get one very wet Sloth and lots of plants & streams which I like! All of the parks are very well maintained here and have a lot of nature to share! The park website: Braulio Carrillo.