Day 8 – Zero Day

This morning I felt totally disconvubulated when I got up after sleeping in what resembled a cross between a garden shed and outdoor closet; so I took a zero day.

A zero day in my hiking world means a rest day, zero as in no miles walked or hiked.

Disconvubulated is perhaps only as an American slang word of unknown origin that goes back well over a century. Probably just a fanciful alteration of discommode, discomfit, discompose, etc.

Feast or famine in our daily lodging choices. Tonight it was a feast night as we stinky hikers were dropped off after the day at a mineral springs resort. Totally self contained within a lush jungle setting. A waterfall, creek, trails. I splurged and was the first to sign up for a spa package of a much needed facial, right after my hot rock massage and twenty minute sauna to open up those pores that may have failed to open over the past week of trekking through everything from jungle to farmland.

Rio Perla resort – mineral spring

Sorry no pictures you’ll just have to take my word for the resort. And then in the afternoon it began to pour. A lightening strike took out the front power post. Thunder could be heard for a long time throughout the area. We decided dinner in town was a cheaper option so we all piled into a seven passenger 4×4 trailblazer and Fabian drove us to town running over the cats, dogs and frogs that kept falling from the sky.

On the El Camino Costa Rica.

And today we stopped to visit a yoga retreat and naturally I took some pictures.

A great future lodging stop on the camino?

Me now after trekking through the jungle on day nine of our camino.

Pura Vida baby


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Day 7 – El Camino Costa Rica

Today my heart nearly exploded on the camino Costa Rica according to my Apple Watch tracking my heart rate. The culprit- shadeless high heat, humidity and at times a near vertical walk on a seemingly endless mountain road.

What happened I ask myself? This road started out as a paved highway. On google maps the road is designated as road 403. So why go from asphalt to a rocky road to a 4×4 trail before becoming a navigable mountain stream?

Just like the camino Costa Rica- a work in progress.

Today we walked stage seven of el camino de Costa Rica while Conchita in her trusty caballo blanco Mitsubishi 4×4 followed and at times led us after rescuing yet another injured pilgrim. She credits her 4x4s vehicles ability to climb but, I know better. Not anyone without off road driving experience can come out unscathed at the other end as she just did.

So, whom might you ask ask is Conchita? Possibly about as close as one can ever get to the original founders of the camino Costa Rica.

In 1982 it was Don Valiña Sampedro Elias’ idea to mark the entire camino de Santiago (Spain) with yellow arrows, a part he energetically took a part in. Elias’ camino project was made easy once pilgrims could find their “way” by simply following yellow arrows. The donated yellow paint came from the Spanish highway department.

In 1984 about 1,000 pilgrims walked the full camino de Santiago. After the movie “The Way” came out in 2004, over 300,000 pilgrims walked the Camino and now the numbers are staggering.

Conchita and her nonprofit group Mar a Mar ( are working hard to make this camino another tourism beacon for Costa Rica bound pelegrinos looking for the adventure of a lifetime, by walking from the Caribbean to the Pacific Ocean.

Coast to coast walking that the average intermediate hiker should be able to complete within roughly a two week timeframe.

Of course you will still need a guide through indigenous lands and starting real soon several camino multi day tour options become available through local tour guides such as Via Lig Tours)

So, if my heart truly would’ve exploded then not to worry, at home my recently acquired Compostela sits after recently walking the camino de Santiago. A Compostela issued in Santiago allows one to bypass the purgatory period before being allowed to enter heaven.

A similar passport is being tested on us now on el camino de Costa Rica. It is made entirely out of biodegradable paper. So far it is holding up to Costa Rica rainy season quite well. Mine is well secured in a zip locked bag.

This camino will never become a walk in the park or ever fail to challenge you. One of our pilgrims during my camino injured her knee while walking through indigenous jungle lands. A mere two hundred floors of up and down jungle trail climbing. So, are you up to the challenge? In my opinion anyone fresh off the camino in Spain that walked their way from France to Finisterre is capable.

According to my Apple watch today we tackled 215 floors climbed, 16.3 miles of walking and over 30,000 steps taken. The high humidity and full sun took it’s toll on us, plus the rocky road did a fine job of tenderizing our feet.

Amazing vistas at the top but, did I die getting up the mountain.


Well then – it was just another adventure.

The trail now throws at us more sugar cane fields, the river down below and truly amazing scenery all about. Past Cipal there is another long climb.

We just finished lunch atop a mountain top cooked fresh by Armando. Homegrown skewered mushrooms, onions, peppers, potatoes, and pineapple. On a separate aluminum wrapped offering was a larger than normal mushroom stuffed with locally grown cheese.

Another side dish-offering included a ripe plantain banana about a foot long and stuffed with cheese. Lunch dessert was a pineapple slice soaked in a homemade juice, charcoal fire smoked to perfection. If that doesn’t sound appetizing to you you can easily carry your own lunch.

“Life is not hurrying on to a receding future,

nor hankering after an imagined past.

It is the turning aside like Moses to the miracle

of the lit bush, to a brightness that seems as

transitory as your youth once,

but, is the eternity that awaits you.”

– R S Thomas

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Day six (6) on El Costa Rica Camino

Heard the words when the going gets tough, the tough get going. There’s allot of truth in those words. So, what possesses someone to continue to drive on day after day.

Our hostess used to get up at 03:00 a.m. for the love of tortillas. Her husband would grind the corn fresh daily so that the woman can then make her masa for the days tortillas. Simply put – It must be love.

My first thoughts of the day as I stop to thank the start of a new day. Breakfast first then on to a butterfly farm viewing, then we’ll do good work getting ourselves up, up and over this first mountain. The tallest range mountains in Costa Rica says our guide.

Every archaeological indigenous pottery piece was found on this property.

I walked the property and saw lots of these.

So why go on? One of our girls has bone on bone knee pain that started long ago as a runner. Yesterday should’ve been her zero day (rest day) but, she said she doesn’t want to miss the experience.

Update: She could not go on and needed to be rescued after the first eight kilometer climb The tour company driver Enrique did double duty by first running across me; saying that I was on the wrong road. That’ll teach me to get too far ahead of our guide on this yet to be marked camino. Then he took our injured person to our end point.

Our days stats if you’re interested. See. You could easily do this? So what’s a little rain and mosquito bites plus a hell of allot of up and down climbing when you come across experiences like these?

Is the love of tortillas or the camino we are now on so great that we are willing to risk pain, sleep or anything to go on.

Our day six started off at Finca Via Lig an actual butterfly farm. Plus they grow sugar cane and other assorted crops and are a great and caring tour outfit.

A trained biologist and family member gave us the butterfly raising process tour.

As of today I only know of one person (a US Marine) by the name of Evan who can claim the honor of being the first to walk the entire coast to coast camino – by himself, except for a part through indigenous lands. To answer some of your questions about trail markings. At times they appear to me to be intentionally not marked at road intersections. That’s all I’ll say about road markings for now.

At stage four of the camino I walked with the 19 year old guide Kenneth who also shared with me that the youngest and oldest he guided through this stage of the camino is a sixteen year old boy and a seventy year old man.

So, am I being too critical of my experiences on the Camino Costa Rica? Truly you realize that walking across a country and through jungles requires a little logistical support. Yes we are using a guide service. At this development stage of the camino Costa Rica not even a camino Guidebook is available.

Today felt like we were walking through several villages each with their own beauty in every way.

The rain welcomed us in every way today. First it poured. Then as we continued climbing up this huge hill it continued letting up. Then an amazing mist quickly formed bringing the rain back up. The bird sounds are everywhere.

Please note: My disclosures. No WiFi, most of the time and when I write my daily story on my iPhone sweat drips down from my head to my glasses then onto the screen. Yes, bad grammar and no check spelling is the norm till I get back home. Enjoy the pictures. Day six in the books. Tomorrow starts day seven of fourteen.

Pura Vida baby!

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Day 5 – Camino Costa Rica

Good morning Costa Rica!! I just sprayed myself with jungle juice deodorant and now ready for a breakfast of you guessed it, beans and rice. All kidding aside the food to me is all delicious. And yes you even get beans and rice with your eggs in the morning. And the Costa Rica coffee is my new favorite.

They say all caminos start off by first working your body, and then if you survive the first test, the camino moves on to your mind and towards the end, it finally reaches your very soul.

So far our stages 1 through 5 are all body over mind and soul stages. The first stage, I’ll refer to as the mosquito stage. Stage one did a great job on all our bodies as we all still have the mosquitoe bites to prove it.

One of the girls with us claims her stretch pants, which she says she will never ever wear again on this camino, served her ass on a platter to the mosquitoes; in a pin cushiony sort of way.

Our day one mosquito bites now can easily be distinguished between days 2, 3 and four bites. I can also now add an ant bite on my hand and two tick bites on either leg but, no leeches yet. Don’t laugh that may come later from a future water crossing. Such is the Camino Costa Rica adventure. Not all stages are for everyone but, some of the stages are for anyone wanting a camino experience.

One of our guide Sergio has two wasp bites from stage two, one on his forehead and one on his shoulder. He took the hit for the group in an early warning sort of way by walking ahead of us towards a wasp nest The wasp nest within strike distance of the camino road we were on.

And so I asked our indigenous guide how he got the scar on his chin and before he could answer our other guide showed us his scar marks. Seems a certain type of fly around here strikes and lays their eggs in you. The area around the strike consumes your body in a leprosy sort of way. Shots on your butt for thirty days are the only known cure. Great. Now I find myself looking at a recent fly bite. Just noticed these two new arrivals.

When you gotta go, you gotta go.

The second stage, walking down gravelly plantation roads worked on toughening up our feet, for some, turning them into hamburger.

Then on to stages 3 and 4, elevations gain and losses equal to climbing nearly 250 flights of stairs was all body over mind control.

Today stage five can be called the start of the “mind” stage on account of another up and down gravelly road that gives one the opportunity to be in oneself and think.

Day 4 – Staying at Finca TRES EQUIS was our best stay yet. Remember on the camino here it is feast or famine as jungle lodging can be hard to find.

Our host (Don Alfonso) could not have been more accommodating. Today compared to yesterday is a short day. What makes today special is the road scenery and walking through several villages.

One of our guide lives in this picturesque village. Prior to arrival at tonight’s lodging we stopped at a local store for cokes, chicharrones and anything salty.

Another day closer to the Pacific side of the Camino.

Pura Vida


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Day 3 – My Camino Indiginous Camp and Rain forest

Woke up to another beautiful sunny Costa Rican day. A great night sleep in an air conditioned single room can sort of have that effect on a camino. Last night not everyone did well in our jungle lodging on account of the newness of it all and the stifling heat.

Today at the end of this stage (3) it turned to be a most memorable experience. Picture this – I am now on a hammock on a raised rough cut timber building with corrugated metal roofing positioned just so at the edge of a huge hillside.

The rain just minutes ago is now rising back up to the sky via an evaporation cloud mist. This is a school in an indigenous lands.

Tomorrow muddy roads, lots of vertical elevation gain and a walk up and down a jungle.

Rainforests house around half the world’s plant and animal species and are home to indigenous people who live in ways quite unlike those in the western world.

Right now I am in an indigenous village. The school or cafeteria to be exact. Outside the rain now continues to fall. We finished section three just as the rain started. Our 19 year old guide by the name of Kenneth tomorrow guides us through their lands. Tomorrow is looking now to be a muddy trek so my boots will be the chosen footwear.





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Day 4 – Camino Costa Rica

Today promises to be a nine hour up and down walk on muddy trails. If it continued raining today the roads and river would be not passable. Great news it only turned out to be an 8.5 hour hike through indigenous jungle lands. No mosquitoes or rain.

We started the morning out from an indigenous school with fourteen full time students and a live aboard teacher. We cooked showered and even slept at the school. Sleep is almost not an accurate statement.

Yes, six single person tents pitched on a rough sawed floor. Each tent contained one sleeping bag. The ground outside would’ve been way softer but, then the tents would get wet and dirty.

Our 19 year old indigenous guide by the name of Kenneth was a mere 3-5 feet away from me when the trail edge suddenly gave way.

I found myself in free fall mode. Picture an elevator whose cable just snapped. Were it not for a protruding root or vine that my left hand instinctively grabbed while in free fall mode I may have easily fallen another four stories down. I was then able to self extract my self from my predicament before the rest of the group even noticed as they were a ways behind.

The guide following me is Jovanie Montenegro. Possibly the best guide we’ve seen so far. One of the girls found herself last night without socks for this mornings hike. She switched to a day pack for today’s hike like everyone else except for me and her socks left to our final destination and lodging for the night at Finca XXX. Jocanie just happened to have a spare pair of socks and loaned it to her.

Not an error that is what it is called like the Mexican beer.

Our lunch meal yesterday consisted of spaghetti and chicken. Even the vegan girls and the vegetarian Canadian gave up and declared they needed calories to continue on.

Our dinner meal was all vegan. Part of the reason I was spent all day. A jelly sandwich and coffee for breakfast and a granola type bar for lunch today just didn’t cut it. And to top it off this is the toughest part over the past several days.




Just beyond the Escuela Tsini Kicha, the trail entered the jungle and did not let up until this river crossing.

This area includes elevation changes, many insects, high humidity and difficult trails. At 1.6 kilometers we walked across the Rio Mono, your first river crossing.

Occasionally, the jungle recedes, and you enter tribal communities at Guaybal (6.11 kilometers) and Valle Escondido (11.5 kilometers).

The trail exits the jungle after 17 kilometers and continues downhill through farmland and a gate.

Here is where I removed two large ticks. One from each leg. And it just coincided with our ride to Finca XXX.

Pura Vida Camino


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Day 2 – Camino Costa Rica

Today is an absolutely beautiful day. Why? When was the last time you slept in the jungle? Off grid and no air conditioning. Plus I last slept under a mosquito netting. Now throw in two all night snorers and shut down any chance of air movement all night. You now begin to feel last nights pain.

Once or twice I recall getting using my petzl head light to avoid stepping on anything creepy or crawly in the floor or in the bath. And then I soaked a hikers towel and took it back with me to bed. That cool sensation lasted long enough so that when the loud generator shut down; all I heard was jungle noise and finally sleep came.

Not a drop of wind blowing anywhere yet hours earlier it blew right through the area keeping all mosquitoes at bay. The jungle nearby is alive and active but, it too does stop at some point and everything seems to also fall asleep.

Breakfast at 0600 a.m.was awesome. Rice and beans or beans and rice as expected plus eggs, delicious coconut water freshly baked bread.

Then after breakfast a flat boat ride back to the Muelle Goshen where we picked up the hot sweltering trail. And now it’s cool as it clouds up as I finish a dip in tonight’s hotel pool.

If you don’t mind getting a little wet, visit between May through November when prices are at their lowest. During June and July, rain showers pause briefly, and Costa Rica’s forests burst with green foliage. That’s what I read. The reality is it stopped raining a day or two earlier than the start of our road camino.

Day 3 is looking like a wet one. Stay tuned.

Our day two started out as scorcher and then it got hotter from there. So why do this. If you have to ask then adventure travel is probably not right for you.

Today’s first road included nasty rocks on an uneven dirt packed road surface. The road went on and on and on with no unnecessary curves thrown in.

We pass by an endless banana plantation. Locals on anything but walking travel in both directions. It’s too hot and humid to walk. But we walk on.

Finally at one point I can’t play follow the leader anymore on account of needing to stretch my steps and find my own damn rhythm. This worked for a while. Finally, it started to feel like a real Camino.

On account of no trail markings and sketchy areas that we walk by it is highly not recommended by our guide to veer too far off the beaten path. And now we walk on a paved road with no way to stepping off.

More locals on bicycles ride by, several give the traditional”Pura Vida” welcome greetings and continue by. The two expat women are walking side by side quizzing each other about a Spanish lesson they are doing while walking.

At one point I playmy walking music out loud and add to the roads commotion. The brain has a way of easily entertaining oneself while on a long enough walk.

And then two SUVs, a white and black one stop ahead on the road and a non shady looking guy steps out.

I easily recognize my friend “Marco” as he is now offering everyone iced down Gatorade or cold water. Conchita is the driver. What a wonderful welcome experience. Costa Rica Trail angels at just the right time. I was spent at that point as today is a 24 km day. Yet it’s not even 1000 a.m.

No one around seemed to care that we are all stopped on this two land hardtop road barely wide enough for a city bus. Stepping off into the overgrown jungly grass could be a close encounter with a snake or worse. Things that sting, bite or worse are all around.

A little wildlife picture spotted today and if you’re a fisherman the large fish above can still be caught today according to Julio Knight owner of the lodge we stayed at.

This local woman now warns us about traveling through a bad hombre section of the camino.

While planning a trip to Costa Rica keep in mind that the weather varies by region.

In the thick forests of the Caribbean Sea coast and Northern Plains, expect high humidity and temperatures ranging between the 70s and high 80s year-round.

Conversely, in the North Pacific, prepare for lower humidity levels, but temperatures that often soar into the 90s during Costa Rica’s dry months. Read that as well.

Did I yet tell you how hot it was today? Even the three expats on the camino whom I am hiking with say so.

And yes we walked on an active train track until we reached a man made foot path. I almost broke through a plank section. But not to worry, the heat is the only thing that might kill me.

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My Day 1 (uno) – Costa Rica Camino

Some people like their whole vacations planned well in advance – So, If you’re not like most people and the word “adventure ” is not well defined for you, then maybe the Camino Costa Rica is in your future.

Right now I lay on a hammock at Rancho Julio Knight, overlooking the River Pasquale. A mere crocodile striking distance from the rivers edge

Tonights lodging includes beds, with window screens as our only barrier against the jungle insects all around.

Large birds are nearby making a ruckus, howler monkeys earlier could be heard and seen across the river swinging. This river, a short distance away empties itself into the Caribbean ocean.

A cool breeze now blows with no mosquitoes to bother me. Earlier as we walked across the Pasquale Reserve that was not the case. I did my best to sandwich myself between the two pilgrim female mosquito magnets. A cloud of mosquitoes swarmed each one with me swatting endlessly with my ball cap as we walked the 6.5 kilometers of the preserve while our guide pointed out the three types of monkeys, two toed sloths, a rare type of heron that only breeds and this one area and let’s not forget the endless amounts of leather back turtle eggs we saw about to hatch.

A cold anything to drink right now could easily top off the evening. And that icy cold shower earlier took some of the mosquito stings away.

Right now I doused myself with another mosquito repellent dousing and moved to a new location. Guess I’ll be smelling like repellent all night.

Today we completed section one (1) of the camino. Three expats, two from Canada, and one from Ohio; and yours truly from California.

One could best describe section one of the Camino Costa Rica as more a warm up tour than the start of the way or if you prefer, the camino.

Once we were dropped off at Muelle Goshen by our guide we boarded a panga type boat that took us to Julio Knight lodge. Our first night stay. And I plan on returning here on a future fishing trip.

Unofficially, I am claiming the number 501 spot as the five hundred and first person that will complete the Camino Costa Rica.

The others can claim their numbers if they finish. I say if, because not everyone is doing all fourteen sections of the Camino Costa Rica.

If you are new to the camino way. Start by first doing a little research, watch a little YouTube, maybe read on Kindle a book or two about walking a Camino; plus if on Facebook join or follow a group or two about the Camino (?). Which Camino? Possibly the one I’m now on. Possibly the newest on of them all – El Camino de Costa Rica.

Walk across an entire country from coast to coast and in a two week period. Highly recommend a guide as the Camino markings are either intentionally or not yet posted throughout out the camino.

The Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Spain is over 1,000 years old. In 2017, more than 300,000 people walked some part of the 500-mile long “Camino Frances” and arrived in Santiago de Compostela.

On the other hand, the Camino de Costa Rica is slightly less than two years old and as of 2019, I claim the 501st spot to finish the camino since it was completed less than two years ago.

A guide is required for day one without a doubt. Today on day two is the first time I’ve seen any form of trail markings.

Today day two and our human app guide by the name of Vladimir keeps talking up a storm about everything Costa Rica. Plus Vida. More to follow.

Rafa on the Camino

Wishing for rain. A scorcher today.

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My Travel Day- Camino Costa Rica

Want to learn more. Visit

My greatly discounted Avianca flight left Los Angeles about an hour later than scheduled, sometime around one a.m.

And now we wait for about an hour in Guatemala before the flight takes off for my final destination, San Jose Costa Rica.

A little longer than normal on account of a wheelchair bound old geezer now refusing to leave his airline seat in Guatemala. Guess maybe he was hoping to reach Costa Rica, the land of Pura Vida.

It finally took nearly the force of two men, one woman attendant and his daughter to finally pry him from his seat.

On day one I saw San Jose from the perspective of a Tico. One whose life was set on a different trajectory many decades ago, on account of speaking English and becoming a foreign exchange student in Tacoma, Washington.

I am so fresh off the Camiño Francés that if I had (which) I don’t, bedbugs bites – they would be healed about now.

My 790 km walking legs from the Camino Francés were ready nearly two weeks later for a new Camino and the closest one I found is in Costa Rica.

What? You’ve never heard of it. Well neither did I till recently. This Camiño CR is so new that I am now literally on the ground floor with the original organizers.

So, stay tuned I/we are one day from the start of stage one of fourteen stages totaling less than 200 miles from the Caribbean to the Pacific oceans.

The very real differences between Caminos that are now apparent is the climate, the animal life, the trail, and albergues are not a common word for pilgrims here and neither is Buen Camino.

I am very much looking forward to seeing the jungle, volcanoes, monkeys, snakes and bird and reptiles in the wild real soon.

If you’ve been on a European Camiño before or seen monkeys in zoos before, let me just say that there should be little similarity between the two.

But then I’ve yet to get started so stay tuned for daily updates.

Below a working clock. I saw one similar in Spain in a museum.

The current exchange rate is around 500 colons to the dollar. I withdrew 200 million. Around $170 US dollars.

Pura Vida

Rafa on the Camino Costa Rica

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On Inspiration, the Camino Francés and now on to the Camino Costa Rica

Lately what inspired me and really lit my soul with an afterglow, that weeks later continues to burn brightly is having recently completed my first Camino Francés.

Inspire means to excite, to encourage, or to breathe life into. Inspire comes from a Latin word that also means to inflame or to blow in to; so when we inspire something, it is almost as if we are blowing air over an open flame making it grow.

Those words above on a fence written I know not when or by who, inspired me. They stopped me dead on my tracks while walking the Camino.

Once the picture was taken I contemplated for a long time the very words, and yet several miles away I still opened the picture to have another good look at the written words.

“We are all broken that’s how the light gets in.”

I have often thought of what inspires others is it pictures, scenery, a future or a past event.

I like being a quote user. Those words at that very moment in time struck me hard. Perhaps because I too felt somewhat broken that morning. Now on “my way” in search of some higher meaning.

I remember that Camino walking day well as I do almost every walking day on the Camino. I walked alone that day not knowing if I was ahead or behind any part of what I could refer to as my Camiño family.

And then I could sense another Peregrino fast approaching from behind. Not wanting to just turn around I pulled my iPhone out, using it as one does a rear view mirror in their car.

I snapped a picture of this lovely happily married French pelegrina who also fluently speaks Spanish. She is now two days behind her Camiño family.

Days earlier I complimented her on a beautiful hat she wore on the Camino that she bought in Paris twelve years ago. Now she tells me she was devastated as she thinks it was either lost or stolen.

Later on I refer her to others as the Mother Teresa of the Camino in a loving way. We both choose to not walk together as our Camino rhythm and pace are not compatible for long stretches.

At first I knew that this Camino would work on my body. Next I also knew when the Camino was working on my mind; periodic insights magically appeared to me, as in understanding the very inner nature of things or of being able to see intuitively.

Towards the very end of my Camino I knew that my very soul underwent a healing process. One not yet fully completed.

Inspiration is subjective, as different people will find different things to be inspiring. However, I dare most anyone to step into any cathedral along “the way” and see for yourself.

And now I leave you with three quotes one of which I hope will also inspire you.

“A word of encouragement from a teacher to a child can change a life. A word of encouragement from a spouse can save a marriage. A word of encouragement from a leader can inspire a person to reach her potential.”

– John C. Maxwell

 “If you can’t fly, then run, If you can’t run, then walk, If you can’t walk, then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.” –

– Martin Luther King Jr.

Music is one of the most powerful things the world has to offer. No matter what race or religion or nationality or sexual orientation or gender that you are, it has the power to unite us.

– Lady Gaga

And yes in a week I leave for Costa Rica to begin a walk from the Caribbean to the Pacific Ocean. My mind, body and soul are now asking for a new challenge. The planning is ongoing. Other than adding a guide, some mosquito repellent, shorts and jungle garb, tougher rain gear and more water and a sleeping bag all my camino gear remains the same.

Once I arrive in Costa Rica I will share more details hopefully inspiring others to also look at following me on the Costa Rica camino. More to follow.

Rafa on the Camino Costa Rica

Pura Vida baby.

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