Last week, as I anticipated our visit this week to the southwestern Costa Rican rainforests, I posted about a fishing trip that I had taken from a solitary lodge down there over 35 years ago with a guide named Raphael.
We had become friends back then because we took risks and, on the day before I left, shared an incredible, terrifying adventure. We went way out into the Pacific and into the night in a little Boston Whaler and almost didn’t find our way back.
But people get lost when you return to civilization and you get sucked back into the day-to-day and the years compound.
A friend responded to the post suggested I try to find Raphael on this trip. I decided to try to find Raphael if I could. It was a real long shot. All I had was his first name. Would he still be there? Would he even remember me? Was he even alive? Basque del Cabo, the wonderful place where Susan and I are staying, is about two hours south of Drake’s Bay where I met Raphael.
Yesterday, we flew south from San Jose to the little air strip at Puerto Jimenez and were picked up by a four-wheel drive Jeep to go further south to our destination.
Could I even find a way to get to Drake’s Bay if I found him?
On the ride, I recited my story of my trip thirty-five years ago to our driver and asked if there was any chance we could locate Raphael after all these years. The idea piqued his interest and he volunteered to get me to Drake Bay if we could locate Raphael.
When we arrived at the lodge, I told my story again to the owner and he also was intrigued and immediately called on his assistant to see what she could find.
After some preliminary research, they told me what I expected. The expat who owned the place I had stayed in at Drake’s Bay had died and the place had been sold but was still around. Over the last thirty-five years, a few other lodges were constructed on Drake’s Bay. Perhaps Raphael had stayed to helped build them and was still around.
Yesterday after breakfast, I was told they thought that they had found Raphael but were waiting for confirmation. If they have the right Raphael, he worked as a carpenter to help build the new properties. He was about 55 years old, but they had not determined if he was still living down near the bay. They said this man had a son who was a cab driver in San Jose. Perhaps he had moved up there.
Before we left Maryland, I had asked myself how could we recognize each other and it occurred to me that I had saved the raggedy old lion shirt in which I had fished and scuba-dived and pretty much lived in down there. I photographed it and packed it just in case I thought I found him.
I’ve got a driver and my old shirt ready and a lead which seems promising.
It is so easy to lose people and so hard to find them.
I should know in a day or so.
I will report the end of the story in next week’s blog, when Susan and have returned to our snowy, below-freezing home in Monkton.