21 Stitches later

It’s been a while and I’m sure that many, myself included had grave doubts as to whether I would actually continue writing this blog since it has been close to a year since my last post. However, after some deliberation I’ve decided to reprise the role of the cautionary tale to help steer people clear of my many mistakes, and hopefully provide a little entertainment along the way.

What’s kept me away from here and travel for the past year? Well, last month I had hip replacement surgery of the left hip after an interminable waitlist. This has been a long time in coming since I’ve been in chronic pain since 2010 after it was confirmed that the dexamethosone, a steroid used in the treatment of testicular cancer from the previous year, had damaged the capillaries surrounding the head of the femur, resulting in bone death and collapse. So after 3 years of morphine use I’m finally off the drug, fevering for new opportunities and chilling on the beach…though in the absence of travel I’m settling for just the fever and chills of withdrawal. Progress is slow since they had to cut through the muscle to saw through the bone. However, after a month I’m back on my feet, walking a few trails with the dog, and although I can’t yet bend over to tie up my shoes or put on my socks, it’s a start. The tedium has been mounting during my convalescence, and now at  roughly 6 weeks which marks the time of “basic” healing I’ve purchased a ticket for a little over a month in Costa Rica. Perhaps not the most adventurous of destinations but a good way to ease back into the rigours of the traveling lifestyle.

21 stapled suture on the left hip. Just be glad I didn’t post a more prominent ass shot.

Unfortunately April is high season and with Costa Rica being stable, having great infrastructure and an abundance of wildlife, it will undoubtedly be overrun, a far cry from my usual travel destinations. To elude the masses I’ve chosen La Amistad and Corcovado national parks as my main destinations, spending a couple weeks in both.

La Amistad (friendship) park is a joint venture between Costa Rica and Panama founded in 1988 and is not only the largest park in either country, but was also voted a world heritage site by UNESCO. Biologically, it’s importance cannot be overstated. Comprising an unbroken mountain chain, the Talamancas, which range from X meters to over 3000 meters, it like the Andes provides a hugely varied landscape with an array of ecologically diverse niches. From the lowland slopes to cloudforest to the upper paramo, the park is home to over 90 mammal species including the 6 big forest cats, over 500 bird species (including the harpy eagle), 112 reptiles and amphibians and countless insects… sounds like my kind of place!

Corcovado in comparison is strictly lowland tropical rainforest and although remote with only dirt roads to lead into it, it has apparently become increasingly popular. One can enter via Drake Bay which is remote and almost strictly confined to posh lodges which operate in the area, or else by Puerto Jimenez where the park’s offices are located and has the option of camping. Fortunately it is still the dry season and access won’t be choked by impassable muddy roads.

Despite the remoteness of these parks, I’ll probably be bushwhacking more than I usually do to avoid crowds. And so here I am, 4:00 in the morning sharpening my machete in anticipation (of the travel, not the crowds!).

About pbertner

Studied cell biology and genetics at UBC in Canada with a focus in microbiology. However, have gravitated more recently towards ecology and biodiversity. Have traveled the rainforests of Brazil, Brunei, Cambodia, Colombia, Costa Rica, DRC, Ecuador, Guyana, Indonesia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Panama, Philippines, Rwanda, Tanzania, Thailand, Vietnam with plans to visit many more.
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3 Responses to 21 Stitches later

  1. Jude says:

    Hey, nice to see you post again! So wll you be up to the rigours of hiking through the steeper terrain by April without any complications arising? That was pretty serious surgery & wonder if your muscles wil be strong enough by that time. Only one joint was affected by the steroid? Only that hip, hopefully!

    I’d love to go to Costa Rica – it enchanted me after I saw a documentary about a woman biologist/ecologist who spent her time up in the mid-range of the forest canopy studying the rich diversity of life in that range. Some of the larger branches & the thick layer of fine dirt blown in from the Sahara & deposited in the rain & mists, then the thick layer of moss over it, it forms a platform she could easily sit on. She said, as a child, she loved to spend her time up in trees so this was her ideal work. I’d agree. I often watch with envy the squirrels & older raccoon kits moving with such ease through the trees in my backyard, especialy the squirrels & lament how we’re so confined to a 2-dimensional space. They truly live in a 3-dimensions!

    I look forward to more postings from you. Yours is one of the few I follow & a pleasure to read! I lost track of your Flickr page as I was dealing with constant headaches & winter SAD – our dreary wet winters aren’t exactly the best for me. Woke up with a nasty headache this morning too. Would you mind giving me your Flickr address again as I loved looking & reading through it? It helps distract me from the pain & blahs of winter

    • pbertner says:

      Hi Jude,

      Thanks for dropping by! Hopefully I’ll be up to the challenge, fortunately I have the option of hiring a porter for my gear or else going lighter if need be, though I should be sufficiently recovered to hazard a little hardship.

      I’ve never been to Costa Rica though from all accounts by friends, family and of course Sir David Attenborough it looks like a wonderful nature haven, and the confluence of species from North and South American continents certainly makes for an incredible diversity of species.

      Sorry to hear of the seasonal depression. I can definitely empathize coming from a bipolar background. I find keeping myself busy and surrounding myself with colour to be the best way to inoculate myself against depression. I’m happy if my photos/blog can offer even a temporary reprieve. Have you seen the BBC documentary series Africa? It just came out in February. It has some wonderful visuals, stunning cinematography and it is sure to elevate your mood.

      Hope you fell better!

  2. Whoa! This blog looks exactly like my old
    one! It’s on a totally different topic but it has pretty much the same page layout and design. Excellent choice of colors!

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