[meteorite-list] A little something I wrote about my trip to Costa Rica
From: alienrockfarm <alienrockfarm_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu, 2 May 2019 01:06:14 +0000 (UTC)
That's a great story, I'm glad to see your meteorite dreams come true!? Congrats on some excellent specimens.
On Wednesday, May 1, 2019 Roberto Vargas via Meteorite-list <Rvargas85 at outlook.com> wrote:
It is not possible for me to fully put into words what these last three days have meant to me. This is only?an attempt:
This year has been a pretty eventful year in the field of meteoritics. Vinales fell on February 1st. I watched?videos of the fall and vicariously followed the hunters on the ground by what they posted on social media. I bought a few grams and was very happy to have gotten such fresh pieces. Especially so soon after the fall. I thought to myself, ?Oh, how I?d love to?go to a different country and find freshly fallen meteorites?. It?s been on my to-do list, but it?s seemed unreachable. Then, in rapid succession, there began to be reports of other fireballs. Three in one day, in my own ?backyard?! This further fed my obsession?to go on a hunt.
Then, on April 23rd at 9:10pm, a meteorite fell in Costa Rica. Like with all of my meteorite related news,?I heard about it on social media first. Some individuals thought it was a hoax, others thought it was the real thing. Well, it turned out to be real, and by the 25th, there were pictures of it all over social media. A beautiful carbonaceous chondrite HAD fallen?in Costa Rica. There were pictures of it and meteorite hunters were there.
I was watching this all unfold while I was at work. I found it difficult/impossible to concentrate on my?work because I kept looking at my phone; waiting impatiently to hear of any new developments. I told anyone who would listen. My partner, my sister, my parents, friends, clients and coworkers. If they were in my proximity, they heard about it.
Then, on Friday the 26th, I was visiting my dad and stepmom talking about the fall and how I would love?to go, when my dad said, ?Roberto, why don?t you just go?. As if it was that easy. I told my dad, ?How could I go with no money? I can?t afford it?. Sensing how much I was dying to go, my dad came up with an agreement. He would buy me the ticket and lend me?a couple of hundred dollars. At first, I wasn?t sure. I told him I would think about it. ?
I went home and obsesses about it. I reached out to Rob Wesel, and I asked for guidance. ?Please talk me?into or out of going to Costa Rica?, I said. Rob did not talk me out of it. Like my own personal Mr. Miagi, he said ?You?re a tiger in a cage?. And, with that I called my dad and asked him to book me the flight. He did. It left the next day after work. I told?my friend Mark Lyon, who would have loved to have gone, but has a kid and responsibilities, and like my dad, Mark had faith in me and immediately put $5,000 into my account. ?Get me some, too?, he said.
At this point, it?s getting real. I?ve got $5,500 in my account and a ticket for the very next day.
I did not sleep that night. I went to work the next morning and the hours dragged. I could think of nothing?else but the adventure I was about to embark on. I was scared and nervous. In between clients, I began to research the area. I looked up locals and began messaging them. I gathered leads. After work, my partner drove me to the airport. Filled with fear and?excitement, I explained, I have to do this!
My plane touched down in San Jose at 1am on Sunday the 27th. I had two days. I was either going to find?meteorites or go home empty handed and in debt. From the airport, I drove three hours to my hotel. I did not have a lot of time and did not daytime hours driving. I wanted to get directly to it. I got to my hotel at 4am on Sunday. I could not sleep. I paced?back and forth in my $20/night hotel room in Ciudad Quesada. I was able to reach Michael Farmer, who had already been there for a few days. Mike is someone I have looked up to for a long time. The modern-day Indiana Jones I always dreamt of being as a child.
I understood when I left, that meteorite hunting is a secretive affair. Locations, leads, contacts, areall heavily guarded. As such, I did not want to ask Mike for any leads. However, I had never met mike in person and I was more concerned with just meeting up with him and buying him a beer. I was disappointed when I learned that he would not have time, but?we had a good chat and he actually did give me a few pointers.
I was finally able to close my eyes at around 6am, only to be woken up by roosters at 9am. ?Well, I guess?that?s nature?s way of telling me to get a move on?, I told myself. I got dressed and drove to the area where the hammer fell. Fortunately, I speak Spanish. So, I was able to ask around. People had heard that some had fallen, but they did not know exactly?where. I walked into a liquor store to buy a pack of smokes and mentioned that I was looking for meteorites. That?s when the store owner told me that people had found some not far from where the store was. He gave me directions and I left. I drove up and down?the street looking for hunters or people with rocks in their hands and asked people on the side of the road and got nowhere. I began to get nervous. What if I don?t find anything? Will I end up going home empty handed after all? Forced to buy some of the pieces?of this fall from a third party? The fear was overwhelming. I had not had breakfast, so I stopped at a little family owned restaurant. As a
vegetarian, there aren?t many options. It seems like the only thing to eat in Costa Rica is ceviche, and I don?t eat?fish. However, the owner of the restaurant agreed to to make me a cheese empanada. It was good. The empanada, which was huge, and a cup of coffee was less than 2 bucks!
She sensed I was not from the area and asked me if I was there for business or pleasure. ?I?m here looking?for meteorites? I told her. She looked at me funny and told me that I was not the only one. She said, ?Take this road. Go down two kilometers, and I think you will find what you are looking for?. I finished my empanada and coffe, and flew out of there.
The Costa Ricans have a saying: Pura Vida. The literal translation is pure life, but to them it means a?simple life. It is how they say goodbye, but it is also how they live. These people were not rich, but they are not poor by Costan Rican standards, either. They seemed a happy and carefree lot.
I drove the two kilometers looking for Costa Ricans on the hunt. I passed a family leisurely sitting on?their porch. I stopped, reversed, and pulled into their driveway. They looked at me like I was crazy. I had only slept about 7 hours in the past two days and I probably looked crazy. ?Goodday, I?m here looking for meteorites!?, I told them. They proceeded?to tell me about the other hunters who had been there. They had not personally found any, but they had a neighbor who had a couple of pieces who might be willing to sell some. They called him and within 15 minutes, he was there. He pulled out a ziplock bag,?and I immediately knew that I was in the right spot. I weighed it. 24 grams of fresh carbonaceous goodness. It had not rained at this point. I made an offer and he declined. I made a second offer, and he declined. But, he told me to go on down the road. There?were others. They had found stones and were looking to sell.
I thanked them and kept driving down the road. It was at this point that I ran into Marlon. Marlon was not?originally from Costa Rica. He, his wife, and his three children had moved to Costa Rica from a neighboring country. Of all of the houses, his was the most modest. He had the first piece, I was actually able to purchase. A 29 gram beauty with all of the bells?and whistles. Fully crusted, rollover lip, flowlines. A jewel. I made my offer and he accepted. It was at this point that I met Mike Farmer in person.
An SUV pulled up and Mike and his companions climbed out. I was in awe! I was holding my first specimen?of this new fall and I was meeting one of my met heroes. The trip was officially a success! Mike told me that the locals were actively looking. He encouraged me to hunt. He told me that he and his companions were going to have dinner after the day?s hunt.?He invited me to come along for dinner. I did not have to be asked twice. ?Hell yeah, I?ll be there?, I said.
And with that, they left. I drove through the neighborhood and he was right. Locals were looking and finding.?A few of them even agreed to sell me their specimens. I stopped for another empanada and told the store owner about my success. She congratulated me and showed me pieces she had found.
Around 7pm, I went to the restaurant, and met Mike and his team. I met Rob Ward, another one of my meteoritic?heroes. People I had only read about in Meteorite Times and on social media. I was basically star struck. I showed them my pieces and they congratulated me. They told stories of their time in prison in Oman, of being in Botswana, surrounded by lions. They?talked about being extorted by corrupt police in the Middle East. On messanger, Rob Wesel had said, ?you?ll learn more in an hour with him (Mike) than a year on facebook?, and he was right. The stories I heard were just wild.
At the end of the night, I floated out of that restaurant. This must have been a dream.
I was not going to go back out to the strewn field the next day. It had rained the night before. The trip?was already a success. I had bought pre-rain material. I had met two of my met heroes. Why push it? But, when I woke up, and found myself thirsty. Thirsty for more meteorites. I do not regret going back out there. The price per gram had risen overnight, but?it was still affordable, thanks to Mark. Little did I know that I would get to meet ?the Russians?; guys I had only heard about and seen on Meteorite Men when I was a little met fledgling. Great guys! I bought more stones, some of which was a little weathered?from the previous night?s rain, but it was still worth it. I was kind of amazed how easy it was to tell the difference between the pre-rain and post-rain material, but it was unmistakable. Luckily, I was able to find some more pre-rain material to buy as well,?from people I had not run into the day before. Day two was just as successful, if not more successful than day one. However, I had to leav
e. I had work and a life waiting for me in the States. My trip was only scheduled for two days.
That night I drove to San Jose and once again, I was able to hang out with Mike and Rob Ward. They showed?me their treasures, and I showed them mine. You won?t believe some of the pieces I saw. Just wild! The experience and my time with these met legends taught me a lot. First of all, I was lucky. Mike and Rob told me about some of the trips that had cost them?tens of thousands of dollars and turned up no stones. I was bringing back stones on my first adventure. I also learned that diplomacy is key. Diplomacy with the locals, with ?the press?, and with other hunters goes a long way. A lack of diplomacy can have?very serious consequences. Luckily, that was not a problem this trip. The locals were a kind and patient lot.
I?d like to thank my dad, who is not a meteorite guy, but has always had my back. I?d like to thank Mike?Farmer, Rob Ward, the russians, and a couple of other great hunters for being so cool in the field. I?d like to thank Rob Wesel for his words of encouragement before, during, and after my little adventure and Mark Lyon for his financial backing and for believing?in me. Lastly, I?d like to thank all who have read this for putting up with my ramblings. I?m back home and I still can?t sleep. It was a hellova ride! Pura Vida, y?all!
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Received on Wed 01 May 2019 09:06:14 PM PDT