The people of the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica were extraordinarily helpful in the many months I have been there. Especially the miners, the Park Rangers of Corcovado National Park and others who make their living in the forest, as well as the OIJ and local police.
Traveling the trails with them I learned about the animals, the plants, the trees, and the geography. I made more than twenty trips into the forest over the course of two years, spending several weeks camping there. We saw many terciopelo, otherwise known as the fer-de-lance, and eyelash palm pit-vipers.
Rarely did any of these people travel off-trail and when they did, they used their machete to clear a path, both to uncover possible snakes and to leave a path to follow back as it is easy to get lost, especially in Corcovado's mountainous "Las Quebraditas".
I travelled with one local Tico man whose father had died in two hours from the bite of a terciopelo; another Tico whose brother died from the bite of a bushmaster.
Others told me of men killed by falling trees. In fact, I myself witnessed two huge tree falls -- trees over 150 feet tall that crashed in the forest. Falling tropical hardwood crowns can be lethal if they strike the unwary, and knowing when and where they fall is impossible to predict.
Tree falls are like the avalanches of the rainforest, only worse. There is no equivalent to digging a pit to test for stability, no courses to take or books to read to predict what leads to their likelihood of toppling, other than wind and rainstorms
I was always especially fearful during rainstorms when wet dead wood fell with heavy epiphyte burdens.
At least five times I have witnessed enormous but otherwise healthy trees fall.
In the late 1990s a famous California tree climber and I made a traverse between two redwood trees each 300 feet tall. The following year I returned to find that one of the 300 foot tall trees had toppled, leaving its six foot top speared into the forest floor.
In Borneo's Imbak Canyon we climbed to the top of a 75 m Dipterocarp tree, returning the next day to find it toppled.
Another time along Sabah's Kinabatangan River I watched a large mango tree split in two and slowly peel away next to a river house, but was able to warn the inhabitants only minutes before the tree split and ripped the wall off their house exposing the room inside.
In 2015 near Dos Brazos we watched during a storm as the winds toppled over twenty trees, some up to two feet across.
The steep mountains of Corcovado also are very active with landslides, particularly in the wet season. These range from small sloughs to entire hillsides.
I am very grateful to the rangers and miners and others I walked through the forest with. I was very impressed with their willingness to expose themselves to these dangers as well as the discomfort of the 100% humidity in the forest, the high heat, the strong, surprisingly cold downpours, the chiggers and biting insects, especially when camping at night.
Many from the OIJ and another Tico from the American Embassy were particularly impressive to me, as these were men and one woman who generally spend time behind a desk, but came out and struggled with us in and out of canyons, up and down waterfalls, off trail and on, sometimes trapped by darkness and walking down the middle of creeks to stay protected from snakes.
While many Osa locals accused certain other local Osa Ticos of being involved with our son's disappearance, I did not at first believe them.
The details of the Gringo seen with these locals -- with only a few possibly bad people involved -- simply did not fit what I knew of our son or his plans.
However, ultimately the local Ticos themselves convinced me that local Tico troublemakers were involved.
I had thought for the first six weeks that Cody Roman was injured, lost, or dead in the jungle. Local people tried to convince me otherwise, local people said he was the victim of foul play. And when my wife suggested that also, then I was ready to accept it.
But it looks like all of us, Ticos and Gringos alike, were wrong.
It's easy looking back to see things clearly. Much harder when looking forward.
I thank the Costa Rican people of the Osa for their empathy.
I consider them family.
And I thank them for their sacrifices and diligence, particularly in January, March and May of 2016 when the National Geographic sponsored investigation was finished, and the real generosity and helpfulness of Costa Ricans emerged.
Similarly in the early days, when two dozen Red Cross volunteers, local police, and Park Rangers risked the snakes, the falling trees, the landslides and flooding rivers to look for a foreigner.
Costa Rica is indeed a beautiful place, and nearly all of its people are both beautiful inside and out, with big, beautiful hearts.
Thank you Costa Rica.