Jose Luis Parajeles just turned 57. He has been working for Lapa Rios Ecolodge for 21 years. The last five years he worked as a driver bringing guests from the Puerto Jimenez landing strip to the lodge and back. For the 16 years prior to this, he drove the supply truck to San Jose once a week; this was before the food suppliers would drive south to deliver their goods. It was a tough job. It was a minimum drive of eight to 10 hours each way, and included hundreds of potholes and crossing the “cerro de la muerte” (death pass) that traveled up over 3,000 meters above sea level, before dealing with San Jose traffic.
Luis Jose Parajeles is 26 years old. He has been working at Lapa Rios as a nature guide for two years and is Jose Luis’ son. Lapa Rios has been an important part of his life ever since he was a little boy as he would accompany his father during school vacation on the trips to San Jose. He remembers John Lewis, the co-founder of Lapa Rios, always telling him that he would work at Lapa Rios and take the driving job from his father once he was old enough. While he wasn’t too keen on driving, he did develop a passion for nature and birding.
Then, there is Cecia Parajeles. Unlike her dad and brother, she doesn’t work at Lapa Rios. But, the property did pay for education at the private school in Puerto Jimenez. She is now studying medicine and nutrition at university in San Jose. Maybe someday she will come back and help us improve the level of health care in the local community.
Jose is proud of what he and his children have achieved. He loves to have contact with guests and is constantly improving his English. Driving with him from Puerto Jimenez to the Lodge is almost like the first tour guests embark on. He has a sharp eye and can point out many animals and birds. Ask him about his experiences in during his “San Jose Truck Trips” if you ride with him. He will be delighted to tell his story.