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Success Tips From Surviving In The Costa Rican Rain Forest
Recently, Bear Grylls, a survival expert, parachuted into the rain forest of Costa Rica. It is one of the most dangerous forests in existence. It covers 300 square miles described as the most biologically intense place on Earth.
The Red Cross rescued 94 people there last year. Baer described the purpose of his visit: “My goal is to show you the skills you need to survive and find your way in the rainforest.”
Part of success is finding your way and envisioning the end result of finding your way. Bear Grylls imagined the warm bed that would be available upon reaching civilization.
Most of us already have a warm bed available but don’t appreciate it enough! Most of us don’t appreciate our computers enough.
We just need to check out to find our way home
http://maps.google.com Enter your home address and then press ‘Enter’.
If you want an aerial view, click the ‘Satellite’ button when the map appears. Of course, the bear lacked both a nice, warm bed and a computer!
All he had was a knife and a bottle of water. People who get lost in the forest have only the clothes on their backs. The bear landed in trees sixty feet tall. He hit the ground running in style.
He decided to go downhill to find a stream or river to get out of the forest. There are many jaguars in this part of the rainforest but snakes and small animals are more dangerous.
The forest growth was really dense. Bear was getting nowhere: “I need another plan.” Successful people are not afraid to change their plans as needed.
With no aerial photos or computers, he had to climb the tallest tree to see the route. It was dangerous.
Above the canopy he could see miles of forest in all directions. However, he noticed a slight depression in the forest where one side was higher than the other. This suggested a river and gave the bear a possible direction.
You just need to be careful where you step when walking. You can get bit if you step over a log or grab a vine without looking. He saw a fer de lance snake:
“These guys are responsible for more deaths than any other snake in Central and South America. Fer de lance means lance head. If it hit and bit me, I’d be dead before nightfall.”
Many snakes are extremely dangerous. Two lakh people report snake bites every year. 60,000 of those bitten die. Many of us fail to appreciate the relative safety of our own lives, and appreciation is a large part of success. We tend to get more of what we are grateful for.
He saw a stream and followed it for direction and water. You can survive three weeks without food but only two days without water.
If the water is flowing fast and animals like crayfish are swimming around, it’s probably harmless. It tasted good to the bear who drank freely.
The path the bear was following may not have been the fastest or safest but: “I have this path.” Successful people don’t sit around complaining that they don’t have all the information they need. They just use what they have.
Next he came in front of a tall waterfall. The ferry would take two hours and it would be dark by then. He climbed down using some vines.
To prepare a shelter for the night, the bear needed a sharp knife. He found a quartz-like stone which he broke and dropped on the ground, and applied the bark to some wet wood.
He then moved the knife up and down to sharpen the stick. Skills are both factors of survival and success.
The bear left the stream to find plants to eat. They are the easiest source of food in this forest. There are plenty of them and they don’t run away:
“Avoid bright red berries and, in most cases, plants with milky juice. Test the juice on your skin to see if you have a reaction and try eating a small piece but be prepared to spit it out.”
He found some black mouth berries that were full of good natural sugars. Eating healthy and taking care of yourself is key to success.
The bear now sought shelter. The rain forest is a few degrees north of the equator. Day and night are equal in this area.
Falling trees and branches are the biggest killers of people in the forest so you need to find clear land away from trees.
He needed shelter because it was rainy season and he needed a fire not to keep warm but to give himself a break from the mosquitoes. Mosquitoes are annoying and can carry diseases like dengue fever and malaria.
Clear the ground with a stick, not by hand. There may be snakes or scorpions around. When I was a child in a concentration camp in China, I saw my father’s back swollen with a scorpion sting.
Its venomous sting usually cannot kill a healthy adult, but the venom of some types of scorpions can kill the young, the sick, and the elderly.
He used a knife and a branch as a hammer to cut down some small trees to build his shelter. He used a makeshift bow and three pieces of wood to start a fire, and placed termite nests on the fire to help keep mosquitoes out.
Successful people use whatever is available to them to achieve their goals.
The bear suffered from diarrhea and vomiting and could not sleep at all. He felt cold and shivering. He wasn’t sure what he had done wrong. He hoped he wasn’t suffering from dysentery – a severe form of diarrhea.
“I think I just picked up a stomach bug maybe from touching animal crap.”
Maybe the bear drank that water. Boil water for at least 5 minutes before drinking.
Diarrhea causes the body to lose water and salt, and you are more likely to get heatstroke. Every year, hikers die from not drinking enough water.
Although the jungle can make you sick, it can also help you if you know what to look for. Bear, like all successful people, does not give up even when he is sick.
Instead, he remembered a milk tree—nature’s milk of magnesia—that he had passed half a mile back. He climbed back up the waterfall.
Almost half of the medicines we use have been developed from rainforest plants. The pain reliever ibuprofen was synthesized from a vine called the monkey ladder tree.
The bear found a milk tree and absorbed the milky juice that would settle in its stomach. Normally, milky juice is a danger sign but not in this case.
He went back downstream and his appetite returned. He cut down a palm tree and ate some of the heart of the date palm. The center is white and sweet and tastes a bit like asparagus.
“You can almost taste the nutrition in it.”
The bear prepared for another night in the forest. He cut the sap from the camphor tree. Camphor is a substance made from moth balls and has the same effect on mosquitoes as it does on moths.
He also used camphor resin to make a torch that would help him find shrimp or crayfish. Four crayfish made him a proper meal. His excitement grew when he saw the crayfish being cooked.
In survival situations, battles are won or lost. There is a story about 17-year-old Marcos Martínez, who is separated from his uncle in the area and spends thirteen days and nights alone in the jungle living on green bananas and polluted water from streams.
After walking 40 kilometers sick, dehydrated and dejected, Marcos emerged from the forest.
He said his biggest fear was thinking about animals at night but his faith in God kept him going. Whatever you use to keep your spirits up will help you survive. Sometimes it’s nothing more than campfire food that keeps you motivated. Successful people find ways to keep their spirits up.
It rained overnight and the shelter lasted only four hours. By morning the bear was soaked and dejected.
He didn’t want to spend a sleepless night in the forest. He wanted to get out of the forest as fast as he could, especially since he didn’t have a river.
There were spectacular caimans, close relatives of crocodiles, moving menacingly through the shallows. Further down the river might be American alligators that were twice as big and ten times as nasty:
“If I meet them I may be in real trouble. I keep the stick with me. You should never go near a crocodile but if you advise, go to its eyes and nostrils.”
Successful people like to prepare well for potential crises. Robert Ringer leaves nearly two hours to catch his plane. You never know what obstacles may disrupt your best laid plans in the real world as opposed to the ideal world. The forest is definitely part of the real world.
The river had widened now. Bear was eager to complete his mission:
“I’ll likely be in a warm, cozy bed by tonight.”
He pushed across the river with a stick to scare off any snakes in the river. On the other side, he cut down a balsa tree that could be the support of his raft. He used bark to bind his logs together.
He went down the river and found that floating was much faster than walking. He noticed that he was now passing through mangroves – salt-tolerant plants that grow out of water. The tide was rushing out and pulling him against the knot:
“I could be taken straight into the Pacific if I’m not careful.”
The bear tried to make its way through the mangrove swamp but it turned out to be a nightmare. He spent three hours climbing through the swamp but could find nothing.
He decided to return to his raft and take a chance on the river. He reached the mouth of the river just as the tide was going out and was washed out into the Pacific Ocean.
“If you get caught in a current like that, don’t fight it. You’ll just get tired. Just paddle parallel to the shore and sooner or later you’ll get out of the current and then you can swim to shore.”
Successful people are not afraid. They stay calm, conserve their energy and use their brains.
The bear did all this and soon reached a beautiful beach he had no idea where the beach was but he didn’t care as he saw electric lights flashing across miles of sand. He could relax now because electricity meant people and people meant security.
The jungle can be scary when you’re lost, and it can quickly sap your strength. But it’s a strange world. It’s a world that’s getting smaller. Every second, an area the size of a football pitch disappears. One day the rain forest may not exist as it is lost.
Baer commented: “I hope that day never comes because it’s a very special place, but for me, it’s definitely time to go home.”
Survive or succeed, then find your way by using whatever tools you have, seeing your goals, adjusting your plans, learning useful skills, keeping your morale up, preparing well, appreciating and using what you have. Staying safe and healthy!
Above all, success comes after action. Bear Grylls continues to move and take action even when he is sick. If we follow his example, we will not go far wrong.
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