This man has become such an inspiration to me. His name is Carlos Roberto Chavarria, he is the owner of Costa Rica Rainforest Experience, and he will be our guide for the CR 2020 photo adventure. Check out his Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Costa-Rica-Rainforest-Experience-357809570986338/
I’m trying to remember when Carlos and I first met. It was around 2008. I was on a trip with a different guide (she’s no longer in this business) who took us for a quick visit to the Tirimbina Rainforest Preserve in Sarapiqui. Carlos was, I think, the education director. We spent about 20 minutes at Tirimbina, but it was enough for me. I loved it and knew I had to take travelers there. I got Carlos’ business card, we emailed a bit back and forth, and eventually he became my go-to guy in Costa Rica.
Why is he an inspiration? Many reasons.
First, he introduced me to the concept of sustainable tourism. I’ve learned more about sustainability from Carlos than from anyone else. His passion made me commit to sustainable practices in my own work. Among other things, this means that the revenue my trips bring to Costa Rica (or Ireland, Cameroon, etc.) stays with locals there to the extent it is possible.
Second, he sets the standard for hospitality, grace, and integrity. I’ve never met anyone as accommodating as Carlos. If one of my travelers has a dietary restriction, Carlos handles it. If someone gets sick, Carlos has us at the best clinic possible with a doctor he knows personally. If we get a great idea for a side trip that isn’t on our itinerary, Carlos will do everything to make that happen. He brings so much added quality to our adventures.
Third, he runs his business in a completely ethical manner. I’ve worked with overseas hosts who pad the cost with unnecessary items, who give a quote then hike it up when it’s time to sign the contract, who promise full meals and deliver thin sandwich and apple (I’ll tell you stories off the record!) Not Carlos. I trust him because he is honest and transparent in his business dealings. Funny how that works.
Fourth, he takes amazing photographs. Really, truly, make-me-crazy-with-envy photographs. When I first met him, he was working with a low-end point and shoot, and he was taking good snapshots. Now he is a studied, skilled nature photographer. He has taken classes, done tutorials, studied photography from every angle, and has he developed his photographer’s eye. Check out his amazing work on his FB page.
Finally, Carlos has mentored many of his former employees, friends, and clients into their own travel businesses, me included. Carlos is the one I text when I feel panicked about Picture It Adventures. He’s the one who keeps reminding me that it takes time and patience to build a business. And he is always the one to remind me that the most important thing in this business is to ensure that every member of a trip feels important to the experience, meets their goals, and has an unforgettable time. The rest will follow, he says. And I believe him. Because he is an inspiration.