Saturday, November 14, 2009

The GreenTracks Crew - René Pérez

Our relationship with René Pérez, affectionately known to all as “Cosho,” began so long ago we can’t recall how it started. The grapevine is potent in the Amazon and word travels fast, so our non-traditional approach to eco-tourism soon had Cosho looking for us. By non-traditional we mean to say that tour operations tend to use guides first for their ability in English and secondarily for their deep knowledge of the forest. We’ve spent most of our lives in the Tropics, so our interest was less linguistic and more focused on woodsmen. We reasoned that it is easier to teach a second language than it is to gain deep knowledge about the rainforest.

When a grinning Cosho appeared, it took no time to realize that he was the woodsman supreme. The oldest of 18 (!) children, Cosho grew up in the riverside village of Yanamono, about four hours down the Amazon from Iquitos. His father was widely respected for his abilities as a traditional healer and Cosho always accompanied him on his treks in the forest. He got his training from his dad and his toughness from his mother. A unique blend of independence, deep knowledge of the forest, athleticism, and irrepressible impishness guaranteed that Cosho would fit right in to our program.

He’s wiry and tough as boot leather, possessed of an inquisitive mind and a boundless energy that leaves everyone wondering just when he sleeps. His tireless ministrations, from scrubbing everyone’s muddy boots to carving mementos from the forest have endeared him to all. When GreenTracks hosts film crews from Discovery, Animal Planet, National Geographic, or the BBC, Cosho is front-and-center. Invariably the producers and directors come away stating that their time would have been spent more productively filming Cosho himself!

His other nickname, and it is an apt one, translates to “multi-use,” but “indispensable” might come even closer to describing this man. From cooking (excellent cuisine!) to outboard motor repair to unerring bushwhacker, the irrepressible Cosho has become an integral part of GreenTracks’ Amazonian endeavors, and he has also proven himself to be an unforgettable character.



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