Since his birth in 1987 Cristian Cascante lived at Hacienda Barú almost continuously until his marriage in 2010. He went to primary school in Dominical, but didn’t go on to high school right away. Later in life he acquired his high school diploma after several years of online study. Growing up here means he has been familiar with the flora and fauna since a very young age. Birds have always held a special fascination for him.
Cristian became an apprentice guide at Hacienda Barú in 2005. His brothers Deiner and Freddy were already guiding at that time, and it was a great opportunity to pursue his interest in birds. He learned everything he could from our other birding guides and from books such as Birds of Costa Rica, and, after a year of apprenticeship, he became a full fledged guide.
In 2012 Cristian left Hacienda Barú to pursue another type of work. Compared to guiding he found other vocations boring, and returned to Hacienda Barú in 2015.
Today Cristian says that he is still fascinated with birds, but has learned an equal appreciation for mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and insects. Though it would be difficult to pick a favorite species both two-toed and three-toed sloths are now at the top of his list.
His most emotional experience in the rainforest took place one day while while the group of visitors he was guiding were observing a group of spider monkeys and the roar of a group of howler monkeys erupted from deep in the forest. This was exciting for the visitors who had seen white-faced capuchin monkeys earlier in the tour, but for Cristian is was a nostalgic moment. He reminisced that as a child he had known only the white-faced monkeys but had never seen either of the other two species. All of the spider monkeys and howler monkeys in this area died during an epidemic of yellow fever in 1947. The spider monkeys first reappeared on Hacienda Barú in 1997, and the howlers in 2013, and now Cristian was able to encounter three species of monkey during one tour and share the experience with the guests.