Damian was born on Long Island, NY and raised “upstate” in the country. Spanish was spoken at home by his Ecuadorian father, David, who is an electrical engineer, and his North American mother, Joyce, an early childhood educator, who is bilingual. Damian has a younger sister and brother at home.
His parents are still happily together and have been the steadfast rock and support in his life to this day. As a boy in upstate New York, Damian would organize trips for his friends to fish the nearby streams and hike to all the waterfalls they could find.
He was forever on the move looking for the next outdoor adventure. Baseball, basketball and volleyball were among the sports he excelled at, even through his college years. After graduating from Hawthorne Valley Waldorf High School, he earned a B.A. in Outdoor Leadership (with a minor in Spanish) from Warren Wilson College, near Asheville, North Carolina.
Damian also trained with Jaimen McMillan at the Spacial Dynamics Institute in Mechanicville, NY and graduated as a certified SDI movement educator. (See the SDI web page: www.spacialdynamics.com).
Damian spent his junior year in college in Costa Rica (1997-98), when he became fascinated with the Central Pacific Coast and did an internship with one of the tour operators in Manuel Antonio. That is where he made friends with colleagues like Melvin Bejarano and began to learn about the wildlife and nature of the Central Pacific.
The following year, he packed his bags and moved to Costa Rica, beginning a 14-year rafting, hiking and inland fishing guiding career. Damian is looking forward, along with his partner Melvin, to showing visitors a new way of enjoying adventure tourism in the Central Pacific region of Costa Rica.
Melvin is a true native of Quepos and Manuel Antonio. He was raised there, along with his three younger brothers, by his loving parents, Rosemary and Jose Bejarano. Life was not always easy back in the early ’80s before tourism took root in the area. His dad worked in construction and his mom stayed at home and always made sure the family was well-fed and taken care of.
Mel and his brothers did their share–gathering seasonal fruit from tropical trees, harvesting shrimp from the local creeks and fish from the ocean. They lived a healthy, vigorous life, enjoying the outdoors and sports, excelling at soccer.
After graduating from the Quepos high school in 1992, where he excelled in English, Mel studied hotel administration for two years at college, but realized that this was not his calling—he longed for a career in the outdoors. When he was offered an opportuniy to go to Canada to work, sponsored by a Canadian family (who are close friends to this day), he did not hesitate. He remained there for six months and perfected his English. Then he returned home to begin his guiding career for one of the first tourism companies in Quepos.
From 1996 to the present, Mel has been guiding ocean kayaking, mangrove boat tours, and whitewater rafting trips, but not always in Costa Rica. Widely respected for his talents as a rafting guide and his friendly rapport with customers, he has worked out of Vail, Colorado, and in Chile and Argentina.
Mel is certified through INA (Costa Rica Institute for Higher Learning) as a local guide, including first aid and CPR.
Over the past decade Mel has seen the tourism scene change drastically in his area, becoming too impersonal and commercial, so he is seeking a return to the old ways: smaller, friendlier, more individualized service. Fortunately, his long-time pal Damian felt the same way, and now the Tico-Gringo connection has taken off. They are looking forward to bringing their knowledge and experience of a combined 30 years into every tour they take you on. So please come and enjoy the Central Pacific in ways you never could have imagined.