Jon Fauer and Steve Turner were last seen in this blog staggering, still tuxedoed, out of the ASC Awards after-party and, several hours later, roaming a Revenant-worthy rainforest in Costa Rica. We were in Parque Nacional Tapanti, 223 square miles of the wettest rainforest in Costa Rica, with 26 feet of annual rainfall. The infamous Cerro de la Muerte (Mountain of Death) ascends 11,322 ft to the south: the highest point in Costa Rica on the Pan-American Highway. Our destination, the Vitec Factory in Cartago, a half hour away, for a tour of the OConnor manufacturing facility.
The Vitec Videocom Costa Rica Factory occupies a large building in a modern industrial park on the outskirts of Cartago. This historic city in the center of the country was once the capital, before the government relocated to nearby San Jose in 1823.
“Pura vida” is an expression you hear all the time in Costa Rica. It refers to pure life, happiness and optimism. According to Time Magazine and the Happy Planet Index (HPI), Costa Rica is the happiest country on Earth.
Being a cynical New Yorker, I wasn’t sold on the happy, smiley thing until what happened next…
“How would you like to build an OConnor 2575D?” Steve Turner asked. Being the consummate geek, I immediately accepted.
“Meet your professors,” John Hill said as he introduced me to the grinning OConnor assembly group. Were they smiling because this was a crazy idea? Would I manage to emerge unscathed, with all fingers and toes intact? Could I actually help build a finished fluid head from the 635 parts arranged in bins to our left—with names like Sector Drag Assembly and Upper Wiffletree Bearing?