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Juan Jose, 24, was born in the mountainous province of Turrialba, near the same rivers on which he now leads rafting trips. Before coming to Costa Rica Expeditions he worked as the safety kayak for different rafting companies. His first job was on the river with his cousins, who were guides themselves.

“After school I would head to the Reventazon River to help my cousins,” he recalls. “We would pull the boats out of the water and store the equipment. But before putting everything away, my cousin would teach me how to use the kayak. I learned to roll and also began to run rapids.” Not long after, Juan Jose entered a kayak school and took up the sport seriously. He was selected for the national team and competed in slalom at the Panamerican Games in Chile in 2001. Juan Jose's birthday is June 5, 1983.