As the month of October is winding down, I want to reflect a bit on my time here! During our time here, one of the top destinations that was constantly mentioned to us was Monteverde, a small mountainous town on the northern part of the Puntarenas province that houses a number of cloud rain forests that contribute greatly to shelter an immense number of unique flora and fauna species. The moisture-rich region is the perfect environment for producing the biodiversity that Costa Rica is known for, given that the region’s number of rain forests have within them, seven different ecological life zones.
We decided to pick one of the closest hostels so that we could be walking distance to the privately-owned, Monteverde Biological Cloud Forest Biological Preserve of the Tropic Science Center, one of the most well-known cloud forests of Costa Rica. Needless to say, we spent most of our Saturday morning and early afternoon exploring the entire biological reserve by following the various paths that took us to a wonderful waterfall, a suspension bridge and a breathtaking view on a ledge that overlooked a portion of the reserve.
I really enjoyed our trip to Monteverde because it gave me the opportunity to truly appreciate how important it is to continue the process of doing our best to preserve these biodiverse regions. Considering the recent climate strikes in the name of saving Earth that have occurred from nearly every corner of our world, I believe that in order to survive as a civilization and to continue to preserve these unique ecosystems, we must make every effort to save our planet. These unique microclimates can only tolerate such drastic temperature changes in a relatively short period of time for so long. If we continue to let our civilization trash, exploit and destroy nature at the current rat, we will eventually render our Earth barren.
One of the things that I have been looking forward to within my program, was the four-day excursion to Boquete, Panama with my fellow sol mates and program directors! Being able to experience a different culture, dialect and way of life for a few days was truly remarkable, it really made me realize how Latin American cultures can be so similar and yet so distinct from one another.
Our first day, we ventured out to a local Panamanian farm where we got to milk a cow, pet chickens and turkeys and learn a bit more of the crops grown on these farmlands like sugarcane, coffee beans and other plants. We also got really hands on and as a group, got to see the process of cheesemaking in action! Additionally, we got to taste sugarcane juice, which was processed through a machine located right there at the farm and we got mix it with a variety of different fruit juices to lessen the sweetness of the sugarcane with a bit more of a acidic punch to balance the overall flavor nicely.
We also went to the Boquete Tree Trek Eco Adventure park where we hiked through a cloudy forest, nothing too out of the ordinary considering that Boquete is part of the Chiriquí Highlands. The guided tour included six suspension bridges of various lengths and altitudes and we got to see a number of native plants that are unique to this region in Panama. With the help of our local guides, we stopped to hear native species of birds singing in the distance, hoping to get a glimpse of some of the native species but it was to no avail. Nevertheless, we still had a really fantastic time hiking through this Panamanian forest and learning a bit more about the culture that makes Boquete so unique.
I found it rather interesting that almost everywhere that we went, they accepted USD currency and this is due to the fact that because the United States was stationed for quite some time in different parts of Panama when the Panama Canal was being constructed. Despite that the ownership of the canal was given back to Panama in the early 2000s, the U.S. dollar took root since the country has no real paper currency.
Overall, this pattern of alternating between staying in tranquil, rural regions and enjoying the crowded city streets has keep me sane. It keeps me ready for my next adventure and it is slowly turning me into an individual that is more into spontaneous adventures now (something that my very-structured-life self would never see myself doing). Costa Rica, I know you have so much more surprises waiting for me!