Our ears provided us with a forewarning of the impending state of things to come. It started as a light pitter-patter emanating from high above our heads as if a percussion orchestra was warming up for its performance for us, an audience of alien visitors in this foreign contextual setting. As the drumming picked up rhythm and increased in volume, I looked around at my fellow classmates as they scrambled to ensconce their valuables in a variety of plastic bags. Few of us had brought sufficient gear for this heavenly change of events and yet there were no panicked expressions on display. We all simultaneously seemed to except the truth of what lay in the near future. After about a minute, the physical root of our instrumental warning finally greeted us in cool droplets as we settled in for a saturated trek through the Caribbean rainforests of Costa Rica.
Samuel Viroslav, our professor for our corporate social responsibility class, which has been dominating our time at ULACIT for more than a week now, had set us away from the classroom this Monday the 26th of July. This little field trip had begun at 7 am in front of ULACIT’s main entry with 15 students (Verena had stayed home sick) accompanied by Phillip, Leonardo and four guides from Fundecor. Fundecor is an organization dedicated to the sustainable management of Costa Rica’s gorgeous forests. We were soon to learn that this occurs through two avenues, planted homogeneous forests that are tended to much like a farm and then also through extracting certain mature trees directly out of the wild rainforest itself.
Granted, Sam had warned us of the high probability that we would be running into wet and muddy conditions and as such had advised that we wear rubber boots and bring a second set of dry clothes just in case. Maybe I simply got lost in the enjoyment of the day, which had supplied me with two free and delicious meals, but Sam’s warnings had not hit home until the moment the rain started falling. However, in the end our soaked situation ended up adding to the experience immensely! After all, it is a rainforest; what better time to experience it then in the rain?
Slipping and sliding all over the place we traversed through the thick foliage, yielding every so often to fully digest our surroundings. Pure magnificence! It was everything I thought it could be and so much more. I’m still somewhat astounded that Fundecor is able to convince land owners to chose the preserved rainforest option for harvesting timber, because it makes little economic sense. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy they’re doing it, but I suppose my mind is partially twisted from my American upbringing. If this same proposition was attempted in the US, I have doubts that it would be embraced so readily.
by Daniel Nowell