The retreat/reserve

Trip Start Apr 08, 2012
Trip End Apr 13, 2012

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Flag of Costa Rica  , Heredia Province,
Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Chilamate rainforest Eco retreat

It is hard to say which is more inspiring at this Eco-retreat, the forest itself or the welcoming hosts and creators of the human infrastructure there. The vision, talent and sheer hard labor to create cabins, covered walkways and a pleasant open restaurant and bar out of natural and local materials is considerable. Talking with Meghan or Davis leaves you with the impression that they are truly happy in what they are doing, which goes well beyond supervising and doing the work of feeding and housing travelers. There are kilometers of fencing to keep in good repair to protect the reserve from neighboring cattle. They are active members of their community, helping local schools do environmental education, designing and building playgrounds, and more. They serve as a link between the tourists they attract and local, sustainable enterprises from selling locally created crafts to arranging for tours of other projects and farms in the community. I was especially impressed with their commitment to using the retreat to attract folks willing to bring their talents to benefit local people, and their commitment to the arts. Our visit coincided with the beginning of a self portrait collage project that two American women were running for both children and adults for a week. There is a great open air classroom spot with tables and benches to rearrange for meeting or classes. I feel energized through their example to recommit to my own community and environmental projects at home.
I forgot to mention the food! Fresh fruit juices, fruit, yogurt, sweet bread, fried plantains, cereal, toast, jelly, eggs and gallo pinto in the morning, as well as coffee and tea. We ate very well, although not like traditional Cost Ricans, who have a large breakfast and lunch, with just a small bit of dinner before an early bedtime. I would, too if I were working in the fields all day.
In our one full day at the retreat, we hiked for 6 hours in the rainforest in two hour chunks, alternating with swims in the river, eating, and watching birds and monkeys on the inhabited grounds. In our unguided hikes, we marveled over the shapes and colors of the first plants, making connections to our limited knowledge of rainforest ecology and of plant and animal biology in general. Some plants are recognizable as larger, robust versions of houslants in tne US. Michael proved to be ski
Led in two important areas - finding frogs and finding our way along the trails. He is quite remarkable in making a mental map of a trail system, which we have only benefitted from so handily when finding our way through corn mazes in the past.
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