Celebrating the holidays in Costa Rica

holidays in Costa RicaSo here’s kind of a random question but stick with me…

If you owned a restaurant in the US, would you offer a Thanksgiving meal in October for any Canadians living in your area? (my guess is probably not)

Frequently asked question this time of year on Costa Rica Facebook groups:

What local restaurants are offering a Thanksgiving meal? 

This post is for both locals and for tourists visiting from the US.  One, if you’re an expat living here, make the dinner yourself.  Two, if you’re a visitor, don’t plan your Costa Rica vacation around a US holiday that you want to celebrate.

Costa Rica is not a US territory.  It does not celebrate a US Thanksgiving (or a Canadian one).  That also goes for other holidays.  Independence Day is September 15th, not July 4th.  It’s frustrating to me that expats are looking for fireworks on July 4th.

Last year, ICE (the electric company) had planned an outage for November 28, which just happened to be the fourth Thursday.  So many people complained that they wouldn’t be able to cook their Thanksgiving dinner that ICE rescheduled their work for another day.

Here’s the takeaway: if you decide to live in another country, learn what that country’s holidays and traditions are and celebrate THOSE days. Participate in the festivities of the country you are living in. If you want to have your own personal celebration for your country’s holidays, that’s great.  But don’t make local establishments change their schedules or prepare something special for you.  Does Thanksgiving really have to be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November?  No…considering you’ve chosen not to even live in the US, you could technically celebrate it any day…or every day.

Chrissy

A day at Sábalo

One of the things that I feel really blessed with is the flexibility of my job which enables me to participate in activities that, if I had a “real” job, I wouldn’t be able to do.

Equilibrium at Sabalo school 2

I’ve mentioned Sábalo and Equilibrium in the past but normally I’m off on my own when I do this volunteer work.  So it was really special for me to actually get to take part in the program and see my friends from San Jose at the same time.

On this particular day, we left at 7 a.m. and returned at about 2 p.m.  Sábalo is a very small village about 30 minutes southeast from where I live in Manuel Antonio.  We passed through African palm plantations and drove along dirt roads with small homes popping up every once  in a while and the occasional cow slowly eating its breakfast beside the road.  One of the most frustrating moments of the day was when I was told they couldn’t get tourists at the Manuel Antonio hotels to go there because, the reason they thought was, “it was too far”.  Tourists go zip lining in an area that is at least 30 minutes away (if not more) from the Manuel Antonio area. So I don’t think it has anything to do with the amount of time it takes to get there.  And if it’s because it’s a 4 hour program, then why not just plan a 2 hour day where they leave after the first break?  Immersing yourself into the local community is a major part of eco travel and since many of the hotels in my area are considered “sustainable”, you’d think they’d try a little harder to encourage guests to participate and learn about the country and its people. (just one of my many frustrations, can you tell?).

It was a partly cloudy day and Michelle told me to be grateful as most days it had been blazing hot and there are no fans or air conditioning in the one room schoolhouse.  At Sábalo, there are just two buildings and a set of bathrooms plus a large grassy area.  One room is the kitchen/dining area for the kids and the other is the schoolhouse.  About 15 local kids take part in daily studies until noon.  There is one teacher for all 15, and the ages range from 6-15.  There is no principal or nurse on site.  The only adults are the teacher (who actually lives in Guanacaste and commutes home every weekend) and the cook who comes in just before noon to prepare lunch for the kids.

Equilibrium at Sabalo school, environmental education in Costa Rica

Equilibrium visits the school every Thursday and is responsible for that day’s curriculum.  They provide the kids with learning activities and lectures on environmental education and teach them their role in protecting the planet.  They started off with a meditation in which Michelle read aloud what each child was grateful for (one of their assignments was to draw on small pieces of paper and write a gratitude letter).

Equilibrium has designed such a beautiful program and you can see the kids are not only engaged but learning and understanding the concepts being presented.  Which will hopefully cause a ripple effect as they take these concepts home and talk about it with their families. I was happy to learn that they’ve received additional funding and will be expanding the program to other cities and schools in Costa Rica.

As an aside however, it’s always a bit difficult for me to understand how kids can learn in that type of environment.  Not the environmental education, per se, but just day-to-day schooling.  I can’t imagine having attended a school where I was 6 and there was someone else who was 15 in my class.  You can tell that a lot of these kids are so very smart but they’re in an unfair situation.  The teacher does his best but they don’t even go to school for an entire day.  I asked how much homework the kids are sent home with and was told…very little.

And then there are the social inequalities and the lack of resources to teach other subjects like health education.  One of the girls was pregnant (at 14 years old) and appeared completely miserable and depressed.  Several of her friends were touching her belly throughout the morning and all I could think was…oh dear, with no health education, they’re all going to think this is so cool and all get pregnant.  I was told that when she has the baby, she can no longer live with her parents and will go to live with her 17 year old boyfriend.  Another girl who is 15 but only at the 5th grade level said that she would live with her boyfriend when she gets into 6th grade.

It’s so disheartening.  This little village is out in the middle of nowhere, and it’s almost like it’s forgotten (except, of course, by the people at Equilibrium).  And I wonder how many other little villages are like this one throughout the country?  Education is supposedly so important here.  It’s one of the reasons Costa Rica doesn’t have a military – because the money is supposed to be diverted to free education and health care for all.  So why are these kids drawing the short end of the stick?

I’m really grateful for the work that Equilibrium is doing but I also wish there was an all together different setup that they could work in.

Pura vida…Chrissy

Living consciously in Costa Rica {Part 2}

animal friendly signs in Costa Rica

It’s been almost 2 years since I wrote this post about becoming more intentional in my daily life here in Costa Rica.  Geez.  2 years.  Where have those 2 years gone?  Part of the problem has been, as a new business owner, working many many long 12-14 hour days, 7 days a week.  The other part is still just trying to feel settled into living in a foreign country where nothing seems “normal”.  And accepting the fact that it probably never will feel normal.

But then two things happened that triggered the memory of this list and that feeling that I needed to get my a** in gear as there was really no reason that I couldn’t be more sustainable at this point, living here in Costa Rica.

  1. During my visit to Tamarindo in June, I had dinner with Kevin at my favorite pizza place. To be totally honest, I was still a little hungover from the day before (not something I’m super proud of at nearly 40 years of age but my business coach was quite happy that I finally took a day off and enjoyed myself) so I just ordered a salad but the salad had a hardboiled egg on it. He asked me…why aren’t you vegan?

I really had no good reason to give him at this point.  Before, in Tamarindo, it was because getting to Automercado was such a hassle (and consumed my entire paycheck).  And even then, I couldn’t always find what I needed.  Now living in Quepos where everything is so easily walkable (and much cheaper taxis than Tamarindo) and with a weekly farmer’s market year round, I just didn’t have a good reason other than…I like grilled cheese sandwiches. Especially after finding the vendor with the freshly made sourdough bread at the farmer’s market and another vendor with the artisan cheese. That being said, while there’s still a lot of products that I can’t find, I’ve started to learn the workarounds and am now 99% vegan.  The only time I eat butter, cheese or eggs is if I go out with friends.  And even that is rare because I am still working more often than not…something I’m diligently working on reducing!

  1. As I briefly mentioned in a recent post, I happened to have a conversation with someone who told me that his actions have no impact on anything else in the world. To say that I was stunned would be an understatement. A BIG understatement. He proceeded to explain to me that it was just me and my “little clique of friends” who think that we need to be more sustainable in our daily lives.  At the time, I just couldn’t think of any response to tell him other than: “With that mentality, you probably picked the wrong country to live in”.  Okay, I admit, that may have been a little harsh.

But really, Costa Rica is an eco country.  It’s not perfect, it’s definitely got its problems of greenwashing.  But overall, the country as a whole is trying to make a difference.  The majority of the people here respect the environment and understand what’s at stake if we don’t.  When you go to Automercado and don’t have a bag, they try to sell you a reusable one.  All over the country are signs asking people to slow down in their cars because of animal crossings.  There are signs not to feed the wildlife. 25% of the land is protected and can’t be built on (compare that to just 8% in El Salvador of which 2% is primary forest).

animal friendly signs in Costa Rica

So here’s a quick update to the list I created originally in November 2012:

Positive Expressions – 2012 Needs Improvement – 2012 September 2014 Update
No car I have shipped a lot of products from the States here Still no car (although some days I really wish I had one), and now finding very nice “mules” to bring me items from the States
I don’t use the air conditioning in my home.  Fans and fresh air only Food choices – a lot of what I eat is not grown locally No air conditioning in my home now but my fans are never turned off (mold will grow rapidly if I turn them off). Most everything is fresh and local.
Preparing and sharing healthy, vegetarian meals with friends Since the move, started eating eggs and cheese again I’ve gone back to being 99% vegan (only eating eggs/cheese when I go out socially). And most items come from the Saturday farmer’s market and the local vegetable market
Supporting locals: restaurants and artisans Finding other ways to give back to the local community Working with a few nonprofits at reduced rates
Using my hemp napkins for water glasses (since the cold water melts all over the place) People should buy stock in paper towels as I’ve gone through more   rolls in 6 months than I did in a few years of living in California Still have my hemp napkins and my Circle of Life reusable bag that goes with me everywhere. A lot less paper towel usage since I have now just learned to live with the ants
Saved a garrobo from drowning in the pool A lot of ants have died on my watch (hence the extreme paper towel   usage) There’s very little killing in my house now that the ants have become roommates. It’s gotta be a gigantic cockroach or monster spider to get me to whack it with my shoe and even then, I sometimes still manage to let them live
Only doing large loads of laundry so as to not waste electricity and water Having to wash clothes more often, even when they haven’t been worn   because everything gets a funky smell here from the humidity With the fans and leaving my windows open at all times, there’s a lot better circulation in my home. Plus, I don’t have a dryer so everything is dried by the sun (even if it does sometimes take 3 days)
Buying local, organic, shade grown coffee Not being able to find much organic produce Some of the farmer’s at the feria are organic but most is still conventionally grown
Sharing the beauty of Costa Rica/Nicaragua with others through photos and writing Not being able to really spend time on my personal projects, writing   and sorting through the hundreds of photos I take each month Having hired an assistant, I’m working less nowadays which has freed up my time to both work on my personal projects.
Paying an above average wage to my housekeeper Getting back on the yoga mat With my new found free time, I exercise more and still pay a living wage to my housekeeper…now I just wish I could pay her to come more frequently!

 

My goal is to continue to provide you with updates on living more intentionally in Costa Rica.  I want this blog to not just be about the crazy backwards upside down not-normal things that happen here.  My hope is to lead by example and that by choosing to live simply, sustainably, ecofriendly — whatever you want to call it, we can each find the beauty of simplicity and pura vida in our daily lives.

Pura vida…Chrissy

It’s a small small world

It’s a small small world, especially here in Costa Rica with a population of just about 4.5 million.  I am constantly running into people I know, which never really happened to me in California!

A few weeks ago, I got a facebook message from a woman, unknown to me, who lives in Miami.  She introduced herself and wrote that while I didn’t know her, she had recently found my blog and was so happy to see a picture of her parents.  The blog she was referring to was this one here that I wrote last August about the reforestation day that I attended with Titi Conservation Alliance, one of my non-profit clients.

Property 1

She told me that her brother had shown the blog to her parents and they were super happy about what I wrote and that they remember me as well.  I still think about Jorge and Mireya often as they were such a kind and lovely couple, inviting me into their home for snacks after the hot day of planting trees on their property. They had graciously invited me to return to their home and while I’d love to visit, it’s just so difficult to get to where they live without a car.  But someday I do hope to return and see them again. Plus, wouldn’t it be so much fun to play on the swings!

property 2

While she is living in Florida now with her family, she told me that she hopes to visit Costa Rica in 2015 for a vacation.  I so hope I’ll be able to meet her at that time.  I absolutely love how we can make connections like this.  It reminds me of just how small our big world is and that we are all interconnected.

Pura vida…Chrissy

Sunshine + Lluvia = A Colorful Rainbow of Playful Fun

pets in Costa Rica

pets in Costa RicaOn Sunday, I introduced new little loves into my home…Sunshine + Lluvia (Spanish for rain). My property owner begrudgingly obliged my request to adopt these two kittens from a woman who lives just down the road from me. Her brother had found the cats…inside a cardboard box, abandoned on the side of the road (ugh). This is now the second experience I’ve had in 6 months where cats were left inside a cardboard box (remember this post here). I don’t understand how anyone can just throw away living creatures. First, they’re ridiculously cute. But more importantly, they are living, breathing beings just like you and me.

It’s been 18 months since Harmony passed away and I really didn’t know when, or if, I’d be ready to adopt again. But (just stay with me here through this one), several months ago, their names just kind of came to me. And I knew that if I adopted again, the cats names would be Sunshine + Lluvia. I trusted that I’d know them when I saw them.

So when I saw a friend’s post on a local Facebook page with a photo of these two adorable kittens, I just kinda knew. It was Sunshine (boy, yellow tabby) and Lluvia (girl, gray and white tabby). They’re about 7 weeks old and teeny tiny!  The first day, they were a little confused and disoriented but by Monday, they had taken control of the house.  They love to play (they are seriously laugh-out-loud entertainment) and sleep (a lot) and are using all of Harmony’s cat toys, beds and blankets so really all I had to do was buy them food and litter.

Speaking of food, I think, if I knew anything about feline nutrition, I could probably turn Lluvia into a vegetarian.  The way she was trying to get at my chickpea and lentil burger makes me think there’s a chance there… On the other hand, Sunshine was too intrigued with the sheet hanging over my sofa to be bothered with what I was eating.

Over the next few weeks, they’ll have their first shots and, of course, get spayed and neutered.  I’m excited to see how their little personalities develop and who they become.  While I still miss Harmony, it’s really nice to have life again in my home.

cats in Costa Rica

I also want to take this opportunity to encourage everyone to adopt, not buy, pets.  For more on why I so strongly believe this, hop over to my wellness blog here...

Pura vida…Chrissy

 

Step by step guide on how to remove a wolf spider from your home

wolf spider in Costa Rica 3

Yesterday morning, I begrudgingly dragged myself out of bed at 5:30 a.m. after a fitful night of weird dreams and got myself on the yoga mat for an intense 45 minute workout.  Following that, I quickly downed my daily green juice (still dripping in sweat) and then proceeded to go into the bathroom and turn on the shower.  Only to look down and see a wolf spider hanging out in the corner.  A gigantic, furry, jumping, venomous wolf spider, just slightly smaller than a tarantula.

wolf spider in Costa Rica

Oh dios mio.  Seriously?  It’s just too early to be dealing with such mayhem in my home.  Thankfully, I had that green juice to pump up my energy like Popeye and deal with the situation.

So I started the task at hand by staring at it but that just seemed to bore the spider as it stretched out its front legs.

wolf spider in Costa Rica 2

I left the light on in the bathroom (they’re nocturnal right?  So if there’s a light on, it’ll think it’s daylight and go to sleep?) and started to pace around my house.  Since I can get from one side to the other in about 8 steps, that didn’t really get me very far. Meanwhile, all I could think about is how long has this gigantic spider be in my home and how did he get in (and even more important, how am I going to get him out)?

I pop back into the bathroom and it’s still stretched out in the corner.  I took a photo of it and posted it to Facebook, leaving a comment for some local friends to see if they were nearby and not working yet (and maybe they could come and rescue this poor spider from my home).  No reply…ugh.  I’m gonna have to deal with this one on my own.

I went into the kitchen and looked for my widest and tallest container.  The only one that fit the description was a brand new one that I hadn’t even used yet (and am still debating on whether I want to use it now or not).

I carefully nudged the spider out of the corner in order to get it under the container without cutting off any of its legs.  Then I took a piece of paper and nudged it under but it wasn’t strong enough.  I found a piece of cardboard but that was too thick.

By this time, another local friend had commented that I should use a magazine cover.  So while I don’t normally buy magazines, I did recall having some old Nature Air magazines sitting on top of my frig and grabbed one of those and ripped off the cover (this is why you should never throw anything away – you never know when you might need a magazine cover to deal with a spider). 

wolf spider in Costa Rica 3

That did it.  As I nudged the cover under the container, the spider ran up the side of the tall container.  Good.  It was no longer hanging out along the bottom…less chance of an escape when I turn the canister over.

wolf spider in Costa Rica 4

Okay.  Now let’s all just take a moment here and breathe.  I knew I didn’t want to attempt to right side the container until the spider had a chance to relax into its current position at the top of the canister.  I chose this “relaxing” time to open my front door.   After some time had passed, I very carefully lifted up opposite sides of the paper and the container, placing it right side up on my shower floor.

I quickly replaced the cover with the container’s lid and ran outside and downstairs to the open jungle lot next to my house.  I then opened the lid and using a swinging motion with the container, released the spider, flinging him several feet out into the wild.  Deep breath.  It landed on a branch and went off on its merry way.

And people wonder what I do all day…

Pura vida…Chrissy

The Circus came to Costa Rica

circus in Costa Rica

circus in Costa RicaThere are times, living in Costa Rica, when I feel that I live in a circus, walking on tightropes and managing the many clowns that come into my life that turn everything upside down (and I’m not just talking about the monkeys who are always flipping over the potted plant on my balcony).

But in all seriousness, the Circus really did recently come to my little town of Quepos, Costa Rica.  There were messages on local Facebook groups asking if anyone had gone and if anyone knew if there were animals being used in the acts.  The reason was because my town, and this country in general, is very conscious of the fact that animals that are held captive by circuses are abused and mistreated and no one in town would want to support an establishment that harms animals.

But because Costa Rica is so far ahead of the game in terms of being environmentally conscious and well, EVOLVED, the only animals allowed in any circus in the country are dogs and horses.  Still not perfect but so much better…a step in the right direction.

Here’s a great ad campaign that I just happened to see on Facebook that same week.  I believe it came from this site: http://accaoanimal.wordpress.com/2008/08/02/liberajuntaseacampanhaaa

animals are not clowns

 

Pura vida para todos…Chrissy

One of the World’s Wild, Magical Places: Tortuguero, Costa Rica

There is something about wild places.  Maybe it’s that there aren’t too many left in the world.  Or that there’s a sense of adventure and exploration when you visit them (especially when you travel there in a 2 seater plane and you’re flying in a tropical storm).  Or maybe it’s just a magical piece of the world that is so untouched that it takes your breath away.

Tortuguero, Costa Rica

My breath was taken away.  And magic happened.  My 2 day experience in Tortuguero was unlike any other.  I’ve been to other places that seem untouched.  Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula is one of those places.  But Osa doesn’t have anything on Tortuguero.

The day before my chartered flight, I arrived in San Jose and had a prep conversation with my client/friend.

Here’s how part of the conversation went:

Her: Did you bring shoes?

Me: Of course!

Her: Something other than flipflops?

Me: Oh…no. Do I need something other than flipflops?  We’re not going hiking!

Her: No, but you’ll be taking a boat everywhere and probably have to walk through mud to get to the school.

There are no roads in Tortuguero.  None.  And no cars.  Just a small village that is literally in the middle of a National Park.  Like many other areas of the world, it has seen its share of turmoil. In the 1800’s, explorers killed the turtles that came onto shore (like Ostional on the Nicoya Peninsula, thousands of turtles visit this 22km Caribbean beach each year) for their meat and oil.  Also during this period, slaves were used in cacao plantations. In the mid-1950’s, lumber mills came in to the area.  And while it brought in jobs and more income for the local people, it also took down much of the pristine primary forest.

But things have shifted.  Since 1972, the local area has been a protected National Park (which technically people are not supposed to live there but the local residents would have no other place to go).  In 2006, the community handed out the first high school diplomas. They have an amazingly clean potable water system, a recycling center and even internet (the speed of which is debatable as is the case everywhere in Costa Rica).  That’s pretty incredible considering this small village has no cell phone reception, no pharmacy and very little in the way of what most would consider “basic needs”.

So you may ask…what was I doing there?  Well hop on over to this blog post to read about my experiences with this little Caribbean village and a small nonprofit who is bringing about big change for local people and our planet.

And you won’t want to miss next week’s post which could very well be the sweetest and cutest post of all time!

Enjoy the slideshow…

[slideshow]

Pura vida…Chrissy

Never Never NEVER Feed Wild Animals

White faced monkey in Manuel Antonio, Costa RicaAn article came out this week in a Costa Rica online English newspaper that talked about searching for monkeys.  It was written by a non-Tico “freelance photographer” who is living in Costa Rica and I was just so horrified that I had to write this blog in order to counterbalance what he wrote.  I’m not going to give a link to the article because I don’t want to give any publicity to such a tale of wrong-doing.

In the article, the author was explaining how to find monkeys in Costa Rica.  He suggested the basics such as…looking for eaten pods on the ground and listening for breaking branches.  But what came next is just so shocking to me.  First that he wrote it as a photographer who should have some ethics when it comes to photographing in the wild but also just as an adult who should know better.

He said he brought a banana in order to entice the wild monkeys to him.  There are so many reasons that is so wrong.  Never, never, NEVER feed wild animals.  NEVER.  I don’t know how many more times I can say that.  One should not even suggest tempting them with food, even if you’re not going to give it to them to eat.

I recently had friends visit and after 4 days of not seeing any monkeys, they joked that they just don’t exist here in Costa Rica.  On the 5th day though, we did get to see them and enjoy, from a distance, their playful sweetness.

My ethics and philosophy are this: it’s such an incredible wonder if you get to see animals in the wild, in their natural habitat.  It’s special and unique.  But if you don’t get to see them, then that is just life.  The natural world is called “the wild” for a reason.  When we begin to interact with other species (by talking to them, trying to get their attention, feeding them, etc), problems ensue.

There are many public places and parks in Costa Rica where there are signs that say “Do not feed the animals” in both English and Spanish.  I always thought that was pretty much common sense but now I realize there’s a need for those signs.

What I will give credit to is an article that explains why one should never feed animals.  That is something that deserves to be read and shared: http://www.footprintscostarica.com/footprints_informacion_articulo.php?art=4.

Besides writing this blog post, other actions I took were posting a comment with the link above in the article as well as sending an email to the editors of the online news source, expressing my discontent with the article written and asking for it to be removed.  The editor-in-chief responded with the following:

“We allow freedom of speech and freedom to publish about anything to do with Costa Rica, given that it does not break the law, etc.”

I did a quick google search and couldn’t find any laws on feeding wildlife here in Costa Rica so I responded: Feeding wild animals then contributes to wild animals getting used to humans and being captured for the pet trade…which is illegal. 

The editor did respond again…with an offer to allow me to write for his online newspaper, share my viewpoints and have my business be seen by many, which I then responded that I only work with organizations who either already equal my values or are willing to learn and work towards a more sustainable and ethical system of values for all who live on our planet.

I was still unhappy though with the fact that this article would remain published for all those with internet to see.  And then this morning, I read an article about Jairo Mora, a young Costa Rican conversationist who was killed a few months ago because he was protecting turtles on the Caribbean coast.  In the article, it mentioned Wildlife Conservation Law 7317.  And by googling that phrase, I then came up with several articles that described the law which included this from the Costa Rican Times: “Wildlife Conservation Law 7317 mandates that you do not remove any plant life nor engage with any wild animal by feeding them or removing them from their habitat. Feeding animals leads to an unhealthy dependence on humans and hurts the animals.” (Click here for source and entire article).

I promptly emailed the law and the article to the editor who then replied that what he meant was – it’s not illegal for him to publish an article that talks about an illegal act being committed (by the author of the article).  He also said: There are laws for everything in Costa Rica, hardly any of them are enforced.

So what?  That makes it okay?  If the author had written about robbing a house, an obvious illegal act that also has very little enforcement in Costa Rica, would he have chosen to still publish the article?  Or it’s just that this particular article is about wildlife so who cares if it’s illegal and wrong to do even though it contributes to the destruction of our planet.

That old idiom plays in my head when presented with offers to work with companies that don’t share similar ethics: If you lie down with dogs, you’ll end up with fleas. Getting more business and being seen by more people is not worth it to me if it goes against my morals and values.  I’d rather live my values and stay true to what I believe in and hopefully, eventually, it will pay off.  : )

The author of the article has yet to respond to the comment I left on his post.

Sept 6, 2013 Update: The author has responded and informed me that the piece was done as a fluff piece and a disclaimer would be added to the top of the article. While I know he was trying to be pleasant, his email only infuriated me more since I abhor using animals for entertainment purposes. Additionally, it is still illegal to feed wild animals so the article still needs to be removed.

Pura vida…Chrissy

Reforestation Day with Titi Conservation Alliance

DSC04700Meet Jorge and Mireya.  These two lovely people are property owners in a nearby town called Naranjito.  And last week, Titi Conservation Alliance along with over 50 school children and many teachers and volunteers went to their property to plant trees in areas that had become bare.  By doing so, we are able to create a biological corridor for the local wildlife that uses trees to traverse the countryside.  Remember, it’s rare to see a monkey on the ground therefore it’s so important that trees act as connecting bridges in order for them to have a more expansive region to call Home.

DSC04606

By planting more trees, we’re helping to preserve a future for the Mono Titi (Squirrel Monkey) as it’s necessary for them to meet up with other groups, outside of their area, to breed.  Without trees, they are stuck in one specific area.

DSC04586

At the beginning of the day, Jorge saw me admiring his incredible view and started to talk with me about the history of the land.  At one time, it was all owned by his parents but when his dad passed, the brothers (there are 4 total) divided up the land into quarters.  There are a total of 20 hectares (almost 50 acres) of land in total.  And much of it was still in its natural state however some areas had no trees on it and that’s why we were there.  To help them reforest the area and return this land to its natural beauty, providing for the wildlife who live in the area.

DSC04672

When the kids and other volunteers began to plant the trees, Jorge took me on a walk alongside a stream on his property to look for morphos (the beautiful blue butterfly).

photo

We saw one but as always, it never stopped, so we just enjoyed the moment as it fluttered by us.  He did find an owl butterfly however that let me get within a few inches of it to take its photo.  Such a beauty.  Inside, it has a very pale blue/gray color but it never let its wings down while it was resting.

Owl Butterfly in Costa Rica

As we walked along the stream, he mentioned to me that he often has to clean it out from the trash that people from other areas dump…plastic bags and plastic bottles, mostly.

At the end of the event, I found a shady spot to rest on a log but shortly after sitting, Jorge asked me if I’d like to go to his house to wash off my boots (they were covered in mud) and talk with him and Marja.  We walked over to his main house and immediately he showed me a green iguana that was hanging out on his awning.  Marja invited me to sit and brought me a few crackers and a refreshingly cold glass of Iced Tea.  They told me they often see the beautiful Lapas (scarlet macaws) which don’t exist where I live in Quepos/Manuel Antonio (even though it’s only a short distance away) and many monkeys traversing in the trees every day.  When it was time to leave, they told me in Spanish, that I am invited there anytime, using the well-known expression of “mi casa es su casa”.

Green Iguana in Costa Rica

What a delight to meet this couple who cares for the environment and understands how precious a gift it is.  I’m so fortunate to have met them and that Titi Conservation Alliance is working with them to reforest their land in order to protect it for generations to come.

Pura vida…Chrissy