Tres Chicas en la Jungla - Costa Rica: Bernadette Brogden

Posted: June 14, 2012

After putting our boots on we walk to the shed, grab our shovels and wheel barrows, and head back to the nursery to pick out some baby trees that look big enough to plant...

The alarm clocks ring at 5:00 am.  Molly, Brenna and I get out of bed and walk to the kitchen to see what Mama Alicia has made us for breakfast.  Tortillas, plantains and black beans this morning and coffee too, of course.  The four of us sit down together and the sun slowly begins to rise and shine through the window.  We finish and bring our plates back to the kitchen and grab our lunches.  The three of us say goodbye to Mama Alicia and Becky, her dog, on our way out the door.
The three of us walk down the dirt road through the little town on Tierras Morenas.  A yellow school bus is parked waiting to be filled with community members traveling to work.  Molly, Brenna and I grab our seats.  We stare out the windows the whole way, mesmerized by the beauty of Lake Arenal this early in the morning. 
We are almost fully awake by the time we reach La Reserva.  We pay the bus driver for the ride and step off the bus.  We have a mile walk standing between us and the start of our work day.  I will miss this walk very much.  The view was a wonderful way to begin and end every day of work.

As we get closer to the house we can hear Gino barking.  Floyd greets us too, but he is much calmer.  We take a seat next to the house and put our boots on.  We wonder what Omar will have in store for us today.  “Hola Omar” we say, he smiles.  “Hola chicas”.  Omar was our guide over the course of the week.  He was the manager of the preserve since the beginning in 1998.  The week we spent on the preserve was one of his last; La Reserva could no longer afford to keep him.  Everyone at La Reserva was sad to see him leave, and Omar was sad to say goodbye. 

BrogdenCR2.pngAfter putting our boots on we walk to the shed, grab our shovels and wheel barrows, and head back to the nursery to pick out some baby trees that look big enough to plant.  The three of us planted over 300 trees over a three day period and spent two days doing trail maintenance with Omar.  We saw a lot of beautiful things during our days walking through the rainforest; sloths, monkeys, birds of all sorts and so many beautiful and strange plants. 

One of my favorite moments of the trip happened the second to last day we were there.  We were walking behind Omar, machete in hand.  I saw a lemon on the ground and asked Omar if we could eat them.  He smiled and picked one from the tree above us.  He used his machete to peel the lemon.  I bit into it and was surprised at how sweet it was; it was the sweetest lemon I had ever tasted.  It was especially delicious after walking through the rainforest for a few hours.  Molly, Brenna and I walked behind Omar for a good mile sucking on lemons. 

The silence of the jungle is something to marvel at.  There are always undertones of animals but there are no cars, no people making a commotion.  I enjoyed the silence and serenity I had while planting trees.  BrogdenCR3.pngI hope to return to La Reserva soon and for longer than a week.  My Spanish speaking skills improved while working with Omar and speaking to Mama Alicia.  Omar did not know any English and Mama only spoke a little.  It was fun learning new ways to communicate.  I also learned a lot about the importance of biodiversity while working with LRFF.  There are incredible amounts of trees, bugs, animals and plants in a rainforest and they all work together to continue growing.  Omar knows a lot about the different creatures and plants found in the rainforest and did his best to explain things to us.  I gained an even greater appreciation for nature while in Costa Rica.    

A future employer may look at this trip and appreciate my passion for the environment.  This trip was planned by my friend and I; I think it shows I am determined to live the life I want to live and if planting trees in Costa Rica is a part of my plan I will make it happen.  I am very grateful for everyone who helped me along the way and will never forget the time I spent with Omar, Mama, and all the other wonderful people in Tierras Morenas.