Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Eco-Benin visits Costa Rica (Day 7 and Day 8)
The 7th day of the Eco-Benin / RBG journey together was one of many meetings as well as a historic event.
In the morning we met with Melky the Research Program Assistant at Tirimbina. Tirimbina has quite a few new things going on including some cool research. Video cameras have shown that many mammals, including Kinkajous, Raccoons, Ocelots and even sloths are using the bridge that crosses the Sarapiqui River. Tirimbina has also add new rooms for overnight guests, and are doing many things to improve sustainability. They already have 4 of 5 leaves by the Costa Rican Tourism Boards Sustainable Standards. Even so they are putting in a new large biodigestor at this moment, a great sustainable practice for waste management. Additionally they are expanding their research and learning opportunities and have recently teamed with Ball State University for a Tropical Ecology course. Max commented how his dream would be to have a place like Tirimbina in the Lama forest of Benin.
As we had internet access we spent a few hours catching up on emails that morning, ate lunch at my former local hangout los Portones, and then sped on to La Selva Biological where we met with Orlando Vargas. We learned about some very interesting new technology that La Selva will be using with its researchers. Soon they will have three fully powered, internet accessible remote canopy research towers in their forest. Some amazing data should be collected here. We also learned of the continuing expansion of the their sustainable tourism activities. All in all La Selva is receiving more than 30,000 visitor days per year. A good program that limits access to the forest helps keep impact low.
We stopped by CECOS later so that Nadine could meet the staff and we could check email quick once again. We then spent the evening with a local family the community of El Roble, one of the communities CECOS works closely with. We stayed with Don Norberto and Dona Marzarella. Marzarella is very involved with CECOS as part of the Grupo Morpha womens artisan group. Don Norberto manages his black pepper plantation. Also at the house was Douglas their teenage son, and Norberto's mother who was turning 89 that day!
It was a historic day for her. She was so happy and amazed that on her 89th birthday two people all the way from Africa would be at her house. She said never in her life would she imagine this and kept calling me an "angelito" (little angel) for bringing them to her house. I was literally almost tearing up hearing her talk. Especially as we sang happy birthday to her in Spanish then Nadine and Max sang to her in French.
We made tortillas and had a great big dinner with the family. It was a really nice night.
The next morning we were up early, said our good byes and headed to San Jose. The trip would end for Nadine this day. Max and I would meet up with Raquel in the afternoon to work on our mid-term report at Hotel Cacts. The last night with Max in San Jose was uneventful as we worked in our hotel rooms and watched the new episode of Lost.
Max is off to Paris this afternoon before heading back to Benin, and I will be hanging around San Jose or heading back to Sarapiqui to take care of accounting, organizing notes from our trip and planning the next steps of our grant. It was a wonderful trip with Max. I am sad to see him go but know he had a great time, met wonderful people, saw amazing places, and learned a lot.
Funding for this project came from the Programme from South-South Cooperation with financing from the Kingdom of the Netherlands as administered by Fundecooperacion.