In a few days will mark the halfway point of my trip and I can’t believe it. I’ve really learned some useful information in my environmental classes thus far. Did you know that Costa Rica has a goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2021 (well it’s going to be moved to 2025, but it’s still an impressive goal). It is also the happiest place on earth according to Nick Mark’s Happy Planet Index! I’m learning so much about the agriculture sector, sustainable development, and ecotourism. Hopefully my senior thesis will come to me soon. Oh! I have a new roommate too! Her name is Kelli, and she’s a great addition to our family.
The last two weekends I went on excisions with my program, ISA. The first weekend in October I went to Arenal Volcano and I spent this past weekend in Manuel Antonio. Arenal was a blast, that Saturday we went to a sustainable farm, where everything in their restaurant comes directly from the farm. We took shots of juiced sugar cane and painted our faces with Costa Rican war paint, which comes from a native plant that excretes a distinct red pigment from it’s seeds. Then some friends and I walked up to La Fortuna Waterfall near Arenal Volcano Costa Rica. It was a treacherous hike up to the national park but it was definitely worth it.
This past weekend we went to Manuel Antonio. Our hotel was beautiful and we managed to find a place which had dinner for under $10. That was super great! Some friends and I traveled to Playa Dominical, which is an hour bus ride from Manuel Antonio, to see the Nauyaca Waterfalls. It was a six mile hike to the falls and back AND thank you wet season for the slippery terrain. Still, it was so much fun! The next day, I took a walk around Manuel Antonio National Park. The park is beautiful, however, the animal behaviors are not natural. To many tourists, the Raccoons and Monkeys are “cute” when they walk up to you (but not when they steal your food). Truthfully, I think it’s sad how the animals’ behaviors have changed over the past twenty to thirty years due to tourism.For example, the Raccoons can be seen during the day. No, they don’t have rabies. Their behavior patters have changed to that they scavenge for food during the day when tourists are around. And they are not afraid to get close! Also, the park extremely segregated from any of the other national parks. There is no corridor for which the species to integrate themselves with other populations. This means tons of inbreeding within species and strange behavior patters.
Overall, I’ve been having a great experience. I can definitely say that being here, I appreciate our country, such as the many comforts that we enjoy. However, America has a lot to learn form Costa Rica in regards to our energy consumption and how we use our natural resources. And it’s sad because Costa Rica is being highly influence by America’s consumerist society while it’s resources are being exploited by American Companies. I’m not saying that Costa Rica is perfect, it has many issues to overcome, including its water problem, but I’m disappointed to watch my country exploit such a beautiful place. These are some bold claims, but it’s solely my experience. We need to become more humanistic and less materialistic. I wish that more students had the chance to study abroad, because you see your experience as an American in a totally different life.
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