How "human" the Costa Rican people treated each other. They didn't scurry around hurrying to some other worthless task; instead they took the time to enjoy the family and friends around them. These people didn't define themselves by what they did for a living, but how they fit into their community. It seemed to me that the most important thing to them was the on going personal interactions with each other. These people who maybe had a duel income of ten thousand dollars, were wealthier than the majority of us in the States.
I learned that everything is important. Each organism, plant and animal is a small building block to its' delicate whole. With pieces of the ecosystem missing, which puts a strain on the whole, or what happens is that part of that ecosystem ceases to be. American is a just a small part, not the biggest or most important but, one section of many components of natural ecology. We must as a nation, come to realize that we are treading too heavily on the earth.
I felt like a sponge, soaking up all of the knowledge I could. Every meal we gathered around the dining table sharing what we had seen during the day. The delicious food disappeared before the stories ran out.
Each day my knowledge of the rain forest and its inhabitant increased dramatically. The mantra for the week was "I can't believe how much I have learned." The more I learned, the more I realized the vast amount that remains to be researched. Many of our questions were answered "There has not been a study on that. I don't know."
The rain forest is all about relationships. Take any one element out and it is diminished. Take too many elements out and the results could be catastrophic. The plants come back eventually, but the wildlife is much more fragile.
I could push myself harder than I do at home; in order to catch everything I wanted to see. Interest is an energizer.
Perhaps one of the most elegant and enduring lessons to be learned came from our class. We all benefit from each other’s contribution, and the lesson learned is not to take each other for granted. The reason for this from an ecological standpoint is that it is really primarily up to us to take our part in the conservation effort. It is quite fantastic to note that people can really get a grasp with what they know already and apply it to the effort. Additionally, it is an important fact to know that nature does not work for us humans, but rather we must work together with nature for each other's benefit.
How is it that a rainforest ecology course could have opened my eyes to a brighter and livelier world I live in?
Talking to naturalists who are actually college interns working on the reserve stirred up envy in me how I wished I were working on the reserve as well. There was a much-needed demand for rainforest research, a worthy and admirable cause to learn more about the very thing needing preservation.
But after the trip I had a greater concern for the rainforests as well as a strong appreciation for it and our environment. I looked at my landscape at home in a different light with a greater understanding and appreciation and outlook in regards to a healthy environment. I dwelled on ideas of how to redesign a low water consuming landscape. I surprised myself of such thoughts. For the first time in several years, I noticed what appeared to be a trail leading from the fire road into the lush forest of the creek. It amazed me that I haven’t noticed it all these years.
I learned a lot about myself on this trip. I was able to inquire into things that interested me, things that other people might not know, and I was given the chance to find the answers on my own. I found something I would be happy to wake up in the morning to do. I found out what floats my boat on this trip and that may be the most important lesson anyone could learn in his or her life.
I found out that I could live without stress, without money, without the superhuman pace of American society. When you are reduced to only a few belongings, what is really important is not hidden by all of the material goods of this fast paced life.
For entertainment in Costa Rica we talked, and talked, and talked and never got bored. We didn't even mention the TV.
It was wonderful to walk through the forest and take time to breath and look around me. It really was a calming experience and when I am calm, I can function better. Questions and ideas poured out of me and I had a great time trying to answer those questions. It was ok to be myself. That was really a profound insight considering the insecurity of America.
Costa Rica operates a lot differently than the U.S. If there is a problem over there, they join together to solve it, rather than fight about it and not get anywhere.
I learned is that I can make a difference, we all can. And seeing how conservative everyone is there (Costa Rica) made me think twice. I mean there is a lot of ways I could help conserve I just need to give it a little effort.
I feel very fortunate to have this experience as part of my life and I wish everyone could do this because it really opens up your eyes on many different issues.
I am extremely grateful that I received the chance to go to Costa Rica. Besides gaining tons of knowledge about the forests and nature of Costa Rica, I also learned a lot about the country as a whole. To be perfectly honest, I expected a dirtier more unkempt third world country than what I saw. Instead, Costa Rica was beautiful and rather clean, with very nice people and an exciting history and culture. I feel that while Americans may have more modern appliances and all sorts of creature comforts, The people of Costa Rica seemed to live simple, but happier lives.