Well each day seems to out-do the last. I was sad to say good-bye to Guaybo Lodge this morning. This lodge had such a charm and beautiful aesthetic. But, alas we must continue on our journey. We drove straight to La Selva Biological Station and research center. We ate lunch straight away, had the usual vegetables and chicken. The weather was the most humid we have had the entire trip. But, not to complain because my friend the sun came out for the first time in a while.
We split into two groups and ventured with our tour guide into the tropical jungle of La Selva. I was interested to learn the size of the jungle was massive and home to multiple rivers, species of animals, and wildlife. Before we even crossed the bridge to the jungle, a sloth greeted us from the trees aboe the bridge. Our tour guide first took us to the front areaof the park, where researchers live and study in newly renovated bio labs. Hearing the sounds of the howling monkeys from the near by trees, we quickly made our way into the jungle. These monkeys made a large echoing call that apparently could be heard a mile away. Some other interesting species we saw amongst the vines and evergreen trees were worker ants. These ants work together to protect the queen and bring leafs and other materials into the colony. Overall this was a sweaty, exciting trip into the jungle of La Selva. Something I found interesting was the emphasis on not managing the jungle at all, just letting the animals and ecosystems operate as they may. Our tour guide said that even if there were an injured animal, they would not attend to it. This policy keeps the natural order of the environment in tact.
Next, the EVNS class split up from the EDUC class and we headed to the Dole banana plantation. This was an energetic and informational end to the day, specifically because of our amazing tour guide Carlos. He greeted us with a warm welcome and took us to a shaded small area to explain the company’s history, and give us a background of all things banana. We learned about the evolution of banana plantations in Costa Rica, and how it has evolved to modern day production. I got to volunteer and hold the banana plant (NOT TREE ;)) for Carlos, when he cut open the example plant for our class. He explained the entire evolving process of the tree from sprout to final cut of the stock. Something I found to be incredible is the stages of tending that a stock requires. Carlos told us that the 120 field workers must bag every stock, when matured, and then go through 2 more steps of cutting, de-seeding, and diapering that is matatory for each of the 850,000 plants on the farm. I was happy to learn that these workers that are doing these tedious tasks, are getting paid almost 3 times the amount of the plantation workers in other countries. Also, these workers are offered benefits from the government for their job positions at Dole.
Another interesting fact was that this Dole plantation was certified with the International Organization for Standardization for their plantation. Meaning their company must meet a certain set of company and production standards to be able to sell to some countries. Also, dole partners with other companies for waste recycling of their “bad bananas” and their blue protecting bags. It’s good to know that a bug named company such as Dole has some good standards for their usage, workers, and production. At the end of the day Carlos offered us a shot of DELICIOUS banana liquor. It was so smooth and tasty; I had to buy 2 flasks! YUM!
Today was blissful and educational. I was happy to have been able to jump in the pool for a couple hours at Sueno Azul, once we arrived. Currently my fellow students and I are enjoying some billiards, mojitos, and finishing up our blogs. What a great day J