Bribri and Cauhita: Boonies and Coral Reefs   Leave a comment

Okay, so once again, I’m falling behind – Here comes another quick (well, sort of – believe it or not, this is the short, summed-up version!) one to get you a little caught up with where I actually am. There are just too many things to do here: I have to keep a journal for class, so I feel like I’m repeating myself when I write that and then think about what to update my blog with. And really – who wants to sit on a computer when in Costa Rica? Not me!

But here I am, to try and sum up the past few days (which, again, has felt almost like weeks!) As I mentioned, the next stop on our itinerary was Yorkin, one of the communities of the indigenous Bribri population in southeastern Costa Rica. To reach this community required (after a long bus ride) an hour-long boat ride up the shallow Sixaola River – our guides bringing us often had to get out and push the wooden boat through the shallow water over rocks. We were literally in one of the most remote areas of the country – in fact, we might have left the country. You see, the Sixaola River is the border between Costa Rica and Panama, and we were just inches away from touching Panama on several occasions (yes, we were trying). Where I’m from, we would say we were way out in the boonies.

The remote feeling continued as we hiked up from the river, through the village, past the elementary and high schools and a few houses – all just wood huts with thatched roofs – and to the small dining area and modest kitchen where our hosts prepared our entirely organic and mostly locally-grown meals. Dinner was eaten by candlelight, since there is no electricity in the village. We learned about the effort of restoring and continuing the Bribri culture: we learned about and even got to test our skills at hunting for our own dinner with bow & arrow made from palm tree part (we didn’t literally hunt though), learned how to create the thatched roofs from palm leaves, and learned about cultivating cacao plus the traditional methods of preparation. Although this part was a little bit of repeat from my past experiences, I did not mind it one bit, because of course it meant sampling delicious fresh chocolate. J And for relief from the oppressive heat & humidity, we headed down to another section of the river for a dip in the cool water.

Soon our time at Yorkin was up, we said goodbye to the friendly, smiling faces of the people who had shared their lives with us. The trip downriver was much quicker and before we knew it we were back on the bus. Although I loved the experience with the Bribri, I was especially looking forward to the next stop: Cauhita. The bus trip to Bribri took us down painfully familiar roads (the ones I traveled many weekends down to the Caribbean coast), and I was longing to get to the beach, and the powerful healing powers of the ocean. Homework didn’t seem so bad, as long as it was reading I could do sitting on the beach (well, try to do – I ended up getting quite distracted between the monkeys jumping in the trees behind me, the cute crabs digging their holes in front of me, and the sloth (:D) that meandered over in the tree next to me). Possibly the best thing about Cauhita, besides finally getting a little free time to spend on our own exploring the town (and the beach), was that class was held one afternoon in the ocean. Yep – the ecosystem we were to learn about there was, of course, coral reefs, and what better way to study them than to observe them up close and personal, aka snorkeling!!!

This was my first time snorkeling, and I must say, I LOVED it! Its funny to think that when we were on the boat ride out to the site, I was quite apprehensive, and was considering backing out. Once I got in the water though, and got the hang of breathing through my mouth instead of my nose (took me a little while, haha), I was enthralled with watching the wonders below me while easily floating through the soft rock of the waves. There were many types of coral: brain coral, star coral, moose coral, lettuce coral, with all sorts of fish darting about. Then, we saw a shark. YEP, A SHARK. I floated directly over a shark – only about a meter (3.3 feet) above it. No worries, it was a nurse shark, and even though I knew it was safe, it was hard to fight the panicky urge to swim quickly away when you see a shark directly below you, staring right back at you with that unblinking eye. Towards the end, I also spotted an eel peering out from its home in the coral, and had to call my friend with the underwater camera over to get a shot of it. Another uneasy feeling – I definitely preferred staying to the side where I could keep a better lookout and have an easier get-away…

The unavoidable sunburned back & shoulders from that experience was completely worth it; it will be hard to top that class! You never know, though, there is still a lot of time left here, or at least, a lot more to pack into the time we have left! Although the sands of Cauhita will stay with us for a while (literally – that stuff gets everywhere), we have moved on to our next ecosystem: the rainforest. We are in one of the best pieces of rainforest in Costa Rica – well, at least the most studied yet natural area – called La Selva. I’ll tell you more about it soon, but while you wait for me, read some of the facts from the class blog with the intro to La Selva!

P.S: Pictures from Bribri and Cauhita are on my small camera, and I don’t have that cord with to upload pictures, so those will have to wait until I get home. Sorry. I will really really try to get some pics of other things up before we leave La Selva (and the reliable internet connection) – this blog must be getting pretty boring just filled with words! They’ll come sometime, pura vida.


Posted January 17, 2012 by rwieme in Uncategorized

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