October 7, 2010 New dangers in Costa Rica by Pipaluk Knudsen-Ostermann

Arriving to San José was amazing – it was so green and beautiful with the volcanoes.

I tried to stay awake, fighting the jetlag. We went out for dinner, to a place on a hill – the view reminded me of the view in Kampala. This trip to Costa Rica was to wrap up Silent Snow, I had seen so much and was excited to see which impression this country would make on me.

After dinner we drove to Joep Merckx’s house, he and his wife Jorine were our hosts.  Jorine would join us on the drive to the pacific coast with her daughter, Amanda and her boyfriend Memo. After a good night’s sleep, I was ready for another adventure! I couldn’t wait to leave.

We packed up two jeeps and started the trip which should take 5 hours driving. The ride through San Jose was longer than I had expected, but soon we saw the mountains. The first bit of the route was through a national park, we stopped a few times also o enjoy the view – of course Viraj and Jan need to shoot some images of this amazing scenery. It was so green and full of all kinds of trees and plants. Another sight were the big lorries which were transporting goods to and from the pacific coast.

We passed many rivers; I was amazed how much water Costa Rica has. I was told that it was now the dry period, but to me the landscape didn’t look dry at all. After a lunch stop we reached the coast, we followed it to San José, which is a touristic village near Cocles, which would be our base for the next days. San José was full of life and the Caribbean feeling couldn’t be disguised – you could really see a great mix of locals. We arrived to the Merckx’s house in Cocles – what a house! It was a beautiful house made of wood, with no windows and no electricity – really back to the roots, something I know from Greenland as well. But this was different – Costa Rica has something Greenland doesn’t have at all – insects, big ones. So at night, I needed to get used to the darkness and be fast to jump under the mosquito net, without trying to think about the big spiders etc.

After a great dinner we all went to bed early and all woke up early. The reason was the monkeys which were like a natural alarm clock, what a service J I guess the first time you heard them you imagine them being huge, but I heard that they are quite tiny – unfortunately I was up too late to have a look for myself…

After breakfast we started our trip to meet Timoteo. He’s an Indian and knows much about nature. What a nice and friendly guy – interesting since if you’d dress him in fur he’d look just like the people back home. We visited a school, the kids were taking about the nature and how important it was to them. Impressive, that kids of that age, 6-7 years old, knew about the great meaning of Mother Earth. Again I saw some similarity to the Inuit culture, but more about that later. We took a walk in the jungle with Timoteo, I have never seen trees this high! And all the sounds surrounding us! He told me about snakes, insects, birds and other animals. We heard a toucan, which he called using a leaf – I tried, but the bird never answered my calling.

On another trip Timoteo took us to a village where he was attending a meeting to discuss the future of their nature. First we drove to a great river, where we then crossed it in a long canoe. On the other side an old bus was waiting to bring people to the nearby villages. We also took that bus and drove for half an hour. After getting off, we walked into the jungle were we found a few house, the village where the meeting was arrange.

The people were very friendly, but I still had trouble talking to them, using my rusty Spanish – they were a bit shy and so was I. The meeting started and Timoteo was translating to Spanish so I could follow the discussion as well. The biggest problem is that some people, foreigners would like to explore Costa Rica – look for oil and gold. The Indians don’t agree, they are not interested in the riches of their country being misused. But the percentage of Indians left in Costa Rica is very low, so unfortunately not very much people share their view. The Indians are very brave and don’t give up easily. It seems now, that the president has heard their voice.

Timoteo told me about the beliefs of the Indians. They see the Earth and a woman, the trees are her lungs, the oil her blood etc. if you extract the oil, cut down the trees she will die. I told them how my ancestors looked at nature – somehow we shared the view and the respect for the nature. The Indians, just like the Inuit, only take what they need; they don’t exploit the animals and plants.

Another great experience I had in Costa Rica, was a dive to a reef. Since I had never been diving before, I was very nervous, but I did want to see with my own eyes which effect we humans have on the earth, also under water. It was so beautiful, all the fish and the reef! Unfortunately I missed the turtle which was spotted near us. After the dive, Memo explained that the reef had once been bigger, he could see it disappearing – the result of our use of poison.  I had never seen the effects under water, reefs and fish disappearing. When will we learn?

 

 

 

 

 








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