Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Reveling in the Rainforest

   There I was standing amongst a group of 24 college-aged students that I did not know and hesitantly making my way through a rainforest. A rainforest, might I add, that is humming with insects, crawling with frogs, bugs, and spiders, and humid to the point where I may never get dry. I was terrified.

     That first hike through La Selva not only had me mesmerized by its beauty but also on edge because of the danger that surrounded me. I have never been made more aware of Mother Nature’s power and awe than on that first hike with OTS. I have always been hesitant when it comes to an activity that can be considered slightly unsafe. I have always taken the safe route in everything I did in order to avoid trouble, or the unknown. Rules upon rules were thrown at the group warning us of venomous snakes, poisonous frogs, and how we best not touch any living creature we see in the fear that it could harm us in one way or another. After what I have just said, I think one would assume that I was ready to pack my bags and head back to America where I felt safe and comfortable: but that actually wasn’t the case.

     Ever since that very first trek I have found myself choosing the unknown path or adventurous experience. I have hiked throughout the swamp trails without being fearful of stepping off of the path, and I have stood in the path of snakes, howler monkeys, and poison dart frogs. I have come to understand the elements and living creatures that inhabit this area that I am now a guest of.

     Like cultural immersion, one needs to become immersed within their environmental surroundings as well to truly understand the power that they contain. This rainforest that houses danger also houses life, growth, and inspiration. The “dangerous” creatures are simply misunderstood, and only contain the weapons that we are afraid of in order to protect themselves. Would you not do the same? I have learned to not interfere in their habitat but rather to appreciate all that I am able to experience with the time I have within the rainforest.  

     By becoming immersed within the forest I have come to understand the importance in maintaining such a natural wonder. The human race in general is guilty for not being conservative when it comes to the use of natural resources, and the environment is suffering as a result. In gaining comfort in my surroundings, I was able to delve deeper into what the rainforest holds and what it needs. It needs us to take care of it and to maintain the abundance of life that revels within. We have to become proactive in conservation and lessen the amount of waste that we carelessly release into our planet. Costa Rica has been working on conserving their rainforest effectively through the Forestry Law of 1996 which restricts deforestation. Approximately 26% of the country is conserved through reservations, biological field stations, and national parks. While the government is participating in conservation efforts, the citizens need to as well. Conservation is a local and global effort that needs to be kept at the forefront of every nation’s list of goals and objectives.

     I am grateful for that scary first day I experienced in La Selva because without it, I would not have felt the need to overcome my fear by becoming immersed within the rainforest. As I sit here now I am hurrying to complete my story in order to go off on yet another hike that will bring both knowledge and admiration for the beauty that surrounds me.

Brianna Marino
Elon University Class of 2016
Exercise Science Major
Public Health Studies Minor
Sweet Signatures Vice President 

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