Sunday, November 30, 2014

Las Alturas Epiphanias

​​​​​Upon first seeing the undeniably rustic yet picturesquely secluded mountain cabin, I couldn't help but notice how beautiful the forest surrounding us was. The unforgettable image of enormous trees towering into the deep blue sky complimented by ideally puffy clouds captivated me at first glance. Aptly named Las Alturas, this rustic shack was actually an OTS research station located on the edge of a local Costa Rican farm. However, the intimidatingly vast expanse of wilderness bordering its other side, the La Amistad Biosphere reserve, proved to be the very object of my immense fascination. As soon as my classmates and I were settled into our rooms, I, as usual, proceeded to try to explore all that I possibly could. However, in a meeting that I unfortunately ran into on the way, I learned that I was prohibited to enter the forest until the nature walk with a guide the next day. This was of course a huge disappointment but, alas, I had to wait until the next day to experience the natural wonders surrounding me.
Early the next morning one of the OTS researchers who served as the guide for my group at the time finally led us into the jungle that has been tantalizing me since our arrival. As we first entered the forest, Mother Nature herself seemed to swallow us whole. I immediately became imbued with the realization that this was nothing short of the densest and wildest jungle I have ever seen. Gigantic trees eclipsed the blue sky above our heads casting shadows across the awe-inspiring landscape. We became engulfed by the pungent smell of rotting wood accompanied by the blissful sounds of multitudes of strange animals that I knew must have been surrounding us. We ventured further and further into the forest. As we hiked on, our guide pointed out plants and talked about the biosphere reserve we were in. The mere thought of such a vast expanse of fascinating wilderness full of jaguars, monkeys, and pumas among myriad other creatures ceased to amaze me.
Since I've lived in an urban environment for the majority of the past three years, seeing such a forest was incredibly refreshing. I felt as if I was beginning to fully appreciate nature in a way that I never have before. The way the leaves calmly swayed side to side, the ever-persistent resonance of forest winds, and the thunderous roar of millions of insects felt so natural, as if that was the way the world should be. As we trekked on behind our ever-persistent guide, I found myself questioning the society we live in and even mankind itself. How could our society be so disconnected from the world's natural element? How could we live in such unnatural conditions and destroy the great natural places still existent on Earth? These questions that I posed during my hike made me think about and analyze such concepts that I never have before. As I continued to tred on, I came to the realization that the very reason that humans are so disconnected from such natural wonders as the forest we were in is in fact the nature of mankind itself. I pondered the concept of the essence of mankind being rooted in overcoming nature and utilizing it to thrive as the dominant species. After an hour of hiking, I turned around and, following the rest of the group, embarked on the return trek, content with the new found realization I had just sequestered.
Overall, this amazing opportunity to see such an undisturbed natural wilderness was an incredible experience. Being surrounded by the beauty and wonder of the incredible La Amistad forest was the very impetus that inspired such thoughts and epiphanies within my intellect. It made me realize, for the first time, the essence of the reason for the disconnection between nature and mankind. I also feel that, from this experience, I have become fully aware that, despite the very modernized and urbanized society we live in, there still are great expanses of Mother Nature that are relatively unhindered by human encroachment.

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