Saturday, November 29, 2014

Little House on the Mountain

            Picture this: 24 students. 8 staff members. 4 small rooms. Lows of 50 degrees Fahrenheit. 3 hours of electricity. No hot water. No Internet. And hectares upon hectares of rolling hills and enchanting forest. That is how we spent three days at a private satellite biological station tucked away quite literally on a picturesque mountainside in Parque Internacional La Amistad.
            Now, I could talk about the three uniquely memorable activities that we did in rotation whilst there. I could try to explain just how majestic the forest was as we trudged through on our plant hike with Zak. I could detail the laughter on the faces of the schoolchildren we saw at the clinic we held in the local town as we colored with them. And I could probably gush about just how cool it was to make herbal tinctures, lotions, and ginger syrups with Casi's ethnobotany activity. But I won't… because the defining memories of Las Alturas lay in the little moments of appreciation at being completely and utterly removed from society, surrounded by the beautiful blanket of Mother Nature.
            Growing up and living in this era of technology, social media, and the like, I find myself, more often than not, caught up in the fast-paced, hustle-bustle of my own life, yet needing to be updated and in-tune with the lives of all those around me. Going to Las Alturas was like getting a breath of fresh air, remembering to live in the moment and experiencing every second as it came.
            Although words most certainly cannot capture the full feeling and atmosphere of the experience, one seemingly nonchalant memory that truly embodied my Las Alturas experience was the 10-minute bonfire that we had out in front of our cabin on the very last night. Our professors had bought all the ingredients to make some delectably unhealthy s'mores, and as we huddled around the fire surrounded by a blanket of darkness, I took a mental snapshot. Because here I was, at a little house on a mountain in a beautiful Costa Rican park, surrounded with a group of people I can now call close friends, and having a blast doing nothing more than making a good old s'more. Who needs cellphones, computers, the Internet, and social media when you've got all of that?
-Katherine Wu

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