Thursday, May 7, 2015

Looking back on Las Alturas

During our last visit to Las Cruces we took a few days to visit the Las Alturas research station. Las Alturas is in a remote village in Coto Brus where only a handful of families, both indigenous and non indigenous, live. The town is very small but remarkably beautiful. All the houses and businesses are bright pastel colors that pop amongst all the greenery. Las Alturas has all the makings of a self sufficient town including an adorably small cinema, a supermarket, and a an EBAIS.

We stayed in the OTS base a few minutes away from the town and during our time in Las Alturas. The cabin was even quainter than the town. All built very recently, there was no electricity and was comprised only of a few rooms. The wraparound porch looked out into a field, remnants of the old coffee fields that had once dominated the land before it was bought up, and the primary forest where we hiked our first day. Every night when the generator powered lights went on we could sit inside our cabin looking at moths as big as our hands thumping on the windows trying to get in.

While there, we got to explore the forest we were surrounded by on two hikes. The first day we hiked uphill for an hour until we got to an amazing view surrounded by mist. The second day we walked and until we found a river that was was running due to the recent rainfall. Each time, when we reached our destination we sat and watched what we had come to see for several minutes just taking in our surroundings.
We also got to hang out a lot as a group. There's something about waking up in the middle of the night to your bunkmate thrashing around for a beetle in her hair that really brings you together. Card games abounded since we had nothing but time. We commiserated as we each took our turns taking showers in water that was so cold it took your breath away. And on our last night there we sat around a bonfire and roasted marshmallows as a group. It was a great time to spend all together, the thirteen of us, before heading back to Las Cruces where we would begin our research projects. Our time in Las Alturas was one of my favorite parts of these past few weeks and made me realize how quickly the program would be ending. Now with only a few days left before the program ends I remember how long ago that seemed and it sound crazy that it was only about 2 weeks ago.

Marcela Zegarra-Ballon

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