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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Fascination Truly Lives There

Amidst jungle foliage deep and dense grow the walking palms around which beings of a beautiful spectrum move. Reflecting a sense of Costa Rica in their slow migration of up to 10 feet per year, these walking palms speak also to the movements of the native Tico people themselves. Slow, smooth, and magical. Most people are not even aware of the existence of a walking tree, yet in Costa Rica they thrive. I was based in the South Pacific countryside of Costa Rica, a region whose culture changed the way I view living with the earth. Nestled in the mountains, within view of the ocean, I was able to roam the jungle barefoot and find a hint of tranquil stillness among the many movements of a place that is brimming with life. I have been struck by the beauty and philosophies of these people and this land, where the connection to the earth is strong and exemplified in their ecoconscious movements of permaculture, plant medicine and ecotourism.

My time in Costa Rica was mostly spent in Valley Las Tumbas, a valley of many ecoconsious people, with most living in permaculturally sound ways, all working towards complete self sustainability. Through my living and working with the Chapman Chinchilla family I was given the chance to see many permaculture set ups that provided so much for so many. Their close friends also believe in holding to a standard of respecting and working with the Earth, not conquering it as so many humans so often view their connection to the land. The different kinds of agricultural set ups were like many different facets of the Garden of Eden, lush and delicious in the fruit and vegetables they bare. One very striking trip I made was to a place called Piedras Blancas, a completely off the grid community that lived in a place only accessed by a river or a 4 hour hike from the nearest road. The people I visited there was a family whose children number eighteen, one of them being my friend, Phillipe Lopez. There were many generations of this family that had grown there, in a place where simplicity was so valued in life. The happiness I experienced through this family and their hilarious and perceptive views on the world and their personal lifestyle has inspired me. There is so much to be said for living ties that are deep in the land, having such a close connection with one’s food and also with the wild that surrounds.

The Ticos in Valley Las Tumbas also shared with me much about tropical plant medicine and what it meant to be a part of someone’s healing process. We often did medicinal plant walks through the land, showing both Costa Ricans and foreigners about the potential of the plant medicine that is in abundance throughout the jungle. A particular plant stands out in my mind, one named “Jackass Bitter”. This plant grows all over the jungle and is one of the most used jungle herbs, known for its bitter taste and powerful antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties. Also, learning the nature of cacao through ceremony gave me a completely different view of chocolate’s healing properties. A well known healing saying is, “Sana sana, coolito de rana, si no san hoy, sana manana”. However, there is much to be said about the Tico belief in one healing oneself, so although there are many doctors and medicine men and women to help assist, people take much more personally responsibility for their well being. I respect this belief so much, as I feel it draws one back to ones understanding of their connection with the world and everything in it, and the realization of one’s power to affect things, especially within. Plants are seen as fully conscious beings who help assist people as well, and I hold this to be a very strong aspect of their connection to the earth.

Where before Costa Rica once gained large amounts of revenue from the exportation of coffee and then bananas, most revenue is now made from ecotourism. This says leaps and bounds about the country’s respect for their land and the importance of conservation of wilderness that pervades a vast amount of Costa Rican communities. On the Chapman’s land they run an ecotouring company that treks through the jungle to visit an epic cave and many waterfalls, one being Diamante Falls, the tallest waterfall in Costa Rica. These tours can include an educational focus on the medicinal plants and animals of the jungle, and they are constantly hired by schools to do large scale tours for students. These tours can also take a more adventuring edge, including repelling and canyoneering past the initial trekking adventure. It was so incredible to see the amount of time and energy this family put into protecting the land and making a living off of sharing adventures of a very powerful and educational nature. What a perfect thing to share with the world.

The more I learn about the world, the more I seem to be told to slow down and really feel things. Feel the earth under my feet, the hum of an old Saba tree, all the melodic sayings in the wind. I have been blessed to find such a place that holds people who know to be close to the earth is to be close to all that is happiness, and who live what they love in that connection so strongly through permaculture, plant medicine and ecotourism. So much more ties into this connection, of course, but of those things words fall short. I am just thankful to have been given the chance to learn from such an awesombroso place. Fascination truly lives there.


~Brittany Davis 7.20.12