Back at elevation

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I arrived at the mountains one week ago, completely depleted. I had contracted some jungle fever that landed me in the clinic with IV fluids and other mysterious medications. At that point, I didn’t really care what they gave me… just as long as the world would stop spinning and I would stop blacking out. I was incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by incredibly kind people who checked in on me and took care of me while I was, quite literally, at my worst. But, things were getting better at about the exact moment I started breathing the mountain air and taking in the beautiful oak forest marked vistas. I also had a plan for my time at Cuerici. We were tasked with doing our first independent project of the course, and I was putting aside science, sort of, for the week. I was going to interview local community members about their views on conservation and how they viewed the local biological station, Cuerici. I had assistance with this project, a local university student that was working on a management plan for the region. The following few days were indescribable. I got to work cross-culturally with another student while being invited into locals’ homes to listen to their thoughts. Their opinions on conservation were diverse and thoughtful. The consensus was that the biological station is an integral part of the community – valued for its protection of the environment and the economic opportunity it brings to the region. However, the community around Cuerici is a community in transition, with many of its residents moving to larger cities for more opportunities. These issues are not unique to Cuerici – the same problems plague rural areas in the states. The fate of Cuerici and the community at large is very much in the hands of the next generation – but, young people seemed invested in the future of the community, so there is hope. My “job” comes with such amazing privileges and opportunities – I learned so much about this place and its people.

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