Today (or January 13) we packed up our ever-damp clothes and rubber boots, said goodbye to the leafcutter ants and headed to Cuerici Biological Station. The shift was very dramatic, from a humid lowland wet tropical forest, to a mountain range with oak forest and paramo ecosystems and crisp cool air. Where the most common birds you will see are hummingbirds and the trails are strewn with bamboo, Cuerici is truly amazing! The station is a comfy wooden cabin and the people are extremely friendly. The garden, pasture, and trout farm on the land gave me great insight into how Don Carlos, the owner of the station, strives to protect and live off his land.
Don Carlos was kind enough to give us a tour of the trout farm he established six years ago. There are various pools distributed vertically up the hillside that are constantly being oxygenated and maintained by the natural spring found up the mountain. The trout are raised in a high density enclosure while they’re young and released into slightly larger pools until they reach an adult size at which point they’re put into large pools outside. The trout are fed a combination of meal and worms. Additionally, lights are strewn above the larger ponds to attract insects at night and provide an additional source of protein. Every so often too much sediment builds up due to fish poop and leaves breaking down in the pool. Don Carlos drains the pool, collects the sediment and uses it as a fertilizer in his garden. Scraps left over from guests’ dinner are sometimes used as feed, as well as put into a vermiculture compost that creates super nutrient rich soil for the garden. Additionally, all of the power used on the property is generated from a hydroelectric generator Don Carlos created 18 years ago.
These are just a few of the many steps the Cuerici Biological Station has taken to lower their negative environmental impact while also making a living. Finally, I’d like to mention that the Cuerici Biological Station is not only for student groups and I highly recommend it for your next trip! http://www.cuericibiologicalstation.com/