I came to Costa Rica six weeks ago. Putting aside the fact that I live in a tropical country, having the opportunity to live in similar but different ecosystems at the same time has been an inspiring experience. Each habitat has been a beautiful surprise that has taught me a unique way to live and learn.
For some of my friends, it might not be surprising if I said that the cloud forest is my favorite ecosystem, but now… now… have I changed my mind? During this OTS course I was able to experience an oak forest for the first time. This forest was full of magic, full of life and full of questions that I would like to answer.
In 1987 Thomas Stadtmüler said that the diurnal presence of clouds and mist is often one of the remarkable characteristic of these forests. The specific atmospheric humidity regime and strong diurnal temperature oscillations are probably the main environmental factors generating such a different structure and composition in tropical highland forest systems. A magical place!! Yes, indeed!!
One day while going in a nice hike, we got lost in an oak forest. Like most OTS students, the only reason we wanted to find our way out of the forest was to be on time for lunch. As we were navigating our way through the thicket, we reached the peak of the mountain. Suddenly we found ourselves surrounded by a big garden of orchids and bromeliads. Yes…a natural garden, a natural dwarf garden, actually.
By reaching this peak we were able to see magnificent nature of one of the largest reserves in Central America – “La Amistad” National Park. We were surrounded by forest; surrounded by life in a place that represents a major biodiversity resource at a regional and global level.
But perhaps more important than being in this unusual place (at least for me), I liked better the opportunity to share this great moment with great new people, who after six weeks have an important place in my life.
I hope these few words help you understand how grateful and happy I am for having had the amazing experience of living deep in the rich ecosystems of Costa Rica. I would like to end by quoting Albert Einstein who said, “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”
I’m not sure if now I understand everything better because I am left with many more questions compared to when I began. But yes… now I can say that curiosity is my main ingredient on this way of becoming a scientist.