The zip lining course in Costa Rica was a little different than the ones I’ve done back home in Milwaukee. The techniques were different at home, where I didn’t have to place and hover my hand behind my head over a cable. There was more to the technique in Costa Rica, where the guides would help hook you up to the cable and then it was your responsibility to remember the position you had to sit in and when to break and how. We also had to take a somewhat strenuous hike in order to reach the platforms of each section. Conversely, the courses I had been on prior to this trip required you to just hold onto the front of your harness and someone would just catch you at the end and you’d usually take stairs to reach the platforms. Most zip lining courses back home were through everyday forests or even at the Zoo and overlooked dirt and concrete. Zip lining in Costa Rica was a completely different experience that entailed views from extreme heights where you could see animals like parakeets, plants and just the land overall and that really gave me a different perspective when looking at nature. The view was absolutely breathtaking, like nothing I had ever seen before. In that moment where I was zip lining in between platforms, I found a sense of calmness and peace in my body and mind.
Cooking Class & Soap Making
When I learned that we were going to a cooking class, I was really excited. Then I learned it was authentic food, I was even happier. The ladies in charge and the tour guide were all amazing in involving us in the process and making it extremely fun. We had laughs and laughs again. They introduced the kitchen to us, then we started cooking. We had to grind corn and then add sugar. We mixed that together along with other things. After someone had to mix the dry ingredients with water, their hands were messy after that experience. But we went outside with the mixture that we created and made empanadas and something else. It was really fun and a very good experience, especially if you have never cooked anything before. Overall the cooking lesson was really cool.
After we had a soap making lesson. The guide talked to us about how they make the soap and why. Since this place is a sustainability farm the soap was made from ingredients from the farm. We mixed oil and water throughly and added one of two smells. One group was chocolate and the other was apple. Then the two smells mixed to make the soap. We couldn’t stay for the whole process because it takes 45 days for the soap to harden and be able to use in the shower. But we still got to take some home, they were in amazing designs too. This was an amazing experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything.
During the ziplining, we got to experience some of the thrilling activities Buena Vista Lodge had to offer, as well as take in the truly stunning view of the land. However after that, we reconnected with the ground and got to take part in the sustainability tour, as Buena Vista was dedicated to being sustainable and environmentally friendly.
First, we were led to a small structure that held a few cows. We learned about how they get the milk and what they do with it, and were given an introduction to sustainability as a whole. After listening and seeing a demonstration, everyone was given a chance to milk the cow, which, as we learned, could produce up to 7 liters of milk in the mornings.
After milking the cow, we were shown the compost piles. Every day, the workers shovel the horse stables and deposit manure into a certain area. Then, coffee grounds and eggshells are added because of how good they are for plants. Everything is left there until it turns black, which is when it's suitable fertilizer.
Next to the compost piles was the garden, where plots lined with plastic bottles harbored freshly grown cilantro, cabbage, mint, lettuce, etc. Some plants were even being grown in an old washing machine! It was really eye-opening to see all the ways in which they made things more eco-friendly.
The penultimate section of the farm that we saw was an area in the ground for separating solids. They sectioned off manure, water, and solids from the restaurants to create sustainably sourced gas that was then sent through pipes back to the restaurants for fire.
Finally, we went inside a small structure in which multiple bins of manure sat, being turned into fertilizer by worms. We were all given the option to hold the worms (which I did), and we were then given some fertilizer to spread over some of the plants outside.
All in all, it was a really eye-opening experience. Oftentimes, people just use a recycling bin and call it being eco-friendly, but really, there's so much more we can all be doing. We may not be able to have a huge pipe system connected to a solids separation area, but we can be composting, growing plants, and finding innovative ways to recycle things—even if it means planting mint in a washing machine. Our guides wanted us to learn from the experience and bring at least some knowledge and plans back to the U.S., and I really think that we will.
“Being in a place like Costa Rica has completely changed my mindset about the world. I now
have hope that us humans can save ourselves from the damage that our ancestors have inflicted
on this planet. I am very grateful to be apart of this beautiful learning experience.” - Aidan