We awoke to the wonderful call of the alarm bird, known for waking many sleepy teens up. Around 6, we arrived to the dining hall to see many birds flying around. The kitchen people put out chopped fruit onto a table, which attracted many different birds. Among the birds were about a dozen tanagers, a sparrow or two, and the national bird, the Gray-Colored Robin.
After a breakfast of rice and beans, we prepared for a morning tour of the garden. Our guide, Rodo, met us at the steps. A few of us grabbed bamboo walking sticks (not the bug) and we set off through the garden.
The garden is a very diverse collection of plants, from the native bromeliads to the exotic fig tree. Among the critters we saw were a humongous snail, twice the size of an American dollar coin, and several furry agoutis.
We eventually reached a lookout point in the garden where we could see a bunch of mountains on the distance. Mr. Willard experimented with the panoramic setting on his camera while the rest of us admired the view from the clearing. However, one of the most interesting things about the spot was the butterfly that landed on Mr. Willard’s shirt. We nicknamed it “88″ because the design on the wing resembles a “88.”
After a delicious lunch of fried rice with meat, we began our exploration of the forest. Rodo was very knowledgable of the area and Dora the Explorer. There were three species of invasive plants: a banana plant, a ginger plant, and a ground-dwelling plant with white and green leaves. A few of us were allowed to chop up the invasive species with a machete Rodo brought with him.
We then went to the bird tower, about 15 meters up. It was a very scenic view, although the feeling of being above the canopy was quite unsettling.
We eventually reached a point where Rodo had to return to help another group that was coming in. We walked a few hundred meters and saw a humongous strangler fig. The tree it was attached to was long dead, but the strangler fig itself looked like it could be a tree.
We then spent about ten minutes swinging around on a vine. Eric and Will were quite the swingers, though Mr. Willard’s technique left something to be desired. Eventually, we reluctantly left the vine to see…. this:
A snake! It was either a false fer-de-lance, or a real one. The real one is very poisonous, so a few of us started panicking. The more levelheaded ones took pictures and waited for the snake to leave. We left the snake and came to a small stream. I decided, as an extremely reckless adventurer, to cross the river to get to the mossy rocks. Of course, as soon as I got on the mossy rocks… I fell into the river. Luckily, only my pants were wet, but the humor in the situation made up for the potential rash.
We returned to the cabins and got ready for dinner. Dinner was noodles, garlic bread, and cooked zucchini. We then had a lesson on ecological restoration. One interesting attempt at restoring forests was the Orange Project. A juice company called Del Oro made an agreement with an industrial company so that the orange peels and pulp would be dumped in a field to attract birds to help fertilize the area. It was a success, before it had to come to a close due to legal issues.
More of our favorite comic: