Checking in From Las Cruces

On the trail in Amistad Biosphere Reserve.

 This summer has been so extraordinarily active, I’ve had very little time to just “hang out” on the internet.

All in all, NAPIRE has been an amazing new journey through Costa Rica. From the lowland Caribbean forests to the high reaches of the Talamanca mountain ranges, we have seen a lot in a very short period of time.  The students are running a great blog about the program, and I invite you to visit their website. There are a lot of photos and updates on the various sites we have visited, including La Selva Biological Station, the Bribri indigenous community, and of course, Las Cruces.

My role this summer is very different from previous NAPIRE programs. As a NAPIRE mentor, I was basically out in the forest every single day. Now, I am more tied to the station as we seek to facilitate some twenty research projects over the next few weeks.

Still, I get my chances. Yesterday I took a half-day hike up the Ridge Trail and along the Wilson loop. I was able to visit the plants that my students have worked with in the past.  They are looking well; probably enjoying the rest from nosy scientists like me.

Wildlife was a little scarce compared to previous summers; no monkeys or snakes or elusive cat-like animals. I did come across a giant toad. Well situated in the middle of the path, it sat like a stone while I took pictures. Not one of my photos really did it justice, but at least it was patient with all the flashes.

Our happy-go-lucky group at the peak of Cerro Chai.

We spent last weekend at Las Alturas Biological Station, on the border of La Amistad Biosphere Reserve in Costa Rica. Amistad stretches across the Talamanca mountain range into Panama and provides a home for many montane ecosystems, including the highland oak forests that inspired Eolyn. There we saw countless animals, including two species of monkeys, various birds, and a wonderful variety of colorful butterflies. I was secretly hoping to come across the giant peccaries I saw two years ago, but no such luck on this trip.

Las Alturas and Las Cruces are not that distant from each other, and are only 300m apart in elevation. So it’s always striking to see the difference in animal life between the two sites. Probably the main reason for fewer mammal species at Las Cruces is that the forest here is much smaller and more isolated.

The station director, Dr. Rakan Zahawi, has done a great job of adding pieces to the reserve over the past decade, bringing the total area to about 250 hectares. Still, that pales compared to the 570,000 has set aside for La Amistad International Park.

A glimpse of the vast expanse of La Amistad.

There is a long term project to connect Las Cruces to the nearby Ngobe Indigenous Territory, and from there create a corridor that runs all the way from Amistad to the Pacific lowlands. A corridor that size would transform the natural landscape and ensure the future of wildlife in the region. If you’re looking for a great conservation cause to contribute to, visit OTS’ website and make a donation to Las Cruces Biological Station. You can specify what you want your donation to go to; in this case, indicate the funds are for land purchases for the biological corridor.

Speaking of great causes, Hadley Rille Books indiegogo campaign is in full swing, and looking for more donations. Hadley Rille Books provides a different sort of habitat for another rare and beautiful species, the True Heroine. There are many great perks for all levels of donation, but the best perk of all is knowing your money is going toward a quality small press that supports historically underrepresented voices in the genre. Please visit their site to learn more about the campaign and make your contribution today.

Last but not least:  Eolyn’s Amazing Audio Book Tour is about to begin!  I’ve coordinated this tour through Daniel Marvelo’s Magic Appreciation Tour network, and added a couple friends of my own in the mix. In addition to many great posts about magic, publishing, and the adventure of producing an audio book, the tour will include a giveaway of 5 free copies of the audio edition of Eolyn. I will post the full tour schedule by Monday, July 14th, so look for that in the coming days.

Those are the updates for now. I’ll leave you with this fun video by Juan Luis Guerra; it’s a song that has for some reason become my personal theme for Summer 2014. (Must be the road trip through the Latin American country side!) Enjoy.

Pura Vida!

One thought on “Checking in From Las Cruces

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