Whappin’ in the Caribs?
This week, we welcome in our magnificent region of Talamanca a group of 10 students and their professor coming from the University of Georgia, USA. These students in Communication are in school journey during a month in Costa Rica and chose ATEC to discover the different cultures in the region, their differences, their ways to communicate, the way they live in peace all together.
To begin this adventure, we left on Thursday to "Casa Calateas", a remote lodge situated in the forest, developed and administered by a farmers' association from the nearby village of Carbón 2. We met Don Luis Zúniga, a farmer and guide, who manages this structure, and Doña Dora our fabulous cook. A few minutes after we arrived at Casa Calateas, we left for a small guided walk around the grounds to see various species of plants (héliconias and calateas) and of animals (howler monkeys, sloth, frogs…) then we stopped at the bird observation platform where from we enjoyed a fantastic view over the forest of Talamanca.
Back to the lodge to prepare a typical dish of the region: "Rondon", a stew made of fish and numerous vegetables, actually whatever we can “Run down”, delicious! After this good meal, Luis told us his story, that of the association of farmers and "Casa Calateas" as well as the story of the farmers in the region of Talamanca. To finish this day, a Calypso music band came to play us some pieces. This music arose from the slavery time and remains very present in the Afro-Caribbean Culture. King of the Calypso "Walter Ferguson" comes from Cahuita, the same village as our band “the 3 musketeers”.
The next day at 5:30 am, we woke up with another concert, that of the howler monkeys! The forest is a magic place at this hour, the air is still fresh from the night and, little by little, we can feel a kind of excitement in this plentiful vegetation which seems to wake up also.
A good "Gallo pinto" for breakfast and we left for a hike through the village of Carbón 2 and the surrounding farms. Luis explained us the life in a farm in Talamanca, the various crops (Bananas, Cacao and Tourism now!), he showed us a "biodigestor" which allows transforming excrements of the pigs into gas for the domestic use. Then, we were lucky to meet three families, visiting with those interesting families they shared their personal experience (most of the local farmers have Nicaraguan origin), discussed their connections with the other local cultures.
We had lunch then at the lodge before leaving towards Puerto Viejo to the hotel “Costa de Papito " situated just in front of the beach of Cocles, the students can finally take advantage of the beach! Appointment the following morning to go to meet the native community Bríbrí.
On Saturday morning, I joined Enrique Morales Sanchez, a tourist guide and also an important member of ATEC’s team, in front of the agency and we left to pick up the group to the hotel, then on the way to the village of Watsï in the native Bríbrí territory. We attended a meeting of the community for the fight against the project of an opencast mine in the forest of Talamanca. A young person told the history of the community and the numerous fights that it led in the past. The Cacique, the chieftain or king, called up to the fight in front of this new threat with an immense conviction. We were pleased to hear the Bríbrí language still in common use and pleased to see the pride emanating from our new friends in this impressive community.
Regrettably, we couldn’t stay much longer, just enough time for Enrique to make a donation on behalf of ATEC to support this resistance.
We left under the sun in the direction of the Volio waterfall. "Juan Carlos” a young guide of the village joined us for this hike through the forest and along the river. Bathing under the waterfall after this magnificent walk was the icing on the cake. I have to admit it, I like my job!
On the way back to the village, we went to visit Don Katato (a native culture protector) and his wife’s home to see the manufacturing of chocolate, from the cocoa tree up to our mouth. Once well opened our appetite, we savored a typical meal made of vegetables and roots, served directly in a banana tree leaf.
My mission as guide ended there, but the students did not stop discovering our region and its inhabitants. The rest of the week, they went to meet Afro-Caribbean and International Cultures in Manzanillo and Puerto Viejo where they participated voluntarily in a project for the renovation of the school. So many beautiful projects with ATEC!!