Sunday, February 3, 2013

Crocs, coconuts and canoes- The hazards of living in Jalova!

It is now my third week here in Costa Rica at GVI Jalova and it is a stark contrast to back home. I’m from the UK, just north of London and I have never been to the rainforest before. I have probably seen more species of plants and animals here in these few weeks than I had in my whole life!

It is safe to say that this is certainly the most bizarre place I have ever been. Here, there are monkeys that howl like dogs, insects that sound like birds, whilst the birds sound like frogs and the frogs sound like car alarms or fire engines... As you can imagine it is really rather hard to get my head around!

We are living at a base surrounded by rainforest on three sides with the beach a mere 50 metres to our front (which by the way has a herd of overly friendly cows living on it for some reason), and a croc-infested river mouth half a mile down the beach. As it turns out, despite these crocodiles, or the venomous snakes we always see chilling out at base, the most likely cause of death here is by a blow to the head from a falling coconut! The river mouth leads to a complex network of canals that are home to a large number of different species of birds and mamouthly huge catfish that would swallow me whole if I were to fall in (which is actually not unlikely due to my poor paddling skills)!

A crocodile at the rivermouth

One morning I went on a bird survey down such a canal, and we managed to get ourselves into an unfortunate predicament. In a brave attempt to continue surveying, we paddled ourselves into reeds so dense that we got stuck for around 20 minutes in what can only be described as a giant, floating field on a river before we figured out how to escape. At one point I think we all thought we would be there all day, and that perhaps we´d have to abandon ship (canoe). Unfortunately that survey ended up being void but we all made it out in one piece so that is the main thing!

Stuck in a sea of green!

Nevertheless, despite all of the strange things I have witnessed here, I have been learning so much and can honestly say I have never been to anywhere more amazing. The strange noises and sights that fill the rainforest make it one of the most intriguing places on earth.

Katie, 1 month volunteer