Central America Expedition 2010: Day 9, part 2 – La Cusinga Eco Lodge, Costa Rica
March 23, 2010
One of the most important aspects of La Cusinga’s sustainability efforts is its involvement with environmental organizations and the local community. During our morning in Uvita we visited Escuela Líder La Flor de Bahia, a local primary school with which La Cusinga has a close relationship. Our arrival was serendipitous for one teacher who happened to be practicing English greetings with her class of fifth graders. As we passed through the school gate she popped out of her classroom and invited us in to speak with the students, who rarely had the opportunity to try out their language skills on native English speakers.
After running through “How are you? What is your name? Where are you from?” and so on for a while with the students, we found an empty classroom where we could film an interview with computer science teacher Ronny Duarte, who spoke of the importance of environmental education and conservation. The school’s partnership with La Cusinga includes field trips to the lodge, where students learn about ecology, forest protection, natural resource conservation, and sustainable agriculture. La Cusinga has also helped the school set up a recycling program. Two of the fifth graders, Noah and Nelson, showed us the recycling station and demonstrated how they sort trash.
Back at La Cusinga we spoke with Ronald Villalobos Hoffman, the director of ASANA (the Association of Friends of the Nature of the South-Central Pacific), a regional environmental organization that works on environmental education, biodiversity monitoring, and protected areas conservation. Villalobos explained that La Cusinga has been of great help to ASANA and other organizations working on the protection and conservation of the area. The lodge coordinates work with local schools, provides a location for workshops and training programs, and assists with efforts to control illegal activities that threaten the environment. In addition, La Cusinga guests have the opportunity to volunteer with ASANA’s sea turtle hatchery program.
One of ASANA’s major efforts is the establishment of the Tapir Path Biological Corridor between the Savegre and Terraba Rivers along Costa Rica’s southern coast. La Cusinga has been very supportive of this project, and the lodge’s private reserve represents a significant tract of protected land that provides a refuge for tapirs, jaguars, birds, turtles, crocodiles, and other threatened species.