This month the Capuchin monkeys have wandered across the river into the trees close to the volunteer casa. On one occasion a local family had walked up from San Gerardo to Cloudbridge for a hike and were passing by when we were viewing the monkeys. We invited them to join us and the children were so excited. It seemed that they had never seen monkeys before even though they live in the area. The agricultural areas have few trees to support wildlife and residents don’t often have the opportunity to enjoy wildlife in their own country.
On November 9th Cloudbridge hosted Professor Lourde’s English class from Costa Rica’s Universidad Nacional. Rolando Zanuga gave a presentation in Spanish introducing the students to our project. The students hiked up the mountain and helped install cardboard (to act as mulch) around the young seedlings. They also visited Linda’s studio to learn about using art to promote conservation. The students are very interested in our volunteer program. Maybe we will see some of them back in the future.
Cloudbridge has succumbed to hooking up to the grid with ICE (the national electricity co.) for an electricity source. This is to only be used in emergency situations when we have issues with our hydroelectric systems. The turbine providing electricity to the classroom and Casa failed this month. While waiting for parts for the turbine the volunteers were without power. Back to living in the old days – by candlelight. The inconvenience of no electricity does impact our day to day activities and ability to continue with research. Hopefully the electricity source through ICE won’t be used to often. We pride ourselves on our sustainable practices. This was a difficult decision to make.
Toño The Pizote by Tom Gode
For some time we have been composting all of our organic material at Cloudbridge. We started out several years ago with a basic system that seemed to work. However with our increase in volunteers this year we doubled our organic material. Toño the pizote/coate found out about this and managed to get into the compost bin each day and have a feast. He had also discovered the garbage containers, the classroom kitchen, the storage sheds, our new solar clothes drier and basically anything that happened to be left open. We attempted putting rocks on the compost lid to weigh it down. Regardless of size he managed to get the lid off and make a mess. We added bungee cords, he turned it into an exercise machine and soon he was bringing his friends over to join the party. We knew we needed to be smarter than a pizote.
We created new compost bins out of food grade barrels with lids that could not be removed (so far) by a pizote, But Toño persisted. He was seen looking into windows and trying doors and so we finally decided to trap him and move him somewhere far away. Our first attempt was a failure. Matt, one of our volunteers made a video of our pizote casually flipping the trap over so he could reach the banana inside without going into the trap. The second day we were successful after weighing the trap down with rocks and wedging it between more large rocks he had to go in to get the banana. Two volunteers, Marc and Kelby carried the trap containing Toño up the trail, across the river and through the covered bridge and released him where he will hopefully live happily ever after. Within a few days the rest of the party goers departed with no access to kitchen scraps.
A Night Walk by Linda Moskalyk
Flashlights pass over plants along the trail illuminating leaves that sparkle from recent water droplets of rain. I wipe the mist from my glasses straining to find some creature of the night that inhabits our cloud forest. Siobhan and I are tagging along with Matt on one of his night excursions in the jungle. At first impression it seems that all is quiet and there is very little life stirring in the dark.
“There’s one” Matt says as he shines his bright light into a thick patch of stems and leaves. It takes me a few moments to focus on the smallest frog I have ever seen perched on a shiny smooth leaf. How did he spot that?
As the night went on it was the same story. Matt with his keen eye would encounter many more inhabitants of the forest. Siobhan found one frog as well. I with my older eyes and poor flashlight resolve myself to enjoying the night walk and wait to see what Matt will uncover next.
A blue eyed anole clings to the fringes of a papyrus stalk. Looking up at the light, a glass frog poses for a photo. Further down towards the river we see a brilliant green pit viper wrapped around a branch. He watches us as we cautiously take photos and then we move along, away from his menacing stare. What looks like part of a plant, on closer inspection is a stick bug walking up a stem. Listening to the night sounds and encountering the secret life that exists and often goes unnoticed one cannot help but have a renewed appreciation for this reforestation project at the Cloudbridge Reserve.
Our Volunteers Hiked up Chirripo
Jana Kastner From Germany is one of our new volunteers. This petite young woman has taken on some tough tasks. She has been working alongside the guys shovelling soil, working in the tree nursery, digging trenches to bury electrical cable, and helping with maintenance in our tree planting areas.
Siobhan McLaughlin is doing a semester abroad through International Education of Students (IES Abroad). Siobhan is a student at the University of Rochester, NY. She has already spent some time at Monteverde and Earth University in Costa Rica. Here at Cloudbridge she is working on the biological survey and organization of the tree nursery.