Although only two weeks into my time in Costa Rica I consider myself to have had a number of fortunate experiences. Some being the intimate sightings of all four species of primates found in the Osa Peninsula, getting close to a variety of spiders, snakes, scorpions and frogs, and spotting an Ocelot - even if this was wasted on me, as my not knowing how rare they are caused my nonchalantness and the envy of a few campmates. Meal times also have exceeded expectations After getting my head around living on rice and beans for a month, I have indulged in stuffed peppers for todays lunch, camp-made bread and wraps, and even chocolate cake made in a camp-made oven.
What I did not expect was the warm, friendly and mutually beneficial relationship with the community. As soon as I arrived in Puerto Jimenez and walked through the town, Jenna (Research manager) was recognised and people were asking how our projects were going. For our purchases in PJ, we were not exactly charged tourist prices either because people acknowledge and understand the value of wildlife conservation in the area they live. Life at the camp is a similar story. I have already in my short time seen the Frontier team not only work towards our own area of study but also offer help to locals. Just last saturday we assisted Adrian, who owns land we use for surveys, to build part of a road so he can get his quad bike across. This was useful to him because he will now more easily develop a new trail we could use for research. Adrain also often offers us to drink his iced tea when we survey near him as he shown a lot of interest in what we do.
We have also helped local landowners clear land and in return they may bring us fruit they have picked or even cook us the odd treat. We engage in small talk when we come across other hikers, sometimes they happen to tell us something we consider valuable information about wildlife they have encountered - it pays to be nice. Locals pop to our camp every now and then to invite us to their parties.
Witnessing this style of society and being part of Frontier has encouraged me to reflect on work ethic in other places in the world. And whether working for other people, either in a scientific way or just labouring, can be prompted by respect and ethics as opposed to capital.
By Nicole Huggins - Costa Rica Volunteer
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