The Heart of Gold project was an unforgettable experience that I really need to share! David our professor on charge of the Heart of Gold project assigned each of us a day of the tour to take notes and pictures and I was assigned the fifth day. Therefore I’ll share a bit of the knowledge that I gained and what our fifth day looked like. Towards the end of the blog I share a bit of my overall wonderful experience.
On the fifth day of the tour we were in Fundacion Nubotropica, located in Santa Maria de Dota where we had a beautiful panorama. During the morning we visited one of Fernando’s farm where he cultivates chicken, pigs, coffee, and different vegetables. Fernando, the president of the FAALS is an amazing, fun person and a very talented singer. He has a wealth of knowledge about the history of the area and tons of stories that he loves to share. On our way to the farm, Fernando showed us a plant called “Higuerilla” and explained that it’s a plant that was used a lot of years ago to make biodiesel and it was used as a source for lighting. Currently it is being sold at a cost of $6 per kg, which works as coffee shadow revenue. There are experiments being done with the plant trying to produce sunscreen.
Fernando also shared with us that 30 years ago; there was a problem with the coffee harvest because flies laid their eggs on the coffee. The cooperative of Santa Maria de Dota keep experimenting different organic ways by treating the plants with calcium to avoid flies laying eggs. Worms were used before to compost but they figured that calcium speeds up the process. Fernando’s farm also partners with the local seed bank where they keep seeds that are in danger of extinction. Afterwards we helped filling up compost bags for coffee plants.
Each of us had the opportunity to plant coffee and they also showed us the coffee trees that previous students from the Heart of Gold team have planted in previous years. It was encouraging to know that if we go back our coffee trees would still be there and I would love to come back and see the growth progress.
After our hands on experience, the wonderful stories, and interesting information at Fernando’s farm we went to Julio’s house where we helped prepare a delicious lunch, and we had great conversations, and a delightful time.
Afterwards, one of their friends came and showed us the process of how to make the traditional baskets to collect coffee which in some places they are still currently used. He started making the basket from scratch with strings of wood from a type of tree that we had seen during our hikes. A total of 16 branches are needed to make a basket. It was a cool experience followed by a tasty snack and of course we would not skip the fresh organic coffee that I will always miss.
After this lovely afternoon we went back to Nubotropica, and to top it all off, we had a beautiful evening where all the families we had met came together to Fundacion Nubotropica and made a barbeque. They made a huge bonfire and we had a blast dancing with the families and the kids. At the end of the day a lot of emotions came together since it was the last time we would see some of the families and it turned a little sad, but I am very grateful that we had the chance to meet them and share great moments. The hardest part for me was seeing my two beautiful angels for the last time. All the kids that we met were the most pure and joyful kids that will steal your heart since the first time you meet them.
After all those wonderful memories, beautiful places, everlasting friendships I think there aren’t any reasons not to go back. It was unique experience for me that totally changed my perspective. Meeting the most humble loving people makes you appreciate the little things that sometimes we take for granted. Rather than us contributing to them they contributed a lot more to our lives.
Last but not least the diversity of our group also made this trip very special by sharing our different traditions and perspectives. There were seven of us and we had people from India, Mexico, Iran, Poland, and of course Canada, which made our experience so unique and fun. We did not only make lovely friendships with the families in Costa Rica but we also made friendships within our group that would last forever. The entire trip was a once in a lifetime experience and I would not change any tiny piece of it. Pura Vida!!!!
4th Year Student- Bachelor Tourism Management.
Vancouver Island University.