We are just coming to the end of the second term and about to start our Directed Research (DR) course. The completion of the academic activities culminated with a combination of theory and a great field experience. We spent three days in a rather remote rural community called El Sur de Turrubares. Embedded in a landscape of agrosystems and protected areas, this small community faces development issues due to lack of economic incentives. A remarkable initiative of rural-based ecotourism led by a group of families inspired us to continue supporting these types of sustainable strategies. This grassroots project, known as “EcoSur,” possesses basic accommodation facilities and has recently added two new infrastructure modules for classes and a cafeteria. The setting was an excellent place to develop our classes in economics and ecology.
As part of the rural experience, we observed an authentic process of producing brown sugar with an oxen-powered sugar mill, appreciated wood craftsmanship, and milked cows. In addition, we hiked through basic rustic trails within a restricted sector of Carara National Park. This was possible due to the mutual agreement between EcoSur and the park. During the day, the students had the opportunity to observe colorful bird species such as the Chestnut-mandibled Toucan and the Cherrie’s Tanager. In the night, we explored clean forested streams to observed amphibians species like the Speckled Glass Frog and the Common Rain Frog.
Back at the Campus, the students are about to make a decision on the DR project they would like to work with. Four groups will be formed to start with each specific research dynamic that will be conducted in different parts of the country. This will undoubtedly be a major hands-on experience and an important research outcome for both the students and for the involved stakeholders.