Beach Bonfire Night

As written before in our previous blog posts, we had a weekend-long celebration of Earth Day here in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica with planting trees and a group meditation in love of Mother Earth. To top it all off, we ended our eventful weekend of conservation with a beach bonfire among our small little volunteer family.

Beate made some delicious veggie wraps that we all shared under the night sky, which was filled with shooting stars. Bob Marley and Gondwana played in the background, as everyone around the bonfire conversed in an array of languages (I think I heard German, Spanish and English all at one point).

To our surprise, we soon realized that our Sunday night was a lucky night indeed, as we saw that the calm Caribbean water was occupied by bioluminescence. Before I knew it, almost the whole crew was waist-deep in the water swirling and jumping around in joy. A few of us stood from afar, with the bioluminescent waves at our feet, in complete and utter awe at the natural beauty of this planet we’ve been gifted with.

Happiest of Earth Days and may every day be Earth Day. Peace and light to all from everyone here at Planet Conservation.

Earth Day 2017

Earth Day, a day where we celebrate the very thing that gives us life and leaves us in awe; where some march for science and some deny its very endangerment. Planet Conservation and some of its volunteers decided to counteract part of its carbon footprint by planting trees in the nearby area. Once they have grown, they will attract different wildlife and can help prevent erosion in the area.

Ironically enough, of all those who were most helpful and active during the tree planting, were the kids. No complaining, no laziness; they were working full-speed with their hands in the dirt
every opportune moment they had. Not to say that the volunteers who participated were not of a tremendous help also, because their cooperation and time are what keeps us going forward. Working is especially refreshing and motivating around a group of people like them, who are dedicated in creating a better tomorrow for all. Everyone was so eager to dig the next hole or water the next tree, and each passerby also seemed content to see the project taking place. But those who really shone the most, were those that all of this was really for, the kids.

After a day of planting and enjoying a day at the beautiful, one-and-only Punta Uva (which is now clean thanks to an organized beach cleanup the day before, check out our previous blog post!), we had the great idea of having a meditation circle in the spirit of Earth Day. We decided to ask for love and peace to fill the world and for continued efforts in its conservation. The kids, yet again, left us all speechless with their drawings in dedication to Earth Day, that they presented before beginning our meditation. All were related to ways that we could be more environmentally responsible or just their personal depictions of how they love the Earth. Their drawings were put into the middle of our meditation circle, where we set our own intentions in taking our part to ensure a better world for all generations to come.

For me, the kids were undoubtedly my biggest source of inspiration and hope on this Earth Day. More so than the trees that were planted or the donation of time from volunteers, but the optimism and wisdom that these kids possess at such a young age is what I think to have given us all hope, that all of our efforts will someday be worth it. And when it really comes down to it, I believe that Earth Day is truly about them; their future and right to live on a planet that isn’t left contaminated and destroyed by our carelessness to recognize what is slowly slipping through our hands.

With that being said, here at planet Conservation, we think that every day should be Earth Day. We encourage you to practice the three R’s; Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. Ask for your next drink to be served without a plastic straw, or your groceries at the store “sin bolsa.” Walk more, drive less. Pick up that piece of trash that you would normally pass by. Be the solution, be the change. The time for change has passed, and the time for change is now. We owe it to them.

Beach Cleanup

After a week of Semana Santa and vacations here, our sweet town of Puerto Viejo transformed into an unrecognizable bustling beach town. There was a large influx of vacationers and party-goers, which unfortunately despite all of the fun, comes with some serious downsides for the natural beauty that attracts so many.

Pristine beaches are left covered in trash and waste that didn’t make it to the bins, and the cleaning is left to those who probably didn’t put it there. The police in the area asked the community to please come and help to do a beach cleaning, in which locals and the volunteers of Planet Conservation alike came to lend a helping hand (one of the many things I adore about this community, people here take their beach cleaning seriously, nothing but footprints people!).

Those cleaning were followed by others cleaning, the first round of people getting the big stuff and the others following to get the tiny pieces accidentally left behind. By the end of it, I think close to 25-30 bags (big black industrial bags, and yes you read that right!) were collected from one stretch of beach. Least to say, we were extremely proud of our volunteers here at Planet Conservation for their hard work and dedication yet again.

Kid’s Club Gardening Project

This past week we decided to get our hands dirty with Mother Earth in the garden, teaching the kids sustainability through creating a vegetable garden. This is my third week here in Puerto Viejo, and I can contest that this has been one of the favorite activities with the kids so far. Rolando previously built the frame for the garden, so now it was up to all of us to try out our green thumbs during Kid’s Club.

I must admit that once I was given the activity to do with the kids, I was overly confident after having grown up around my mother (whom I call the Garden-Guru) and having been raised on a tree nursery, that doing a little lesson in gardening would be no big deal at all. However, I quickly realized that I remembered next to nothing about gardening even after years of growing up around agriculture, ha! So I looked to Rolando and Federico for some refreshers and advice, who gave me these following steps. If you’re like me, in not being born with the natural ability to grow goodness from the Earth, read on to learn what I learned with the kids!

Step one was to put in a layer of rocks. The volunteers, children, and I started by collecting rocks and stones to create a filtration and drainage system for the bottom of the garden. We all took turns filling the soon-to-be garden with our newly found rocks and taught the children how a base layer of rocks benefits the plants in a great way. (Some say that putting in rocks isn’t necessary, others say it is absolutely necessary, we shall see in time!).

The next step was finding dead leaves that have fallen from nearby trees to put on top of our recent layer of rocks. I was told that it was a good way to
give some extra nutrition to our plants once the leaves have decomposed. The kids actually collected more leaves than we could use as I said, they were very eager in helping with this project!

Following the leaves and rocks came the most obvious; good, rich soil which we spread out on top of the layers of rocks and leaves the kids collected and scattered. Next came the plants, and luckily for me being the rookie that I am, Rolando and Federico showed up just as I was incorrectly teaching them to plant the plants in a row (well, not really incorrect, there are just better ways). Federico informed us that it’s actually better to plant in a triangular form because it gives more space for the plants to grow. This rookie gringa is always learning something new every day!

And finally, the planting began. The children and German volunteers planted various plants such as tomatoes, basil, arugula, various lettuces, carrots, peppers, all alongside our already planted pineapples (still excited to see how that goes!).

Although the point of this activity was for the children to learn about agriculture, I think that all of us whether a gardening-rookie or a gardening-guru, each learned a little something from our planting activity. Which, I say, is truly the best kind of activity of all.

Environmental Education Through Art and Culture

Inauguration in the South Caribbean of the environmental education program for children

Planet Conservation’s Center for Environmental Education specializes in artistic activities such as music and painting to motivate children in the south Caribbean of Costa Rica. The work is done through permanent workshops in which international volunteers help children with the learning processes involved. These way children can better use their free time while learning skills other than those being taught to them in the regular schools.

Climate change, waste management, food security, and reforestation are some of the main themes developed. The activities are very dynamic: craft workshops including paper recycling, reuse of materials, and construction of musical instruments are offered to the children.

The center’s coordinator Mayra Mejia is a renowned local artist who through her paintings managed to create a representative work by painting murals in schools, high schools and public areas in the community. These works are a reference to the value of art in teaching and environmental education.

If you want to support this project and want to spread to other communities in Costa Rica, help us publicizing this initiative by visiting the organization where you can make a voluntary donation: