Saturday, August 13, 2011

Rapturous Rainforest Reverie

I don’t believe anything can quite prepare you for a BAss walk in the Costa Rican jungle and the first time I went on one it was like walking through a dream. It’s all too easy to forget you are on a biological assessment survey and not just drown in the overload of sights and sounds. Although I’m used to walking in the woods at my home, the jungle feels five times more alive, with a richness to it’s mud and a hint of indigo to its waters. The morning BAss walks are indisputably the most incredible. Beneath the sound of howler monkeys you can taste moist leaves and fresh dew, and feel scattered sunlight dancing across your face. It’s so exotically intense that sometimes I could swear I feel the rough caress of bark and brush of leaves even when I’m not touching anything at all. All of it is far too much for my senses but I know it could never be enough for my soul. It makes it difficult to use binoculars and look for anoles and act professional, because inside I feel so vibrant and wild. Breathless with the glory of the morning and the freedom of life. With the sharp, eternal beauty of nature that touches something deep inside of me, something no-one can touch. I’ve absorbed so much here from both observation and knowledgeable field staff that every day of learning is unparalleled to any I’ve ever had. But I’ve learned something more here than different mammal species and bird types. I’ve discovered that in different places of the world nature speaks to you in different ways. It says things in the taste of the rain and the sun on your skin and the feel of dark soil between your fingertips. It’s a beautiful language that can only be understood by watching and feeling and listening. A vivid dialect of glowing leaves and startling bird calls that rolls over you and under you and into you until it’s hard to remember where you end and everything else begins. I could go into detail on the events of each BAss walk but in the end I feel it’s very much like being suddenly placed in a foreign speaking country were you delightedly find yourself constantly picking up the nuances of speech and understanding . In the five weeks I’ve been here I feel as though I’ve just gotten down some of the basic phrases of the jungle. And I can only say that I wish I was here long enough to learn the whole language, even though I know it would take a lifetime.

By Danielle Voisin

Photo by Tim Stephen