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Emma Parmer Sweeden

Emma Parmer Sweeden

Four weeks of Romelia

My experience of Romelia is amazing. It feels like I’ve been living a whole different life for the three weeks I’ve been here. It’s been three weeks of relaxation. Stress doesn’t exist here.

I chose to come to Romelia mostly because I heard that it’s the most beautiful place for volunteering in Costa Rica. I did not get disappointed. The house is located in the jungle with a beautiful garden, but still one minute away from the beach. I fall asleep to the sound of waves every night.

We usually work from 7-10 AM and then 3-5 PM. I knew when I came here that it’s the wrong season for turtles, but there’s not a shortage of work anyways. We’ve been doing other important things instead, for example picking plastic from the beach, rebuilding the hatchery and taking care of the refuge in general. I’ve spent my free time lying in a hammock reading plenty of books, swimming in the ocean or going for small hikes to different places nearby.

There’s no wifi here, something I thought that I would miss, and instead became one of the reasons that I love this place. There’s not a thing here to bother me; I’ve been shutting out the outside world a bit, just to get some space to breath. If I’ve wanted to use wifi I just took a 30-minute walk to Montezuma, sitting at the ice cream shop to catch up a bit.

I have had a great experience here at Romelia, and this is not the last time I’m volunteering for sure. I recommend Romelia to everyone who needs a break from everyday life.

My time at Romelia by Ida, 19 years old, Sweden

My time at Romelia

When I first came to Costa Rica, it was January, and about minus five degrees where I came from (Celsius, of course, I am afraid I am not to skilled with the Fahrenheit system). I had been flying for thirty-six hours, and our luggage was two hours late. I was exhausted. But the second I stepped outside of the airport and felt the heat hit me like a tidal wave I felt right at home. After two weeks of Spanish Studies in San José, we went off to Romelia. After the bus- and ferry ride to Montezuma we were met up by Martin who showed us the beautiful way to Romelia, our heavy backpacks carried by the horse in the striking sun and heat, along with the beaches. We arrived at Playa Grande, a several kilometers long strip of sand, on one side surrounded by palm trees and jungle, on the other of the vast Pacific Ocean. I have been here for more than three weeks now, and even though I remember getting here as if it were yesterday, it feels like much more time has passed. The days easily grow into each other and start feeling like one, in a right way, because stress is a non-existent phenomenon here. We get up; we have breakfast, we work, we have lunch, we hang out at the beach or walk the beautiful but sandy path back to Montezuma for some wifi, we work again, hang out in the hammocks, have dinner, we go to bed. I cannot explain how calm I am compared to when I left Sweden six weeks ago. Everyone here is so friendly and helpful, and I don’t know how many times I have laughed until my stomach has ached, making fun about how stressed and annoying people are back home compared to here or to the monkeys (these specifically are called white-faced monkeys, and they are our closest neighbors) constantly waiting in the trees for the moment to strike and search our bags for food. Luckily I haven’t lost anything to the little white-faced thieves spare my granola bars that day I forgot to close my bag.
Today, on the nineteenth of February as I sit writing this at the kitchen table, I never want to go home. The rhythm you fall into here is so calm, and being here, so far away from home, working in nature all day has made me realize so much about myself. Also, I think I’m about to finish my seventh book any time now. Right now, we are six volunteers here. Me, my friend Emma who I went from Sweden with, another Swedish girl, a Spanish couple and a guy from Belize. It is amazing how completely different cultures meet and how we all get along anyway, with some fascinating discussions on the way. It also feels so good to do something different, to not just go on vacation somewhere and be served by people, but to work yourself in a country completely different from your own. This morning we, for example, picked up plastic from the beach and even if it doesn’t make a big difference, it is so much better than not to do anything at all. I also have fallen in love with Montezuma; it is so close to these million beautiful places that we can explore on our days off. I wish I could completely describe what it is like to hear the sound of the ocean every hour of the day, to be woken up by howler monkeys at four thirty in the morning or what it feels like to open coconuts with your hands or walk along the beach into the sunset. If I were to describe this place with one word, it would be genuine. But it cannot be described; it must be experienced.

Ida, 19 years old, Sweden

Northern ghost bats (diclidurus albus

We are so exited about finding in Refugio Nacional de Vida Silvestre Romelia some members of this species.

 

Diclidurus albus is rare but widespread, ranging from Mexico to eastern Brazil. Found in some Caribbean Islands including Trinidad. During the summer months, no sightings of D. albus have been made in Mexico, the northern edge of its range, suggesting that members of this species migrate south seasonally, from May to October. Little information is available on D. albus migration patterns.

Northern ghost bats prefer humid habitats like riparian and tropical rainforests also have been found in human-disturbed areas like plantations, clearings, and to villages. They prefer to roost underneath the fronds of palms, including coconut, chocho palms, and coquito palms. These bats are seen in less mesic habitats, like deciduous and evergreen forests. Diclidurus albus migrates within the Neotropics. They occur from sea level to 1500 m. Observed at highest elevations in Costa Rica

 

Physical Description

Diclidurus albus is a distinctive looking bat species. The common name, Northern ghost bats, refers to their soft, long, white pelage. Sometimes the proximal ends of the hairs are grey in color, while the distal ends are white, giving the animal an ashy grey tone.

Northern ghost bats have nearly naked faces with large eyes and shorter, yellowish ears. They do not have a nose leaf, and their tragus is prominent, broad, and rounded.

Northern ghost bats are solitary. They do not form colonies and found in small groups only during the breeding season. Northern ghost bats are nocturnal and roost under palms during the day. They tend to fly high and in reasonably straight lines. Most studies of D. albus have focused on physical properties instead of behavioral characteristics, so the behavior of this species is not well known.

Like all members of the family Emballonuridae, Northern ghost bats are insectivorous. Stomach contents have a high proportion of moths.

 

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Northern ghost bats may be significant in helping keep agricultural pest populations in check, but their rarity suggests that they might not contribute much to insect control.

Text by biologist Jennifer Rivera

Photos by Andrea Kasper

 

All rights reserved to Refugio Romelia

Northern ghost bats IMG_3549 IMG_3550

I found that here I wasn’t wishing for that connection. I didn’t need to hear what was going on in “civilization,” not while I was happily encased in my bubble of wilderness.

This is from a blog from Kathryn Gunderson.

 

So this is what I posted on my own blog, feel free to use it for anything. Hope it works; miss you guys, hope everything’s going great, and tell  Fidel that Jack and I say hi!

 

My recent trip to Costa Rica was the first of my three summer adventures planned, and it started way back in October. A lot of people ask how I came upon it—it really isn’t much of a story. I knew I wanted to volunteer abroad this summer, so I started googling different opportunities and realized that one of the most popular types was eco-volunteering in Central America, particularly in Costa Rica, with beach preservation and sea turtle conservation. It seemed like the perfect way for someone with, at that point, little experience in international travel to dip her feet into volunteering in different countries. The program I chose to volunteer with—a nonprofit called Tropical Adventures—was incredible; they were helpful and fast to respond to my emails, and they planned out everything for us. All I had to do was follow the itinerary.

 

 

 

The most experience I’d had with Latin America was a resort in Mexico, so the culture shock definitely hit me immediately upon leaving the San Jose airport. It took some time to acclimate to an entirely different way of doing things, but it was so wonderful to get to know this beautiful country and their hardworking, proud people. Costa Ricans (or Ticos and Ticas, as they call them there) are undoubtedly the most welcoming people I’ve ever come across; they all went out of their way to make us feel comfortable. And it wasn’t just the locals whose kindness and compassion stood out; the wide array of other travelers we met were always quick to strike up a meaningful and warm conversation. From Scandinavian surfers, study abroad students, an English teacher-slash-Yoga instructor, and an elderly expat man with an eyepatch who helped to translate Spanish for us, I was truly impressed with everyone I met.

 

 

 

Of course, the natural beauty was astounding. Stunning beaches, diverse rain forests, rolling mountains, green, green everywhere. We lived and worked at the Romelia Wildlife Refuge, located on the absolutely picturesque Playa Grande, about a 45 minute hike from the small surfing town of Montezuma on the Nicoya Peninsula. Our rustic volunteer lodge was farther back from the beach, surrounded by lush green jungle. We would work hard during the day doing beach cleanup, building the turtle hatchery, and maintaining the jungle, with breaks in between to enjoy the sun and waves and hike to the freshwater pools in the nearby creek. At night we would patrol for turtles, and I’ll never forget how amazing it was to watch a large Olive Ridley lay each one of her 129 eggs.

 

 

 

It’s strange how quickly we got used to life there—little electricity, no hot water or (perish the thought) wifi, iguanas that run around like squirrels, and howler monkeys so loud they woke us up at the crack of dawn every day. All of this, though, added to the appeal of our little escape in the Costa Rican rainforest. Unlike on my cruise the month before, when I’d constantly craved wifi, I found that here I wasn’t wishing for that connection. I didn’t need to hear what was going on in “civilization,” not while I was happily encased in my bubble of wilderness. A trip into town for Costa Rica’s final 8 World Cup match (which, by the way, was amazing—there is nothing like watching the World Cup in a country that cares so much about soccer) was our only taste of it for the week at the refuge, and that was plenty for me.

 

 

 

Costa Rica changed my perspective on life in numerous ways, and not just the change in perspective that comes from being suspended hundreds of feet in the air on a zipline over the rain forest. It taught me to appreciate simplicity a lot more. It taught me that, with some small changes in our lifestyles, we can live in harmony with nature rather than at odds with it. It taught me that all work—even something as small as picking up 200 lollipop sticks that washed up on a beach—is important in the grand scheme of things. It taught me that you meet the best people traveling. And above all, it taught me that pura vida, or pure life, is the way to live.

 

 

 

Pura vida, Costa Rica. I miss you already and I’ll be back again someday.