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
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
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
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
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