By: Hannah K. `18
In our first full day in Costa Rica we realized the importance of environmental sustainability. When we arrived, I personally noticed that there were not many large buildings and not many obvious tourist attractions like casinos, modern stores etc. Our tour guide, Heidi, explained, “ The biggest thing Costa Rica has to offer is not the shopping and beaches, but nature.” This was certainly the case when we went to the National Institute of Biodiversity right outside of the capital San José in the province of Heredia. Here, we first watched a short video on how the history and biodiversity of Costa Rica. We were amazed when we learned that every two days Costa Rican biologists discover a new species of insect. We observed many mariposas (butterflies) in their natural habitat including the iridescent blue Morpho peleides, which is commonly called The Emperor Butterfly. We also helped Costa Rican biologists identify an unknown specimen based on the features of the insect.
After exploring the National Institute of Biodiversity we crossed the continental divide on our way to the Arenal Region. Whilst on the bus looking out of the window, we noticed how beautiful Costa Rica is. All of the bright colors, the animals roaming free, and all of the
greenery were truly beautiful. Seeing the natural landscape reminded me of when I lived in Peru three years ago.
Our last stop for the day was the Baldi Hot Springs, which are natural pools of water that are heated by tectonic activity of three converging tectonic plates. These plates are also responsible for volcanic activity and earthquakes in the region. These processes combined with protecting the region’s biodiversity are real priorities for Costa Ricans. 40% of the land in Costa Rica is protected through the country’s national park system. It is easy to see why Costa Rica is one of the happiest countries on Earth!