Kekoldi Indigenous Reserve (6/3/06-6/16/06)
Hone Creek Travel Blog› entry 2 of 16 › view all entries
June 3rd, 2006 – by: smhirsch
After travelling for a while on a road that switched between pavement and gravel, Pablo, our project leader, told the bus driver when to stop, and we all got out at a very small store. The store, located a very short distance away from main entrance to the Kekoldi Indigenous Reserve, is run by a few members of the Bri Bri tribe (the indigenous people who live on and run Kekoldi). Inside the store, we could get soda, water (even though the water on the reserve was absolutely fine to drink), candy, chocolate, cheese, crackers, cookies, etc...basically, anything we would need in the next 2 weeks to get a little variety in our meals of rice, beans, vegetables and occasionally fish or chicken.
With a good covering of bug spray, some bandanas, and rubber boots, we were ready for Pablo to lead us into the Kekoldi Reserve. The lodge we would be staying in was 3km up the mountain, and besides not having hiked for a while, we all had our huge packs on (mine was a 4500 cubic inch pack completely full). It was a beautiful hike, but we all couldn't wait until we reached the top and could catch our breath. We stopped a few times on the way up, and one time, were fortunate enough to catch two large lizards in the midst of a territorial fight. Pablo said they were poisonous (basically, anything in the rainforest that has bright colors, is dangerous) but we all got close for a look anyway. They were dark with bright yellow heads and red strips down their sides.
When we reached the end of our trek, the lodge we were greated with was amazing. It was built by hand by Sebastián (a Bri Bri) and a few of the other members of the tribe. They used a hard wood found in the rainforest to build the lodge to it wouldn't rot or get infested with termites. We went around to the front and found two wood picnic tables and some nice wood chairs in a large living area surrounded by hammocks (all of which were handmade). Then there was a small office for Pablo and Daniel, and a kitchen. Past the kitchen were a few stairs leading to the showers and bathrooms. There was a side for the girls and a side for the boys, even though we only had 2 guys in our group (the girls ended up taking over the showers on the guys' side, as well.
Heading uphill a bit more from the lodge was a brick oven that the group before us built. They had to carry bricks and bags of cement up the 3km trail from the road. Still recovering from the hike with our packs on, the brick oven made us worry...what were we going to have to carry up the mountain??? Haha. There was also a watchtower that is used mainly to watch the raptor migration each year. From it we got a 360º view of our surroundings.
We soon learned more about what we were actually doing at Kekoldi. Pablo had started researching the effects of global warming on bird populations on the reserve, and it was our job to assist him and Daniel with the research. Every other morning, we were going to be birding. Half of us went out at 5am to set up the mist nets and to work for 3 hours, and the other half came out at 8:30am to work for another 3 hours and take the nets down. The way the research worked was that every half hour, everyone left the collecting table and went in groups of 2 or 3 to an assigned number of nets (we usually had 10-12 nets up).
We caught a lot of hummingbirds, which was really cool because we all go the chance to hold one. One of the ways you can hold a hummingbird without hurting them is by their long beak.
More information about what goes on at the Kekoldi reserve can be found at www.kekoldi.org
When we weren't birding (in the afternoons or on the off days) we would help Sebastián out with things around the lodge, since it still wasn't 100% completed. For some reason, that I still am unsure of, he asked us to move logs from the bottom of part of a hill to the other side, near the brick oven. Half of us went on a nature walk in the morning, while the other half carried logs, and then we switched after lunch. I was in the group that went on the hike in the morning, and at around 11am, it began to rain.
After all the logs were moved, we had some downtime. I had noticed some clay in the trail and since it had been raining, it was perfect for making sculptures. Weimer (9) and Deyedi (7), two of the Bri Bri children, thought it was great, and we made two clay figures. Deyedi named them Paulo and Laura. The clay people stayed around for a few days and were lots of fun until they somehow disappeared.
Besides helping Sebastián with work around the reserve, we relaxed in the hammocks, played card games (NERTZ!) and hung out. When we had arrived at the lodge, there was a half finished hammock hanging up, and I soon taught myself how to work on it. I finished that one and we put it up so that more people could lay around and relax. I then went on to make 3 more in the course of the next week and a half. Brittney and Aimee were the only other two who found it interesting enough to work on. I liked it, because it gave me some mindless work to keep me busy, and when it was done, we got to enjoy another hammock. I have yet to set up a hammock making station here at home, but I'm getting there...
During the afternoons, if there was nothing better to do, we would get to go to Puerto Viejo.
It was nice to go into Puerto Viejo because we could go to the beach, get some food other than the Bri Bri food we had been eating (which was all pretty mushy), check emails and update our families, buy souveniers made by the locals (many of whom are of Bri Bri descent), and hang out. Many of the people who live in Puerto Viejo are originally from the US, Germany, and other countries. People visit the town, fall in love with it, and never leave again.
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