I’ve been to two types of forests in Central America, a cloud forest, and the rain forest. Both were equally as exciting and beautiful, but both had qualities that challenged me. I visited them both under different circumstances and group dynamics. The cloud forest I visited was in Costa Rica, and the rain forest was in Belize. Now, normally I would have called it the jungle. However, while in Belize I learned that natives to the area actually find it offensive to call it “the jungle” because technically it is just a forest.
The cloud forest in Monte Verde, Costa Rica was amazing, and I loved every minute of being there. It is called a cloud forest because, as it does rain, there is a constant wispy cloud cover. It was damp. Every surface was wet, and I slipped and fell every time I put my foot down. This forest was also at a higher elevation, so it was only about 50 degrees, which I was totally unprepared for. I hated that part. What I loved was the nature. It captivated me with its beauty. I took in every sight, sound, and smell. It felt as if time was at a standstill, and I was overjoyed with what life had to offer me that day. It was worth the two-hour, bumpy, and hot car ride.
The Five Blue Hills National Park Rain Forest in Belize was simply beautiful. I felt so connected with nature. This was a part of a service trip I was on. We spent four days and three nights camping and hiking through the forest. This was a huge change in dynamic from anything I had done before. Each day was hot, rainy, exhausting, and tensions were running high. This was not a family trip, I was with a group of students that I went to high school with, three team leaders (two teachers and a rep. from world challenge), and three paid tour guides (to make sure we didn’t get lost or die). There were large spiders, ants with powerful bites, and mosquitos that left the worst itches. I left with so many bites. It was also extremely difficult to see the same people for four days. It was a large adjustment because we became totally removed from the hustle and bustle of the everyday world. I am used to waking up to the sound of phones, cars, and other everyday things. Not howler monkeys and someone screaming saying it was time to pack up camp so we could walk another six miles.
I particularly loved the rain forest because I was really given a chance to do once in a lifetime things like caving, travel deep into the forest, and be with a group of people I would not have been close with in school. I also loved it because I was without contact from my normal everyday stresses (like my cell phone). It was everything I needed. I know I had stresses while hiking (like would I make it to the next break without passing out), but I knew they were only temporary. It was a dose of nature I needed. I was so caught up with life because I had just graduated high school, was preparing for college and had become very materialistic. Being trapped with minimal supplies and clothes helped to bring me back down to earth, and as my mother would put it “be the salt of the earth” yet again.
I loved the forests I’ve seen, and wholeheartedly want to go back. Maybe not as minimalistic as I was in Belize or as brief as Costa Rica, but I will return. I needed to get away to a place where it was if time stayed still and nature ruled all. The seclusion from the everyday world and getting to be one with the beauty that the world has to offer was my absolute favorite part and is why I love the forest.