A Day in the Life/All the Life in a Day

Gretchen's roomTo try and explain, in any kind of detail, the life of a volunteer at Los Cedros would be an impossible task due to the incredible amount of new experiences and knowledge gained each day. However, to describe a single day in the life is just plain unfair to you, the reader. But here I go, attempting to sum it up in a few short paragraphs. Stating this as an impossibility does not mean that I discourage you to get the feel for it though, so please, read on. (Disclaimer: any heart put into this document is purely opinion, so while you are not free to sue me, you are free to come and experience this for yourself in order to form your own opinions.)

Imagine waking up to the sound of howler monkeys and a chorus of tropical birds in one of the most biodiverse forests on the planet, five hours walking from the closest village. After your morning walk through thick forest, perhaps observing a Quetzal or tarantula, or any amount of interesting insects shining with irridescent colors, you arrive at the main house. A delicious breakfast has been prepared for you, accompanied by fresh juice from the lemon trees and pleasant conversation with people from around the world. After breakfast is a good time to give the greenhouse plants a fresh drink of water and maybe pick some lettuces and tomatoes for lunch. Then, there may be some new seeds to plant, or plants that need transferring, or trails that have turned entirely too muddy and are begging for bank-saving activity. You may even take the whole morning to hike up to the ridge to hang a sign on the trail. This can be followed by a swim in the river, where you can also drink as much fresh water as you like without consequences. Sometime in there, you will be sure to break for a mid-morning cup of lemongrass tea, which is growing abundantly along every trail.

Before noon, your energy level has dropped, and you instinctively know that lunchtime must be approaching. Different kinds of beans and rice and a lovely salad are the much-welcomed norm. After lunch, some may feel like taking time to digest their food and read or birdwatch for a while. Others may have found a task in the morning that they are itching to start or finish. Still, others may feel like it is the perfect cloudy afternoon (cloudy being defined differently, since we are normally in the clouds) to make some oatmeal cookies or fresh salsa.

At Los Cedros you become close friends with your machete and hoes, and even closer friends with your thoughts and others’. You are here because you want to be here, putting your energy towards helping to salvage some of the most precious and endangered life on the planet. For this reason, you are essentially in charge of how you choose to spend your time (an alien feeling to many). You rise with the sun and birds, and go to sleep with them as well. You become a part of this wilderness almost as much as we, as humans, maybe should have been all along. Living with and not against nature. To say this place is beautiful would be far too much of an understatement, but hell, it’s freaking BE-A-U-TI-FUL!

Gretchen “Sarita” Ferrell
October 2001