One of the most important parts of conservation is involving local communities in the preservation of natural resources. It is critical to join with local people in developing a culture of protection and a respect for using resources in sustainable ways. Culture involves the way we do things, the food we eat, and our everyday ways of living. Today we learned about communities involved in sustainable projects in Costa Rica.

Our guests woke up early to spend a fulfilling day with Costa Rican families. Different experiences were offered, ranging from gold panning to the preservation of hearts of palm. Guests visited a botanical garden, toured a cacao farm, and walked in a rainforest and private reserve. Most of our guests enjoyed one activity in the morning and one in the afternoon. Midday, we all enjoyed a barbecue at Playa Blanca.

We experienced good moments throughout the day and met many great people. We learned from Doña Eida about hearts of palm and made empanadas full of love and flavor with a strong woman who fought to get her business running. Alex transitioned his land from a rice field to a permaculture farm where monkeys and dozens of birds coexist in peace. Full of both pride and humility, Don Juan showed us how he finds little grains of gold in the soil of the rainforest. During lunch, children from the community performed a dance in traditional dress. We also spotted a two-toed sloth with a baby nearly at eye level. What a moment.

Our guests returned to the ship satisfied with their experiences. They enjoyed the tours, but it is the people they met and the stories they heard that will stay with them. We are thankful for this expedition. Days like today feel extra meaningful.