My last journey of my semester abroad was to travel to Monteverde, Costa Rica to study sustainable agriculture. Living in a cloud forest was one of the most spectacular experiences of my life– everything felt so alive and interconnected. It was just like I had imagined– mist pouring off of rolling green hills, colorful birds chirping around every corner, trees growing with a dozen different kinds of life. Living in Monteverde gave me an entirely new appreciation for how complex and beautiful life can be. From the famous resplendent quetzal (pictured above) to the scarlet macaw, the country is home to some of the most incredible biodiversity in the world– visiting as an avid birder was like a waking dream! Being in a place that felt so alive was great for my mental and physical wellbeing– I found myself taking long walks through the rainforest, eating healthier organic local options, and taking time to really appreciate nature.

The thing that impressed me the most about Monteverde was the culture around protecting this life– everyone in town, from the cab drivers to the forest conservationists, had an intimate relationship with nature. This makes logical sense from an economic perspective– the city hosts almost a quarter of a million ecotourists a year for a reason– but getting to experience how important nature is in the community’s day to day life was inspiring to me. It showed me how we have a way forward through climate change– if we can find new ways to reconnect with the natural world and grow connections with all the things living around us, maybe more of us will be inspired to protect our land and its life!