Life in the valley is where the magic happens. When you bring people together from various backgrounds, which each have different skills to offer, you get to experience the beauty of diversity and collaboration. The eight days spent in the valley this past week were truly inspiring. Base camp is blossoming very quickly and has gone through some serious remodeling this past week. Most of this remodeling consisted of creating walls out of bamboo and palm fronds as well as increasing our top shelter by layering palm fronds. Here are a few photos that emphasize the progress that has occurred during our second stint in the valley.
As you can see we have created an indigenous hut out of palm fronds, bamboo and free standing posts. We hope that this structure will carry on for quite sometime, however the rainy season may bring unfortunate circumstances for our structure.
The outdoor recreation crew and some other interns undertook another project this past week. The valley ball court has been a part of Kalu Yala culture in the past and also a great morale boost after a long day of work. The valley is a harsh climate in certain ways and the valley ball court needs to be maintained and groomed frequently in order to keep the vegetation from overgrowing. In order to combat this we dug up plants and roots that needed to be removed so that we could play on a leveled area. Next we covered the ground with plastic sheeting in hopes to create a level court to play on. Lastly we spend the good portion of a day using the land cruiser and trailer attachment to collect sand from the beach in front of our swimming hole. Slowly but surely the court began to take the shape of a real volleyball court. The last objective needing attention was the construction of a new net. We used the remaining horizontal lines and added a few more to create a base for weaving. From here we cut smaller lines to connect the top and bottom lines running horizontal. With some adjusting the net will work for the rest of this season and into the next, however we may need to add more sand soon. I have included some photos of the court as we worked on it and as we played.
Here is a before and after as the old net was untied and a new net was strung.
Team honeycreeper was created this week as three ambitious interns (Terra, Gasun and myself) set out on a quest to create a series of trails that will soon guide residents and visitors to various bird blinds and observatories where they can experience a more intimate moment with nature. These trails will not only allow Terra and other biology interns to observe nature, but will give everyone in the valley an opportunity to get a closer look at mother nature. We also hope that these trails will allow future interns to expand them to new areas on our property and also continue to provide this connection with nature that can be so beneficial to the soul. This week two trails were started. The first trail extends from base camp back to the base of the hill behind us. Roughly half way to the base of the hill the trail opens up and there is a nice view looking down towards the Pacora river. This is going to be the location for our first bird-viewing hut. In the hut we plan to build seating to accommodate the bird viewers and potentially a guide. If progress goes as planned we intend on connecting the trail along this river to the cattle trail that leads to the top of the hill. The other trail that was created this week connects base camp to the dirt road in front of the Kalu Yala swimming hole. This trail provides easy access to the river where Kalu Yalans enjoy cooling off during the hot days spent working in the valley. There is still an abundance of work that needs to be done as well as some research into the design of trails in the tropics. Here is a list of goals and objectives that were created by the honeycreepers.
-Collaborating with Recreational Interns to create a network of trails through –optimal wildlife and bird viewing areas.
-Helping to build a nature viewing hut and a bird blind.
-lay gravel on trails/put into our budget
-complete gps coordinates of cerro (hill)
-work on trail maintenance, drainage for the rainey season
-research trail maintenance in the tropics
-move the view hut closer the river
-visit Soberania National Park for ideas on how to build a trail and the type of informational signs they have
Team Honeycreeper took a visit to Soberania National Park earlier than expected so I decided to include some documentation of this trip in this blog. We set out from Hispania at 6:00 am for the National Park. After a bus change and some slight confusion getting to our destination, we reached the park headquarters where we spoke with two very nice park rangers who provided an abundance of information on the park and the wildlife surrounding it. The entrance fee to the park is five dollars but once we told them we were students and revealed our school identifications, they let us in for three dollars. We proceeded down the street on foot towards the botanical gardens and the Zoo. Once we reached the Zoo, we figured we had come all this way so it was only necessary that we check it out. I have never been the biggest fan of Zoo’s because it seems unethical to cage wild animals and put them on display, however they did have a Harpy Eagle, which is extremely rare especially in the United States. They told us that there are only four of them in the U.S. and 400 in Panama. After a nice long chat with the keeper of the eagle we continued with our mission to the park. We took a taxi from the Zoo to one of the trail heads to the park, yet little did we know it was not the trail we were looking for. Fortunately this trail took us to section of the park with a canopy tower. It was twenty dollars to get to the top and even to just hike on the trails. After we expressed our financial situation as students and travelers they let us use the trails and the tower for ten dollars instead of twenty. This was certainly a highlight for the day overall. The tower was 100 feet tall and had four different levels separated by a spiral staircase, each offering a different perspective into the canopy of the jungle. After viewing some birds, squirrels and various plant life, the honeycreepers hiked the remaining trails. My purpose for this trip was to assess the trails at the park in order to implement some similar designs into the trails at Kalu Yala. Unfortunately we did not make it to the trails we intended to hike, yet I did take some pictures of drainage points on the trails, seating used for viewing wildlife, stairs found on steep trails and some interesting deck designs. The following photographs represent these various trail designs and trail seating that may be used in a similar fashion someday at Kalu Yala.