What do I love most about living in the valley as an intern for Kalu Yala? Aside from the gorgeous landscape that I wake up to every morning, I’d have to say it’s how we use things that we have grown or found out in the jungle for food, or as a remedy for health related problems. So far I’ve found: Coconut, lime, banana, plantain, palm, bamboo, and mango trees. On top of these things, the directors have shown us how to find wild cilantro and a type of wild ginger. We have either used or eaten ALL of these things in the valley.
I’ll never forget the time I came back into basecamp for some water while our wonderful chefs Vivian and Largo were cooking our lunch. I had gotten a little sunburn on my shoulders and neck, nothing too serious, just a little uncomfortable burn. I turned to pick up my water bottle and felt a cooling sensation on the back of my neck and the pain slowly subsided. Vivian had put a piece of sliced cucumber on my burn and it felt as if it was melting away. Also, I can breathe better when I’m staying in the valley as opposed to when I cooped up in the house. It’s situations like these that make me come to appreciate nature and all of the health benefits it can provide. I’m looking forward to not only discovering more of nature’s remedies in the valley, but also with helping to plant fruiting trees, hardwoods, vegetables, feed crops and shrubs along side other Animal Science and Agriculture interns. The foods and remedies that occur here naturally will soon be growing along side new types of vegetation in the Kalu Yala garden and will directly benefit both interns over the course of the next several years, as well as the citizens of Kalu Yala in the future. Nature trumps all!