Monday, February 05, 2007
Back to Coton
Last week, we headed up to Las Alturas de Coton to scope out what seeds were dropping in the rainforest. We woke up before sunrise, piling into our truck. There were six of us in the reforestation crew – Harold and Wilson (our local employees), Lara and Sofia (our interns), Brendan and I.
Going to Coton is always an exciting event – like going to a antiquated mountain kingdom. When we first rolled into town, it had even more the feeling of a ghost town. More people have left since the last time we were there. We parked in the shade next to the tractors and guards. It always takes a while for the guards to warm up to me. I feel like they are testing me. Even though they know who I am, it takes a couple of hours before they finally break their silence and shout, “Rompecama”, my nick name (The Bed-Breaker) because last year the bed I was sleeping on in the workers quarters had broken beneath me at 3 in the morning waking up the whole town. After shouting “Rompecama”, I respond with my anticipated response of “Pichaso” which does not translate into English very politely. Then we were friends again.
I needed to find Clemente, the old man who tends to their reforestation nursery to tell me what seeds were in season. The guards sent someone on horseback to find him up in the mountains. After a little while, Clemente came hobbling down the road to meet us. In his thick mountain accent he asked me, “Busca semillas?” (Are you looking for seeds?). I nodded. “No hay.” We had come to early in the season. The seeds are still waiting for a few more weeks of the dry season before they want to fall. I had a feeling before we came that this might be the case. The end of January is the beginning of seed harvesting season in Coto Brus.
We went up to the rainforest anyways. We found a few seeds. Some “aguacaticos” (little mountain avocados) and some palms. We also found a “Sabanera”, a large non-poisonous snake. We hiked in the forest for a few hours and then headed for a swimming hole in the Rio Coton. Harold and Wilson said they had never swam in water so cold and fresh. By 1:00 we all really needed some coffee.
We went back to town, and I asked some guards if there was anyone in town who could make us coffee. Dona Elisa, who usually cooks me meals and makes coffee, had taken the day off to go to San Vito. The guards consulted each other and agreed that “cuesta mucho para encontrar café aca” (it takes a lot to find coffee around here). The problem is that there is no one in the town. After about half an hour, we finally found a sympathetic woman who made us some coffee and food.
We are heading back to Coton next month. We plan on making it a monthly seed-collecting journey.