Invincible Green Dreams

With our rich soils, steady water, and equatorial sunlight, everything flourishes. This week we’re hosting a writers’ retreat and we cautioned them: if you happen to drop an idea to the ground, it might grow into a poem. Yes, everything comes alive here, especially green dreams.

Many years ago Steven told me of one of his most precious green dreams, a vision he had of creating a wildlife corridor along the Rio Chachagua that would connect the Luna Forest to the Children’s Eternal Rainforest just west of our farm. That majestic forest, also known as El Bosque Eterno de los Niños or the “BEN,” was ever so close to us, but about six hundred meters of degraded land separated our protected forest from the BEN and forest parcels contiguous to it. A six hundred meter gap along the river might not seem like much to humans or macaws, but to land creatures like ocelots and jaguars it was an unbridgeable distance.

So the green dream: somehow acquire a thick ribbon of land along the river, reforest it, give it to the Monteverde Conservation League to be administered as part of the BEN, and then welcome the wildlife to Luna. We memorialized the vision:

Then we dropped that green dream into the soil of our soul and waited for the moment. We didn’t wait long.

One of our friends from the United States soon came to visit, and we took him out to the Pocosol Research Station in the BEN to hike the trails, coat his face with volcanic mud, and swim in the lake in the crater of the extinct volcano. Yeah, that’s what we like to do, as often as we can. Our buddy loved the experience, and we brought him into our green dream. He just happened to be a senior executive with Whole Foods, and together we hatched a plan. I would reach out to the herbal company with which I was then associated, he would reach out to his colleagues at Whole Foods, and together with Luna Nueva we would raise a rainforest-full of money. And it worked – big time!

How to honor the success? What better way than a twenty-five mile hike from the top of the continental divide in Monteverde to the Pocosol Research Station near our lodge! It was a crazy idea and I ended up getting carted out of the rainforest on a stretcher, but we hikers still get together to relive and celebrate the experience. The hike was even the subject of an article in the New York Times by the great reporter Andrew Martin.

We worked with our neighbors along the Rio Chachagua to effect the land purchases, and once we assembled the parcels we set out to reforest the degraded land. We enlisted our families and friends to get their hands dirty with the planting, and over a period of several months planted hundreds of native trees that we hoped would take to the soil and reestablish a forest.

And we had the help of Whole Foods team members who often visited our lodge for retreats and conferences.

And that was eleven years ago. Last week, a guest visited our lodge who works with Whole Foods, and I told her the story. She, along with her family, asked if she could see what happened to all those trees that Whole Foods helped plant, and I realized that I hadn’t visited the corridor project for more than five years. Carlos Arias grabbed a truck and we took off for the short drive over to the once-degraded pasture where, we hoped, the green dream had taken root.

And here’s what we saw:

The once tiny saplings had grown 60-70 feet tall! Carlos Arias then told us about the animals we’re now seeing at Finca Luna Nueva because the developing corridor is friendly to wildlife movement. Agoutis (little rabbit/chinchilla creatures with reddish ears), ocelots, pumas, even jaguar – all have been recent visitors to our forest. Remember when Shoeless Joe Jackson in from Field of Dreams said “if you build it, he will come”? We built it, and they’ve come.

So go back to the original Green Dream – that plan we sketched out more than a decade ago. The idea was to create a solid path of forest along the Rio Chachagua, and take a satellite look at the region as seen this week on Google Earth. We did it!

Thanks to Carrie Brownstein of Whole Foods for coming to Finca Luna Nueva with her family and inspiring us to revisit this Green Dream come true. Pura Vida!