Today I wake up rather late. After breakfast we take a forty-five minute drive up to another hilltop. There some of us are to chop and plant trees in the fern tangle, while others are to chop down trees and haul them to the truck at the top of the hill. I sign on to work with Greg, Noah, Mary, Lauren, Isidra, Sarah, and Oscar, hauling and chopping logs. We are thinning out a plot of amarillo trees, a fast growing tree which was planted as a monoculture here. The first tree we try to fell gets stuck in the canopy, but with some pushing, it comes down with a thunderous crash. Carrying the logs up the steep slope is exhausting, but chopping down the 3-6 inch diameter trees with a machete is probably even more tiresome. We chop up three trees. Unfortunately, the first tree was not exactly felled on target and we almost hit Isidra and Sarah. Well, Sarah and I are even. Tit for tat. We conclude our work with a caber toss. It was interesting to work cutting down trees in order to help the rainforest return to its original state. Outside of the wooded area, we are treated to a view of the ocean. The view is beautiful, but gringos have come and pay for plots of land. They then clear swathes of forest to create an ocean view and huge house. Naturally, this creates targets for thieves, and in turn, a paranoid environment. The ocean view is nice, but not worth the sociological and environmental damage.
After riding back and talking with Mary, we eat lunch. I go play soccer with the Ticos. I seem to be improving, as I score two goals against Luigi’s team. That puts me even with Jose for killing me at chess!
After soccer, we go to the waterfall. The forty foot cascade is straight out of a movie. The cool, translucent water crashes down upon the black rocks with the sound of rolling thunder. Spray is spattered in all directions. People who arrived before me show me where they do cliff jumps. After two shorter 10 foot jumps, I move up to a higher, 20 foot jump. The feeling of jumping is exhilarating. I initially fear that I may under-jump, but after overcoming that worry, I jump without any problems, landing with a smack on the glassy water surface. Later, I swim under the falls. The power of the water is incredible. The water begins as a massage, but eventually I succumb to the pounding force. I stand up. The pressure almost forces me back down, but I manage to get vertical. At that point, the water forces me out of its way and pushes me into the pool. There, the cool water fills my pores and invigorates me. Leaving is a tedious task because of all the boulders we need to climb over to get down. The moss is treacherous and every step leaves me in a precarious position where I could be swept further down river.
Back at TFI, we have a lecture on the incredible diversity here and what causes it. Scientists still have no simple answer to this question and it seems to be a combination of intense interspecies competition, heavy predation, high primary productivity, and climatic stability. I want to go on a night hike, but the rain makes this impossible. Soon, the lights go out. So, to avoid the pandemonium, I go to sleep.