Sunday, June 15, 2008

Butterfly Garden

Is it a stick? Is it a bug? It's a stick bug!

Sairah and I came across this little butterfly garden in San Pedro. A very nice lady took care of this sanctuary. She mentioned that on rainy days, such as ours, it is rare to see the wildlife. But we did manage to see a few little creatures.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

San Luis Waterfall

Some where deep inside that mountain range is the San Luis Waterfall!

A house at the base of the mountain. This is my dream. Rocking chair and all.

Walking through the banana plantation.


You know what they say about big trees... Big mushrooms=)

A pretty gnarly bug.

Sairah Kazmi and I. We are finally catching our breath after the long hike.

The magnificent San Luis Waterfall.

Me and the mountain. I made it pretty far.

On day 4, I went hiking in search for a waterfall. It is a beautiful little spot set deep into the rain forest covered mountains of Santa Elena, Costa Rica. My friends and I arrived at the base of the mountain around 10 am. We walked through a banana plantation to get to the entrance point. As we began our two-hour uphill hike, it had already started to rain. That of course is a regular part of our day. Rain is like another friend here. We don’t know when she’s coming, but we know that she will in fact be joining us in whatever activity we have planned. Surprisingly, rain makes hiking quite beautiful. Since the temperature is generally in the high 80’s, some cool drops of water feel really refreshing as you’re panting up a mountain.

I am, as many of you already know, a bit of a shutterbug. Because of this, I had the fortunate opportunity to be left behind most of the time, while the others trekked on. Climbing up a mountain and hearing only my own breath against the background of the rainforest’s music, was truly surreal. Every once in while I would stop to catch my breath and think about how inconsequential I am in this forest. There were a million things happening around me and i was but only an intrusion. In the moments that I paused, there were creatures being born, and dying; there was hunting and feasting; there was resting and labor; there was guarding and loving. The smell of wet, hot, soil mingled with the breathing leaves and the perfumed flowers. The sounds of the rustling leaves and the raindrops met the chirping, and the croaking to form a beautiful rhythm. The forest was alive and it was inhaling and exhaling. And in every one of its breaths were millions of happenings and un-happenings.

And then there was me. A small figure in the belly of giant, making her way to a waterfall. It was truly beautiful. But more importantly, it was humbling.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Labor of Love. And Community.

[ PREFACE: I recently got involved with an organization in DC called Green Muslims. The moment I came across this group of people, I fell in love. I have organized for some years now for various causes, but this was the first time I met a Muslim organization that was in it to win it. What I mean is that all the folks in this organization, as diverse as we are, are very passionate about the betterment of the environment and are genuinely working towards this cause. Because of this, working with the Green Muslims has been a very spiritual and empowering experience for me.]

A couple weekends ago a few of us "green" Muslims headed out to do some good. So we arrived at the Marvin Gaye Park in South West DC, ready to plant and maybe pick up some trash. What we ended up doing, however, was breaking up asphalt, mixing and laying cement, cutting and welding metal beams, and a whole lot of digging. What we idealists ended up doing was rolling up our sleeves and doing some hard labor.

That day, we spent about 4 hours setting up a guardrail around a stage to make it handicap accessible. I was a little surprised by this because I didn't understand what was so "green" about completing the construction of a stage. But when Benem and Keith, our construction leaders, explained the history of the park, the project slowly started to make sense. A few years ago, the Marvin Gaye Park used to be a trash and crime riddled place- the first day of the park clean up alone produced 300 abandoned needles. Over the years however, it has been cleaned and developed into a beautiful park where folks of that community can come relax with their friends and family and enjoy nature, as well as each other's company. The stage we were working on was built for free musical performances by local bands and musicians. When completed, it will be a place where art and community can flourish together.

Although none of us expected this type of work, we eventually learned that the development of this park was just as important to the environment as planting trees in that space. Or, as another volunteer put it, building up from the ground sometimes is more important than planting things in it. I understood the true gravity of these words during our lunch.

As we all sat exhausted and giddy with hunger, we reminisced about the difficulty of the day. Through jokes and stories, we talked about the feeling of empowerment we gained from the physical labor, the appreciation we gained for the might and skill of those who are true laborers, and the gratitude we gained for the strength and determination of our fellow volunteers. Through these reflections I came to realize that this project helped us form genuine and positive relationships with each other and it helped strengthen the future of this park. I understood then that forming organic and positive relationships with folks is extremely important for the betterment of our environment. For it is through camaraderie that communities develop. And in these communities is borne the idea that one way of protecting a neighbor or friend or family member is by protecting the land and "community property" on which everyone relies.