This morning we hiked the Misticos Hanging Bridges Park in Arenal. Although, at a glance, it looked similar to the cloud forest of Monteverde, these two areas are vastly different. Of course they were similar experiences in th sense that they were both hikes in a forest. However, the distinct different between the two was the type of wildlife we saw. In the cloud forest of Monteverde we saw mostly birds and insects. In the Mistocos Hanging Bridges Park (which was my personal favorite), we saw more monkeys, a wild cat, and frogs. It is so interesting how two environments can look so similar, yet contain such different types of wildlife.
After going into downtown Arenal for lunch, we attended a lecture by Alberto Rico Urones, who is a biologist and ecologist who researches the impact of habitat restoration and ecotourism. He was very knowledgable in this field and provided great insight as to how these topics relates to Costa Rica. Regarding ecotourism, we learned that people are so drawn to Arenal because there is so much to do for tourists. While I have only been here for two days, I can attest that this is the perfect vacation spot. Whether you want to go zip lining, hiking, or just hang out in a hot spring, Arenal has it all.
Alberto explained that because Arenal is such a popular tourist destination, the pandemic really hurt the businesses here because so many of them are directly targeted toward tourists. This seems like an obvious impact of the pandemic, but something else that I had never really considered was how the other businesses were also affected. Not only were tourists not coming into Costa Rica, but the people who work the tourist businesses also were not really around, which impacted places like grocery stores.
Finally, Alberto discussed the supply chain challenges that businesses running adventure tours face. He mainly focused on the issue of getting workers to actually execute these adventure tours and how it is especially difficult when there is a language barrier involved, as many things can get lost in translation.
Today marked about the halfway point in our trip, which is crazy to think about because I feel like I’ve been here for a month, but everything is also going by so fast. Despite some bumps in the road (literally and metaphorically), this trip has been such an amazing experience so far and I can’t wait to see what the second half brings!