Eco Scenes, The Good and The Bad

ON BOARD THE CELEBRITY MILLENNIUM, sailing from Puntarenas, Costa Rica — In these days of political correctness, especially of the eco kind, sometimes the skeptics among us wonder if people professing to being good custodians of the planet are just saying that because it’s the thing to say. Are they practising what they preach? Do the plastic containers in that blue box really wind up being recycled, or are they taken to some landfill?
This country is known for its environmental good citizenship. Lately. The forests of Costa Rica were ravaged over the decades, and preservation has become a priority in recent years. Good and bad.
On our stop here, we saw both.
The Tarcoles River, and the two hours we spent floating on it looking at crocodiles and birds co-habitating, is the bad. It empties into the Pacific, and carries a generous amount of debris that tour guides dismiss as the fault of Costa Rica’s Central Valley residents, who care more about money than trees.
The Rain Forest Aerial Tram, about an hour north of the ocean, is the good. Now we’ve all seen trams carved out of a mountainside — you can spot the clear-cut a mile away. This tram is not visible. When it was built, every post, cable and car was flown in by helicopter, obviously at great expense because the nearest ‘copter capable was in Colombia.
This is a commercial operation, so it is here to make money, but clearly not at environmental expense. It is part of the 6% of Costa Rica that is protected by professionals, as opposed to the government’s 25%, and the guides are passionate — “I want to show you so much about the forest but they only gave me 40 minutes.”
The only blatant moneymakers are the zip-line cables that cater to the thrill seekers (the answer is NO). The more genteel thrill seekers are obsessed with seeing the elusive scarlet toucan, a magnificent and famous colorful bird known to zip by.
We saw at least five of them, perched high and deep in rain-forest trees. At least we were told that’s what we saw. They could have been old cans of paint hanging among the branches, but while that might have mollified the genteel thrill seekers, it would disgust keepers of the planet, and not just in Costa Rica.
That’s it…we’re done.

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