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Staying Sustainable

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Sunset at Macaw Lodge © Matthew O’Donnell

Sustainability is a major focus and key strategy of the University of Manchester and Manchester Museum, and promoting sustainable values to our students and visitors is a vital role of both institutions. What better way to do that than to take our field course students to the wonderful Macaw Lodge in Carrara. This tranquil eco retreat has been our base for the first week of our trip to Costa Rica.

Owned by the knowledgable and passionate Pablo Gordienko since the 1980’s this once open pasture land has been transformed into a vibrant botanical gardens and 100 hectares rainforest reserve, nurtured and preserved for over 35 years. This hard work of Pablo and his dedicated colleagues has paid dividends, with a huge abundance of flora and fauna all around for visitors to experience.

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This giant bug hotel is home to several exciting insect species © Matthew O’Donnell

Completely off the grid, powered by the sun and applying sustainability and conservation to all aspects of their business, it really is a refreshing and thought provoking place: “The mission of Macaw Lodge is to inspire environmental conservation through mindful and sustainable practices. Our mission—a philosophy really—is more than just a statement. It’s something we live and breathe, truly believe in and want to share with you. Macaw Lodge exists as an example that it’s possible to live happily, purposefully and in harmony with nature. We hope to inspire you to pursue your passion, discover your potential and improve your little corner of the world.”

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Cocoa: Root to Fruit tour © Matthew O’Donnell

A highlight of our stay was a fantastic sustainability and Cocoa: Root to Fruit tour. We were guided through the plantations and gardens that supply the lodge by Pablo and Lisa. This included tasting and interacting with a huge number of plants, including the iconic cocoa tree (Theobroma cacao) from which chocolate is made. This plant has a long and fascinating history stretching back before the Mayans, and has formed an important part of Central and South American culture for thousands of years.

Our tours were completed with a first hand experience of the traditional methods of preparing the Cacao or Kakao drink, sampling the end product that would have been consumed in these lands for generations before sugar and milk turned it into the chocolate we now know. After all this excitement we were also treated to an unboxing of a hive of tiny native Meliponini bees, stingless and quite docile, they produce a fascinating honey, long revered within local communities for its health properties, it is great to see that these ancient traditions are being maintained and promoted in a sustainable manner.

Finally, a big thank you from me, the rest of the staff and all of our students to Pablo, Alejandra, Lisa and all the staff at Macaw Lodge, you made our visit so memorable, and really made us all feel at home. Onwards to La Selva…

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Fabulous finds on the Pacific Coast                                                      Costa del Crocs

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