Last spring, Jaymie Arnold, a 35-year-old pharmacist in Santa Fe, New Mexico, embarked on an eco-trip for two to Costa Rica—his prize after participating in the Rainforest Alliance’s 2013 Valentine’s Day contest. The voyage took Jaymie to the country’s rich coastal rainforests (pharmacies in their own right) and introduced him to the Rainforest Alliance’s work with sustainable tourism businesses. We spoke to Jaymie about the experience and found out what inspires his passion for the environment.
You were the winner of a Rainforest Alliance trip for two to Costa Rica! Who did you take with you?
I’m really grateful to the Rainforest Alliance for providing the opportunity! I took my fiancée (now wife), Suvara.
Can you tell us a little bit about the experience?
The trip began in San Jose, the largest city in Costa Rica. We had some time to explore the city on our first day and to practice some Spanish with the extremely friendly and generous locals. The next day we headed south, catching a one-hour flight to the Osa Peninsula in the southernmost part of the country. After a half day of travel, we finally made it to our main destination for the trip, Casa Corcovado Jungle Lodge.
What was the hotel like?
All that traveling was worth it! Casa Corcovado was everything I imagined the ideal jungle eco-lodge to look like. Cabins were hidden away within the lodge grounds, ensuring that guests had privacy and were immersed in nature. The grounds featured everything you could ask for, including a swimming pool, sunset-viewing bar and numerous trails into Corcovado National Park. The food was fabulous, the lodge staff attentive and amiable, and the scenery just breathtaking. The entire experience was phenomenal.
Did you see any wildlife?
There was some great wildlife watching without even leaving the cabin. We saw spider monkeys, coatimundi, black-cheeked ant-tanagers and a turquoise cotinga all around the lodge property! The great guides at Casa Corcovado also took us on some hikes and showed us a lot of wildlife that we would have missed otherwise—like a sloth rolled up into a ball 100 feet up in the rainforest canopy.
What was your favorite part of the experience?
Viewing the sunset over the Pacific Ocean at Casa Corcovado Jungle Lodge. It was simply incredible!
What did you learn about sustainability while staying at Rainforest Alliance Verified™ hotels ?
I learned that while adopting sustainable practices into a business model can initially be challenging and more costly, in most cases they end up being more cost efficient and better for the health of humans and the environment!
You recently became a Rainforest Alliance donor. Why did you decide to support our work in this way?
Ever since I found out about the Rainforest Alliance a few years ago—when I saw its green frog seal on a bushel of bananas—I have really admired its philosophy. Emphasizing the utilization of the Earth’s resources via sustainable practices is one of the most effective ways to promote and practice biodiversity conservation.
Why is conservation important to you?
Conservation is the key to our livelihood. With a population of over 7 billion and growing, it’s obvious that if we don’t start to practice more conservation of the Earth’s resources we are headed down the path of massive extinction and human suffering. I am hopeful that if we can continue to educate people about how to make a living without destroying habitat (and while protecting native species) we have a fighting chance.
What is your favorite animal?
I love just about all kinds of wildlife, but I’d have to say birds are my favorite. I was a dinosaur lover as a kid and learning that birds are the direct descendants of dinosaurs just makes me look at Earth’s little dinosaurs with amazement.
Where would you like to escape to next?
Anywhere that ecotourism is a focus! I like contributing to places that see the value in protecting the earth’s resources and sharing nature’s beauty with all who visit.