Nature, a wonderful means to many ends

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Hiking in the nature area of Jan Thiel.

Hiking in the nature area of Jan Thiel.

It becomes clearer and clearer to me how nature can act as a means to so many different ends. A wonderful example is a project from the Accretio Foundation, which sets up programs for youth with behavioral problems. The foundation helps the youthful target group to get their lives back on track through all kinds of activities. The Curacao Footprint Foundation is currently working on a project for Accretio in which attitude development with the influx of experiences with nature is the central focus. Natural resources are still aplenty on the island of Curaçao and truly representative of the original ecology.  It’s hard to think of a better means to this end. This week, the supervisors, who have to start working with the group of youngsters, went into nature to, together with Leon, walk through the program, discuss its goal and of course to enjoy the beauty of Curaçao.

Starting with some information about the intended program and Curaçao nature, I immediately noticed the group’s enthusiasm and high level of motivation. Within no time the conversation went into every direction, with topics ranging from wildlife preservation on Curaçao to the political situation in Venezuela and from water production to the gay rights movement on the island. In short, a group that showed great interest and was eager to learn. The first day we spent walking in Malpais, where Leon knew facts and stories about every little flower, plant or bird. It was also the place where I saw, for the first time ever,  a group of adults respond to the sight of the endemic White-tailed deer by high fiving each other.

Leon telling one of many nature-related stories!

Leon telling one of many nature-related stories!

Inner Peace

Even though the deer, leaping through the tall grass, was quite the sight indeed, the highlight of the day for me was when the group was asked to describe how they were feeling after an hour and a half of walking.
“Calm, peaceful.”
“Good,” Leon answered with a smile, “that is exactly what we are going for with the kids. The goal of the program and the reason why nature was so involved could not have been clearer than in that particular moment.
On Tuesday we enjoyed a different kind of natural beauty, walking in the Jan Thiel area. Passing by the mangroves and the inner bays, with often a view of the sea, this side of Curaçao was something else, but definitely not less beautiful. I enjoyed seeing how the group enthusiastically smelled the moss, collected shells and tasted small leaves, because Leon said they were edible. And again there was the peace, the peace that comes with nature and that you subconsciously surrender to.

Getting to know the underwater world.

Getting to know the underwater world.

A wonderful means

Because of all the different projects that the Curaçao Footprint Foundation is involved with, my time here as an intern is wonderfully diverse, with this project as one of the many wonderful examples. Luckily there is much more to look forward to for me as an intern. There are many more hikes on my schedule, this weekend I will pay my first visit to Klein Curaçao, soon we will start shooting the first footage for the new Ecosplash (more on that later!) and last week I successfully completed my PADI Open Water Course, which means that as a certified diver, the underwater world of Curaçao now awaits me. As you can see, nature is also the means to my end to make the most of my stay here on Curaçao!