Humans of San Luis

“We mostly see a tree fully grown, you know, it’s already there, it’s kind of like your food. You never think about ‘where did this come from, when did this get here? Who put it here? Did someone put it here? Did it get here on its own?’ So that’s interesting. And also how long it takes. I know trees take a long time, but we were filling bags with dirt and then putting the little seedlings in and then on the next row over were some of the more grown ones and I think they’d been there maybe a year, and they… didn’t really look like trees yet.” ~ Adina Beiner, UGA

Read more about the carbon offset program here!


Blog post contribution by Alex Fylypovych, UGA Costa Rica Photojournalism Intern

Humans of San Luis

People here work really freaking hard. Everybody works really, really hard. Six days a week, and they work multiple jobs, and you know they maintain these farms on top of the work they do to bring the most amount of money into their home. And it doesn’t seem like people hate their lives as much as we do, do you know what I mean? They don’t need to escape… It’s just interesting.
~ Beth

And how do you get everyone to stop and try to realize that? Seems like an impossible proposition or task. ~ Doug

[The San Luis community members] cultivate things and create space for the traditional plants. And they’ve planted things specifically for the animals to eat them, you know? They have dogs to protect [the crops] from the monkeys, they’re not trying to chemically alter something, they’re not trying to build up fences or keep things out, they’re making space for everything that belongs in the ecosystem, whatever the case may be. To allow for some sort of semblance of harmony. But even the model itself is not lucrative. There are some sacrifices they’re making financially to produce the way they’re producing, and as a result they need to be creative or innovative in the way they use their space and use their time, allowing tourists to offset or supplement their income. Using it as educational spaces where researches can come and observe birds. They’re taking the sustainability model from an agricultural perspective and they’re expanding it to the way that they live their lives. That’s pretty significant. And when you go back to normal life you have to take the mentality back with you… Figuring out how to harmonize different aspects of your life, in the context of your actual life, means not fighting things off sometimes, as it does welcoming them, and saying, “there’s space for whatever distorted component you are in my life.” ~ Beth

Blog post contribution by Alex Fylypovych, UGA Costa Rica Photojournalism Intern

Humans of San Luis: Part VI

I think for me, meeting all of you guys [interns], and talking with the group about your different interests and passions and histories, has been at least as interesting and valuable as coming here to see the place. I think that’s been tremendous. You don’t get to meet folks like that normally, people who have that kind of passion. ~ Paul Garner

Blog post contribution by Alex Fylypovych, UGA Costa Rica Photojournalism Intern

Humans of San Luis: Part V

Sam & Sage

“We saw an iguana, crossing the road!”

“A coati, in the tree over there.”

“I saw three monkeys, down by the cabin!”

“They were running really fast.”

“And had big faces.”

“And we saw a quetzal!”

“And we saw a black cwano… wait how do you say? It’s a black turkey thing…”

Me: “A guan?”

“YEA a guan!”

“And we also saw a snake, it was really small, and what else did we see? Here we see tarantula and earwig and a lot of ants and tiny bugs and army ants and, what are those big ants called?”

“…Solider ants!”

“And ferns, and palm trees, and rocks!”


Like a number of flowers hidden along the curving trails of our campus, the Humans of San Luis project is starting to bloom! During my time here as the photojournalist, I am aiming to capture and share guest, intern, and local energy pertaining to UGA Costa Rica and this absolutely enchanting cloud forest. Check out the link for more enthusiastic interviews.

Blog post contribution by Alex Fylypovych, UGA Costa Rica Photojournalism Intern

Humans of San Luis: Part III

Enjoy more of our new project – pinpointing what it is about Monteverde, Costa Rica that makes everyone’s hearts flutter. Check out Part I and Part II for more!

Michael Killian, Toronto, Canada
Michael Killian, Toronto, Canada

“One of the things that really stood out to me about the area, was that everyone that we talked to, everyone in the community, has the same set of values and is so proud and feels so lucky to live here. And their number one priority is to preserve this area, to pass on the information and to really cherish the wildlife that lives around here. That seemed to be everyone’s priority, living with the environment rather than against it or for self-serving reasons.”


Reena Killian, Toronto, Canada
Reena Killian, Toronto, Canada

“I’ve been interested in edible gardening and local sustainable food for a while. My mom is a nutritionist so we grew up eating organic food and then we made a switch from organic to local because it seemed to be more environmentally friendly and healthier. And I see that here – in such a big way – there’s such a beautiful, close loop between the garden, the farm, and the livestock and our eating in this dining hall. Everything feeds into everything else. And it’s on a small scale. It gave me hope that when I eventually get a house and get to have a farm that I can actually do it in a sustainable way without having a big impact on the environment. It gave me little bit of hope.”

Blog post contribution by Alex Fylypovych, UGA Costa Rica Photojournalism Intern

Humans of San Luis: Part II

Last week, we introduced you to a new ongoing series we are doing called Humans of San Luis. If you missed Part I, make sure you check it out to get a little background on the project inspired by Brandon Stanton’s, Humans of New York.

Maggie Smith, Ole Miss
Maggie Smith, Ole Miss

“Being thrown into a completely different climate, culture, and environment has really given me a lot of really rich descriptive experiences to draw from, to pull from, to expand upon creatively, and create stories from my own experience and also create fictions from this. This spring break trip is something that I will be pulling inspiration from for a long time to come.”

Abby Thorpe, Ole Miss
Abby Thorpe, Ole Miss

“This week has been, [deep exhale], it’s only been a week but it has felt really long, at least a month…I’ve never really felt so much harmony and happiness in one place and I don’t know if that’s because I’m on a mountain with all this green around me or these smiling people who care so much about each other, but it’s something that I’ve never experienced before and I don’t know where to find that in the U.S.”

Kendall McDonald, Ole Miss
Kendall McDonald, Ole Miss

“I think the first story I’m going to tell when I go home is probably going to be how within the first ten minutes of waking up at UGA Costa Rica we saw a coati on the front porch just ambling by and we totally thought it was so exotic so unusual. We thought that we were really lucky to get to see it. Then, just throughout the week, we’ve seen maybe five to ten coatis anywhere that we were. It’s funny how things that we see here that seem so new and unique to us are just a part of the fabric of this landscape. I mean even rainbows – we’ve seen maybe eight rainbows!”

Blog post contribution by Alex Fylypovych, UGA Costa Rica Photojournalism Intern

Humans of San Luis: Part I

There’s an energy about Costa Rica. I can see it in the people; in the ever-widening eyes of tourists, in the infectious laughter and endless enthusiasm of interns and students, in the warm embraces of the local Ticos.

I’ve attempted to convey this bliss, this magic, in my writing, but in order to legitimately capture the genuine energy I have since decided to go straight to the source.

What follows are the premiere shots of a project I’ve started, in which subjects, whether tourists, volunteers or members of the San Luis community, spill the beans about their love affair with Costa Rica.  And a shout out to Brandon Stanton, the talented and passionate creator of Humans of New York, who’s daily photographic window into people’s lives has been an inspiration.

Kris Irwin Senior Public Service Associate at Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia
Kris Irwin
Senior Public Service Associate at Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia

“I love this campus. I just know in my mind what I feel like every year when I step off that bus for the first time in that parking lot it’s like ahhh, I’m here. I really do become just, calm, this joyful feeling comes over me because I know I’m going see really cool animals, I know I’m going see my friends.”

Jay Shelton Associate Professor at Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia
Jay Shelton
Associate Professor at Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia

“Once you’ve seen something really special, there’s nothing like seeing it through the eyes of someone else who hasn’t seen it before. For example, I so wanted to see bellbirds, not for me because I’ve seen them before, but when you see the way those students reacted, you see it through the eyes of a first timer. Which is even more rewarding than seeing it yourself. There’s a lot of that, seeing it through the eyes of someone who hasn’t, is very rewarding.”

Blog post contribution by Alex Fylypovych, UGA Costa Rica Photojournalism Intern