Did you know that today is World Wildlife Day? What better way to commemorate it than by recalling my day in the tropical rainforest of Puerto Rico. During Indigenous Peoples’ Day/Columbus Day weekend last year, I was in South Puerto Rico, helping to plant a rare tree in the Puerto Rican tropical rainforest. While surrounded by nature and enjoying the company of other environmentally-passionate volunteers, I was able to bring something positive as well as give something back to the earth. That night, staring up at the stars and surrounded by the lullaby of insects, frogs, and other nocturnal wildlife, there was no blaring of televisions or roaring of cars to cloud my mind. This was just the getaway I needed in the midst of Covid-19.
During my trip, I met Thrity “3T” Vikal, the longest-serving volunteer and director of Eye on the Rainforest at Casas de la Selva, home to hundreds of species of wild plants and animals. I was so impressed by her dedication to take on such a big task—caring for 1,000 acres of rainforest. For example, she works hard to plant endangered trees, such as the Ravenia urbanii or the Garcinia portoricensis, endemic to Puerto Rico. She is truly a guiding angel of the rainforest and all the creatures whose lives depend upon it.
Travel Impactful has chosen to partner with Eye on the Rainforest because spending time connecting with nature is less common in our digital age. To counter this trend, being in the rainforest amongst all the trees and wildlife while breathing in the fresh air can heal the soul.
Our hope is to bring US travelers and tourists to support 3T’s efforts to fulfill her vision: building an education center that teaches the public the importance of environmental preservation. Our unique goal is to unite the worlds of corporate leaders and social impact entrepreneurs to make a genuine, sustainable impact, such as to fulfill 3T’s vision.
Hard working professionals joined me and the Travel Impactful team on my trip to the rainforest. They relaxed and unplugged from the stress of their daily lives, but they also used their professional and business skills to help support Eye of the Rainforest. For instance, one traveler, an Apple employee, helped by listing Eye on the Rainforest as a non-profit organization in Apple’s Employee Giving Program. Today, the technology company matches every hour an employee volunteers at Las Casas de la Selva with a monetary donation to Eye of the Rainforest.
World Wildlife Day reminds me of Travel Impactful’s mission: to provide a rewarding and unforgettable cultural vacation while making a lasting positive impact on the local community. One way we do this is to make a personal effort to preserve wildlife in Puerto Rico by supporting volunteers and leaders like 3T. By doing so, we also provide a rich and rewarding experience for travelers like you. We hope you will join us soon. You, too, can look up at the starry sky surrounded by the gentle chorus of night creatures and feel good about the contributions you made to Puerto Rico’s rainforest.
Listen to 3T talk about some of the rare, native Puerto Rican trees in the videos below.
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