I changed heels for muddy boots

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I traded in my high heels for muddy boots

Mariechen Lang Alvarado
Vice Provost of La Marta
I traded in my high heels for muddy boots, and discovered my passion for caring for the soul of Costa Rica: its forests and its nature.

I have been working for 30 years; I am an administrator and an hotelier. Half of that time, I worked for large companies, multinationals, hotel chains. I had luxurious offices, meetings in 4-fork restaurants and 5-star hotels, I wore tailored dresses, silk blouses and expensive perfumes, but the question always crossed my mind: what am I doing here, how am I contributing to society, to the world?

For many years, I searched for that answer, without finding it, until one day, fate introduced me to one of my great loves, "the tropical forest". I went to live in the South Caribbean, just inside a protected area. From there, my love for nature grew, just like the need to protect it. I did not have much money to be able to make great donations for conservation, but I did have a very powerful tool and one that cost me hardly anything. This was, to transmit my knowledge about the importance of caring for the forest. So whoever I met, I tried to talk to them about the importance of not hunting, or cutting down trees, polluting rivers or fishing during closed seasons.

I had the joy of working in the two most studied sites in the tropics worldwide, Barro Colorado Island in Panama, and La Selva Biological Station in Costa Rica. Here I learned that the proper route to conserve nature is to educate children, youth and adults on conservation issues, but even more so, awaken a social commitment to take better care of the planet.

Now that I come to La Marta, as its Vice Provost, I have another great opportunity to offer my small contribution, designing and executing projects that generate a commitment in its visitors, to take better care of the planet. We are all an ecosystem, personal, social and environmental; and in this ecosystem, La Marta is called to have an active part and become one more actor in favor of academic training, to preserve the life of all beings on the planet and its natural resources.

We have NOT done a great job taking care of our house; fires, droughts and floods are more frequent. I firmly believe that, with education focused on conservation, we can mitigate a little the damage we have done to the planet.

I once heard a CEO say that for her, everything that did not have access to HBO was a wild, dangerous and uncomfortable area, and that the forest was unnecessary for humans. Ahh, she left me with such a pain in my heart! I have found people with less academic training that know, live and feel the love for life and respect for all the beings that make up this ecosystem of planet Earth.

It is not an easy task, all change begins with taking the first step, but even if the path is long, in La Marta, the commitment to educate to change, to educate to engage, and to educate to preserve all kinds of life, beats in our hearts.

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