Tucked away in a private reserve of over 600 acres, La Cusinga Eco-Lodge is located in Uvita, Costa Rica bordering the Ballena Marine National Park, one of only two nationally protected marine zones in the whole country. With a stunning view of the ‘whales tale’ that Uvita is famously known for, the eco-lodge provides its guests with breathtaking Pacific ocean views, natural pool formations, and the chance to experience the lively forests and unique wildlife of the country’s most famous ecosystem, Osa.
Founded by John Tresemer over 32 years ago when there were no paved roads in the area and locals rode on horses to get around, he was part of the successful effort to create the Ballena National Park in 1989. The efforts focused around protecting the wildlife found in the region including the Pacific hawskbill turtles and the visiting humpback whales, and preservation of Cocos and Caño islands. Tresemer wrote the novel entitled, “The Gringo’s Hawk” about his experience, now extending his philosophy on conversation and sustainability his property. We took a moment to chat with Tresmer following our stay at La Cusinga below:
What was your vision for La Cusinga when you opened the lodge 15 years ago?
Tresemer: Our vision for La Cusinga when we opened the lodge 20-years-ago was one of sharing a very special place with the rest of humanity while preserving its flora, fauna, culture and magic.
La Cusinga‘s commitment to sustainability is outstanding – what was the inspiration behind creating a business that is rooted in conservation and preservation?
Tresemer: We all make decisions every day. We can decide to exploit or protect, degrade or improve,be greedy or share, discourage or strengthen, make enemies or friends, feel bad or feel good. In the tropics, it can be very tricky to achieve a mutualistic win- win symbiosis. Sustainable mixed reforestation and use of native species, being considerate of energy and resource consumption and carrying capacity concerns, caring for water, habitat, and life including people, developing ecological tourism – when combined can be a win- win reality. Our planet and conscious evolution rely on each other very nicely and it’s great when we’re involved in something that works and makes us and others happy.
Tresemer: When I first came here in 1972, I discovered the extinct remains of extensive spectacular coral reefs in what is now Parque Nacional Marino Ballena. Maybe the Standard Fruit Company and their toxins and earth-moving were to blame. It is hard to predict how development affects a place. In my short stay, I have witnessed the disappearance of many marine and terrestrial species, and the nearly complete disappearance of an entire culture based on hunting, gathering, and agriculture for consumption.We all drank from the streams. We all rode horses. We all ate turtle eggs and there were always lots of turtles. No water rationing. No TV. Very little cold beer. So what happens when we exceed the carrying capacity of a place? I remember southern Florida and southern California a long time ago. The changing landscape and increasing development in Uvita and surrounding areas does not surprise me. People like it here. When I see all the nice cars and gringos at the Saturday market, and I remind myself to go earlier next week to avoid the crowd, I also remind myself that I am a gringo, too!
What do you hope guests at La Cusinga take away from their experience at the lodge?
Tresemer: Ideally, guests will have sensed the magic of their experience and gotten more in touch with their core selves. They will value more not just the natural treasure which is here but also value and nurture that in their own spheres of influence wherever they live or travel or are.
Photo Credit: Amanda Ho