Island of a thousand dreams, fantasies and treasures
Text & Photos: Diego Mejias
Making our dreams come true is not always attainable in life and no matter how hard one may work to achieve this, it usually isn’t easy to see them come true.
Among the dreams that I have had and have attained, there is one that has been more than a beautiful reality in my eyes.
Believe me, there are no words to adequately describe what I have been able to see during several trips that I have made to one of the most prestigious and enigmatic islands in the entire world.
To imagine the typical Caribbean island with some palm and coconut trees swinging in the breeze is a far cry from what I am about to describe to you.
Isla de Coco (Coco´s island) is a hidden treasure for most people. To get there one must navigate 36 hours from the Costa Rican central pacific coast. Once lost among kilometers of ocean one can only anticipate the renowned “Island of a thousand treasures”, very well known for the stories that have circulated throughout the years. Stories of pirates, treasure chests, gold doubloons and other “shiny” treasures.
The truth is that the real treasure of this island is in plain view and to discover it one does not need an old map written on a scroll marked with a large “X” in the center. The only thing that is required is a pair of eyes fully open to discover quickly that the “real treasure chest” is the island itself and its great riches are actually found in the brilliance, the diversity and the beauty of its natural resources, which give life to a treasure unique and valuable to the entire world.
Beyond what our eyes can see, two dimensions exist in this unique place, abundant in riches and permeated by magic. The island rises 2053 feet above sea level creating its own unique ecosystem, catching clouds as they pass, to drop in the vicinity of 23 feet of rain annually. One experiences synchronized sounds created by the waterfalls that free-fall directly into the sea, the song of thousands of birds that share life daily in the midst of the thick jungle and the rocky cliffs that form vertical walls with shades of hundreds of different tones of green. The richness of its endemic diversity makes this island an intensely exotic natural place.
The second dimension is the one that goes on below the surface of the ocean. This is the one that has turned my dreams into reality, filling my life with new images and experiences. Who would have imagined that an island full of humid tropical jungle surrounded by hundreds of kilometers of water, in the middle of nowhere, could be called the “Oasis of the Seven Seas”?
As it goes today, Coco´s Island is a natural legacy to the Patrimony of Humanity. It´s an oasis caressed by oceanic currents flowing from the north and from the south, contributing rich nutrients to all the marine species and at the same time making its waters one of the richest in biodiversity in the entire world.
My real dream came true when I was invited to join an expedition to the isle, sponsored by Marviva, whose main objective is to care for and to contribute to the marine resources of Costa Rica and other remote destinations around the world. In collaboration with other organizations such as Pretoma and the Mal Pelo Foundation, a scientific expedition took place with the objective of collecting information and marking certain species of sharks in search of a better understanding of their routes and behavior through the aquatic mountain ranges. This can help to improve our awareness on how to manage the care of these and other species that are of such importance in the food chain and thus, key to the future of marine biodiversity.
The main purpose of my participation was to document and guide the expedition through the marking, photographing and filming process. If anybody felt truly lucky, that was me.
The “Island of Sharks” as it is known by many fishermen, offered an incredibly and totally successful activity for the purposes of the expedition.
Following a morning of planning, we were ready to tackle the task. We had to be ready for currents of 2 to 5 knots through which one could admire schools of more than 50 hammerhead sharks swimming against the current and advancing with slow and subtle movements that made it appear like the current was not strong at all. No doubt this was only an illusion as in some occasions it was even difficult for us to hold on to the rocky formations.
Once we were holding on tightly, we could witness the cleaning process of the Hammerheads. They utilize the current to stay in one location, making gentle movements that allow the Barber Butterfly fish and the King Angel fish to get close enough to clean them of parasites and impurities.
How could one forget the images of the moment when the Hammerheads came close to us! To have them just centimeters away has almost a magical quality.
There’s nothing else one can do other than to keep calm and fully live the moment, an intense moment, charged with adrenalin, beauty and happiness. To witness such an event was, to me, like living in a dream, to touch a moment full of life, with the green turtles surrounding us and observing us with the same curiosity that we felt for them. At the same time, groups of gigantic stingrays would pass under us and seconds later, the current would throw us in the midst of a happy school of tuna fish that were dancing around us.
To have lived this dream made me think about nature, its beauty, perfection, generosity and grandeur. It also made me think of the threats that exist against it nowadays.
Coco´s Island is a unique natural treasure and just as the rest of the planet, it is a treasure whose protection falls upon all of us. It is our obligation to guarantee that future generations also have the right that I had.
The right to live in nature and to dream in it.
The right to count on a place to live to fulfillment…a place where one can live intensely, each and every one of our dreams.