Why am I sitting in a tree?

To be honest my night in the Joyce/Van Dusen platform with my friend Nela Moreira, April 29, 2011, was not the best experience of my life. It started beautifully. The afternoon was dry and warm, the sunset clear, Nela and I were well prepared: two sleeping bags each, warm clothes, paints, paper, brushes, fresh food, water, lights, cellular phones, nothing was missing. A quick good bye to our respective families and after a short walk in the woods we were up in the canopy.

We had about an hour to enjoy the daylight


in the tree, which was just enough for Nela to initiate a nice painting of the landscape, and for me to try to paint too but I am definitely not an artist so I chose to take photos instead. So far it was fun, the installation, tying up our bodies and things to the platform, organize ourselves in such a tiny area where each move needs to be thought about and secured, not to mention the breathtaking view on the forest and the feeling of being alone in the world. Adventure.

When the night arrived I saw a sky that reminded me of the Sahara, with thousands of stars watching us. Not a single cloud in the sky, which is quite unusual in this area. I did not know it yet but this was the omen of a scary, restless night. Soon after starting to admire the splendid sky and the shades of the trees in the starlight we understood indeed that the wind was going to be very strong that night, and it was.

First I pretended to be brave, and tried not to think about the platform moving along with the trees and about the gusty wind trying to push me towards the edge of the platform standing some 50 m above the ground (well, it was perhaps not as high but it felt that high at night, in my sleepy and confused mind). Second, I pretended to be brave, didn’t say anything about my feelings to Nela and never admitted I could not sleep. If I stayed all night in the tree, it was neither due to my bravery nor to my love of lonely wild places in the nature. The truth is that I was not sure whether the Joyce/Van Dusen family still had those big dogs, so I chose to stay in safety in the tree where at least I was tied and not in real danger, rather than intending to walk through a private property potentially watched by big dogs who didn’t know me and perhaps were hungry.

That was before Liam’s encounter with the Jaguarundi. Had I known this, I wouldn’t have worried about big and nice doggies.

So I am there in my tree, trying to sleep but awaken by the wind every ten minutes or so… Listening to the branches crack. Asking myself what I am doing there, and why. Thinking of Monteverde Friends’ School, and of this crazy challenge of sitting in the trees for 600 hours – only Monteverde people can imagine and make such things real. Thinking of how much this little wooden school in the forest has become an anchor point in my life, even if my boys don’t have the privilege to study there. Because, yes, attending MFS is a privilege. The children and young adults that are attending, or have graduated in MFS are special and incredibly gifted. MFS is not just a school; it is a culture, it is peace, a different way of thinking, the place where so many talents can express themselves and thrive, the heart and the soul of a kind, warm, friendly community I personally consider as unique in the world. MFS is also the place where I like to sit and breathe, smelling the comforting scent of the old wood, feeling a benevolent presence in the walls, a peaceful sensation, love. And during that night in the windy canopy I felt so happy to contribute to the campaign despite the long sleepless hours. Thank you so much MFS for all what you gave, is giving and will continue to give to this world in the future.

Marie-Cecile Beal


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