An Unusual Blend of Art, Science, Consciousness, and Sustainability in the Puerto Rican Rainforest
All images by 3t Vakil
The vibrant dawn of another day unfurls in the heart of the Puerto Rican rainforest, my adopted home for the past 23 years. I describe myself as a Performance Scientist and Research Artist; my life is like a river coursing through this forest, through dense groves of cultural complexity, and cascades of ecological nuance; a dance on the colorful palette of existence within this subtropical wet forest in the south east of the island, a place where exact science, sublime artistry, conscious evolution, and the quest for sustainability all converge.
My life in Puerto Rico was originally sparked by a three-year coral-reef research expedition onboard the Research Vessel Heraclitus, where I learnt to shake off the shackles of everything I had ever known before and developed the avid desire to traverse unknown territories. A nervous swimmer, I was soon diving in cathedrals of coral reefs, swimming with giant manta rays, exploring the depths of the world’s oceans, and in this close-knit community of my seafaring companions, we cultivated a deep sense of trust and reliance on one another.
This global journey fueled my scientific curiosity, igniting a desire to unlock the secrets of diverse ecosystems, eventually leading me to the high desert of New Mexico, where at Synergia Ranch, Center for Innovation, I tended to an organic fruit orchard planted in the 1970s. In December 1999 I went to the rainforest project, known as Las Casas de la Selva, in southeast Puerto Rico. These projects were all linked by the people that founded them. People that lived together and worked together.
My journey to Puerto Rico initially had a straightforward objective: to study the rainforest’s biome, with a particular focus on its unique ecosystem dynamics with line-planted trees, and biodiversity. I spent the next several years inside the forest, learning to identify trees, measuring trees and canopies, and learning to collect & collate data. Yet, the endeavor evolved into a complex analysis of symbiotic relationships, not…