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Meet our newest Caribbean adventurer, Marlene Rivera. Hailing from the island of Puerto Rico, she encapsulates our campaign motto #EverydayAdventurers as her daily routine includes sharing her passion for exploration through her business as an eco-tourist guide. Her devotion to nature and its protection through immersive education is exemplary to say the least and we couldn’t be prouder to have her on her team! We’re in awe of Marlene (and her home island) and you will be too after this brief insight into her life on this tropical rock.
EIDON: Are you originally from Puerto Rico (born and raised)?
Marlene: Yes! I feel so blessed to be from this beautiful island.
EIDON: It seems that you have an insatiable love of all things outdoors and have made a life around this. What inspired this passion?
Marlene: Since I was born, I was raised in the mountains of the island. My dad's house is right beside the San Cristóbal Canyon (the deepest of the Caribbean) which has an incredible view of the cliffs and a waterfall. What a great place to grow right?! Also, I used to go to my grandparents’ farm on weekends. They had cows, chickens, and other animals which ignited in me a huge love for animals. When my parents got divorced, as a way to feel better and keep up good grades in school, my dad decided to take me to visit all the municipalities of Puerto Rico (78 towns and cities) where we explored historical places and nature sites (waterfalls, forest trails, beaches, mountain peaks, etc). That really helped me to expand my knowledge of the island.
EIDON: As an Eco-tourist guide by profession, how does it make you feel to teach and share your love for nature and your island with others?
Marlene: It's a great feeling teaching the importance of conservation and giving value to the natural resources. It is also empowering and grants us a sense of belonging in this great planet where we live. Nature gives us life, so we must love her and treat her the way she deserves. Being an eco-tourist guide gives me a bigger position in life as I feel like I'm nature spokeswoman.
EIDON: Obviously you’ve seen quite a few places around Puerto Rico, however, is there any one location that gets you particularly fired up to take your guests?
Marlene: Yes! One of the most magical places in the island is El Yunque rainforest. It is the only tropical rainforest in the USA national Parks, and it is also the biggest in the Caribbean (also named the Caribbean National Forest). It has more than 28,000 acres of preserved vegetation, dozens of pristine rivers, and hundreds of species of fauna and flora. Every time I visit this place, I feel cleansed, recharged, and strongly connected with Nature. The natives (called Taínos) said that El Yunque was the home of the Gods; the magic that carries this forest is wonderful.
EIDON: You’d mentioned to us previously that you’d travelled to the eco island of Dominica. As an island girl yourself, what was the biggest difference you noticed between your home island and that one?
Marlene: Dominica blew my mind!!! Both of the islands have similarities on Nature, like in the vegetation, but Dominica reminds me of a mix between Puerto Rico and Hawaii because it has plenty of active volcanic activity and its topography is very mountainous from the coast until the top. Dominica has up to nine active volcanic areas whereas Puerto Rico's volcanic activity is inactive (except for a natural hot spring facility). Another thing that differentiates both islands is the population and urban development. Puerto Rico has three million habitants, and Dominica only has 35,000. The urban development in Puerto Rico has been higher than in Dominica due to these conditions.
EIDON: What determines where you’re going to travel to next?
Marlene: I always look for cool places to explore that are non-popular, more local than touristy, and rich in nature. My last trips have been to Dominica, Dominican Republic and Colombia, where I did a lot of hiking, canyoning routes, camping, snorkeling and participate in cultural activities.
Delightful tidbits about Marlene that could possibly make you her best friend one day:
1. She prefers pineapples over mangoes (Tough choice, eh?)
2. But actually she’s fruit monster because they are the one class of food she would eat for the rest of her life if she had to choose (We make a great pear!)
3. She has her own miniature farm with two cats, two dogs, two bulls and sheep as pets (Animal lover is an understatement!)
4. To unwind, she either spends time at local waterfalls or goes hiking (Can we come next time?)
5. Visiting Indonesia is high on her bucket list (Thinking about that delicious Nasi Uduk!)