Monday, June 29, 2015

A Day in the Forest and on the Beach!

Today was amazing; early in the morning after a nice breakfast of rice and beans with some eggs we were prepared for our hike in the dry forest. We got to meet our guide, Freddy, right before we left Horizontes. He was an awesome guide from the start all the way through. So in order to get to our hiking site, we rode a trailer being pulled by tractor, which was super fun. After the tractor ride we reached our hiking location., the dry forest The place looked amazing, just like the rain forest. During the hike we got to see all sorts of plants and animals. Our guide Freddy showed us some leaves that smelled really good. He also showed us many unique trees. A little while later, we heard some monkeys. We didn't know which kind they were, but we thought they were either howler our white faced monkeys. Luckily after taking a few more steps we got to see what kind they were, and they turned out to be Spider Monkeys, which are the rarest monkeys here. After finishing our hike we got a nice break and ate some watermelon with ice tea. Around 11:30 we arrived back at Horizontes, had lunch, and took a little break before the beach. Then around 2:00pm we headed out for the beach. At the beach we got to swim in the ocean and have fun in the waves. When we were done swimming we had fun in the sand by making sand castles and even mermaids. then at about 5:00pm we had the most delicious BarBQ ever. We got to eat some really nice beef, chicken, soy burgers, plantains, chips, tortillas, and some drinks as well. Then the day was over, and now we have to pack so we can arrive early in the airport and get home. See you all soon!!

A Very Long Day and Late Night

This will be a brief update... Today began early with a quick breakfast at Finca La Anita. After breakfast we made our way back towards Liberia to our next destination. We are now in the dry tropical forest of Horizontes Biological Station. This region of Costa Rica is very different from the wet tropical forests that envelope La Anita. After getting a quick tour of the area, we spent some time hiking about and investigating the dry tropics. At 7:15 pm we left our dorm facilities for the beach where we hiked the beach multiple times in search of egg-laying sea turtles. It is 1:03 am as I write this entry and breakfast is scheduled for 7:00 am... so with that, I bid you all a good night.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Today was a rollercoaster

This morning was an early one, waking up at around six AM, followed up by the typical breakfast of rice and beans. The rest of the morning was dedicated to bedazzling and finishing up our very professional presentations. We all got so involved with finishing them that revising them took up the whole morning. We were all so excited about presenting before our trip to Sensoria, that we were all really disappointed when we had to abandon our work to go enjoy ourselves in the hot springs. We are all immensely dedicated to science. But, the warm water was calling us, and so we had no choice but to depart from Finca La Anita and hop on some very cramped trucks. The guy's truck was so cramped that five of them travelled in the bed of the truck, and some even had to stand up. They were very able to enjoy the drizzling rain that way! The hour ride to Sensoria was an intense one, not too different from a rollercoaster ride at Valleyfair. It included steep hills up, sudden drops, and even dips into the water (we drove through about three rivers). We did get to stop for awhile to enjoy some sandwiches, chips, cookies, and soda. It was a nice little stand up picnic in the middle of the road. In the middle of nowhere. Once the wild ride was over, we were ready to enjoy the hot springs. As it turned out, there was an hour hike uphill to get to the springs, with a final stretch complete with around 300 stairs. It was well worth it though. The first spring had a magnificent waterfall. The water cold, but incredibly blue! Gladly, nobody got swept downstream, although there was a close call. We stayed for awhile before hiking back up the trail to a more calm, warmer spring. It was just like an infinity pool. The last and final hot spring was so warm, like a hot tub. The scenery was gorgeous and everyone had a wonderful time and enjoyed themselves. Then it was time to return, after being served coffee, mango juice, and cookies. We hopped back on the rollercoasters and headed back to Finca La Anita. Immediately after arriving, we had to hurry and change out of our still-wet clothing and go to dinner. We had some wonderful Costa Rican tacos which fueled us for our presentations which were immediately after dinner. Every group did an extraordinary job, despite being very nervous and exhausted. The experiments were very interesting to learn about and although the experience was great, we are all glad to have them be done. PS happy birthday to James!! 
        Pura Vida,  Kallie and Kowsar

Friday, June 26, 2015

In the Name Science

I will begin with an apology to all who were expecting an entertaining blog. Sadly, you are stuck with the musings of a boring teacher. You see, the student researchers are preoccupied with experimental revisions, data analysis and presentation preparations.

Today began with the usual outstanding breakfast of fruit, eggs and gallo pinto. Following the quick breakfast, Professor Pinto led an all lab meeting where he outlined the specifics of the presentation that must be ready for tomorrow's science symposium. While all this sounds great, at that moment, no single lab team was done with their experiment. Much like the ants of a disturbed Atta nest, the nervous energy in each lab team was palpable. By 9:30, Pinto released the groups to get some science done.

By lunch (a meal that included hamburgers and plantain chips), some groups were feeling better and others a little worse. The afternoon included more research, statistical analysis and experimental revisions. At the time of this post, all four teams are dispersed throughout the campus... some scrambling to get data before the next downpour and others working on a GooglePresenation for tomorrow.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Pancakes, Spaghetti, and Chicken

It was an American morning in Costa Rica.  We awoke to the smell of pancakes and sausages sizzlin' on the griddle.  After Davis ate enough to feed the whole village, we began the science portion of our day.  We finally got out of the planning stage and began testing our hypotheses in the field.  Following a few "ant"-tense hours of data collection, we broke for lunch.  We moseyed on over to Italy for a steaming plate of spaghetti, and toast from our home state (Texas).  After Davis accidentally ate the plate as well, our day continued.  With Pablo as our guide,  we toured our home village, visiting the school, and learning the history of La Colonia de Libertad.  Pablo then led us to the base of a local women's organization, whose garden we helped to weed.  Afterward we were treated to some homemade coconut ice-cream, which was eaten out of a ziplock bag. Que rico.  Following that, as if we hadn't already eaten enough that day, our next stop was a store filled with both foreign and familiar sweets.  We proceeded to purchase our weight in food.  Weighed down with our prizes, we made our way back "home" for a short break.  When we woke up/extracted ourselves from our books, it was time again to venture out.  It was time to go hunting.  Well not really, or at all actually, but food was involved! We were invited to dinner at the home of a local family, where we were fed caribbean style chicken, salad, and warm rice pudding for desert.  Afterwards, we puzzled our way through several riddles.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Butterflies, Both in Our Stomaches and In the Air

Today we woke up at a very early school-like time at 6:40. After scarfing down breakfast of beans and rice, scrambled eggs and fresh fruit we took a tour bus for a half an hour ride to the Canopy Zip-line Tour. When we arrived at our destination the air was electric with excitement and energy. To get up into the forest canopy we had to hike for a good while until we reached our first platform. The four instructors gave us a last minute rundown before they hooked us in and one by one we went gliding over the forest... it was magnificent! There was a total of 12 platforms with the last one being two football fields long and coming out of the forest into a open field. The view was stunning. After everyone calmed down we went for a short drive to our second destination which was a butterfly farm. On the way to the farm we stopped on the side of the road to observe a sloth chilling in a tree. At the farm Eduardo, the owner, welcomed us with open arms. He showed us many types of butterflies in their different stages. We then went into the netted farms and observed the most spectacular display of butterflies we have ever seen, ranging from monarchs to blue-morphs.
We then came back to Finca la Anita and worked on our science projects. At dinner we sang Pablo Happy 50th birthday. (And Happy Birthday to you Heather! From Kallie)

Danny Chen

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

It Rained and Rained and Rained and Rained

Another incredible day in the beautiful rainforest of Costa Rica. While yesterday was divided between field work and a fun activity, today's activity was primarily research. Beginning with our morning meeting, we prepared to determine if Escovopsis is present in the fungus we collected. After feasting on the best cinnamon rolls we have ever eaten, we returned to our research. Each group, the Go Pro or Go Homes, Los Mejores Buscadores, Attapocalypse, and KC=Msquared, focused on a problem to test over the next 3 days. Many interesting ideas regarding devastation of cacao plant leaves by leafcutter ants were discussed. There were some friendly discussions suggesting future Nobel Peace Prize recipients because of our work! We just like to look at it as solving the world's problems one cacao plant at a time. Each group had to present their experiment to Dr. Pinto, Pablo, and Mr. Leventhal and the rest of our crew. It felt like a reality show competition as Dr. Pinto circled our work stations, "fifteen minutes everyone!" We were graced with the presence of a very large, smartphone-sized, beetle today. Everyone was surprised by how soft it was but not by its massive pinchers and eagerness to pinch Dr. Pinto. While today was more science focused, we can already see how connected each group is becoming to their specific problem. The word rainforest is an understatement-it rains every couple of hours, sometimes pouring, sometimes sprinkling...but always wet.
Adios Amigos,
Kallie and Lexis