Sunday, August 12, 2018

Sunday the 12th

Last night, both groups headed out to turtle watch at eight o'clock pm. We got to the beach and split into three groups. One group stayed at home base, one went to the north side, and the other went to the south side. We each stayed there for 20 min then walked back. Each group alternated between the different stations until 12 pm. Everyone was so amazed by the vibrant stars and visible Milky-Way. Inbetween the different stations we were all able to "rest" on the sand, listen to the ocean waves, and watch the shooting/falling stars.  Eddie also cut down fresh coconuts for us to try.

When we made it back to Horizontes, everyone hit their beds and were out. In the morning we all woke up and headed to breakfast (ham, eggs, rice, beans, and fresh watermelon). After fueling up we went on a hike through the dry forest with Freddie; the local naturalist. We observed the insane plant life and learned all about Costa Rica's dry forest. After the two-hour hike, we all took a well deserved two hour nap. Well rested we headed to lunch, consisting of chicken, rice, beans, and salad.

Baby tarantula
With Freddie the field guide

After lunch we all got ready for the second day at the beach. First we walked the estuary (where the fresh water meets the ocean) to see if we could find some crocodiles. Without any luck we headed back for some beach time. Some of us swam while others did hermit crab racing. A few of us went to get copo; a traditional Costa Rican shaved ice with different milks and flavorings. While in the water we got taken out by huge waves, swam with the sting rays, saw a crocodile, and had a blast. Best of all, we witnessed an endangered green sea turtle looking for place to nest. Veronica our guide told us all about the amazing process they go through just to find the best place to nest. We took sunset pictures with our group and some with Eddie and Felix. We headed back to the research center in Horizontes to shower and try to remove the sand.
Green sea turtle
Sea turtle tracks
Hermit crabs
Group photo with Eddie one of our drivers
Sunset as we left the beach

After the long awaited showers we were all surprised by the amazing cookout the Horizontes staff had prepared for our departure. We were served three types of meat, grilled pineapple, eggplant, zucchini, mashed potatoes, and salad. We sat at a huge table with beautiful lights strung and traditional Costa Rican music playing. While around the table we shared our favorite experiences here in Costa Rica, shed some tears, and laughed a ton. After dinner we all made our way back to our rooms to pack and get a good nights rest for our red eye flights to come. We will see you all soon!

Beautiful table set by the staff at Horizontes
Group celebration of all of the great adventures and lessons learned on this trip

Happy late Birthday Dad love you! -Amellia

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Saturday the 11th

Last night everyone packed up and got all the rooms cleaned out for the morning. We woke up, ate breakfast, thanked the La Anita staff, and headed to Horizontes around 9am. We were all very sad that it was the last meal with fresh juice and cacao! On the way out of Colonia Libertad, we stopped at the Mariposario; the local women-led business of the village. There we bought homemade bracelets and necklaces to support the families of Colonia Libertad.

Bracelet for sale at the Mariposario

We hopped in the vans with Eddie and Felix (our hilarious drivers) and set off on a three hour journey. Half way to Horizontes we stopped in Liberia for a snack run. All 22 teens ran around the grocery store for a half an hour collecting junk food to last the next two days. Not as chaotic as anticipated, though. Another hour of driving and we arrived at Horizontes. The girls were split into two groups of four while the boys roomed with one of the Minnesota boys. Ms. M-H pulverized the first scorpion of the trip without hesitation (smashed with boot).
Iguana near our rooms
We saw iguanas, birds, a mare, and her foal within minutes of being in Horizontes. Everyone gathered together to eat lunch; beans, rice, salad, beef, veggies, and peach iced tea. After a bit of a break we all met up in the classroom to talk to Veronica Valverde-Cantillo; the marine biologist specializing in sea turtles. She will be the lead scientist in our sea turtle expedition and be helping us to locate the turtles. (We will be informing you of our turtle findings in tomorrow's blog).

Notes taken while listening to Veronica
Veronica telling us about tonight's adventure and how we will be observing/studying the turtles

We are now on our way to witness the mutualistic relationship between acacia ants and acacia trees with Cindy.
Students observing and listening to Cindy explain the mutualistic relationship between the ant and tree
Acacia ants and acacia tree

Friday, August 10, 2018

Friday, August 10th

This morning, we woke up and went to 7:30 breakfast. For breakfast, we ate scrambled eggs, toast, pineapple, beans and rice. Afterwards, we finished up our experiment presentations and practiced them. We went over the presentations with the science leaders so we were completely prepared to explain our experiments to the group. At 10:30, everyone presented and it took about an hour and a half to get through all of the groups. We were asked questions at the end and answered them. Everyone was excited to have finally finished the big project and get their lab notebooks signed off.

All of the groups giving their presentations

For lunch, we had garlic bread that was so good and spaghetti with red sauce. We had time after to get souvenirs from the gift shop.

Mixing concrete on the side of the road for the entrance to the Mariposario. 

Talking to one of the founding women of the Mariposario. 

We left for the Mariposario around 1:40 to do community service. We split up our groups into plant gatherers, cement makers, and butterfly trap makers. In the end we were only able to create an entrance into the butterfly garden due to our lack of materials, but we all put a lot of work into making it. We talked to one of the women who created the garden to better the lives of the community and she was very grateful for our efforts. We got back around 5 and were done for the day.

Thursday, August 9th

(Internet was down last night, here is yesterday's blog)
Today, we woke up and went to breakfast. For breakfast, we had toast, eggs, watermelon, pineapple, and guanoabana. After breakfast, we worked on our science experiments until lunch. Some of us went out to the field to find ant colonies, others took samples and collected data. At lunch, we enjoyed burgers, potato chips, and mango-pineapple juice; compliments to the chefs for the meal that reminded us of home. After lunch, we had a two hour break where some of us walked to the Pulperia for candy and ice-cream.

When we returned to the classroom we talked with Adrian about how we can further our science careers in the future. Then we focused on our experiments and worked hard to finish them. Some of us used microscopes to study bacteria, some gram stained, some collected field examples,  while others wrote their procedure in our lab notebooks. At 3:45, we got a coffee break to hold us over until dinner. There has been rain and storms all day, but we are all staying dry inside the classroom and on the deck. At dinner, we had lasagna and plantain chips. Since the majority of us were still not finished with our experiments and because final presentations are tomorrow, we continued working on our experiments after dinner.
Whole research group!

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Wednesday the 8th

Today was an early morning, when we all had to wake up for a breakfast at 6 o'clock. It consisted of pancakes and eggs.

At 6:30, we all piled into the vans for an hour and a half drive to Parque Rincon de la vieja, a national park located near Finca la Anita. We hiked through the rainforest for about an hour. In this time, we saw lots of interesting bugs, including a worm disguised as a root. The thick vines surrounding the trees are nothing like we have at home! The hike lead up to hot springs created by the active volcano near by. We spent about 30 minutes playing in the hot water. We even got to try using volcanic clay as a scrub. On our way back, we stopped at a waterfall for a good photo op. By this time hunger was setting in, so we were all excited to have a picnic to conclude the hike. The ham and cheese sandwiches with mustard, chips, wafers, and Eddie's special fruit drink were very satisfying.

Here we are,  enjoying the hot springs.
Freddie, our guide, showing us one of the many neat pieces of wildlife.

When we got back, we got ready for an afternoon of science. Some groups were busy grinding ant parts, observing colonies, and others were growing fungus on petri dishes dishes. We worked for 3 hours.

Finally at 6, we got to enjoy a dinner of seasoned vegetables, potatoes, and pork. For dessert, pound cake with a sweet coating and cacao nibs was served. After dinner, all of the groups used the extra time provided to continue our experiments.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Tuesday the 7th

We began the day by eating eggs, rice and beans, watermelon, and papaya, with a strawberry banana fruit juice to wash it all down. After breakfast, we had a few hours to explore Finca la Anita. We used this time by hiking down the winding path to the "mall," which was really just a store 15 by 4 feet large packed with local treats and an assortment of items including tooth brushes. We purchased lots of candy to enjoy back at our dorm.

Later, we all loaded into the van to go to horseback riding. We rode through a grove of beautiful rainbow eucalyptus trees with trunks that appeared to be tie dyed. Heading deeper into the jungle, we crossed a small river on our horses and continued up a steep incline. When we reached the top, the view of lush green mountains covered in mist was breathtaking. It was funny to watch as the horses messed around, and even get spooked by some cows crossing our path.
If you look closely at the trees you will see stripes of vivid colors.

To conclude our morning, we ate a lunch of fish, assorted veggies, salad, and white rice, with the pungent drink of ginger lemonade. 

Following our break after lunch, we met in the classroom with our groups to begin our experiments! We got to work not only in the classroom, but we also went out into the field to collect gmellina leaves  for our projects. We worked from 2 to 4:45 in our lab notebooks with our groups.
Lauren and Anna holding a colony of ants.
A close up of the queen and the colony.
When the time came to end our science for the afternoon, we once again loaded into vans to go to Aracelly's, a cafe where we got to help a local chef make dinner. We all got a chance to add ingredients to the big bowl over a fire, roll out tortillas, and make salad. We also tried drinks of pure lime juice. After much hard work, we finally got to sit down and enjoy the delicious Costa Rican meal we made. It consisted of chicken, rice and beans, steamed vegetables, with the option of fresh lemonade or pineapple juice. Music was playing in the background, which lead to us all joining the chef dancing in the kitchen. We did the salsa and danced in a big circle. Arcelly's daughter then showed us some brain teasers using tooth picks. Shoutout to Graham for figuring out the problem first. The chef was a sweet woman happy to spend her night dancing and eating with us.

This is us posing with the chef, also known as our new friend.
Plates of ingredients before adding to the sauce.
On our way home, we listened to music to get us awake and ready to do some more science upon our return. All groups who needed to continue their work got the chance to put finishing touches on the first day of performing our experiments.

Finally, the end of the day came. We are exhausted and ready for a good night's sleep to refresh us for tomorrow's adventures.