Friday, April 24, 2009

Friday, February 27: Santa Rosa to Monteverde

This morning we packed up camp and headed on the bus the Monteverde.  Sarah and I had to search through the woods for our tent bag, which had probably blown away when our tent blew away.  It was not fun, but we finally found it.  I thought for sure it was gone.  On the way we stopped at Las Pumas cat zoo and did species reports on all the cats. We saw margays, ocelots, pumas, and jaguars!  We got to get so close, we could easily stick our hands in the cages if we wanted too.  It was really cool.  After more time on the bus we stopped outside of Monteverde for pizza.  It was sooooo good!  Then we got ice cream from the Monteverde cheese factory.  It was so good.  I can’t wait to eat that all the time.  A little bit more on the bus and we finally got to Monteverde! It was so exciting!  The bus couldn’t make it up the hill to the station, so we had to walk.  It’s quite the hill, that should be fun.  We got our rooms, I’m with Emy, Val and Sarah Stas.  Then we all grabbed our computers and sat on the internet catching up on our lives for the rest of the night.  

Thursday Feb 26: Last day in Santa Rosa

Today was another “free day” at Rincon de la Vieja National park, aka the volcanoes.  Sarah Stas and I first decided to hike to the waterfall, 5k each way.  The hike was actually really enjoyable.  It was a mix of moist and dry forest, and the difference between the two was really drastic.  One minute we were in a pretty green forest, then suddenly it looked like we were in a desert.  We were pretty high up, so the view was amazing.  The waterfall was absolutely beautiful.  It had a nice pool that the sun was shining on, so the water was a bright aqua blue.  The water was cold, but felt really good.  We only stayed at the waterfall for a little bit because we wanted to hike the 3 k loop around the fumarolas.  We hiked the 5k back, then started the loop.  We had an hour, which we thought was enough time.  The fumarolas weren’t nearly as exciting as we had hoped.  Just a bubbling pool of sulfur, really.  We had to book it back to the bus.  We had to practically run the last 1.5K back.  It was really hot so that really sucked.  My ankles were so swollen.  After Rincon we got back on the bus and headed to Playa Junquillal.  We stopped on the way and the staff got a huge cooler full of beer.  I got orange juice, woohoo.  I was really tired so I sat and talked with Stefa.  The sunset was amazingly beautiful.  Words can’t even describe.  We all sat and watched the sunset, but most pretty were really drunk and I was really annoyed.  The drunkenness continued at dinner, we ate this whole in the wall seafood place.  It was so tired and just wanted to go to bed.  It just made me super cranky.  I went to the payphone with Kim and Sarah to escape the crowd.  Unfortunately we stayed at the restaurant for a while.  Finally we left and on the way home I saw the big dipper and it made me a little bit happier.  Back at camp Sarah and I went to the classroom to use the wireless with Stefa’s PSP.  I only got to read two emails because stupid Wismail requires too much memory.  When we got back to camp we noticed some extra things in our text.  Turns out Brad and Luke had fire ants in their tent so Brad slept with us.  Thank god we had one of the big tents.  

Wednesday Feb 25: Day 4 in Santa Rosa

Today was a nice change of pace with mammal diversity day.  We started off the morning with a reading in the classroom, then had a lecture on mammals from Richard.  It was really basic, I already know the difference between an omnivore and a carnivore.  Then we did species reports until lunch in the classroom, mostly on mammals.  After lunch we had free time from 1-3. It was really nice to have some downtime.  I finished the book I was reading, then did some homework. The rest of the afternoon we did a lot of species reports, but Richard found some bats to show us, so that was really cool.  We even got to sit at camp for some of the reports, which was super nice.  After dinner we had discussion about megafauna and how lots of plants are adapted for dispersal by megafauna, but humans killed them all off.  Overall it was a good discussion.  They even gave us wine! Oh so happy!  The whole group drank 10 huge bottles.  After discussion I stayed up for a bit with some of the group to drink a little, but ended up going to bed fairly early.  

Tuesday, February 24: Hike to Playa Naranja

Today was quite a day.  Another “free day” with a hike, only this time it was 26K round trip.  We walked on this really rocky “road” to Playa Naranja.  The walk there wasn’t bad at all, it wasn’t hot and it was downhill the whole way.  We left at 8 and got there at 10:20.  The beach was absolutely beautiful.  It was the beach where the movie “Endless Summer 2” was filmed.  I’ve never seen the movie though.  It’s supposed to be a really big surf spot, famous for the witch’s rock.  Kit, Laura and I walked almost the whole beach, it was a couple miles.  We found a ton of shells, and I found a conch!  It was so windy, and the sand blowing on our bodies felt like sandpaper.  Then the sand stuck to our sunscreen so we all looked really funny.  The water was super cold!  It felt really good after walking in the hot sun, but still was a bit of shock when you first get in.  I wasn’t in the water long because there was a strong rip current.  I mostly just chilled out in the shade for the afternoon.  It was just too hot to be in the sun.  Sarah Stas and I headed back around 2:30.  It was uphill, and super hot.  I got burned on one side of my body on the walk back.  We stopped at the mirador to watch the sunset, but we got there super early. It was such a beautiful view though, we could see all the way down to Play Naranja, and could see the entire stretch of beach.  More and more of the group also came to watch the sunset.  It was so gorgeous.  After sunset we had about 4k left to walk in the dark.  Our headlamps weren’t too helpful.  It took an hour to get back, and it felt like forever because the whole way we had no idea how much we had to left to go.  AT least the stars were beautiful.  I only had a few bites of dinner and now I’m going to bed.  Kit is in the hospital, she was on the hike back and suddenly had terrible kidney pains.  I hope she’s ok.  

Monday, February 23: Day two at Santa Rosa.

Today we did field projects.  Luke, Emy, Sarah H., Sam, Laura and I went to look at bats with Richard.  We went up to the attic of La Casona, which isn’t open to the public.  There were about 60 bats up there.  We sat there for 3 hours taking pictures of them roosting every 10 minutes.  We had to be really quiet.  I got up to go to the bathroom, and I saw the troop of white-face capucins.  They were crossing on the ground from tree to tree, and got really close to me!  One of them had a newborn baby, I wish I had my camera.  After lunch we got together to analyze the data and work on our posters.  We concluding that the bats had a random aggregation of individuals.  They gave us an ice cream break during our poster making, which is much needed since it’s so hot out everyday.  When we got back to camp I learned our tent blew away.  Yes, it was staked down, but it’s just that windy.  Stefa and Sarah got it staked back down though.  Our stuff was a mess.  Our bags are so heavy its crazy how that thing blew away.  After dinner all the groups presented our posters.  Anjali let all hell break lose, I’m pretty sure everyone hates her now, they’re all really mad.  She’s brutal, but her critiques are valid.  It’s not like she’s ripping us apart for no reason.  

Sunday, Feb. 22: Day 1 in Santa Rosa

So far I’m not a huge fan.  It’s so dry hardly anything is green.  At least there’s a breeze so it’s not quite as hot, but at night when the wind blows through the tents it sounds like there’s a tornado outside.  It’s a lot more “roughing it” than Corcovado.  No shelter, only tents and tarps.  We still have cooks, but no kitchen, they have to cook for 35 people over a fire.  That sucks.  At least there’s Marco, one of our cooks who is our age who is really gorgeous and has a really cute butt.  He’s definitely gay, but still good eye candy.  Whenever we get cranky we stare at him to make ourselves cheer up.  This morning was so boring.  We walked around for four hours doing species reports.  We were not happy campers, everyone was soooo cranky.  The only exciting thing was the howler monkeys right above our camp.  The baby was so cute and they were so close.  We have free time from 1-3 because that is the hottest part of the day.  The afternoon was more species reports, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I had expected.  The two hour break was good for everyone, we were all a lot less cranky.  We ended up only doing 3 species reports, then heading up to the monument.  Moncho is a dirty liar and told me we were doing species reports all afternoon.  The historical monument was really cool.  It’s a huge Casona, and it used to be a huge cattle ranch.  The Casona is actually a remake of the original, because someone burned down the original building in 2000.  Tania have us a history lesson of Santa Rosa, but I was spacing out the whole time (oops). I just know there was an epic Costa Rican battle here.  Then we walked up to the lookout to see the volcanoes.  It was so pretty!  We even got to climb on top of this structure they have there that you probably aren’t supposed to climb on.  It was really tranquilo.  I even saw Polistes there (my species report)!  After that we had a delicious spaghetti dinner and a discussion of these articles we had to read.  It was kind of boring.  There are these tiny gnats everywhere so I got really bitten up.  It’s awful, they make you bleed when they bite, and then the bite gets really swollen.  We all look like lepers.  What an exciting night, I’m going to bed at 8:30.  

Saturday, Feb. 21: Carara National Park

This morning was bright.  I woke up at the usual Corcovado time (5:30) so I didn’t get much sleep.  I did get to shower in a real shower, which was really nice.  We had breakfast in the hotel restaurant, which was literally right on the beach.  I could reach down and touch the sand.  After breakfast we headed on the bus to Carara National Park.  It was ok, really hot, and not nearly as pretty as Corcovado.  We also met Richard, the Costa Rican bat expert who is going to be with us for the rest of the trip (little did we know at the time just how BAMF Richard is).  We had pizza hut for lunch, but it was just ok.  Everyone else seemed more excited than I was.  We weren’t at Carara for very long, only a few hours.  Then we got back on the bus and headed to Santa Rosa National Park.  Shortly after we left we stopped on a bridge to see these HUGE crocodiles.  The biggest ones were 4 or 5 meters long.  It was really cool.  Then back on the bus. I pretty much slept the rest of the ride.  We stopped for a little while in Liberia, a city close to Santa Rosa.  It was nice to have some time in civilization, and check my email.  It was dark when we got to our campsite in Santa Rosa and we couldn’t see a thing.  Other people had gotten there earlier that day to set up the main camp, but we had to set up our tents in the dark.  This is right after we were told there are a lot of snakes around.  Awesome.  From what I can see so far, I’m not too impressed.  It’s super dry, and looks just like Wisconsin, except with more snakes, spiders and cockroaches. Huge cockroaches.  The bathrooms are really far away, and they seem like some man is going to jump out and grab you.  It’s really eerie.  Apparently there’s also fire ants everywhere.  We were told to watch out for them before we set up our tents, but it’s so dark we can’t really tell if our tent is on an ant mound or not.  At least Sarah and I have a big tent this time so we don’t have to sleep on each other and our bags.