Tuesday, July 22, 2014

La Selva Perimeter hike

As we approached the end of our trip, we decided to dedicate a day to hiking the perimeter of La Selva (basically we did a giant outline of the map below). 

We began our 7 hour hike in the wee hours of the morning excited to test the notoriously tough hike.

Wildlife awaited us in the beginning of our hike.  Turtles trampled across the leaf litter, while monkeys mingled in the canopy.  Frogs frolicked along the paths. 

 Turtles are less common along these trails, so we were overjoyed to spot this little guy at our feet.  Here he is a little camera shy, hiding in his shell.

We came across a family of howler monkeys welcoming us to their home.  There are two abundant species of monkeys at La Selva: The howler monkeys and spider monkeys.  Spider and quick and curious.  Howler monkeys are loud.  They serve as nature's alarm clocks on the station.

Pumilios are the most common poison frogs at La Selva.  They raise their tadpoles inside bromilleads, so we suspect this frog is a mother.  (We met many people studying them in our time at La Selva).

Unfortunately we are not too great at identifying frogs, but when Lindsay caught these, we thought they were a pretty exciting find.

This was one of the many beautiful views on our hike.  Shannon commonly goes on morning runs just to see this tree because it is her favorite. 

This was the last picture we took on our hike because after this, it got quite difficult, to say the least.

Our hike quickly turned into a climb, where we used every part of our bodies to shove ourselves up hills and to keep from tumbling down the other sides.  At one point we figured we had made a wrong turn and were stranded in unfamiliar territory.  We eventually found a broken metal sign that let us know that we were still on La Selva's perimeter.  The rusty, moss overgrown sign also declared these trails had not been hiked in awhile.  By this time, we had figured out why. 

The rest of our journey was filled with intense adventures, including wading through rivers, balancing  across tree trunks, and Providence's encounter with the much feared bullet ant.  A few miles from the station, tired, dirty, but victorious, Carrie met us and helped us finish the hike.  

Clearly it was an adventure that I am sure we will remember in many ways for the rest of our lives. We returned to the station feeling like champs, with a ton of stories to tell our friends. We even inspired someone else to hike the perimeter the next weekend! All in all, it was a triumphant day!

Friday, July 18, 2014

We know it's been a while but...

We made it back safe to Colgate! We know we haven't posted in a while (sorry about that!). The last couple weeks in Costa Rica were very busy! We plan to update the blog in the next couple weeks with some info about how our last few weeks at La Selva went! Spoiler alert: it involves a lot of lab work, some climbing, a really cool night hike, a really intense day hike, an awesome rafting adventure, and an amazing visit to an active volcano. Stay tuned! To start, let's talk about this incredible night hike, shall we?

As you know from previous posts, during our time at La Selva, we became friends with a group of people names Brian, Meaghan and Michelle. )Meaghan is a grad student and Michelle is her field assistant, and they're both studying Pumilios (aka the blue jean frog, the cutest poisonous frog in the world), and Brian is a Ph.D student in Herpetology, who studies reptiles and amphibians). One exceptionally rainy night, we went out to La Selva's experimental swamp to look for frogs...

Before we even left the lab clearing, we had out first find of the night. We saw a boa constrictor climbing a tree directly outside of the cabins we were staying in...

We found this brown frog right outside of the swamp. It's shaped like a guitar pick, and is a pretty rare sighting.

This gorgeous green frog was huge! Lindsay caught this one, she's turned into a true frog wrangler.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Happy Colgate Day from Costa Rica!

HAPPY COLGATE DATE!!!! Friday the 13th is the best day in the eyes of any Colgate- associated person, because 13 is Colgate's lucky number! Colgate is amazing because it's so full of exceptional opportunities for all of its students. We wanted to celebrate Colgate with a post that acknowledges all of the amazing experiences and opportunities we've had so far in Costa Rica, all thanks to Cat, Carrie, and Colgate!

Happy Colgate day from Costa Rica! 



Happy Colgate day, y'all! 

our weekend at the beach!

After all of our climbing was over, and right before really intense lab work started, we all took a mini-vacation at the beach! We traveled to Puerto Viejo de Limon, a really small beach side town in Costa Rica on the Caribbean coast. It was interesting to stay somewhere that had a strong Afrocaribbean influences, especially in the food! Before the beach, our time here has been mostly at the station, which has been the very scientific, academic and research driven side of Costa Rica. This town was a nice change of pace and opened our eyes to another culture within Costa Rica.

Friday, we left the station early to arrive at the beach a little after lunch. When we arrived, we walked from our hotel to town along the beach. We wandered in and out of a little venders along the street. There was a large variety of different jewelry, hammocks, and various other trinkets. 
Above and below are two pictures we took along the beach while walking into town.
Once in town, we stopped a little bakery. They had the most delicious chocolate banana bread! We also ended up going to the same bakery on Sunday for some pizza (not as good as Slices but close!) before we left!
Above is a sign from the bakery we ate at a couple of times on our trip.  

Another picture from in town.
Saturday, we woke up early and had a nice breakfast at the hotel. We crossed the street and headed to the beach for the morning. It was really nice to just sit around and have nothing to do. We all spent a lot of time in the water and sitting around in chairs we got from the hotel. Right before lunch time, we left the beach. Everyone got just a little too much color even though we were only there for a couple of hours...
A picture from our morning at the beach!
When we got back from the hotel, we rented a couple of bikes and headed into town to do some more exploring! We found a cool little restaurant that over looked the beach and had lunch there! Prov and I shared some arroz con pollo and chips with guacamole, which was AMAZING! Thomas had some ceviche and Shannon had some arroz con pollo, too!
Selfies at lunch at are a must!

Shannon really wanted to get a piece of her hair wrapped while we were at the beach. We walked along the street and found two women who would do our hair for 3,000 colones (about 6 American dollars). It was a lot of fun picking out different colors and beads to put at the end of our wrap! I think we were all glad Shannon thought of such a great idea! Before getting our hair done, we went to a little shop that had amazing fresh fruit. We got green coconuts, which you drink the coconut milk and then scrap the coconut meat from the side when your done. These are super refreshing and just what we needed after being in the sun all day!
Here is a great picture of Prov at the little place we found to get some fruit!

 We had a little over an hour to go exploring before we were suppose to meet Cat and Carrie for dinner in town. We rode our bikes along the beach and passed a bunch of cool places. There was one place made of old train cars that you could rent hammock space for 6 dollars a night! We also pasted a high school soccer game. A ton of people stopped along the road to watch the game and it was awesome to see the community together!

Right before turning around, we found a little in-cove along the beach. It was absolutely beautiful and was a really also spot to reflect on how lucky we all are to have such an amazing experience. We have all had such an amazing time here in Costa Rica and we have all learned so much about the culture, research and ourselves! We have little access to TV, wifi, and many other things we take for granted in the United States. Its been an eye opening experience to realize how little those things really contribute to true happiness. We are very lucky to stay at a place were there are a ton of people studying really awesome subjects in the rainforest and are eager to answer all of our questions! I definitely going to miss being here when we leave.
Here is a great group photo of all of us at the beach that someone nicely took for us!

A selfie of the four of us with "Pura Vida" written in the sand. This is definitely a phrase you hear a lot in Costa Rica. It directing translates to "pure life". But really means something more like "this is living!" or "plenty of life!"  Its a phrase the acknowledges a peaceful, simple life style that includes an appreciation for nature, friends and family.

Saturday night we headed into town and had dinner with Carrie and Cat at a cool place called, Koki. The food was delicious and the restaurant was painted all different fun colors. It was across the street from the beach and we had some pretty amazing views as the sun began to set.

Prov, Shannon and I in the taxi heading to dinner!
Above is a picture of the entrance to the restaurant we ate at on Saturday night

Above and below are the different views from our table at dinner

 Overall, it was a relaxing and very memorable weekend away!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Our Day Off

We had our first day off at the end of last week!  We were so excited because we knew how rare an entire day off was here.  After hours of discussing what to do with our day, we decided to go downtown and experience the non-research side of Costa Rica for a few hours. We headed to a restaurant/pool called Ada Ambigua and spent the morning poolside- reading, relaxing, and swimming.  The UVs are so strong here that we literally all tanned in an hour (or in Shannon’s case, burned).

We grabbed lunch at the restaurant before heading back to the station for a relaxing afternoon
where Thomas, Lindsay and I (Shannon) relaxed and slept while Prov took one for the team and volunteered to go back to work.

 Left: lunch at Ada Ambigua.  The best part of this restaurant (In my opinion) is the seemingly inexhaustible drink menu!


 Reading and relaxing by the pool while getting our vitamin D!


Now on a different note.... fast forward to today. 
This morning, Sarah, a science writer who has joined us for the past 2 weeks to help us out and write about our project, left.  Last night, we decided to hang out all night on a porch we have and socialize.  Sitting together under the stars, surrounded by the beautiful sounds of the rain forest, and with people we have grown close to in the past few weeks was an amazing moment to share with one another.  She will surely be missed.
The porch we all enjoy socializing on (From left to right: Sarah, Cat, Prov, Thomas, and Lindsay)