I write to you now from Las Cruces Biological Station in the south of Costa Rica, about 20km north of Panama. The place we’re staying is much nicer than I expected … with running water, hot showers, wireless internet, and American outlets, I feel completely spoiled in the middle of the rainforest. It has definitely been a transition period, as I am getting to know new people, new plants, new foods, and new bugs. Things have settled into a nice routine, now that I’ve been here for about a week. Breakfast is at 6:30 each day, then lectures or a jungle hike, lunch at 12pm, nap for an hour, another lecture, play futbol for an hour, dinner at 6pm, then one more lecture around 7pm. We are learning a great deal of information each day, with the topics ranging from Costa Rican history to coffee to plant identification to insect taxonomy. I am beginning to realize that there is a large diversity of plants and insects in this country. Who knew?
Oh and they gave us a great intro talk: “All of the things that could possibly harm or kill you in the jungle” - in under 2 hours! The dangers ranged from mosquitoes to diseases to bot flies (look em up) to fungus to killer bees to everybody's favorite (i.e., the most poisonous): snakes. Hearing it all in one sitting made even me want to curl up in a ball on my bed and not go outside anymore. But after a good night's sleep I got over that and went on a lovely trek into the rainforest :D
And the déjà vu I had experienced in my first 24 hours did not let up for another couple days … on our journey to San Vito (the town outside of Las Cruces), we traveled on the Cerro de la Muerte, a highway that winds through the high mountains of central Costa Rica. I had gone down this same highway two years earlier for the Tree Climbing class, which is not all that strange, given it is a main highway. But what was weird was that we stopped at the same restaurant along the way, a quaint place called La Georgina where you can get quite a good “chocolate caliente.” There are also hummingbird feeders set up outside the windows, allowing visitors to watch three or four species speed around in the drizzly cloud forest. It was weird to be in the same place, but once our bus set off down the road again, there were no more familiar encounters – everything seen and experienced became new.
The atmosphere is much calmer than I expected – all of the students still seem a bit wary of being in a new place. It’s probably part of the adjustment period, and it is just beginning to hit me that I will be with these people for the next four months (and only them), in a country that is not my own, and without all of the comforts I usually take for granted. Yet I am optimistic that once I shake myself out of the daze of being immersed in an entirely new life, everything will start to get quite exciting. For now, I’ll just keep my eyes open for terciopelas.
--> I changed around a few things on the schedule that is listed in a previous post ... some of the places and dates have changed. Enjoy!