June 21, 2013
So we arrived in Costa Rica, all parts intact. We flew out of Philly which had the most impressive security line ever. One of those lines when you turn the corner thinking that the end is just around...and it’s not. After a while you can’t even be mad anymore. It’s like you go through the stages of grief and just accept it. It was a close call to making our flight to Atlanta where we caught another flight to Liberia, Costa Rica. From there we drove to Monteverde.
Thankfully, we stopped in Las Juntas to get our first meal of our day, lunch. Humorously almost all of us got “Casados de pollo” which is a traditional dish consisting of beans, rice, a salad topped with pico de gallo, a very bright pink beet salad and a piece of meat, in this case chicken (pollo). That being said, I don’t think I even tasted the food. I was so hungry.
From there we started our trek into the mountains. There was a road and suddenly there just wasn’t. There was just a rocky path. I will never complain about poor roads in the States ever again. I was thoroughly beaten like en egg. But the drive was well worth it. It is unbelievably beautiful here. Not like your banal calendar beaches; this is wild, untamed beauty. (Wow, it sounds like I’m describing a horse...) I have come to accept that there are bugs. Being housed with a bunch of bug-people, it is unacceptable to swish them. The exceptions so far are scorpions and misquotes. (Yes. I said scorpions. Thankfully, they aren’t poisonous here, just have a nasty sting.)
Yesterday we had our first day of field work. We must have done around 7 hours of hiking. We made our first little trek in the paths around the house. Amazingly we found a colony of Eciton (the type of army ants we are studying) right in near the house. (The was a very large chance that we could have spent a week meandering around the mountains vainly searching of the little buggers.) I would say how long this little mini hike took but to be honest I haven’t looked at a clock since I’ve got here. The sun rises early and sets at like six so I’ve basically been going off what time it feels like. It might have been around 45 minutes.
The second hike we took was much longer. I think we left at 11 and got back around ... 5? It was long. Trust me. My knees are so sore. Hopefully they will toughen up as we continue because we found two more colonies of Eciton pretty far out. We’ll have to hike up there to check on the bivouac and run the tests on them. Professor O’Donnell kept pointing things out as we went along like wild figs and avocados, much smaller than their commercial cousins... also much more tart.
Also, Kaitlin and I made a pan flute out of bamboo. (It was a long walk back in the rain, we had to entertain ourselves somehow.)
Today hopefully we’ll go to a hotspot so I can upload this and tell my parents that I am still alive. (The wifi is dead at the house. Such a bummer.) I'm sure another long hike is in my near future.
(later)There’s one thing that I have definitely learned in the two days I’ve been here: everything we deem important in the city (cell phones, fashion, ultra cleanliness, shaved legs) are really just not important. Open all the doors wide, open the house to the absolutely gorgeous weather and forest and bugs that come with it. (I was going to say “Open your heart wide to everything waiting to be experienced” but that’s sounding a little too over-used, like you would find it on a resort brochure.) There is not really a schedule here. Its get done what you need to get done, find a way. (Even if you need to use a machete to find your path.)