Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Beach Barbeque Bliss

Since we had to write the blog early last night, we will fill you in on our over-night adventures! First, we played soccer with staff from Horizontes. We played on a dirt field with metal poles as goals. We learned to factor in the “slide” because the dirt was so slippery; many girls fell throughout the game! It started as a fun game and quickly became very competitive! We had a lot of fun and it was great to see our van drivers Felix and John play with us!
After working up an appetite, we headed to the kitchen for some lasagna. Once it was dark, we loaded up the vans with our sheets and blankets to drive to the beach. It was about a thirty-minute drive, full of bumpy roads! Nathan, the head turtle researcher, instructed us to lay down our blankets and head out on twenty-minute sweeps up and down the coastline looking for turtle tracks. We took turns, as some went with Nathan and John Doleman while the rest of us slept to the sound of the crashing waves. While lying on our blankets, we could see hundreds of stars and bolts of lightning in the distance. It was incredible! Unfortunately, we did not find any turtle tracks or turtles; however, it was still a great experience and interesting to ask Nathan questions about his fascinating career researching turtles.
At midnight, we packed up and headed back to Horizontes. Exhausted, we all fell asleep around 1 am. Then we had to get up around 5 am to go on our 5:30 am nature hike. Our guide Freddie was very knowledgeable about all of the various wildlife in the conservation park. He pointed out plants that can be used as sand paper, Velcro, and even toilet paper! At the end of the two-hour hike, we arrived at a waterfall. It was a beautiful sight and the perfect place for our breakfast picnic! We had toast, peanut butter, guava jelly, fruit, sandwiches, and orange juice. We even saw a black horned iguana! We finished breakfast and then climbed onto a tractor for a ride back to our cabins. We then had a few hours of free time before lunch. Most of us slept to catch up on our missed sleep from the night before.
For lunch we had rice, beans, potatoes, salad, and chicken. Then we had a little free time before loading the vans to head to the beach at 1:30 pm. We were all eagerly anticipating this trip, as it is very hot here in the dry forest! While we were waiting for the van, Jules found a large scorpion crawling on her backpack and we all freaked out! Pablo’s fearless wife, Ana, crushed the scorpion with her boot! Finally we arrived at the beach. It was great to see the beach in the daylight and see where we had been walking during the night. We set up our towels in the sand and ran into the water! Ana Paula and Tali (Pablo’s daughter and her friend) joined us for the afternoon at the beach. The water was surprisingly warm, but so wonderful! We had to shuffle in the sand to avoid stingrays as well as not go past our shoulders to avoid rip tides. Some girls went on walks down the beach and found a poisonous snake—yikes! But no one was injured, thankfully!
We really enjoyed our time on the beach, tanning, swimming, listening to music, and relaxing. Around 5 pm we had a barbeque, with chicken and beef kabobs, pork, tortillas, chips, guacamole, salsa, and soda. It was delicious, and even better because we were sitting on the beach! We watched the sunset and took many photos before loading up and returning to Horizontes. Now we are packing up our suitcases, getting ready for our early departure tomorrow.
We miss you all and can’t wait to see you tomorrow night!
Much love,
The Visitation Beachgoers!

Blog written by Jules and Gabby J

Monday, June 27, 2016

Travel, Turtles, and Soccer

Hello friends and family,

Today has been a long day of travel, we have moved from Finca La Anita to Horizontes.  We plan to begin our sea turtle excursion tonight in hopes of catching a turtle laying her eggs on the beach.

Today, we traveled on smooth pavement roads for the first time in a while, and that felt amazing compared to the gravel roads near Finca La Anita.  We also had time to go into a grocery store in Liberia to buy snacks. 

When we arrived at Horizontes, we had lunch and about an hour to rest before we listened to two speakers.  The first speaker was someone who worked for the National Park system in Costa Rica, and the second was a marine biologist who specializes in sea turtles.  Dr. Nathan Robinson, the second speaker, will be the one taking us to the beach later tonight.  We have high hopes for seeing a turtle, as the last two groups have not seen one. 

After we finish writing the blog, we are going to play soccer with some locals, which should be fun!

Looking forward to seeing you all when we return Wednesday night!
Everyone in Costa Rica

By: Ellie and Bergen

Field work at Horizontes to try to determine the relationship between Acacia tree and ants

Dr. Nathan Robinson

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Presentations, Pickups, and Hot Springs

Hello friends and family,

Today was another wonderful day in Costa Rica filled with presentations, bumpy car rides, hot springs, and more.  We started off this morning with an early breakfast to give us time to finish our experiment presentation. Each group did one practice presentation with Pinto this morning to do any last minute changes that needed to be done.  At 10:30 we had presentations beginning with COSO, then Ant Fam, Equipo Relampago, and lastly Lurking Jaguars. “We graduated!!” 

For our graduation celebration we traveled to Sensoria.  However, we encountered a few bumps in the road (no pun intended).  First issue was we were one car short.  We had 2 pick up trucks for 16+ people.  But have no fear, nothing stops the Vis girls and we figured out a solution.  We decided to put 4 people across the back row of the car and then 2 people in the back of the pick up. An hour into the drive we took a stop to have a picnic lunch and realized that we had forgotten the food. It was now 1 PM and everyone was very hungry and a little upset at first but it ended up being a great experience. We got an emersion into the Costa Rican culture when we decided to stop in a surrounding village.  We got cheese and tuna sandwiches as well as chips from a local shop. After our lunch, we were ready to drive the last 15 miles to Sensoria. 

Upon arriving at Sensoria we took a quick restroom break and headed into the rainforest with our guide Johnny.  On our hike we saw a small extremely poisonous snake, but don’t worry it was sleeping and no one was bitten. We hiked 40 minutes down to the Blue waterfall. This was a spectacular sight, the clear blue waterfall was a great place to swim and take photos.  After about 10 minutes at the waterfall we hiked 40 minutes back to the start and stopped at a very soothing hot spring.  We swam in the hot spring for 30 minutes relaxing and enjoying our graduation.  Upon finishing our hike and swim we had mango juice, coffee, and cookies.  After being refueled with this snack, we got back in our two vans squished in the back of the trucks and headed back to Finca la Anita.  Take it from those to got to stand in the back of the pick-ups it is an experience you will never forget; you got the best view of the volcanos and trees around.  Some of us standing in the back of the trucks were lucky enough to see some toucans.

When we arrived back at Finca la Anita a wonderful dinner was ready for us.  Pico de Gallo, chips, beans, chicken, beef, and cheese; nothing better after a long day of bumpy car rides and hikes in the rainforest. After dinner, everyone went back to their rooms for warm showers and to pack their bags for tomorrows trip to the beach.

Day 8 held lots of excitement and we are excited to see what tomorrow holds.

We miss everyone back at home.
Signing off with lots of love from Costa Rica,

Catherine and Alley J

Posing with Dr Adrian Pinto

Equipo Relampago

Lurkin' Jaguars


Ant Fam