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Journals from Costa Rica Fall 2008

2008-09-10 The JUNGLE.

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The view from the top of our hike (notice the botas).

Well, another week has gone by and weve certainly been busy. One of the really cool things about this program is the fact that besides getting to live in a really cool country for 4 months we get to go on field trips to explore it and discover all of its hidden secrets. Unlike other study abroad programs where if you even take classes theyre really easy and you dont learn anything, were learning a ton. My favorite thing, though, is that our fieldtrips correspond with our classes. For example, on Friday of last week, we went to a Trapiche or a sugar cane mill. There we were able to witness the old-fashioned Costa Rican tradition of putting the sugar cane through a mill and crushing it to get the juice out. Then the juice goes through a series of bubbling hot pools and thickens and thickens and then they pour it into cups and it hardens and makes a hard sweet thing called dulce. (Thats the worst description ever, but you get the idea.) Its kind of a caramel consistency and color except harder. Anyway, that was really cool because weve been learning about sugar cane in our history class and its significance in the history of the country. Then on Saturday morning we left at 8 for the UCR Nature Reserve. (It has a longer name with someones name in it but I forget... sorry!) Anyway, it was about a 45-minute drive on a normal road until we reached a rock/dirt/pot-holey road where we met a truck from the reserve that picked us up. Half of us sat inside the cab while the other half of us sat with our luggage in the crate thing that was the back of the pickup. It was so much fun. All of us who were in the back decided that it was a real-life replica of the Indiana Jones Ride at Disneyland. We were bouncing all around while driving over boulders and through muddy swamp puddles winding on this road that was literally cut out of the rainforest with machetes. About an hour later we arrived at the Reserve, which was quite reminiscent of summer camp. We ate lunch and then got ready for our hike through the rain forest. Little did we know that this would be a 3-hour hike, two hours of which were vertical (wearing our rubber botas (boots) that weve all come to cherish). It was so muddy and exhausting and amazing all at the same time. The rain forest was not at all what we expected--we didnt see monkeys swinging through the trees nor did we see tropical bird families flying overhead. Who knew that the rain forest wasnt really like that? We know now. (However, the next day on our way home we did see a toucan fly across the road and we saw 5 snakes on our way into the park) The next morning we woke up early and did a short 20-minute hike to a river with agua pura, or pure water. It was so beautiful and the water was so refreshing and perfect. A few of us swam around in it (there werent any fish or scary sea creatures). So, even though we think were jealous of our friends who are back at Linny lying out in the green green grass... were not. We get to hike through tropical rain forest and swim in pure rivers in the middle of the jungle.

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