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Journals from Costa Rica 2009

2009-10-31 Suspension Bridges, Bananas, Snorkeling, and Sloths!

As we are getting into the middle of the semester, classes have been coming down on us a little bit. We have lots of tests and papers these next few weeks so there has been a lot of studying going on, but we have had some time for fun too! We went to the Caribbean side of the country last weekend and got to experience a completely different culture. We visited Cahuita, Puerto Viejo and the city of Limon. The rhythm of life on the Caribbean side is different than that of San Ramon and the rest of Costa Rica. The day doesnt start until about 10am and ends very early in the morning, whereas, in the Central Valley, everyone wakes up at 5am and goes to bed around 10pm. Everything from the daily schedule to the types of food, to music, to houses is all different. We even got to go to a live calypso/reggae concert one night. In the Central Valley, you can see the prominent Spanish influence, but in the Caribbean there are many different influences from Jamaica to England. The Caribbean is a mix of cultures that is much different than the rest of the country. For the ecology part of the fieldtrip, we got to visit a banana plantation, walk through the biological reserve at Tirimbina and go snorkeling in Cahuita. First, we went to a Dole banana plantation and learned all about the ecological effects of the banana in Costa Rica. That afternoon we headed to the biological reserve. Our little adventure through the rain forest was full of really high suspension bridges, which is one of my biggest fears! We were SO high up in the rainforest on these bridges that they felt miles long. Thankfully, we all made it out alive. We also had a class about bats with one of the biologists at Tirimbina. We learned all about the importance of bats and got the see them up close and touch them. The next day, we got to go snorkeling in Cahuita. How awesome of an ecology class is that! I felt like Ariel, swimming with the fishies. We saw lots of tropical fish, a manta ray, and a nurse shark! Its so interesting to learn about the coral reef in class, and then get to go experience it. This program makes learning so interesting.. Its great :) The other thing that I am loving about being in Costa Rica is seeing all the tropical animals that we dont have in the US. We have seen lots of monkeys, snakes, different birds, insects, fish, a shark, and a sloth! When we were in Puerto Viejo, we got to see a three-toed sloth from about 3 feet away. We got to watch him slowly but surely escape the rain by climbing up a tree. So awesome. This weekend we are going rafting on the Reventazon River, and then studying for our Ecology mid-term on Monday... a perfect mix of work and play. Hasta Luego, Emily

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