Our weekend trip to the Reserva Biológica Alberto Brenes was a great experience. Never in my life have I seen such gigantic insects and spiders! We did encounter several snakes, but I managed not to freak out terribly. One of the scientists, however, grabbed an extremely venomous snake out of a bush so that they could take measurements of it, which made me extremely uncomfortable. We had a lot of fun riding in and out of the Reserva in the back of a pick-up. We got to get up close and personal with a number of nocturnal insects after it got dark, and we had a couple of kids, whose father works at the Reserva, as our fearless tour guides. After returning, everyone was exhausted and quite smelly, since it was hot, but everyone wanted to wear long clothes to protect against bug bites. We also had to buy rubber boots to protect against snakes, which everyone was glad to take off! The Wednesday after the Reserva trip, we went to a trapiche, which is where sugar cane is processed into various products. This particular trapiche is located in the most incredible, serene countryside, full of trees and tranquility. It is family owned and operated, and uses a centuries old process that does not rely on modern chemicals and machinery. We got to follow each part of the process and taste some of the final products, which are kind of like honey.
Classes are getting into full swing, although in reality we only have a couple full weeks of class. Most are interrupted by excursions and other activities. I got to visit the farm of my host mom’s son in the countryside, very close to the trapiche, and I got to plant some seeds of cilantro and beans. This was a very, very cool experience. What was not cool was that this same weekend I also got sick. I think my stomach just didn’t handle something very well. It remains a mystery. Another fun weekend activity was a walk to a waterfall very close by, around 4-6km, we’re not really sure. It was beautiful, and we crossed a tiny, very slippery, wooden plank bridge and entered the water at the base of the falls. Costa Rica is all around beautiful, and I can’t stress that enough. I’m having an amazing time, and I’m so thankful for this opportunity.
The entire group went to the beach on our first of several long weekends designated for personal travel. The beach we went to is called Santa Teresa, on the Pacific coast. I was blown away by the warmth of the water! We had a blast swimming in the ocean, and nearly all of us got sunburns. I thought I was being very careful not to get burnt, but we are a lot closer to the sun here. The second and third days at the beach I swam in a t-shirt and shorts. We stayed in a hostel and did a lot of relaxing, which was much needed. I find that I am perpetually tired, even though I am getting plenty of sleep. As much as I would enjoy catching up on sleep, I would rather be out and about seeing new things. Furthermore, between classes and travel, we are extremely busy, and there simply isn’t time to waste sleeping!