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Monteverde

After we left Cabo Blanco on Saturday morning, we embarked on an epic, day-long journey to the cloud forests of the Monteverde reserve. We laughed. We cried. We drank from the cup of life. In reality, we all actually passed out in the air-conditioned Marcopolo bus, something we had missed dearly for the past few days. The view was incredible, and was best enjoyed as a weeks' worth of sweat was evaporating off our skin:

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We took the ferry back across the gulf of Nicoya, and some of us bought ice cream even though it was 9:30 in the morning. Why? Because PURA VIDA. We also enjoyed our casados con pollo, AKA Costa Rican happy meals.

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We made a pit-stop at a hardware store to get rubber boots, and decided that arming ourselves with machetes would be a good idea after battling with the Cabo Blanco jungle. Sadly, the store did not sell scabbards for the machetes, so we were forced to wait.

When we got to the reserve and saw our rooms, we were shocked. We were on the verge of tears from seeing glass in the windows and no bugs in the bedsheets. However, there was a SIGNIFICANT difference between the size of the mens bedroom and the womens bedroom (the p-value was way less than 0.05). But considering the fact that we no longer had whip-scorpions in our beds, could we really complain?


After a brief celebration of our new living quarters, we were wined and dined at a nice restaurant in town, where we enjoyed good pizza and good company. In the words of John Garrett, "fair play, mate!" After dinner, we went to bed and had some of the best sleep we've had yet, free of mosquitoes and spiders! 


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Sunday morning, we woke up early to collect some data. It was interesting to see how different the animal and plantlife in Monteverde is from Cabo Blanco. After some data collection, we had a big breakfast and went on a 4-hour hike into the forest. We stopped along the way to I.D. plants and birds, and saw some really cool stuff. We took a break on the continental divide (no big deal) where we had a great view of the Pacific and Caribbean watersheds. We ate our lunches in the sun and watched clouds glide through the trees below us. 


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Unfortunately, a wasp copped an attitude stung Hannah on the hand, causing her to fling her camera at the rest of our group. Luckily, the camera stopped rolling right before it went over the edge of the platform. The wasp then landed on Cat's eye (Cardelus, not Kitty Cat Morris) and stung her as well. We took a hint and moved on. That afternoon, we collected some more data for the group studying plants. Dave, Joe, Amanda and Charles found that conducting Gentry transects are much more fun when talking in a thick Italian accent. After data collection, we were once again wined and dined at the restaurant, this time with pasta. 

On Tuesday morning, we did the usual data collection before breakfast. This time, however, we saw some very elusive animals, including a jaguarundi (finally some good luck for Joe) and two quetzals. Below is a picture of the quetzal, zoomed in a lot. It doesn't really do the bird justice, but give me a break, it was taken at 5:30 in the morning… 


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We started off the next day learning how to mist-net birds with Luisa Moreno, which was sweeeeet. We all got the chance to hold birds, although Cat Morris really didn't want Dave to hold one because she let go of the bird before giving it to him. However, despite Cat's malicious attempts to thwart Dave's bird-holding experience, he did eventually get to hold a hummingbird. The tension between Dave and Cat is tangible. Just kidding. Maybe.

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Meanwhile, Grace was continuing her harassment of the wildlife by vigorously shaking a poor, helpless millipede, which released an almond-like smell out of sheer terror. She also held a hummingbird during mist-netting, with which she showed an uncharacteristic amount of mercy by setting it free unscathed. Her unpredictable actions make her all the more terrifying.

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 Mist-netting was fun, but we were all anxious to get going on our favorite things ever: Gentry transects. And more Gentry transects. 

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We had an extra incentive to finish these this time, however: zip lining! Some of us had done it before, but it was the first time for many of us. It was a mix of terrifying and awesome, partly because we were so close to hitting trees. Personally, I was most afraid of hitting a Melostomataceae and damaging the parallel venation of the leaves.

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Unfortunately, we weren't always this photogenic. It took us a while to realize that the ziplining guides were actually braking for us, and our panic was seen in our facial expressions. Here are a few gems: 

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 NOTE: Dave may or may not be peeing himself in this picture













Also, Dave and Cat were feuding the entire time and not enjoying themselves, as seen in this photo: 


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Overall, we all had a great time, and most of us survived.

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On Monday, we went out dancing after dinner. Cat taught some of us how to dance Salsa, since many of us dance Salsa like a chicken with no head. Joy claimed to be among us "inexperienced" Salsa dancers, but of course she is a complete liar and was inexplicably really good at it….

On our last day at Monteverde we saw a couple more cool things. First, we saw the legend Alan Pounds (AKA Masta P), whose paper we read during our course. We got to tell him about our frog project which was really cool.

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And we saw a Coati! It's like a raccoon but so much cooler.

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Also, many of us began to feel the pressure of getting our projects done. Specimen were identified, data was crunched, statistical analyses were conducted, and blogs were written. Most people were flustered getting all of this work done. Below are some pictures of people finishing their projects and the chaos caused by crunch time:

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Of course, us bloggers had it the worst out of the whole group.

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© Cardelús Updated August 2016