This blog is copied over from my old site. Just click on Cuericí Day 2 and you can see the trip day by day.
After a long day of hiking, failed tree rigging attempts, and adjustment to high altitude, the team needed an easy day.
The insect team set out their traps, but the rest of us worked on papers...sort of. It was more like write a sentence then play a few games of free cell.
Following lunch, several of us finally broke out our cleats and sneakers for a soccer match. Our mad skills were apparent as we saved the ball from barbed wire and urticaceous shrubs. We were all winners, since the game ended in a tie.
Before dinner, Carlos gave us a tour of his trout farm. He has the only hatchery in Costa Rica not run by the government. During our walk, we had another quetzal sighting!! Following this distraction, Carlos introduced us to tomorrow’s lunch: several gigantic trout. He then proceeded to kill them with his bare hands. Truly a rugged woodsman. Steffan and Tommy helped, but didn’t quite have the same touch as Carlos.
The evening was spent once again writing papers and learning more life lessons from Cat. Tomorrow perhaps we’ll have more energy.
We are leaving Lowland Rainforest and headed to upper montane rainforest now. It is a rustic site which is very cold, always in the clouds and has no internet!
We will back in San Jose on the 7th and should have a full update then.
So that was a lame post...but luckily the past 8 hours have been rather eventful and we have more to say. Nothing makes me want to blog more than sitting in a wooden cabin by the fire side listening to Cat talk in spanish to a man who looks like a Costa Rican Paul Bunion (an adorable woodsman).
We kicked off our day by once again loading up the bus and heading out. Many of us were rather tuckered out after having a late night waiting for laundry to finish, just packing up, or contemplating how the depth of a porcupine’s eyes were enough to overcome the roughness of its quills and allow it to work its way into our hearts forever (we saw one on the bridge last night). So, there was a lot of sleeping going on. There were several different styles happening. Some went for the domino effect and leaned on their neighbors, others went for the head back hat down, there were several window leaners, Shelly evidently “perched,” and then there was my own personal sweatshirt caccoon technique. However, this was far too peaceful for Cat. There was more to experience and napping had to be eliminated. It just so happened we were driving up THE elevational gradient. Cat woke us all up at the beginning of it, but managed to restrain herself after that. Although I do love a good nap, the gradient was pretty nifty. There was a very obvious shift in vegetation. One of the most significant differences was the appearance of red plants to protect against UV light. Don’t freak out parents we sun-screened up.
We took a little pit stop at a swamp. We saw lots of blueberries that we couldn’t eat because of a funky fungus in the area. There were also some very different and tiny looking oak trees. Despite almost not being able to get out of the swamp and Kaitlyn almost getting hit by a Mack truck I’d call the visit a success.
After another hour or two on the road and a quick pit stop at a grocery store we stopped at a bog. We were told it would be freezing at 3400 meters (11000ft), but we’re Raiders. If your eyebrows aren’t frozen, it’s not cold. However, we did slightly tarnish our “fit campus” reputation because I know I was a little on the winded side at such a high altitude. We saw more ferns, dwarf blueberries and some rather uncomfortable urticateous plants. Unfortunately we ran into some “bros and bras (a female bro)” from California that were rather excited to climb the same rocks we were occupying. Their gusto was not appreciated.
After arriving at our destination we participated in the age old bonding ritual, shove-everyone-in-a-bus. Our driver couldn’t get out without weight on is tires so we were the weight. Everyone piled into the back of the bus, but had to cram into and even smaller jeep for the ride back. Carl’s child bearing hips brought us together and we all reformed our bonds that had been stretched at La Selva. We are all looking forward to our remaining days in Costa Rica.
Today was filled with eating and sitting as we drove from Monteverde to La Selva, Costa Rica’s premier lowland biological station, next to the town of puerto viejo. Along the way we saw some beautiful countryside and Sheila ate moldy cake. The first four hours brought us to the city of La Fortuna, located in the shadow of the Arenal Volcano and created in response to the massive tourism generated by the mountain’s most recent eruption. We ate lunch here and were able to be as close to tourists as a group of smelly ecology students can be.
The two hours between La Fortuna and La Selva were very exciting as we watched the forest composition slowly change down the elevational gradient.
Once at La Selva we settled in and ate a predictable yet delicious dinner. We then took an incredibly exciting introductory night hike through a small part of La Selva’s property. Right off the bat we saw Caimans, rare frogs, way cool insects and a few lizards. We are so amazingly stoked for all that this place has to show us.
Today we all learned what 5 a.m. looks like. In an effort to make it to the cloud forest before all of the Quetzal stalkers we got up super early, chowed down some breakfast (guess what...rice and beans!) and drove to the forest. Evidently we failed and arrived in tourist town bright and early. Luckily Tania knew where to go and we hiked up to the continental divide. Some of us saw the Pacific Ocean for the first time! Along the way we saw/ heard grey breasted wood wrens, slate throated red stars, the common bush tanager, black face solitary, scale crested pygmy tyrant, cyclanthacae, black guans, green hermit hummingbirds, a crab, hot lips a.k.a. whore lips a.k.a. the mother-in-law, spangle cheek tanager, and a few lucky people got to see the resplendant quetzal! It was awesome! We also got to trounce through some elfin forest. Here we decided to blend in with the elves and rocked elephant ear leaves as beards because everyone knows elves have beards. Along the way there were a bunch of millepedes that when shaken emit a cyanide gas. Cat made us all take a big ol’ waft and I’m sure Richard will want one for his birthday along with the mirror beetle he saw on the way in (a $20 value). Perhaps it was because Tania is super speedy or maybe it was because Cat didn’t sample EVERY tree we passed we wound up finishing a little early and got to stop by a Cheese Factory. After having lunch with some very colorful hummingbirds we headed off to the Monteverde Cheese factory. It was no cabot, but they did have some delicious ice cream Guanbana ice cream two thumbs up! Mango ice cream...not so much.
Then to add to our day of tourism we went ZIP LINING! After some serious arm twisting we even convinced Cat and Elora to join. There was an awful lot of nervous jabbering going on before the first line, but judging from the pictures of everyone there was nothing but smiles. Then there was a fun little surprise half-way through, something called the tarzan swing. Rose was first to discover what this was when then shoved her off the edge. Basically it was a fun game our sassy tico tour guides liked to play also known as strap the gringo to a rope and shove them off of high objects. Rose’s shock response was almost as great as Cat’s. The general consensus was that this was the coolest thing ever and I’m pretty sure Carl would “do it again RIGHT NOW!” Kaitlyn is probably still laughing about it. We finished up the zip line and then headed back to our cabinas. On the drive back it appeared as though we were actually driving through a cloud.
When we returned our groups presented the data collected yesterday. This was a good thing because I feel as though people may have started rockin’ fanny packs and commendeered the bus to go to the beach if we didn’t get back to the research. We ended by having a celebratory shindig (hooray real clothing!).