Friday, July 24, 2015

Day 10 July 24

Day 10

Last night we blogged before a turtle search on the beach..... and...... SCORE! We found one right away. (Credit to Maia). The experience was amazing and we got to pet the turtle and Isaac even managed to sneak in a thoughtful squat pic. While heading back to the water, among a sea of paparazzi, Carter was able to make the closest connection with the turtle. Besides the turtle, there were tons of funny little crabs running around the beach. Corey was the skillful crab magnet.

Turtle Tracks
This morning a new trend was started... spoonfuls of peanut butter and off-brand fruit loops were incorporated into the traditional Costa Rican cuisine. Freddie, our guide, then lead us off into the woods. The dry forest was very different from the tropics and Freddie told us all he knew about the species we encountered. Pranav, despite an ant sting to the eye, soldiered through the two hour trek. 
 One of the most interesting (and only) creatures that we saw were the venomous snakes that we were warned of. Don't worry, no one was bit. But in a moment of peril, Nathan had a close call. Thank goodness for rubber boots :) !

At the beach, we boogie boarded the waves, cheered on crab fights, took a nice long nap (Griffin), and ate a delicious barbeque dinner which Charley promptly documented (as he has been doing this entire trip!). A few highlights-- In the crazy waves, Mason was the hero of the day saving the unsuspecting and oblivious Emma and Mari moments away from a disastrous impact. Nick also played a part in breaking the falls of many tumbling people headed for the shore, specifically in the video below. 

To pass the time and to get in touch with their inner-fish Emma and Teresa transformed into Ariel and Ursula, with the help of the astounding sculptors, Abby and Mari ( : Alex was almost forgotten as he swam in the waves after everyone else had gotten out also getting in touch with his inner-fish. 

To finish the night, we stargazed on the shore, listening to the waves, and absorbing our last moments of Costa Rica.

Parents-- we thank you for supporting us in this opportunity. It was truly a life changing experience. We can't wait to tell you all about it tomorrow! 

With that being said, we are all craving pizza and would greatly appreciate one last hurrah together. (hint hint ;) )

Por el final, adios Costa Rica!

Teresa ( :, Mari (-:, Emma     B) (Sunglasses because I am sunburned... :(   )

Colonia Libertad Elementary School Community Service

Hi, I am Mari Leland, Wayzata High School Student.  I am working on my Gold Award and have chosen to help the town of Colonia Libertad (the town we stay in for our Science Costa Rica Project).  I spent the science portion of the Seeds of Change program working with the school to assess their needs to improve the education that these students are receiving in this town.  I have attached a link for my website to inform individuals about the needs for this school.  I have included contact information, pictures, information about my project and areas of need (donations).  Please check it out and spread the word.  I would appreciate it and so would the children that live in the area.

Website link:

Thanks, Mari Leland

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Day 9 July 23

¡Hola Familias!

Today we said adios to Finca La Anita, only after many of us cleaned the store out of the freshly made chocolate. Parents, don't expect ANY when we return. It was an incredible place to stay and do science. We all hope to return again one day, possibly for science, mostly for the food. :)

All 17 of us plus the two drivers crammed together into a bus/"hippie van" for an exciting 4 hour drive that included falling luggage, rap battles in the back, and card games up front. Emma refuses to play cards with Teresa and us in the back have come to respect Charley's fly rhmyes.

The ride was interrupted by a couple of stops. First to the grocery stores, where many were excited to find healthy wholesome American cuisine like Pringles, boxes of cereal, and WAY overpriced Oreos. (aka everything Carter bought). Our next stop was to a small souvenir shop. Some parents will be delighted with what we found, and some are going to have to be okay with nothing. Emma was upset to not find a Costa Rica pin, but excited when Teresa and her found "authentic" Costa Rica national soccer, ahem fútbol, jerseys.

We finally arrived at El Horizontes and were able to eat lunch and explore our rooms. This including checking the bed for scorpions and climbing a radio tower for a fantastic view of the surrounding mountains. Later, we began a game of World Cup. Teams ranged from Fiji, Ethopia, Guam, and of course Costa Rica (no USA, hmm...). Despite playing in rubber boots, players like Teresa, Maia, Corey, Mason, Nathan, and Mari showed off their fancy footwork, while Abby demonstrated hand work from years of violin as the goalie. We were interrupted by the announcement that the snake situation has suddenly scaled up (haha, but seriously there are apparently a lot of snakes). 

After lunch, some were excited and others less so to learn that our next activity would once again involve ants. We walked along the road to find acacia trees inhabitated by Pseudomyrmex ants. We had a lively discussion about our observations, interrupted by a bird that sounded like a cackling child.

We have also been informed about the second year trip and the future of bioinformatics that we will be able to study should we go.  Parents...if you want us to come home, we need the promise of returning on the second year trip. But for now, we'll be content with the promise of turtle patrol on the beach in a couple of minutes.

See you soon....maybe,

Emma, Teresa, and Abby 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Day 8 July 22

Buenos noches.

Last night as many groups hurriedly finished their experiments, we experienced the festivities of a bullet ant nuptial flight, with the final tally for killed bullet ants climbing to 42.
We presented the results of our experiments to the community today, and the results were fascinating, with many intriguing future directions we which we could explore. My experiment finally got results on the last morning, bringing great relief. 

After presentations concluded, we walked to a farm just down the road to help with weeding and clearing farming plots for a small business. The women who own the land hope to grow herbs and other plants to make soap that will be sold to tourists. The ground was saturated with water, and our forearms got covered with mud. The work was difficult, and it went to show that many of the most demanding vocations pay the least.
From the farm we went down the road further still to Colonia Libertad's soccer fields. We played boys against girls, the USA against Costa Rica, the girls/Costa Rica assisted by three natives who played nimbly in their soccer cleats while we struggled through the mud and rain clumsily in our rubber boots. Costa Rica emerged victorious out of the slop with a 3-2 victory.
For dinner we enjoyed a mouthwatering dessert of tres leches, and a main course of tacos, all of the ingredients homemade. Even the juice was delicious, made from the maro fruit, much like blueberries.
 We prepared to depart Finca la Anita tonight,  cleaning up the space that served as our lab, and packing so that we can leave smoothly after breakfast the next day.
The last event of the day was a night hike along the river running though Finca la Anita, where I saw frogs and insects calmly sitting motionless on twigs and broad leaves. Fish could be seen swimming in the river, and some people even saw a weasel, and a spider bigger than the palm of a human hand.
We move on towards the heat and saltwater of  El Horizonte in the morning, with one last meal at Finca la Anita, which when contemplated makes me feel like an inmate on death row.


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Day 7 July 21

Because of the special report yesterday, we were unable to write about our trip to the rainforest. After about an hour ride through many rivers and the bumpiest terrain ever, we arrived and took a 45 minute hike through the rainforest. During the hike we stopped at three natural pools, two with waterfalls and one which was heated. During the hike we saw a sloth, caterpillars, and a basilisk (a lizard that can walk on water). Pranav was given a scare when he lost his glasses under a massive waterfall. A few minutes later he found them with part of them missing.

Today was spent finishing our science projects. We began to put together our PowerPoints for a presentation tomorrow. Around four o'clock we stopped for a nice coffee break with coffee cake and cream cheese frosting. It was a fairly dull day until bullet ants decided to have their nuptial flight in our lab. For those of you at home who are unaware, Bullet Ants are credited with the most painful sting of all insects. They are called bullet ants because the sting feels as if you have been shot. Most of us promptly evacuated to our cabins. We are happy to report that no one got hurt . . .Yet.  Below is a picture of a squashed bullet ant abdomen complete with extended stinger dripping with venom.

The night will be concluded with more field work, and finishing touches on our projects. Tomorrow is the big day when we get to report the findings of our experiments.
 Griffin and Nathan

Monday, July 20, 2015

Day 6 July 20

From the Profes.  Today's blog post is consisting of each student writing a sentence or two about their trip and messages to their families.  The students have been GREAT!!  And we have been enjoying ourselves. We went to Sensoria a primary rainforest area near Colonia Libertad.  We have had a busy day and will post on that activity tomorrow. Please enjoy the following video of Sensoria.

 Guess which one is directed at your family :)

1. Everything is going fine. Its beautiful here and I am having a great time. I miss the cat though and I hope she isn't driving you crazy. I am bringing home lots of chocolate.

2. Dearest Mother, I am dying. 'Tis a hot and painful death. Oh, the woes of memories past, pale in comparison to this pain. My last wish is that I live to see you all again. Your bombastic son.

3. I fink rat rem dogs be less voluptuous here.

4. Dear family, the trip so far has been awesome, and we have been well fed. I have many stories to tell. Can't wait to see you.

5. I miss you guys and can't wait to tell you about all of the amazing experiences. The experiment is going well, and Costa Rica is an incredible place.

6. Well... Today was interesting to say the least. My glasses were blown away by the wind and broke... So that's a big problem, but I'll get through it.

7. Hi guys, I'm doing great! We had an awesome time swimming today. Don't forget to take care of the guppies and tadpoles.

8. This is an amazing trip! My hair has gotten wet. A lot. Shout out to Amber and her straight hair!

9.  Dear family, this has been a pretty fantastic way to spend a birthday. Hope Lizzy and Caroline didn't miss me at camp too much. Tell Mini I miss her and will be home to cuddle soon.

10. Padre and dog; Costa Rica is fun. Please go pick up my state patch. (notice how the last sentence was not a question).

11. Hola famila, yo solo hablo espanol. . . Costa Rica es increíble. Yo estoy haciendo un tiempo bueno. Te amo, y hasta pronto, y te extrano. Recorges mis pepinos ;) por favor... por supuesto.

12. I'm having a great time. Costa Rica is incredible, and I'm even struggling through the absence of gluten. Give Bailey a pat for me.

13. Costa Rica is beautiful and amazing and I love it and the food is too good for life and there are dogs everywhere and I'm not coming home. Sorry. Adios para siempre.

14. This experience has been amazing. Trying my Spanish out on people who actually speak it for a living has been really fun and it has been testing my immersion school skills. Me amo mucho!

15. Hello everyone! There is never a dull, or quiet, moment here in Costa Rica.... saw a basilisk today, and an armadillo yesterday- it was so cute! Hope you all are having an amazing week! See you in a bit-Me ( :

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Day 5 July 19th

Day 5 in Costa Rica

A sloth and her child

With our experiments planned and proposed, many of the groups chose to convene early in order to get a head start on fieldwork today. After eating another excellent breakfast at 8, we continued our work and research. 

Around noon, we wrapped up our morning work session to eat lunch early. Immediately afterwards we took a long bus ride to Volcano Miravalles (a place that offers hikes and zipline tours) where we made a trek up a steep incline in the forest in order to reach the first of many zipline platforms. The whole adventure lasted well over an hour, and we were able to view the forest and its surroundings from a high elevation! The tour ended with a long descent from the canopy back to ground level. 

Next, we traveled to a local butterfly garden where we got to see examples of all stages of a butterfly's life. Larvae (caterpillar), pupae (chrysalis), and adults (butterflies) were all present at the garden. We made sure to take lots of pictures when we walked through the garden! Before we left the garden, we were treated to coconut-pinneapple tea and tortillas with a black bean paste by the caretakers of the garden. 

Our final stop of the day brought us to the home of a local family where we were taught to and made tortillas on a wood-fired stove. It's harder than you think! This was only a small part of the meal the family prepared for us, which consisted of chicken, rice and black beans, plantain cakes (not a dessert!) and the tortillas we made. For dessert, we had deep-fried tortillas coated in a sugar sauce! As an addition to the meal, we were offered habañero peppers to try. Alex and I (Nick) both had portions of the pepper and subsequently suffered from the heat. 

We walked back to Finca La Anita from the family's home and arrived a bit late. We had to scramble to get all our work done before going to bed. We've completed another exciting day in Costa Rica!

Signing off for now,

Pranav and Nick