Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Beach Fun!

Hola from “the Squad” (Hannah, Gavin and Jessica),
Today started out with all of us sleeping in late (that’s a first!). We ate breakfast, and spent the morning relaxing and discussing the trip! Many of us sat on the “lookout tower” and played cards for an hour while the others chilled out in our rooms that were infested with scorpions, beetles, and a lot of moths. Just kidding, but we did see the results of the nuptial flight of the moths. It was hard to get into our rooms over the bodies. We had lunch here at Horizontes before departing to the beach at 1:30.

Here is a picture of some of the "roads" that took us to the beach! They were very rocky and muddy.

The Horizontes beach was very remote and empty of any other people. When we got there, we all splashed and boogie boarded in the beautiful waters of Costa Rica. Some of us buried one another in the sand while others walked along the shoreline. A group of students explored the far part of the beach with Ms. H and Ms. F and found crab holes. Little crabs run across the beach! They were so fast.

We were all super excited when a pod of dolphins swam close to the beach where we were hanging out! It was sweet!

After four hours in the ocean, we performed a skit for each other to watch. It involved Connor being a shark attacking each one of us students, then spun off into a crazy, confusing mess where we all died due to Sydney being a murderer. 

Dinner was a BBQ on the beach! We ate delicious fajitas on the warm sand which our van driver (Felix) cooked up. They were scrumptious!

After dinner we went swimming again, and Ms. H had to yell at all of us (including Ms. F!) to get out!  We got our cameras out for the grand finale – the sunset! During the sunset, Mrs. F wanted to take artsy pics of the group so we all lined up and achieved in some cool jumping pics. We couldn’t all jump at the same time, even though we TRIED at least 10 times.

We all quickly got our own personal pictures before boarding the larger van (my first time in it – Jessica). We danced and sang to Hannah’s awesome beach playlist while sitting on a ton of sand (@hannah).

We are packing tonight, and are looking forward to coming home tomorrow! See you tomorrow!

The Costa Rica Kids!

Written by Hannah, Gavin and Jessica 

From Finca to the Beach!

Buenos dias familias y amigos!

Today (Monday)  we left Finca la Anita for our trip to see some sea turtles. It was about a three hour drive so we stopped a few times along the way. At one of the stops we went to a local high school and donated t-shirts and toys to the kids there. They were super excited to get the soccer balls and basketball. They also loved picking out their favorite shirt from the table. We also got to try and talk to each other a little bit! It was hard because they spoke (only) Spanish, and we spoke English! But, it was fun!  Also, some of the students were VERY skilled at soccer!

 After we left the high school we drove to a super market and bought a bunch of cookies, pop, and snacks.  Our favorite cookies are called "Chiky’s" which come in three really great flavors. The vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry were all very good, but the strawberry was probably the best!

It was a really long drive, and we even drove by the Hospital in Liberia, which we were glad no one needed because it was three hours from La Anita!

 When we finally got to Horizontes (a science research location - with scientists researching Dry Forest experiments) we got to see our rooms and then eat lunch. The strange thing? It was raining hard, and thunder-storming - yup! In the DRY forest!

We were supposed to go on a short hike, but it was canceled due to the rain.

After a break, we had a class about curing a type of brain cancer by injecting Polio virus into the tumor. The girl in the video is now cancer free! Wow!

John then explained sea turtle biology and tracking, to prepare for the night of looking for nesting turtles! We were so excited!

We took a break, and then took a small walk to study the ant ecology of the acacia tree. We had to figure out how the ants and the tree and antibiotics worked together to survive the harsh conditions of the dry forest. 

We took a very bumpy road to the beach, and by about eight o’clock we had made it! We started patrolling for nesting sea turtles. We had to be silent, and not use any light, There were flashes of lightning, along with some thunder and a little rain. The storm stayed pretty far from the beach, and we by the time we left around midnight, we were all very tired which made for a very entertaining (and bumpy car ride home). 

P.S. We don't have beach pictures yet, as it was very, very dark and we could not use our cameras.

See you soon!
Kenzie Bins, Phuong Bui, and Sydney Weinandt

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Day 8
We’re so sorry that this is coming to all of you, our lovely readers, late, but we here at Finca La Anita had a lightning storm yesterday and a tree fell onto not only our power lines, but also broke one of our major water pipes. (Boo! No night showers for us!) Not to fear, they had both up and running by the time we got up for breakfast this morning. Yesterday was filled with cramming, we had sooooo much to do to finish our projects. However… that doesn’t mean we didn’t sneak fun into the schedule.

We played card games galore!  (Yep! I taught them all Mao! – Madison)

And yes, that’s Gavin being a Narwhal.

We took a mid-morning trip to the store at the local village to fulfill our American food craves for cookies and pop. Ibrahim told us forcefully to be back by 10:45 but apparently 14 teenagers were too much for the store to handle, thus leading to half of us being LATE.

While enjoying our 3:45 coffee break a storm rolled over the valley, and a lighting strike hit, and caused multiple issues later on. By 7:00 pm all groups were being attacked by hundreds of bugs due to us all relying on our small flash lights (in the complete darkness) to help us finish. By 8:00 it was a race against time to finish all Wi-Fi necessary parts in our projects because the back-up Wi-Fi count down "beeping" was rapidly increasing. As the race against time continued, our group struggled to collect the last of the data and cram all of our collected knowledge of these last seven days into a power-point (which wasn’t easy, but paid off in our morning presentation). We ended our night by taking our first night hike to lift our spirits from the dampening conditions we were under. It was filled with frog catching, and spotting cool big bugs ("I swear I heard a jungle cat walking through the jungle"– Connor).

Here is a cicada - Ryan's special friend that scared the POOP out of many students - including Madison!

Sunday!!! We started the day with a presentation practice round to get the "kinks" out of the layout. Then at 10:00,  the MRCS group was up first (Madison, Robert, Connor, Sydney). "Gotta say we set the bar pretty high on that one." - Connor

After all of the presentations,  we all said our mournful goodbyes to Ibrahim and Adrian.

Then by 12:00, we all gathered into trucks and jeeps to celebrate our graduation at Sensoria, a natural reserve, to swim in the waterfall pool, and the hot springs. While other cars were gracefully driving into the jungle, ours wasn’t the same. Our car on the middle of a steep hill stopped due to it over heating. The other cars continued on their merry way and we thought we were stranded for a solid 15 minutes but luckily a car came back for us. It was a rough road, but the water experiences were worth it. The water was crystal clear and very blue pigmented. This is  because of the calcium mixing with silicone which reflected the sky color. After arriving back at the ranch we were welcomed with nachos which were fantastic. ("You jealous Mom?" – Madison)

Then at 8:00, we all gathered into one room and had a dance party to have our own celebration. Which is where we’re off to now… Bye! 

-Madison and Connor

Saturday, August 6, 2016

We are having technical difficulties. We will blog tomorrow.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Horses and Heat Stroke!

Hi there!

The day started with a few hours of science, and a lot of our groups made serious progress. We've had a lot more time today to focus on our experiments, but that doesn't mean it wasn't also jam packed with extracurriculars!

Today, we experienced the highest temperatures on the trip so far, but we still trekked out to the village to help build a stage area for the kids in the elementary school. A lot of the students play music and dance, so they've saved money for over a year and a half to be able to build a stage and playground for the community. It was hot enough to fry an egg, but we worked through the morning to collect rocks to be laid down on the stage floor before the concrete. (The rocks save space so they can use less concrete.)

After that, we had a quick lunch and then set off on our afternoon outing - horseback riding to the top of a volcano. Since the horses are all trained differently than Western-style horses, we were given a lesson on how to properly turn, stop, and speed up the horses- Costa Rica style! ;) Some of us got a little saddle sore on the way up, since the trail was pretty rocky. It was all worth it when we got to the top, where we could see as far as Lake Nicaragua. The view was absolutely stunning, but then it started raining, hard! But on the bright side, we did get to see a pretty amazing rainbow. Let me tell you, you haven't lived until you've galloped down the side of a volcano in the pouring rain.  By the time we raced back to the stables, we were soaked from head to toe, water pooling up to our ankles in rubber boots. Needless to say, we were happy to come back to La Anita for dinner, and to change our socks. And for more science!

We all are enjoying our science projects now, since most of us seem to be getting results and data that are usable.

Buenos noches,

Kylie and Hannah

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Zip Lines! Dancing! and Snakes, OH MY!

Today was a very, very exciting day, jam-packed with all sorts of adventures. The morning started out as any other, we woke up, we ate, etc... But then Alex found a friendly visitor... A massive rhinoceros beetle! He was a little bit clingy, except that may just be because of his fish hook feet. Sadly we eventually had to let Rico the Rhinoceros Beetle go, because there was science to do!

After a few laborious hours of science, we took a break for a delicious spaghetti lunch. Obviously spaghetti is pretty exciting, but hang in there, this day gets even better!

When lunch finished we were quickly ushered into our vans and driven to an amazing zip-line tour! On its own this might already sound pretty great, but during the tour we saw the most dangerous snake in Costa Rica.... The fer-de-lance (AKA the ultimate pit viper). Luckily our guides were there to come to the rescue, and managed to kill it with many large pieces of wood. Believe it or not this still isn't the end of the new discoveries made on the zip-line tour. We saw white-headed capuchin's (or just monkeys to make it simpler)! Sadly, not everyone was able to see them, but the ones who did were lucky and very impressed. A few even got pictures.

Once we got back from zip-lining we were off once again, to cook our own authentic Costa Rican cuisine. We prepared ourselves a very fancy feast, and we all learned lots whether it was from making tortillas, fried plantains, or a picture-perfect salad. After eating this incredible meal we got down to the good stuff, the dancing. We danced our butts off, completely losing track of time and we all had an amazing time. A perfect way to end the best day.

Well.... Not quite... We still have plenty of science to do, I'm just lucky I could take a long enough break to write this blog!

-- Written by the elegant Alex Hagen, and his pal Robert Ireland

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Day 4: Waterfalls and Muddy Hikes

Hola to the states from Jessica and Ryan,

Today started off wonderfully with a big breakfast of cheese-less, veggie filled omelets, rice and beans (as with every meal), and fruit. We also started off with a change of pace today, as we moved the science experiments to the afternoon and the "fun" stuff to the morning because of possible bad weather. After changing into our swim suits, we all got on a tractor-pulled carriage that took us up the volcano to a spot close to a waterfall. Then we had the "exciting" opportunity to climb up, down, and around many muddy cliffs while listening to Connor himself yell "Connor is falling, Connor is falling!" Once we got to the swimming hole, we all attempted to get into the water without any injury (not exactly successful for me ~ Jessica). In that period of time, Ibrahim had stepped onto an unfamilar insect that inflicted much pain (he took it like a man though). Otherwise, the waterfall was gorgeous and a great spot to swim because of the crystal clear water (it was also surprisingly deep in some places, so we didn't have to worry about the rocks much). While traveling back over the river to the very muddy trail, Ryan achieved in slipping and sitting in the water in disbelief while his fanny pack drowned slowly, his elephant notepad crying. The walk back seemed a lot easier and more quiet, although the sound of people could have been drowned out by our boots constantly sloshing with river water. The ride back on the tractor was about as eventful as the ride there, as we were able to snag a lot of limes from the trees that brushed up right against the carriage. Also, I (Ryan) was deemed the group mom for my endless supplies in the super fanny pack and constant company of pretzels. Lunch was also really good today with a cheesy-rice dish, grilled chicken, salad, and plantain chips that I (Ryan) and everyone else have easily gotten addicted to. Afterwards, we were finally able to get to the science portion of the day, which for our group (Ryan, Jessica, Sam, and Sommer) consisted of grinding up leaves, picking up other leaves, and stomping on ant colonies to get them angry (I promise it's for science). The rest of the day was pretty standard with a good beef and potato dinner, followed by group collaboration and advice on our experiments. Buenas noches to all of you back in the states, Brooksy and Breakfast out!