Thursday, May 24, 2007

Even more pictures, because uploading is so much faster here then it was down there.
doing some fieldwork up in a tree, the trail in the cloudforest behind the station, a lot of dirty wet shoes, and a great lake for swimming as long as you don't mind leeches


More Costa Rica pics... Dendrobates pumillio, Epidendron radicans, doing some hardcore birding, and baby hummingbirds in a nest

I lost my camara but found some shiny frogs

I am now back in the states, home in Santa Barbara. My last few days in Costa Rica were a whirlwind of adventure from Monteverde, to Arenal, to San Jose. After a hectic day of turning in final papers, finding missing socks, and packing overstuffed suitcases we all found ourselves on the trailhead to Arenal (big active volcano!)at 8am on Friday.
We were given ample time to say our goodbyes to the cloudforest as we spent 6 hours hiking through it in our usual sodden state. The recent arrival of the rainy season had turned most of the trails to mush and much of the hiking was actually sliding through foot deep mud.
So much mud calls for special consideration, care... and mud-ball fighting.
We eventually emerged from the forest, soaking wet and covered in mud, took a boat across Lake Arenal, and found ourselves once more in civilization. Big volcanoes make for big tourist stops.
We stayed at a big goofy hotel complete with a light up waterfall shaped like a volcano and a bunch of sketchy water slides. If the hotel wasn't enough, that night we went to hot springs. It was pretty funny to see the faces of the other people at the pools when thirty college students showed up and headed straight for the bar.
The next morning we eventually rolled out bed, were herded onto a bus, and went careening across Costa Rica back to San Jose. We had one last night of group togetherness and flying through large Central American cities in seatbeltless taxi cabs, and then it was Sunday morning. The end. sniff sniff, sob sob.
My flights back to the states were completely uneventful. I had my major reverse culture shock in the Dallas Airport when I paid three bucks for a cup of coffee. Three dollars! I could get a whole meal, and a drink, and probably dessert for that! Nothing like Starbucks to say "welcome back to the states"

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Well, my project is done... ok, that's a lie... I still have to edit my attempt at translating my abstract into spanish. definitly a project for tomorrow. Tomorrow, thursday is our last day in Monteverde... for now but hopefully not forever. Today a few of us hiked up to the continental divide (it only takes an hour to get there from the station). As I stood watching the clouds roll from the Atlantic to Pacific slopes of Costa Rica it finally sank in that the semester is almost over. wierd. Ok, enough with the quasi sentimental bullshit, time for some funny stories about the idiotic things I have done lately...
So, we are tromping through the elfin forest up at 1800 m when suddenly I realize that the results to this paper I had to read about 15 times to understand could really be best summarized in a song. So, sliding through the mud while simultaneously singing about global warming and amphibian decline... and if you think that is bad, shortly thereafter we composed a song about how predation and herbivory drive speciation.
In other news...
I still can't figure out how so much water can fall from the sky. Every afternoon it is like some one turns on the faucet and suddenly the whole world is soggy. And then we get the lightening. I got accused of being undeniable odd yesterday for sitting with my computer near a window, with the lights out, so i could write my paper and watch the lightening at the same time. I guess I never said I was normal.
It's funny, when I finally have the time and energy to sit and write something there is really nothing to write about. Actually, this is not so surprising because usually the things that are interesting to write about are also the things that make me pass out with my shoes still on at 7pm. Really, for a while I was on a grandma schedule; waking up at 5:30am and going to bed before 8pm.
ok, time to meander my way to bed... tomorrow is my last day and i have lot of souvenirs to buy.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

where has my time (and my socks) gone?

long time, no write...
Life here has been super busy as our semester comes to an end. independent projects are wrapping up, all field work is done, data analyzed, and first drafts turned in. It turns out that moss photosynthetic pigment ratios can change along a natural vertical grandiant... or in english... the thingies in moss are different depending on how high up in the tree you climb to find it. Yep. that was three weeks well spent.
Yes, on paper I may have the boringest project ever, but the field work ROCKED. Some of the trees we climbed were incredible. Though most were between 30 and 40 feet, a few were as tall as 60. It is an incredible feeling to sit IN the canopy, in the crown of a tree, and look out and down at the rest of the forest. So, it looks like i can now add tree climbing to my resume, its a very useful skill to have.
Stuff here is winding down, well perhaps that isnt a good description... It is more like suddenly everyone realizes that we have a week left, a million things to do, and a sucky-ass final report to write like we were real scientists. Sleeping is currently not part of the time table. Sanity and logic both got misplaced (I like the spanish way of saying this : se me perden.... "my things got lost but it is their fault not mine...") at approximatly the same time that the computer frying lightening storms started. At the first sound of thunder the estacion bursts with activity like a disturbed ant farm as everyone runs about trying to disconnect anything electronic. And then comes the rain...
Rainy season has started. My laundry will never be dry again. I guess i will just extricate the mushrooms from my ears when i get back to the crispy dry lands of california. Despite the pervasive dampness, rain can be fun. One night some of us decided it would be a good idea to walk to a concert/bar in the pouring rain. Not only did we arrive dripping, but i added a little extra decoration to my clothes in the form of mud. A mile from home, but still a mile from the bar, i tried to move off the road for a coming car, except where I stepped turned out to no longer be road... splash , thud.
Ok, i have a paper of mossy doom to finish, yuck. This painful assignment is the cause of my first, and only, bout of home sickness... midnight last night... " I hate moss, I want my mommy, and I am going to bed!
sometimes I feel like such a grown up, like that time (last night) when I instigated an invisible machete fight with flashlights.