Wednesday, August 13, 2014


Wait, today was our last day in Costa Rica? It seems like we just arrived! Our adventure today started with a bumpy tractor ride taking us to a trail, where we took a hike through the dry forest (meaning that there is little rain, especially this year due to peculiar rain patterns from El Niño). Our guide was a guy named Freddie; Freddie seems like he could have walked right off of National Geographic, or been tracking down pumas just moments before meeting with us. He's pretty cool. The forest was crunchy, slightly shriveled, and dense with new and exciting fauna (scientific speak for plants, remember?) The path we took led us past huge, wooden vines (Freddie sat on one like it was a swing), "tourist" trees that shed their bark for photosynthetic reasons (just like pasty white visitors blister in the sun!), and a variety of aromatic leaves, which we could crush and smell. It was right along the river. Dark teal in color, gently rolling along, the river is the main water source of the area. In dry times like these, animals congregate near it in order to survive. Unfortunately, we didn't see many creatures, just some bugs, perhaps due to the light rain received the night prior to our excursion. We had all been hoping to see white-faced monkeys, which are common to the area.
The tractor took us back to Horizonte on a ride just as rocky as the first once we'd reached the end of the trail. After lunch and some downtime, we headed to the beach! We'd been looking forward to this all day-- the temperature had hit 93 degrees (Fahrenheit, not Celsius) and we needed to cool off in the ocean. Papagaya beach had warm, clear waves to frolic in, light, soft sand (that blew all over from the wind), and plenty of space, since there was no one else there-- it's not a tourist beach.
Dinner was eaten at the beach, too; it was a grill out with chicken, beef, sausage, tortillas, guacamole and pico de gallo (all the fixings for tacos). We stayed until sunset. The sunset was unreal; the water reflected bright pinks, vibrant oranges, and calm lavenders, creating a soothing picture to complement the waves crashing in. There were a lot of photos taken (some getting very artsy). It was a fantastic conclusion to an enthralling, eye-opening, unforgettable trip. The scenery, the laughter, the science, of course, experienced in Costa Rica will not soon be forgotten, and in today's tech-savvy world, we can look at the pictures we took whenever we want! Adios, faithful blog readers. We hope you've had a good time reading about our adventure.

Signed, Sabrina and Haley 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

We Miss You, United States!!! Today we woke up at 7:00 to pack up for our travel day. We left Finca La Anita at 9:00 and were on the road all day. At 1:00 we arrived at our new research station home thingy. This new home is in the dry forest, where it hasn't rained in three months. This is probably the first time on this entire trip where we are all pretty much dry. It's great to not have humid air all the time. The sleeping arrangements are fairly spacious, and there are provided fans, which is almost as great as air conditioning. Tonight we are going to the beach to watch for East Pacific Rim Black Turtles, which are specific only to the beach we will be visiting. Hopefully we see a turtle tonight, because if we see one before 11 pm, then we will be staying up to observe it laying eggs, and then we will be attaching a tracker to it. If all goes well, we will be able to draw up maps of where our turtle travels. Some of us got to go up on an observation tower and see an excellent view of the landscape and mountains. It was so much fun, and awe inspiring! Furthermore, we can't wait to swim tomorrow on the exotic Costa Rican beach. We have to get going now, because we are leaving soon to go turtle sweeping. Good Night United States, and see you again in a few days!!
Kyle Wegner, Lilly Even, Ben D.S. Cox
View from tower

Chillin on the bus

Our new home

Goodbye Finca La Anita!! We will miss you!!!

The tower with said view

Monday, August 11, 2014

"Everything is theoretically impossible, until it is done." 
 -Robert A. Heinlein

       As we do on most days, this morning we woke up (eventually). After an amazing meal and great coffee, we all got our science on! Typical of high school students, there was a lot of work left to do in the last minute. Last trials were ran, power points were made, adjusted, calculations made, then power points readjusted, last minute practices were stumbled through, and eventually we all survived presenting. Even though there was a lot of last minute scrambling we all had tons of fun! Our last dinner at Finca La Anita was absolutely scrumptious! Many a picture was taken, so many jokes, just an all around great time!  
 From left to right: Kyle, Ben, Dr. Andy Bouwma, Tommy, Justin, Ben (in front)
 From left to right: Anna, Kelly, Anna, Abby, Ms. F (in front)
The Gang+Andy
 The Mafia
 The Squad
 You Atta be kidding me!
dATTA Finders

Hasta mañana! 
-Anna S. and Sabrena  

Sunday, August 10, 2014

[Enter greeting here] This morning we had lots of time devoted to the art of science. Kyle and Ben squared (both Bens) woke up at six in the name of science, and continued scienceing all morning. Lots of work got done on the experiments with the help of "Dandy" Andy, Dr. Adrian Pinto and lots of patience. We don't want to bore you with all the nuances of food facts, but it was snazzy and delicious. Group 2 (Kyle's group) had inconclusive data, which was incredibly frustrating but quite interesting. They recognized that the ants were consistently inconsistent, but peachy non-the-less. Team dATTA finders (Ben C's team) had data that was completely contradictory to what was hypothesized, but it was very interesting and they had a swell time collecting the data and gawking at the surprising ants. Saying goodbye to Dr. Pinto this afternoon was sad, but it was great that we had the experience of working under his guidance. Immediately after lunch we set off for Sensoria, a small paradise in the midst of a primary forest. Everyone got the experience of walking through the natural forest, seeing the wildlife, and learning about the trees. On top of that we also got to go swimming in three natural pools filled by waterfalls. The second and third pools were also heated by hot springs, which felt wonderful. Everyone had tons of fun swimming in these naturally created pools and getting back massages from the waterfalls. It was incredibly groovy! The scenic ride back included lots of bird flocks flying frantically from the fantastic, friendly, functional, frenetic road. They were so fabulous. Supper was super, man! Everyone is now working more on their science projects, that we will be presenting tomorrow. [Enter closing here]
Kyle and Ben D. S. C.
This is a female spider that we found by the processing plant. The small spider (barely visible) on its back is the male
Stormhawk lads

Exotic flower

This tree is about 200 years old!

This was the first water fall we went to with "blue water"

Prepped for adventure

We should all join the swim team, except Ben who didn't make it to the water in this video.

Ben and Dr. Pinto at the Ranch

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Greetings from Costa Rica! Today was eventful, and full of adventure. At 8 o'clock we were all in the dining hall ready for our meals. Our breakfast was cacao pancakes, sausage, fruit, and granola. Megan didn't eat the sausage, and Lilly didn't eat the pancakes. We then continued into the processing plant (aka our classroom) for a lecture by Andy about the ecology of the canopy. For the remainder of the morning we separated into our groups to work on our experiments. At 12:30 we headed back into the dining hall for another scrumptious meal. For lunch we had steak, salad, rice, and beans. Don't worry Megan did not eat the steak. Our excitement started to build as we saw the bus pull into the gravel road. We filed into the bus, and took the 40 minute bus ride to the canopy zip line. We got our gear on, and headed up the strenuous hill to the top of the zip line. Our excitement climaxed as Megan was chosen first to fly down the zip line. After Megan reached the first platform successfully we all began our flight through the trees. After we all made it past the many platforms, and reached the bottom we all had smiles on our faces. This adventure was a success! Following the zip lining a group of us decided to walk to the village to get homemade ice cream, and stop by the market to get some soda. When we got back we listened to Ben C's Phantom of the Opera soundtrack before heading to dinner. For dinner we had pork chops, cassava, and salad. Megan enjoyed a tortilla with cheese, tofu, and beans.  Dessert consisted of flan, and Lilly ate what we called a ball of deliciousness which was served on a lemon leaf. Next we headed back to the processing plant for a lecture by the world famous Adrian Pinto (very interesting). As we type this blog now we wish everyone over in America a good night!

-Megan and Sadie :)

Friday, August 8, 2014

Good evening from Finca La Anita! This morning consisted of us working hard on our science projects. We finalized our ideas with Andy (on staff scientist) and began collecting our preliminary data.

Whilst in the field collecting leaf cutter ants, we witnessed an enormous raid of army ants obliterating any and all insects that stood in their path. We conducted our own "research" by throwing the various insects we found into their way, only to see them overwhelmed and taken away by the army ants. The sight was both inspiring and terrifying to see the small ants swarm the forest and consume everything in their path. For the first time on the trip we felt truly afraid as Andy explained to us that if we were to come in contact with the bivouac (the colony that the ants built out of their own bodies) the entire colony could swarm us which could potentially be very dangerous.
After our humbling experience with the army ants, we spent the rest of the day collecting our data and developing our procedures for our experiments. We worked hard until 4:30 and then we went into town for a traditional Costa Rican meal cooked by a local woman named Araceli, and with our help, we cooked a delicious meal consisting of chicken, rice and beans, salad and a mix of peppers.
The meal was delicious and after we finished dinner we all went into the house for a dance party with Araceli's daughter Alejandra.

After a few hours of dancing we left Araceli's house to collect our nightly data, and then Tommy and Ben proceeded to write the blog while Justin attempted to catch an enormous moth which was flying around the deck before it finally flew outside. Just another day in the rainforest.
Buenos noches,
Tommy Costello, Ben Eliason, Justin Stewart

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Thursday, August 7th

Buenos noches to the states! We tried to wake up at 7 this morning, but were not very successful. As we rolled out of bed at 7:50. For breakfast we had toast with home made marmalade, onion and cheese omlet, fruit, rice and beans and some fruit juice that had kiwi in it. Afterwards we had science with Andy where we designed our experiments with the leaf cutter ants. Lilly spent part of the morning picking ants off of the log with tweezers to later be decapitated. We later walked to the local school where we all helped Amy teach the young students English (body parts).
Today we delivered most of the shirts that we had brought to the older kids, the little children received stuffed animals, stickers and candy. We came back to the ranch for lunch. There we had a cheese, rice and heart of palm casserole, chicken and veggie stir-fry, salad, salted banana chips (the least healthy item of the trip) and fruit juice. After lunch we went horse back riding where we were giving full control of the horse. It was definitely an exciting trip! Such a gorgeous view, although Lilly almost fell off of the horse when the horse went crazy. We returned our horses and all of us students had a little free time.
Lilly, Anna and Sabrena all decapitated ants as part of their experiment. Also, as a group, we all gathered around the tables to play a couple card games and thought about some riddles. Afterwards we all joined together for dinner, we had steak, potatoes, green beans, corn, salad and fruit juice. The dessert was absolutely delicious, its called tres leche ( three milk ). Closely following dinner, we all had a quick science class with Andy explaining our ideas that we have for our leaf cutter ant projects. Now we are sitting here blogging about what our day consisted of. Off to bed for now! Hasta Manana!
- Lilly and Abby