Friday, December 30, 2011

Nicoya Peninsula Beaches

Dave got to Costa Rica late on Dec 21st. The next day we rented a car and finally made a decision where we were headed for the next 10 days. We chose the Nicoya Peninsula because it is guaranteed to be dry and warm. Also there were some good surf spots for beginners that we wanted to check out.

We did very well finding places to stay and beaches that were not overcrowded, especially during peak season. The next day, Dave came down with a cold for 3 days. But we still went to the numerous beaches. It was super hot and the water was nice and cool. We surfed for one day. It was very tiring for me as the waves just pound you and you need to paddle out. But I stood up a few times on the baby waves.

Got to eat fresh seafood every night and see tons of sunsets. Also got to experience my first jellyfish sting; it hurt but was manageable. Now off to run around Costa Rica for 2 weeks with 18 college students for the ecotourism class Dave conducts. Click here for more pix.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

San Jose again (parks and cemetery) & Volcan Poas

In San Jose, I stayed w/ couchsurfer friends I knew from Portland. Alex and his partner, Jimena, moved to Costa Rica in October. Jimena is a tica. We went out to an irish pub to play an awesome, fun game of Rummikub and try a new, one and only, microbrew. It’s a little pricey but it was way better than the other local beer options, which I have to force down when offered.

At the bar, we ran into other couchsurfers that Alex and Jimena met last Friday. I invited them to meet w/ me the next day to go to Volcan Poas. Another day, I toured some different parts of SJ solo. I’ve been enjoying food and catching up with my lovely hosts. I got to try passion fruit juice on its own. Yeah, crazy taste. Also I am luvin the fresh coconut water and learned that mangos are better here, which I am usualy not a fan of. It was nice to eat something new, my friends are great chefs and I learned a lot from them; there pix of more cool food we ate. Oh, and Alex shaved my head. I did a bad job trimming my hair the other day as usual, so off it went!
Now, I am meeting Dave (from VT) to travel for 10 days, most likely to the Pacific coast to check out the beach and hopefully do some surfing. (I may not have my computer)...Dave comes here 2x a year to conduct his ecotourism/sustainability class w/ students from UVM, which hopefully I will get to join. Then I got 3 more weeks here with no plans! Click here for pix.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Random Days at Tirimbina

Not all days are filled with butterfly collecting or bat education. One morning we set out to shoot insects for the webpage. Another time, we “shot” some bird pix with a guest. And another morning, we went nearby to drink some coconuts.   During my second week, there were still cool things to see, especially the wildlife. But I must admit, I got a tad bored. There’s only so much I can do and learn.  I was patient and made the most of it. People are nice and the setting is neat. I also attended the bat education we have for private adult groups. I learned there are six types of bats and one of them eats fist!
On my last day, I participated in bird counting day, which is a world-wide event during the holiday season. 7 of us drove 45 mins to the biological station to stay over night as we had to wake up at 4:30am to start the count.
The first 4 hours was slow as there’s lots of bird activity. We split in to three groups to cover the trails back to the center. Christian was able to identify the birds by hearing them. He also makes calls to try to distinguish similar looking birds.  145 species were identified by everyone. I collected random pix on a few different excursions to create this post and photo album. Now, I am in San Jose with friends for the next few days.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Butterfly Field Work: Trapping & Collecting

Another portion of the butterfly project is setting up traps w/ crushed bananas to catch 'em. After a bit of walking with long clothing, hopefully protecting me from the mosquitoes and ants, I feel ucky.

But it’s neat to walk and see so much vs sitting in front of a computer all day. I’m thankful that the pouring rain stopped when I arrived for the first 2 weeks I was here. It rained for the last 6 days and today was a nice one!

Though I am surrounded by nature here, I do not have the same feeling I experienced in AK. Not that I was expecting to, but just an observation.  CR is not as vast as AK. I guess CR is more crowded and perhaps the dense, humid jungle is just not as freeing as AK.
Click here for pix.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Butterfly Field Work: Larvae Hunting

Tirimbina asks volunteers to help in the field. There’s two Spanish speaking workers who are working on the butterfly project.  One portion of it is to collect larvaes. We accompany them for the daily morning walks in the forest, about 3 hours. Sometimes after lunch (which is huge and yummy), we go for another 1.5 hours. And, in the process of the walks, I take rad pix of nature and animals.

My first walk was pretty cool b/c  it’s like I had my own personal guide. I am being forced to speak my limited Spanish, but it sucks b/c I am missing a lot of learning. Gato and Emmanuel have great eyes and show us all the wildlife. We also go on more trails than just the ones for tourists. It’s pretty muddy and slippery and had a few close calls. 

Since Saturday it has been pouring ran, so I opted out of the forest walks. I've been researching insects that benefits the environment for next year's environmental ed. topis. Click here for pix.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Grounds Next door & River Boat Tour

It’s been pouring rain in the afternoons and throughout the night since Saturday; today is all day rain. I slightly hurt my ankle/leg last Thursday (long story that I will go into another time), so, I have been taking it easy and grading papers. Overall I'm healing and doing well.

I’ve been a tad bored on my free time, but I have a ton of personal reading, writing, and researching to keep me busy. And my computer has been my movie screen at night. There's no more volunteers here and it's usually pretty calm here, which is fine.

I’ve been in CR for a month now and have one more week of volunteering to go. I combined two photo albums: one is a few pictures from the lodge next door. And, on my day off, I took a 2 hr river boat tour and saw some more wildlife. Click here for pix.   

Friday, December 9, 2011

Environmental Education Volunteer Work

I was disappointed to learn that I would not be doing as much or in-depth education work b/c I don’t speak Spanish well. The woman in charge of the program, nickname EO, visited nine schools earlier this year to conduct education on bats. And she is just wrapping up the community portion of the program.

I accompanied her on my first day to help set up etc. I came in time to go to attend the last three. At least I get a little visual, but there’s not a whole lot I can do. But I spoke with her about how they started it, how they picked the subject, funding, etc.

Currently, I am grading the before and after quizzes then entering the data into excel to compare results via charts. Hopefully, I will be able to do some research for them as they prepare new subject matters for next year’s environmental education classes.  Click here for more pix.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Chocolate Process & History

After some butterfly work in the forest, in the late morning, we took a chocolate break. The chocolate tasting room was nearby. Pretty neat break!

A few days later, we joined the English-speaking chocolate tour to learn about the process and eat all forms of chocolate, again!

Click here for pix.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Hot Springs in the Forest!

AnnaBell and I took a 2 hr one way bus ride (about $2ish each way) to Termales del Bosque ($12 fee), hot springs in the forest. Sunday is our day off. It was nice to get out and not have to wear rubber boots and walk in the humid rainforest, through muddy trails :) You know, doing something different.

The setting was super nice and there were many pools to choose from, ranging from cool to super f’n hot at 48 C (118F)! It was not too crowded, but I always find it odd that people bring their kids to a hot springs. I would wanna get away from that all. We were the only English speaking peeps there, which means not super touristy, yay!

Gosh, CR time goes by so slow. I have been in the country for 3 weeks, one week at the volunteer place and have 2 more weeks here. AnnaBell leaves this Sat. Oh, I did not go rafting this weekend, but we plan to do that later this week. Click here for more pix.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Night Tour in the Rainforest

I decided to organize/group my volunteer posts by activity so it makes sense and the pix flow nicely.  One of the perks of being a volunteer is going on the tours, free of charge, when there is space available. 4 people from Sweden took our 7:30pm, 2 hour night tour and I got to go. 

I have walked through the woods at night a few times, but not a tour at night. It was in English so I learned a lot as well. Tons of creatures come out at night, but one big one that I was hoping for came out, the sloth (pix on the right). Click here for more pix. They also do a bat and chocolate tasting tour which I hope to do next week.