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Hola and Pura Vida from Costa Rica!

Hola and Pura Vida from Costa Rica!

by Kenna Hill (Weber State University)

Buenos Dias!!

Hola, my name is Kenna, I am a senior at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah studying Botany and Environmental Studies. I am one of the first students to study in Costa Rica through Round River’s Conservation Study Abroad Program! I am so excited to be here, to be a part of Round River’s incredible conservation efforts and even more excited to tell you about it.

June 20th-June 27th:

Our adventures here in Costa Rica started off a little rocky since the boy’s (Ross and Vedant) flight got delayed a few hours. But rest assured, we are all safe and having the time of our lives. The last several days have mostly been filled with orientation and our first lectures for the program but also many awesome firsts for everyone. The first full day in Costa Rica we walked through downtown San Jose and got a small taste of what the culture is like here in Costa Rica.

That afternoon Frank (our taxi van driver) picked us up in what we referred to as the “spaceship” (because it kind of looked like a spaceship) to take us to Bosque Lluvioso. Bosque Lluvioso is a research preserve station near the city Guápiles on the Atlantic side of Costa Rica. We experienced our first rainstorm in Costa Rica as we were unloading everything from the spaceship to the bunk house. This normally wouldn’t be that big of a deal, except it was. We had to carry everything down a steep, slippery, cement “driveway” and across a wooden bridge that was about 25 m long and suspended over a very angry river (Río Costa Rica). Then to make it more interesting, Frank and the spaceship got stuck in the mud so we had to help push him back out to the main road. We made it! I have to say that it was a great way to start off our three night stay in Bosque Lluvioso 🙂

“Family photo” at Bosque Lluvioso. Left to right: Vedant, Lara, William, Kenna, Eli, Callie and Ross. (Taken by Lara)

“Family photo” at Bosque Lluvioso. Left to right: Vedant, Lara, William, Kenna, Eli, Callie and Ross. (Photo by Mateo Pomilia)

We did many great things during our time at Bosque Lluvioso. We met the incredible Macho Machete Wielding William!! William is the ranger or camp caretaker over Bosque Lluvioso. William accompanied us during the many activities at Bosque. We went on a hike on El Sendero de Los Rios where he William showed us this great swimming hole so we decided to go back later and take a dip. This was one of my favorite parts about Bosque. It began to rain while we were swimming and felt like a scene out of a movie. Muy perfecto!

Round River crew getting into our amphibian surveys. (Photo by Lara Bogdanovich)

Round River crew getting into our amphibian surveys. (Photo by Lara Bogdanovich)

One of our main goals for visiting Bosque Lluvioso was to conduct amphibian surveys. We conducted two surveys, one during the day and one at night. During the day we saw four species of frogs (see list below) and toward the end of the hike we spotted the dangerous Fer-de-Lance. It is a very poisonous snake and is accountable for about 50% of the deaths that occur due to snake bites in Costa Rica. It wasn’t very close to us. But as it slithered away it looked pretty dang big with the classic diamond pattern on its back. On the night hike we were looking for nocturnal frogs. We as successful as during the day but we did see some HUGE spiders and actually got to watch one weave its’ web. We also saw a cicada molting in action. Pretty cool stuff. These surveys took up the majority of the day as we carefully looked for frogs. Some as small as a cm in length. This was very tricky. But luckily we had some “expert” frog catchers.

William, our awesome jungle ranger taking a break during lunch, keeping his machete close by. (Photo by Lara Bogdanovich)

William, our awesome jungle ranger taking a break during lunch, keeping his machete close by. (Photo by Lara Bogdanovich)

On Saturday we made our way down to Puerto Jimenez by means of a big autobus (about an 8-9 hr drive). This would be our last night in a hotel until we head back to the US. The next morning we got up at 5 am in order to catch El Colectivo that left for Piro at 6 am. El Colectivo is basically the back of a pick-up and the ride was about hour and a half long on a very bumpy, dirt road. We saw some monkeys and birds on our way in.

Transport by colectivo on the Osa Peninsula (Photo by Kenna Hill)

Transport by colectivo on the Osa Peninsula (Photo by Kenna Hill)

After getting settled in our new home, we got a visit from some very cute and friendly neighbors. Monkeys!! This quickly became a trend as we have already seen 3 of the 4 monkey species on the Osa Peninsula. I think I could easily watch them for hours. Not only are they so cute but they are also so intelligent and amusing. I would love to be a monkey and rip through the trees using all five limbs like they do (I say FIVE limbs because they basically use their tail as a fifth arm).

Beatriz, the volunteer coordinator for Osa Conservation taught us how to weave some palms to make curtains for our kitchen/living space. (Photo by Lara Bogdanovich)

Beatriz, the volunteer coordinator for Osa Conservation taught us how to weave some palms to make curtains for our kitchen/living space. (Photo by Lara Bogdanovich)

Today (June 27th) we had a guest lecture by Lance Newman, a professor from Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah. He came to talk to us about creative writing and poetry. He wanted us to take some of our field notes and create a poem from them. So, for the activity we took a walk/hike down to the beach. Let’s talk about the ocean really quickly—the waves here are humongous!!! The sound of the ocean waves crashing seem to echo or jump off of the tall palms of the tropical forest.

Pacific Ocean at Playa Piro (Photo credit Kenna Hill)

Pacific Ocean at Playa Piro
(Photo by Kenna Hill)

I wanted to include a species list of things we have already seen AND identified from only being here for one week. I had this idea in the beginning without really knowing how much we would actually see. So I will still include a list but know that it is not a complete list by any means and it could easily be doubled or likely tripled in size

Species List

Mammals:

  • Red Brocket Deer (track sighting)
  • Central American Squirrel Monkey
  • White-faced Capuchin (monkey)
  • Mantled Howler Monkey
  • Central American Agouti

Birds:

  • Brown Pelican
  • Many kinds of humming birds (hard to identify)
  • Rufous Motmot
  • Montezuma Oropendola
  • Green Kingfisher
  • Black Vulture
  • Scarlet Macaw
  • Collared Aracari

Reptiles:

  • Spectacled Caiman
  • Green Basilisk
  • Fer-de-Lance (snake)
  • Four-lined Ameiva

Amphibians:

  • Litter Toad
  • Green-and-Black Poison Dart Frog
  • Strawberry (or blue jeans) Poison Dart Frog
  • Common Rocket Frog

Anthropods:

  • Helicopter Damselfly
  • Guanacaste Stick Insect
  • Cone-headed Katydid
  • Sundown Cicada
  • Blue Morpho
  • Acacia Ant
  • Tarantula Hawk
  • Bullet Ant
  • Orchid Bee
  • Leaf-Cutter Ant
  • Golden Orb-Weaver
  • Aboreal Termite
  • Giant Cockroach
  • Cone-headed Katydid
  • Postman
  • Tailess Whipscorpion
  • Hermit Crab

Plants:

  • Black Palm
  • Pejibaye
  • Coconut
  • Cana de danta
  • Suita
  • Palmito Amargo
  • Amo aguacate
  • Tapabotija
  • Chinese Hibiscus
  • Labios de Mujer
  • Mano de Tigre
  • Mimosa pudica
  • Salvia carnea
  • Stachytarpheta frantzii
  • Avacado
  • Cacao
  • Cashew
  • Cecropia
  • Mango
  • Powderpuff
  • Croton
  • Glorybush
  • Golden Shrimp Plant
  • Papaya
  • Peace Lily
  • Red dracaena
  • Perennial Peanut
  • Tococa platyphylla
  • Pineapple
  • Selaginella
  • MANY different fern and palm species

AND MUCH, MUCH MORE!

The amount and diversity of wildlife I have seen so far is absolutely incredible!! There are so many families and species I have never heard of and some I have only dreamed about seeing in real life in nature. I feel like I have already learned so much about this crazy place. And I think my Spanish is really coming along as well 🙂

Thank you for your time and expect more updates fairly soon.

Pura Vida!

Kenna

Family dinner by candle light at our new home for the next few weeks in Piro. (Photo by Lara Bogdanovich)

Family dinner by candle light at our new home for the next few weeks in Piro. (Photo by Lara Bogdanovich)

1 Comment

  1. kaminic

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience!!! I am Ross’ mother and appreciate seeing your pictures. The amount of critters and diversity that is down there is amazing 🙂

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