Wednesday, June 26, 2013

(no subject)

Wow! Has it really been a week since I was in Costa Rica? The last few days we spent on the Caribbean. It was such a picture perfect place. I got to snorkel and with fish, and got to see real coral ( and it didn't blow up!) I went for a nature walk off the beach, and got to see a real pit-viper snake! Our Professor Dennis Wasko also gave a lecture on Snakes as well during the last part of our trip. I learned there were some places where quakers had settled in like Monte Verde. I still haven't unpacked most of my belongings, but I made the 1820 cafe i purchased in Costa Rica, and it is so amazing! The last stop of our trip was San Jose where we walked around, and shopped the last day. It was such a bitter-sweet good-bye leaving the country. If i could, i would so do this again. I made amazing friends on this adventure, saw everything i dreamed of seeing, and learned about the natural habitat out there. 

-Michelle Drayer


Thursday, June 20, 2013

At Guanacaste I went horseback riding  for the first time and it was amazing. We went to Monte Verde which is a cloud rain forest that was high up in the mountains. We were actually driving through the clouds it was really cool. This is where we went zip lining over the canopy of the rain forest; it was my first time and it was really fun. Another highlight was visiting professor Wasko's colleague alex at her beautiful farm. She was showing us new growth forest and it was interesting trying guess the ages of the trees. I was surprised to find out how young they were. My favorite  part of the  course was at La Selva it was amazing with all the life we saw there from the strangler fig tree that consumes another tree for nutrients to the howlers monkeys that never be quiet. Another amazing thing we did at La Selva was a night hike we so many frogs, a snake, and a cayman which looks like a small alligator.  At one one point we had to turn back because we had a bad run in with attacking army ants. After we left La Selva we went to Puerto Viejo the was beautiful there. We went snorkeling the next day and saw a lot of fish but the coolest one was the lion fish, and we also a big crab. When we got on the shore  we stopped and had some delicious fruit on the beach. There I saw hermit crabs everywhere which I thought were pretty cool. Now I'm in San Jose on the last day, and I have picked up a lot of knowledge from this course. Especially learning about the biodiversity of Costa Rica. If you love animals or science you should take this course, and professor Wasko is a great professor that you will learn a lot from.

Nicholas Oliver

Walking through the woods at La Selva Biological Station with our tour guide Kenneth our group was able to see a vast array of different species ranging from mammals, insects, and reptiles. In just a few minutes we were able to see Howler Monkeys, Capuchin Monkeys, and Spider Monkeys, a rare site to see all in one area at once. I was lucky enough to catch this on video with Kenneth and Professor Wasko pointing out were each one was. Along with three different species of monkeys we got to see Bullet Ants, (the largest ant I've ever seen!!) Leaf Cutter Ants, Cicadas, and Army Ants. Still on the same trip we saw one or two different species of frogs including one massive Bull Frog. La Selva was one of my favorite parts of the trip and the reason why I wanted to blog about it. Seeing the different birds (that I have more videos of) that you would never see anywhere other than Costa Rica helped make this one unforgettable trip for me.
-Eric Ryalls

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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Bell Birds

Today the class and I received a lecture from one of Alex's colleagues and friends who is heavily involved with a conservation project which deals directly with the reforestation in Costa Rica. She gave us a presentation on the "Poster child" of the project which is the Bell bird. These birds are specifically located in Central America and common in Costa Rica. The class and I learned a lot about Bell birds.There is a major difference between the male and female Bell birds. Both sexes are born with feathers that camouflage with the forest and lack wattles. Wattles develop solely on the male bids later in life. Wattles are long black tubes that grow from the birds face and hang down beside the beak. They fill with blood when the male bird is angered and trying to look tough or are trying to impress the females. The male Bell Birds also change in color to become much more bold looking. The females remain the way they are born in order to blend in and protect themselves and their family. The bell birds are territorial but not aggressively. The project uses this bird as their poster child to help broadcast why reforestation is so important. They have many goals including balancing the needs of humans and balancing the needs of organisms. The project has been planting trees of many species in open areas to break the open space in which many animals can not cross or survive in. With the amount of effort and time they have put in, the project has accomplished a lot and continues to. the presentation taught the class and i a lot. I am excited to learn more as the trip continues.

Danielle Pelletier

Today was our last day in Costa Rica. We started off this morning traveling from Puerto Viejo to San Jose on a long 4 hour bus ride. On our way to Puerto Viejo Alex pointed out the banana plantations and told us to notice the blue bags hanging on the trees. These blue bags covered the bananas to keep animals and bugs away but these blue bags also have chemicals inside them to help the bananas not go bad and ripe as they are being transported to the states and Europe. Alex also informed us as before child labor laws were installed in Costa Rica, young boys around age 13 had a job to move the bananas to the boxes where they would get ready to be exported. Today this job is done by mules. It was neat to be able to drive by all these banana plantations and learn about/ see the banana we eat in the states.
Another interesting fact I learned from Alex on the bus ride was that there really isn't much of a difference between organic and non organic. She told us that if the fruit is organic, they that just means there are no pesticides. Therefore, the organic bananas are covered in plastic. After Alex told us this she brought up a very important point.... Organic bananas that are better for you or worse for the environment?

Carolyn Nowak
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Sunday, June 16, 2013

(no subject)

We have been in La Selva for the past few days in the middle of the rainforest which is huge. Last night a few kids on this course, and i went on a night hike with professor Wasko. I got to see some things i never seen in my life before. For example, i saw a snake that was camoflouged into the ground, a few frogs, a cayman in the swamp, and got bitten by army ants. As well as today, i went on a long hike an saw a few humming birds, and cacada's. Tomorrow is a new adventure to the beach, and i can't wait for snorkeling. Michelle Drayer
So today we got to take a day off and do our own thing, and let me say how nice it was! The past week we've been getting up at 6:30 and it was nice to finally sleep in. With my free day I got up went to breakfast and just laid low. Yesterday was so much fun, we went to Alex's house and it was amazing. We went on a hike of her forest and got to see all of the hard work they have put into re growing the forests on her property. I have experienced a lot on this trip that has changed my perspective on a lot that I will certainly take back with me to the United States.
-Melinda Metzger

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Day 7

Time is just flying by in Costa Rica our trip is quickly coming to end. As of right now we are staying at place called Estacion Biological La Selva Which is pretty cool its one of the top research places in Costa Rica. We have been at La Selva for three days now which is pretty nice not having to pack up our luggage every morning. Last night we went on a nature night hike which was pretty sweet. We saw tones of species of frogs, hundreds of bugs, owls and even a cayman (which looks like a crocodile like creature just smaller). Today was our first and only day off. I was hoping to sleep in to day to make up for all the early mornings we had. But I still managed to wake up at 5am. Later on in the day a couple of us went on a hike in search of a cable cart bridge unfortunately we never found it. :( Though we ended up walking about 5500 meters. So on the plus side we got to burned off a lot of energy. Tomorrow we had off to the beach. It seems everyone's little excited to put out feet up and soak up some vitamin d. Emily Martoglio
Today was a pretty exciting day. We went to Selvatura which is kind of like an adventure park. At the park we did zip lining which was pretty exciting. The course was well worth the price it took over an hour and up hill walking but was well worth it. After the zip line was done and over with we went to the hummingbird garden and saw at least 50 of hummingbirds in one spot. It was pretty awesome. I have never seen so many hummingbirds in one spot. After the garden we proceeded to canopy walk. Which, like everything else, was pretty awesome. We were pretty high up so we could see parts of the canopy that we could not see on the forest floor. Along one of the walk ways we saw howler monkeys in the tree tops. It was pretty cool that they travel in packs. After we finished that we went to the bat jungle which was interesting. Then after that we went to listen to a speaker talk about bellbird conservation and about this project she is working on. Overall it was a pretty productive day.

   -Nina Germain

Friday, June 14, 2013

It was an amazing day walking through the lowland forest at La Selva. Today we came across an

 Agouti it is a red brownish animal that resembles a guinea pig. The best part of the jungle hike 

was the monkeys. We ran into a rare occurrence of three different species of monkeys all in the 

same area. The names of the monkeys were the Mantled Howler Monkey the Spider Monkey and 

the White Faced Capuchin. Today was a day filled with interesting monkeys.

Nicholas Oliver

Thursday, June 13, 2013

(no subject)

So it's only day three in Costa Rica and I am already in love with amazing
country. The first day we arrived was pretty brutal. With not getting any sleep
the day before and no sleep on the plan I was pretty tired. Passing out at nine
o'clock was amazing, I can't remember the last time I went to bed that early. We
also met our tour guild the day we arrived named Alex. She's extremely friendly
and full of energy, who always seems to have fun  stories to tell.   I am
looking forward to hear more stories from her.  Yesterday was a pretty low key
day spending most of the day on the road. Though today totally made up for all
the driving we did yesterday. After walking all over a national park seeing
volcano hot springs( which spelled horrible) and nice  picnic lunch. We all
treated our self in cooling off in a nice river. Felt so refreshing  after being
covered in mud and sweat all day. After our hike we boarded back up on our bus
and headed to our third hotel. This is so far my favorite hotel we are all in
one room in bunk beds making me feel like I'm in summer camp.
Emily Martolio

(no subject)

What a fun filled day! Zip lining in the hills on monteverde over the beautiful canopy tops of the cloudy forest was not only fun, but learning about all the plants in the trees was interesting. I saw my very first monkey today above me when we were touring the forest. However, we also got to learn about bats and got to see a display of them as well. Also, we sneeked into a humming bird garden, and found out their not harmless and if they bump into you, it will hurt them more than you will be hurt. I cant wait to travel to the rainforest tomorrow. Michelle drayer

(no subject)

What a interesting and adventerous trip so far! We went hiking at rincon de la vieja. We saw leaf cutter ants which carried leaves below us on the ground. The hike included boiling mud pots which consists of hot steam rising in front of us in the middle of the forest we were in. The hike also included a nice walk to a fresh water- waterfall which we got to swim in as well. I can't wait to go zip linig tomorrow and to la salva on friday to go and experience an actual rain forest! Can't wait to explore all the different snakes. Michelle drayer


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Day One

Well, we made it safely... as always, getting here makes for a loooooong day... in my case, that meant leaving home at 1am, getting to the airport at 4, dealing with a baggage debacle for a while, getting our eventual flight at 7:30, and finally landing around 11 (CR time).  There's a reason we usually don't plan many "activities" for the first day. 

Everybody did get their first intro to Costa Rican food though, which is always a highlight.  This one will be short, as as the moment we're packing up to head off to our first "site", in Guanacaste up in the Pacific northwest of the country.  You may actually not hear from us about it for a day or two... rumor has it that internet there is down at the moment.  That's one of the catches of working in parts of the world where sometimes an opossum chewing on the line can knock out power to a significant part of the country.  See you soon...

- Dennis

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Costa Rica!!!

I can't believe that the time has come for us to go to Costa Rica. I can not put into words how excited I am for this experience. The thing that I'm the most excited about is being able to experience another culture and of course being able to see the beauty that these rain forests have to offer. I love animals and I'm excited to see animals that I have only ever seen in pictures! I've been waiting for this trip for a long time and I'm so excited that its finally here! Costa Rica here we come!!!!

Melinda Metzger 


Monday, June 3, 2013

So today is exactly one week away before I leave for Costa Rica. I have been packing like crazy and my luggage is already over flowing!! The rain forest in Costa Rica has many different animals and I am really nervous to see a snake just roaming around. Here in Connecticut we do not really see that unless it is a little garden snake. I have been packing tons of long pants so hopefully one does not crawl up my leg. As i am looking forward to exploring the rain forest I am really look forward to be going zip lining! Zip lining is something that i have seen people do on TV and I never thought i was going to be able to get the chance to do it in the RAIN FOREST! pretty awesome, i know!
Another thing that I cannot wait to see are all of the different flowers in Costa Rica! Wasko said that one thing we will be getting to do on this trip is to go to an orchid flower farm. Besides sunflowers, orchids are my favorite flowers and I cannot wait to see them growing in the wild! My job on this trip will be to look at all the plants inside and outside of the rainforest so I will make sure to keep everyone posted on all the beautiful flowers, plants and trees I see out in Costa Rica! 

Carolyn Nowak

Saturday, June 1, 2013

For the trip I think I am mostly excited just to travel outside of the country. I rarely travel and if I do it is not very far. I'm also looking forward to all the areas we will be exploring and I know I will come back with great memories.

-Nina Germain

Danielle Pelletier - Blog Entry 1

My class will leave on the tenth for Costa Rica and I am very excited. To be honest, I am looking forward to getting there but not even remotely about the journey prior (slight fear of planes). However, it is a small price to pay for an opportunity I may never come across again. My family used to travel often, but being the youngest of five, I was far too young to remember the trips we went on. I am looking forward to traveling out of the country at an age in which I can enjoy the trip in it's entirety. I'm curious and beyond thrilled to see and experience things that I never have before. Monday could not come fast enough.

Danielle Pelletier

(no subject)

 With in a little over a week to I head off to Costa Rica, my excitement grows more and more with each passing day.  I have just returned from Zion National Park, where I saw tremendous amount of wild life such as Mount goats, elk, lizards, snakes exc.  Seeing all that wildlife I can only imagine how much wildlife I will see in Costa Rica (one of the things I am most excited for.) Though with only spending 10 days in Costa Rica I feel time is going to fly by way too fast, not giving us enough time to explore this magnificent country.  Although our time will be short I am sure we will see lots giving all of us a life changing experience.  See you all soon bright and early.

Emily Martoglio