• Sarai Rodriguez

10 days in Costa Rica

Because the 5 weeks that we spent in Costa Rica over the summer were so eventful I was looking forward to this 10-day trip in January all fall semester long. Although the amount of time we spent there was less this time around, I had no doubt that we would make the most of it. We were told to prepare a presentation for Monday, one that would recap all the work we did during the summer and semester, for our mentors and people related to the GREAT project. During the 5-hour plane ride and our first weekend there Jenylee and I thought about how we would structure our presentation and what ideas and takeaways we thought were important to discuss within the 10-minute limit that we had.

I was really nervous for the presentation but in retrospect I think our presentation was pretty good! I also enjoyed learning about what the other members had been working on in more detail and watching their different public speaking and presenting styles. The research work that we all had been working on really highlighted our strengths as individuals, showed how our academic backgrounds influenced the quality of our work, and showed everyone what kind of work that we’re capable of. Presentation day really drew positive attention to us as a group as it emphasized the idea that we are a group of intelligent students who really went above and beyond on their research endeavors. When each of the groups discussed some of the hiccups that they ran into along the way it showed our problem-solving skills and our resilience and willingness to maneuver around research hurdles.

After the presentation we talked with our mentors about what the rest of the week would look like for us and we discovered that we would all be going on our own separate adventures and field trips. For the Lanamme crew, aka Jenylee and I, we would be mainly stationed in San Jose and go to and from the Lanamme office for 2 days. In the lab Paulo answered some of the questions we had about creating the density maps with the surfer software. Amalia showed us some rock and soil samples from route 27 and explained how the quality and properties of the rocks tells us useful information about the landslide happening at the 45km mark. On one of our Lanamme days we were presented with a surprise field day to the highway around the mall where we helped Paul with drone shots for a transportation project. Basically: the infrastructure can’t really handle the large amount of traffic loading that it receives so one way to optimize traffic flows around this area would be to introduce the idea of bus lanes and these drone shots will provide Lanamme with more detailed views of the roadways.

Paulo took us out to route 27 where we took groundwater measurements and we were able to notice how the landslide movement was affecting the sampling stations. Afterwards we went out to eat at an amazing local seafood spot to celebrate his boss’s birthday with all his other coworkers. We had seen them all in the lab before, so it was cool to be a part of the celebration. And when I say ‘amazing’ I mean it! I couldn’t stop raving about the casado con pescado that I had ordered. This is my typical order in Costa Rica because it’s just such a wholesome and filling dish and they tend to be reasonably priced nationwide, so I’ve had my fair share of casado (I’m considering myself a casado con pescado connoisseur at this point) and this place made it the best! Rating it 5 stars.

The final hour of our last day at Lanamme had a bit of a sad undertone to it and I took way more pictures than I usually do to commemorate my time there. Amalia gave us chocolates and they recorded our heights with our names on a column! I thought it was a cute little ritual and we even saw how our old friend from the summer, Mara, measured up to us. Paulo also reminded us that on Friday we would be going to the Poas Volcano to do eruption simulations to record useful data about the effectiveness of the shelters to handle the traffic flow of visitors if a dangerous situation like that were to ever occur. It was cold and windy, but we got to see a beautiful and clear view of the volcano for a whopping 3 hours, so it was worth it. We bought strawberries as we drove down the volcano because apparently the slightly acidic pH of the soil near the volcano makes it an optimal area for cultivating coffee and strawberries. Our field trip to the Poas volcano was a nice way to end our time at Lanamme.

The weekends, both the first and last ones, were amazing! We got to see the Manuel Antonio National park and it has to be hands down the most picturesque beach that I’ve ever personally laid my eyes on. We also climbed Cerro la Asuncion and we were able to see the Talamanca mountain range from the top at a height of 3,335 meters. The Uvita Beach was also great and by the end of the trip ‘mission sunburn’ had been a success. The car ride with Paulo and Cristina was a lot of fun and entertaining to say the least and this last beach trip made me realize how much I was going to miss them and all the people we had met in Costa Rica. We ended our last night in San Jose by watching a lunar eclipse together and pointing out different constellations in the clear night sky.



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