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  • Writer's pictureSarai Rodriguez

A day at UCR, Walmart, and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

Updated: Jul 19, 2018

Today we all started off our morning with a visit and tour of Lanamme. Lanamme is the civil engineering lab at the University of Costa Rica which is used by many of the engineering students working on their senior projects, geologists, and private companies who pay to use the facility. Some of the machines we saw compacted cylindrical samples of concrete to test stress and strain other machines tested long beams. In the vicinity we also saw a few students diligently working on their projects. As we moved towards other rooms we saw people testing different binders and aggregates and new asphalt technologies. These labs also take chunks of existing roads to test the current condition of the pavement because the mix, climate, and traffic are all factors that affect the longevity of the roads.

After the tour we walked across campus to meet with Waldo and the crew where they taught us how to use a topographical GPS device which maps the terrain by using the latitude, longitude, and altitude measurements. We also played with the highly sensitive gravimeter where we quickly learned that patience will be the key to finding accurate gravity readings. We have to take note of the date and time to later look up tide information because the tides affect gravity readings. Wind, cars, and people passing by can be picked up by the machine as well as movement caused by underlying tree roots which can make finding the perfect measurement a little difficult.

By 4 o’clock we were in la Gran Casa Universitaria, which is where we’re staying, and before the sun set I wanted to go to Walmart. With the moovit app getting to Walmart by bus was a breeze. I had taken the bus with the group and Cesar, a Costa Rican native, before so I sort of knew what to do and expect. Getting back home was more of a struggle because it had started raining, I had shopping bags, it was dark, I was alone, and I had to find another bus stop. I had to get on the L2 but I started to worry when the first few buses stopped and I couldn’t see what buses they were since it was too dark and I didn’t know where exactly to look. The app said the L2 was arriving at 6:28 p.m and at exactly that time a bus stopped. I got on the bus and asked the driver if that was my bus he said, “this bus is going to Purral.” As I go to get off the bus he goes “you still have to pay the fare, you got on the bus.” Even though it was like 50 cents I was still devastated and annoyed at myself for making that stupid mistake. I shouldn’t have gotten on the bus without making sure and I had forgotten that Costa Rican buses have a people counter on them which is the reason why I still had to pay the fare even though I didn’t take the bus. My bus finally arrived 30 minutes after the Purral-bus-incident but I’ve learned my lesson. The bus ride back was hectic because the driver was aggressively driving, speeding down winding roads with the door open, and occasionally skipping stops but luckily, I like roller coaster rides so it was fun. I made it home just in time for our nightly meetings led professor Vadim where we learned that we’d be going to Irazu volcano tomorrow to take GPS and gravimeter measurements.

The 6 of us finished up the day with a short walk to a restaurant where we ordered takeout. Back in our apartment we watched the first few episodes of the Fresh Prince of Belair on a laptop and I ate my casado con pescado. It was delicious and for a second it kind of felt like we were at home at Rutgers chilling out after a long day of classes.

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