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  • Writer's pictureKyle Comito

Crocs, drones, and landslides, oh my!

This past weekend the group took our first trip down southeast to the Cordillera Talamanca mountain region. On the drive there, we stopped at a bridge that you can see crocodiles from and a beach on the Pacific side that we had to hike through a jungle to get to (pictures posted below!) The beach was beautiful, secluded, and had the warmest ocean water I'd ever been in. We also went on a really cool hike on our way back to San Jose on Sunday.

I had never been this close to a crocodile before.

We totally nailed the jump-in-the-air-on-the-beach-and-take-a-picture clichè.

The group went on a hike about 12,000 feet up on Sunday!

Each group also had some work to do on our trip. Joyce & Steve serviced a seismic station, Emily & Izy took GPS reference points, and Rosa & I scouted the area for landslides. Basically, we drove all around this region of the country looking for evidence that landslides had happened. There were two large earthquakes that occurred in May and June around this area, and we were checking to see if they triggered any new landslides. We took pictures and marked locations of any place we found new or old landslides, and also monitored protective concrete walls on the side of the roads for cracks.

My favorite part of this weekend was visiting a site where a landslide had destroyed a road almost three years ago. At this location, we laid out reference points and flew a drone (!!!) to capture aerial images of the location. I was lucky enough to get to co-pilot the drone with Paulo. These images will provide a high quality look at the site to study and potentially reconstruct the road.

The group taking GPS measurements at the site of the landslide which took out the road.

Caution tape on the area the road used to go through before the landslide destroyed it.

We flew this drone!

On the topic of living and working in a foreign location, I definitely feel that there are some differences our group has had to adapt to. For me, the biggest challenge has undoubtedly been the language. I know very little Spanish and did not take any Spanish classes in high school. Luckily, Rosa, Joyce, and our Costa Rican mentors have been there to help all of us translate during our time here. Overall, the people of San Jose have been very nice and are mostly patient with my broken Spanish, which is nice. I am very grateful that we have the ability to do this research on site, even if it has put me out of my comfort zone to a degree.

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