After five weeks of working in Costa Rica, we are finally home. It is certainly one of the strangest experiences of my recent memory. The fact that we were there to work made us all fall into a sort of pattern and routine; breaking that routine ached us all. On Tuesday, the day before our departure, we went somewhere nice to eat and reminisce about the great times we had. We talked about our mentors, the work, the expectations that did and did not materialize, and most of all how much we would miss Costa Rica and the magnificent experiences it generated. We felt pangs of sadness at the thought of leaving so much behind after we had learned to integrate as best as possible. The following day on the plane,asdfasdf we were equally anxious to get home already, sleep in our own beds, and talk in English with everyone we saw. Every day in Costa Rica was magnificent and bountiful, but it certainly wasn't a vacation. Five weeks is also a lot longer than one imagines, each day went by quickly, but there is no getting over the fact that we lived in a whole other country for over a month.
I think that the five days prior to leaving Costa Rica were maybe the most eventful of all. We received the equipment with less than a week left in our stay, so without a doubt we would not be able to plant all six seismometers. The very same day that the equipment came out of customs we tried to set it all up to test everything out. That was on Thursday, then on Friday we had to collect the data and comb through it to figure out if anything had gone wrong. We weren't exactly sure what to do with the 8 hour long data, so we sent the zip files to Pnina, who works at Passcal. She took a look at everything and noticed that somethings didn't turn out so great. We then spent that weekend solving some issues and trouble shooting pieces of equipment so that we could get everything up and running for the field work that awaited us Monday and Tuesday.
Everything was a success and when Monday came we were all jittery with excitement to install those sensors. We left at about 8 am on Monday and got to working in San Jeronimo at around 12pm. The work wasn't as easy as we thought it would be since we had no idea what exactly we would do for power or where to put the GPS. Luckily Gato, the electrical engineer from RSN, was there to help us out and we finished everything smoothly. The whole process took us about three hours and we ran into a few problems with cable management and leveling the equipment. I think we were very deliberate and slow with everything so as to not make any mistakes.
The second day was a totally different story. We had to be ready by 5 am to head over to Las Alturas. The drive wasn't so bad, but getting to the location was tricky. To get in, you have to go through a gate that's open from 5 am - 9 am, but then closes and opens again at 1. If we had taken too long to set things up we would have been locked in for quite a few hours, which is why we tried to get there just about as early as possible. Luckily, we knew exactly what to do in Las Alturas and we lost no time at all. Everyone even settled into roles they were comfortable with. John and Jenylee communicate well with one another, so they configured everything using the iPod. Mariya and Param are excellent with their hands so they did their fair share of equipment leveling, aligning, weather proofing, etc. Meanwhile Sarai and I would do our best to foresee the next step in the whole process and we would organize the equipment so that its ready to be used, we would strip wires if necessary, and we also did more than enough cable management and arrangement so that everything is easy to move, read, collect, etc without unhinging anything when the time would call for it.
The experience was nothing short of spectacular as we watched all the pieces move flawlessly from the students to the mentors and even technicians. It was more than worth the wait, we even managed to take some amazing photos while there.