It's all part of the fun
Things never quite shape up the way one expects them to. Whether it be customs giving us a hard time with our much needed equipment or facing the ever-difficult challenge of transporting 7+ people around a mountain-rich country, this Costa Rica trip has been riddled with obstacles. This is not to say that the trip has been fruitless, quite the contrary. I'll spell out some of the many many things I am grateful for on this trip.
I'm grateful for the fact that every single one of our basic necessities is well accounted for. We live in a well furnished hotel which provides excellent internet service, cleaning service, laundry service, breakfast each morning, and is conveniently right next to the university. I'm grateful for the people. Even though we have only been here a week, we've met at least 20+ individuals from Lanname, UCR, and ICE. There are several astute people with more than one degree who run and manage projects at some of the largest and most prestigious institutes of Costa Rica, and each one has something grand or interesting to share about their studies, work, and world view. I'm grateful for Guillermo. During a car ride with Guillermo, the director of ICE's department of seismology and volcanology, he shared with Mariya and I some of the work he did in Germany for his PhD. Turns out that Germany has some of the world's most sophisticated minds in volcanology despite it not being half as rich as Costa Rica in volcanic activity. This is party because Costa Rica has to focus its efforts primarily on research that will benefit society, while Germany, who does not have impending annihilation constantly in mind, can focus on purely academic research. I'm grateful for Alejandro, Orlando, Yendry, Amalia, Jose Luis, and the many others who have taught us about Costa Rica. I've enjoyed the presence of the workers at ICE like Alejandro and Orlando. Both received decent educations, but their knowledge and expertise does not extend as far as Waldo's or Guillermo's, so although they can operate complex equipment like a gravimeter, they don't know exactly how it works or how to make use of the measurements. Then we have people Ale's father, who is simply a laborer who picks things up and puts them down. Clearly, without great education, it is easy to run into many walls and barriers. I'm grateful for receiving such a rich education.
I'm grateful for the type of work we do. Going to Volcan Irazu was a fantastic experience because we did not go as tourists. Instead, we visited the beautiful mountain to look at numbers like coordinates, elevation, and gravimeter readings. It was a splendid experience to witness the change in readings as one descended down the mountain. The view was stunning and the agricultural towns we passed by furnished our day with intrigue as we operated the simple yet elaborate machines to survey the region. I'm grateful that we still have more field work ahead of us. We still need to do more gravimeter readings and plant the seismometers once customs releases them. That's almost 2 more weeks of field work that requires us to travel the country, which I hope will be just as amazing as everything we have seen up until now. I'm grateful for a hopeful future. I'm grateful for the work Mariya and I are doing as well. Our job has tremendous social implications for Costa Rica and if we do it well enough perhaps our work will make a difference in the country. Today, we went to a meeting about Earthquake Early Warning (EEW) systems. These systems are vital in countries like Japan, who can predict, seconds before, when a large earthquake will hit. This gives them just enough time to shut down dams, railroad, airport lanes, and other important facets of there massive infrastructure. Costa Rica is densely populated and is prone to many powerful earthquakes; EEW systems would benefit the country greatly. This technology requires being able to recognize primary waves emitted by earthquakes, which is exactly what Mariya and I are doing at ICE's office.
I'm grateful for my mentor Krista. She's clever, charming, willing to help and make us feel comfortable. My first day at ICE was... embarrassing to say the least. I forgot my ID to get in, I forgot my laptop, I accidentally walked into the girl's bathroom, and I broke Krista's dorodango which was a gift and is incredibly hard to make. She wasn't angry and instead she uses it against me to make light-hearted jokes. I'm grateful Krista didn't kill me. I'm grateful that life is good, work is fun, the science is interesting, the people want to teach, and that each day is eventful. There have been many less-than-optimal surprises ever since we got here, but I have yet to be let down by a single day. And for that, I am more than GREATful.