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  • Writer's pictureMariya Galochkina

There and back (again)

Updated: Jul 9, 2020

The past week in Costa Rica has been incredibly fun, eventful, and busy. I was fortunate enough to return to Costa Rica and spend most of my visit doing fieldwork and driving around the country.

On Saturday, all of us headed to the Caribbean side of the country to the Veragua Rainforest to service VERF, one of seismic stations. Although this station had a few issues that had to be troubleshooted, there were only so many people that could be working on the station at once, so the rest of us were lucky enough to go ziplining through the rainforest while Vadim, Jim, and Paulo serviced the station. In the evening, we arrived in the coastal town of Puerto Viejo.

We started off our Sunday on the beach at Manzanillo and got to catch some nice Caribbean waves. Following an early lunch, we (Jim, Rosa, Vadim, and I) parted with the rest of the group, who headed back to San Jose, and drove to a small town called Cahuita and settled into our cabins. Since we didn't have access to either of the other stations on Sunday, we decided to spend the day resting and walking along the beach.

Monday was decidedly busier—we met with Gato, RSN's main electrical engineer/lord of seismic equipment, and headed to Cerro Uatsi, a telecommunications tower housing one of our stations (CEUA). Then, we set for LAES, a station in Valle de la Estrella. The drive here was one of the high points of this trip—I got to drive through some beautiful banana plantations in the valley, through about 1 hour of rocky trails, and through 5-6 small rivers. We had to entirely reinstall the station here, as a fallen tree destroyed the box in which the seismometer originally sat. After servicing the station, we headed back to San Jose.

After lunch on Tuesday, Vadim, Jim, Daniela (a wonderful geology student from UCR), and I headed to the Pacific side. We stopped and hiked up Cerro la Asuncion on the way there and got a beautiful panoramic view of the Talamancas. Since we headed out late, we arrived in San Jeronimo in the dark and decided to put off servicing SAJE until the morning. However, we decided to hike to the station in the dark just to check it out and ended up stargazing for some time.

On Wednesday, Daniela and I woke up early and hiked over to SAJE with Vadim at 6 am. After finishing our work at the station, we checked out of our hostel and the four of us took a quick detour to hike along a small river in the mountains. We then drove south to the town of San Vito, where we had lunch with the gravity team and collectively headeded over to Las Alturas. At Las Alturas, we serviced one of our seismic stations (ALCO) while Izy, Emily, and Oscar took a gravity/GPS location nearby.

On Thursday, we met up with Jean Paul, another RSN technician, and drove to our sixth and last station, FIMO, which was located in a telecommunications tower in the mountains overlooking indigenous Boruca land. On our way back to San Jose, we took a much-needed detour to Uvita and spent 2 hours on the beach before the long drive home.

Friday was marked by dropping off our rental car (goodbye, beloved Toyota Prado, you will be sorely missed) with 1000+ new miles and a thick layer of dust on it, and (more importantly) everyone's presentations on their research projects. I'm so proud of how much this cohort has learned and accomplished in the last ~8 months, and I'm glad I got to be there to see them present. Overall, this has been an incredibly rewarding week and I'm eternally grateful that I got to experience Costa Rica once again.

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