Sunday, May 19, 2013

Field Course: 8 Days in the Rainforest

One of the most significant (in my opinion, and I will tell you why in a bit) 
courses that we take while at UPEACE is the natural resources field course. 

Why do I think it is the most important?
Well because it is our opportunity to actually go and see and do. We spend all of this time reading about the rainforest and rural communities and national parks, but nothing can replace going and seeing and spending time in these communities. You can't begin to understand the value of a forest until you have seen it and the communities that depend on it. 

The field course gave us the opportunity to do just that. 
We spent eight days traveling through the Osa Peninsula visiting various national parks, NGOs, communities and community based projects. 
There were 24 of us students. And we spent most of our days dripping with sweat as it was the beginning of the rainy season. And oh boy was it humid!

The Osa Peninsula is one of the most biologically diverse areas in the world and one of the last remaining areas of primary forest in Costa Rica. The region use to be filled with plantations and gold miners until Corcovado National Park was created. Although the park created a protection for the flora and fauna of the region it created a lot of hardships for the local communities as they had to find new sources of income and livelihood. 

Now originally I had planned to take tons of photos of the trip so that I would be able to do a post for every single day. But you know that just didn't happen. I even carried my huge camera with me the entire time but I just didn't feel like taking pictures. So sadly there is just this one post with a bunch of pictures and most of them are from my iphone. 

So here you go!

So here is all of us after a 2 and a half hour hike to a ranger station within Corcovado National Park. Now originally our professor told us the hike would be 2.5 hours, I thought that would be in total...but now it was 2.5 hours each direction. We brought the makings for lunch with us and all ate random bits from the grocery store. We then had the opportunity to talk with one of the rangers to learn more about the challenges of the park and of the rangers interactions with the local members of the community.

These were all the trees that surrounded us as we stopped to rest and eat lunch. 

During the hike we also crossed through 15 rivers. No exaggeration.

And for us crazies there was an extra little hike to a waterfall and back. And then you know the 2.5 hours back to the bus. 

You see I made the mistake of wearing my good old trusty vans. I had worn them the day before when we reforested an area with mangrove trees. In order to plant the mangrove trees we were knee deep in sulfury smelly mud. Surprisingly vans are actually the perfect shoes for this activity because once they fill with mud they pretty much suction cup to your feet. So I figured they were already wet and smelly why not wear them on the hike. They aren't meant for five hours of hiking. I learned a life lesson that day. Some days you shouldn't try to look like the super cool skater you aren't. 
Anywho back to the point I threw those smelly suckers away after the hike. One they were disgusting and would probably start mildewing and two they were actually old and were falling apart on the inside. 
One less thing to carry back to the states!

Here was the beach we stopped at after we planted all of those mangrove trees. 

This was the tiny very scary bridge we crossed to get there. What was crazier was that our bus drove over it. Our bus drivers were fearless!!!

And this is the second pair of shoes that bit the dust during the field course. 
They were also super old and were also mildewing. 

On another day we went on a hike up to see a biological research station. We saw this giant beauty on the walk up. These are my favorite trees. There is something just so wonderful in their roots. I feel like they would be a great place to lie down a blanket and snuggle up for a nice long snooze. 

We also saw two beautiful Toucans. They were just chilling out in the trees. 

Here was the view from the research station. 

And here were are rooms at the other research station site. Yep those were the lovely mosquito nets that kept us mostly bug free at night. I am so not a fan of mosquito nets. I have never felt so claustrophobic in my life. Plus we didn't have pillows. This was also towards the end of the trip and I think we were all real ready to go home. 

So much happened in those nine days. And they came to an end with utter exhaustion. 
I am so glad to have had this opportunity.
I mean the whole point of studying in Costa Rica is the fact that you are surrounded by nature.

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