2022 Teton Science Schools Costa Rica Expedition

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May 27: Sleepy Charlotte’s Big Adventure

By Milo Goodell

Today (Friday the 27th) marked the final day of our travel with the Walking Tree program, and we are nearly embarking on our travel home. Our day started with an early departure in order to be on time for our white water rafting trip down the Pacuare River. Unfortunately, food poisoning was somewhat present within the group the previous night. As a result, Charlotte got very little of rest and was a little bit sleepy for our 6:00 am departure. Charlotte noted that she had little rest, but nonetheless she insisted on joining us on the 18 mile white water rafting experience. Luckily she was able to grab a little shut eye on the van ride to the put in. The rafting trip had many class 4 rapids and was a little rough to say the least. Despite this, I still managed to catch glimpses of Charlotte drifting to sleep or at least closing her eyes while paddling. On one of the class four rapids Charlotte even managed to fall off the raft but was eventually rescued. Despite this little episode the rafting trip was extremely fun for all of us including Charlotte, at least the parts she was awake for. The rafting also offered opportunities to observe the beautiful landscape and wildlife which featured many steep canyons, tall waterfalls, and even a sloth. Following the rafting we had a long van ride back to the Casa Cielo Grande hotel in Alajuela in which Charlotte took a long recovery nap. We then ate dinner and prepared for our early morning drive to the airport to fly home.

May 26: Alex Learning the Ocean is Salty

By Charlotte Holding

Our day started at 4:30 waking up to catch the boat to leave the turtle sanctuary. We had a beautiful 45 minute boat ride back to our bus where we had breakfast and drove to Puerto Vijo and walked around the town for a while. We checked in to our hotel and then went to the beach. We had lunch at a restaurant on the beach that was so delicious and then we went swimming. It was Alex’s first time swimming in the ocean and that was when he realized that ocean water is salty and is not the same as string lake. This beach had many rocks so we drove to a new beach that was the perfect beach and seemed to be straight out of a postcard. We then went back to the hotel to shower and change for dinner. The dinner was at an outdoor pizza and sushi restaurant and it was a very nice break from rice and beans. After dinner we went to a super market to get snacks and back to town to pick up some souvenirs. We all retired to our rooms and packed in preparation for another early morning.

May 25: Day Two with the Turtles

By Miles Goodell

Wednesday the 25th was our only full day spent at the LAST (Latin American Sea Turtles) research station. We woke up just in time for a home cooked breakfast after a very hot night sleeping in bug nets in the cabins at the stations. The turtle patrol the night before resulted in a very sandy and uncomfortable sleep, but waking up to the sound of the ocean waves was wonderful. After breakfast we learned how to bury the turtle eggs for incubation. Following that, our day consisted of a variety of activities including beach volleyball, journaling, pictionary, and cards interspersed between naps in preparation for the late night turtle patrol walk. Our patrol walk started at 9:30 at night and lasted for about 4 hours. The walk was tiring but rewarding. We were lucky enough to see another turtle which was roughly 150 cm in length and birthed over 50 eggs. Some student had troubles with mosquitoes, San flies, and blisters, but the experience was an overall success. Part of our journaling activities was to write a letter to our future selves which would be sent to us in three years. This was a very fun and meaningful experience. It challenged me to both reflect on my current state and set meaningful goals and benchmark for my future self. Overall, my personal highlight for the day was the highly competitive beach volleyball game.

May 24: The Turtle Place

By Alexis Reyes

Today we ended up driving to a place everyone is referring to as the turtle place. Honestly my expectations weren’t all that high because that’s what we were told. Once we got there we saw what it was like to live in a research stations. There was no electricity and the beds had bug nets to protect us from getting eaten alive at night. Another thing that wasn’t expected was that the patrols were from 10 at night to 2 in the morning and the last patrol being at 12 and ending at 4 in the morning. The patrols lasted four hours and they were kind of interesting. We walked on the beach without light looking for turtles only using our own night vision.

There wasn’t much to do all day, we ended up juggling a ball and cracking coconuts and drinking the water from them. I’ve honestly never liked coconut water but this was completely different and it tasted delicious. Once we went on patrol we ended up seeing a turtle, and you don’t realize how big they are until you get up close. After watching it struggle to move it’s own body weight I thought it was really weak until my ankles got smacked by the fin and then I realized they were just stuck. Although during the day wasn’t super exiting, night time was where all the experiences and the excitement began.

May 23: Farewell Pueblo Nuevo

By Sebastian Ortega

Today was sadly our last day in Zarcero, Pueblo Nuevo. The night before there were heartfelt goodbyes from our impromptu soccer teams and many of us agreed to stay in contact. It was a similar story this morning. There were many hugs given and pictures taken before we got on the bus and left. Even some tears were let loose. Just after lunch we arrive at our hotel in La Fortuna. Our plans were to go to the volcanic hot springs for the rest of the day and have dinner there as well. I dreaded that notion. Up until then it was possibly the hottest day I’ve ever lived. I felt sweat in places i didn’t even know could sweat. But luckily by some miracle it began to rain. Soon, a light drizzle turned into torrential downpour. Anywhere else that kind of rain would have been miserable but here, it was lovely. The waterslides were fast and sent you skipping across the water if you lifted your legs up as the slide ended. In the end it was a ton of fun and felt great. Our bus driver Roni became our tour guide in the hot springs and he showed us all the little secrets of the hot springs. He made our visit so much better. I was personally really worried that it was going to be miserably hot but I was happily proven wrong.

May 22: Our final day with our host families

By Charlotte Holding

We started off our day by going to the Sunday school with the hopes of finishing painting it by noon. We got 3/4 the way done when we ran out of paint and could not finish. We all went back to our host families to for a delicious lunch and some family time and then we went to Alex and Milo’s house to play some cards together. Around 4 everyone went to the soccer field and we played soccer with the local kids until 6 when we had our goodbye party. The food was incredible and we all had the opportunity to share something meaningful to our families and give them flowers. After our party we all went back to our houses for some more quality time together before we would have to leave in the morning.

May 21: Paint War

By Marigely Mut

May 21st, we are in pueblo nuevo and it’s a district from Alajuela; Costa Rica is divided by seven provinces and Alajuela is one of them. Today was the first day of us painting a Sunday school.

We spend the night with our host families. The girls are in one house, and the boys are separated, two in each house. In the morning we woke up at 8am; our host mom made us breakfast, it was some cereal, banana, coffee, bread with butter, it was really good. We needed to go to the school at 9am, so we started walking from the house to the place; it was a nice walk, the weather was awesome, because it wasn’t cold or hot; we got to the place and we were separated in teams, and that’s how we start painting the school. I loved it because it was relaxing, fun and productive. We had lunch at 12, our host parents brought us food, it was so good and we were hungry; after we finished eating, we played inside soccer with a kid name Saúl, he was nice. We kept painting until 4pm because we needed to finished the first layer of paint in all the walls. We decide that, we wanted to play soccer in the field with all the kids from the town, so we did it; it was really fun in my opinion, I love soccer. After playing soccer, we all went to our houses and shower, we were really dirty, I was full of paint in my clothes, it was a big mistake; after the shower we had dinner with our host parents and we went to bed early because we were really tired. It was a pretty fun day, it didn’t rained so it was nice.

May 20: Arriving to Pueblo Nuevo

By Skylar Canavan

After an evening of hilarious and somewhat delirious card games, we called an early night around 9:00. We all slept deliciously after our 15 hour day. The next morning, we awoke to a lovely breakfast prepared for us by the Casa Cielo Grande staff. After eating, we packed up all of our stuff, said our goodbyes and thank yous, and got settled on the bus for the long drive to Pueblo Nuevo where we would be staying with host families for the next 3 days. After winding our way through the breathtaking Costa Rican mountains for a few hours, we stopped at Zarcero park to stretch our legs. We were delighted by the uniquely trimmed hedges and beautiful church there, and we challenged ourselves to have conversations with the Tico high school kids that were getting out of school for the day and congregating in the park. Then we drove a few minutes more to lunch, where we ate casados and drank guanabana. It was only about an hour more of driving to Pueblo Nuevo. We arrived in the town’s central plaza around 1:30 where our host moms were waiting to meet us. We circled up to greet them and then all split off to go to our separate homes. The initial awkwardness wore off and we all ended up having lovely and fulfilling evenings in our host homes: house tours, homemade pizza making, monopoly and video games with host siblings, poker, guitar playing and just generally getting to know the people we would be spending the next 3 days with. We went to bed excited to tackle the mysterious community service project we were going to be completing the next day.

May 19: Welcome to Costa Rica!

By Gus Moeller

It’s difficult to tell when “today” started and when “yesterday” ended, largely due to the fact that our flight from Los Angeles was a red-eye. We boarded our flight at around 11:30PM and landed at 5:30AM with it few hours of sleep on the plane to hold us over. After we passed through customs, bleary-eyed and sarcastic, we met up with our Walking Tree guide, Amelia. After introductions we took a bus to breakfast. There, at a small open-walled tortillaria, we were introduced to gallo pinto, agua dulce, and some fantastic (and welcome!) coffee. Fast forward through a short bus ride through tight Costa Rican streets and we arrived at our hotel, Casa Cielo Grande. The hotel was absolutely amazing and we spent a couple hours resting from the flight by the pool enjoying the warm sun. After our break we headed back to the bus to drive up to the Volcano Poás. When we arrived, we hiked up to the crater and peered over the railings dented by previous eruptions’ debris, into the mist that obscured the lake below. The mist thinned for a few minutes and we were able to get a clear view of the volcano. After our time at the crater ended, we headed back down to the administration building and gift shop, to wait out the rain that had begun to fall. Suffice it to say that we didn’t wait long enough and were soaked through on our trip back to the bus! We warmed up with hot chocolate and lunch and returned to the hotel with sopping shoes and smiles where we spent the rest of the day on the deck with an amazing view of Alajuela.