Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Tues June 26

Hi everyone!

This is Liz and MJ with our last blog post of the trip!  We are giving the kids the night off so they can get packed up and ready to depart in the morning.

We had a great day here at Horizonte Research Station in the Guanacaste (which means "ear tree" because the seed pods look like a human ear) Province. A troop of white-face monkeys joined us for breakfast. They were searching the nearby mango trees for their breakfast and we got quite a show while we ate ours.  At one point one of them threw a mango at us.  After that we had a great hike with the naturalist Freddie in the dry forest which ended at a water drop with spectacular view.

After a little rest and lunch we headed to the beach. It was a gorgeous day and we were amazed at how warm the water was. (Warmer than our recent showers for sure!) The kids had a blast body surfing and playing soccer on the beach. We came back to a beautiful BBQ put on for us by the staff here at Horizonte.

Finally, we just have to say that your kids have been extraordinary on this trip.  We have received numerous compliments about their friendliness, respectfulness, inclusiveness, responsibility and overall fun outlooks!  We have heard this from Pablo and Ana at Finca la Anita, from the staff there, from the van drivers, and from the scientists. So kudos to all of you and thanks for sharing your kids with us. We have loved every minute.

Signing off- Survivor Costa Rica Champions, Liz and MJ

Monday, June 25, 2018

Day 9 by Mariah, Sydney, and Eliana

As of this morning, we departed from the lovely Finca la Anita. Let's just say that Finca la Anita is very beautiful. We took a long road trip to Horizontes (our next destination) and it is less beautiful than Finca.  On our way there we stopped at a super market in Liberia to pick up some goodies. Before we left the market, a man approached us with a cart full of fresh coconuts for $1 so some of us decided to enjoy fresh coconut water (YUMMMM). Lucky for us, Eddie, our favorite driver allowed us to listen to our music the whole way there; so we danced it out and screamed at  the top of our lungs while playing a competitive game of Uno. When we arrived, we saw the Horizontes Research Station and saw that it is.... VERY rustic. When we got to our rooms we had to check underneath our beds and mattresses for scorpions (SCARY). Forever a gallant hero, Liz courageously slayed a scorpion from one of the seniors beds.  Following the scorpion incident, we decided to check around and found a unisex shared bathroom covered in ants. We are definitely doing some character building here!  Much to our relief, it was soon lunch time so we happily dove into some chicken and rice. Then we attended a presentation on turtles given by Veronica, a marine biologist. She taught us about the different kinds of sea turtles, and the ones that come to nest on the beach near by. We are all excited to patrol the beach for turtles tonight from 8:30-midnight. During Veronica's presentation on turtles, a rescued toucan names Luis flew in. He is very beautiful and made us laugh when he hopped around on the table. Unfortunately, Ana had to shoo him out so we could finish the presentation. Despite our "rustic" circumstances, we are all looking forward to spending time at the beach tomorrow and tonight. We will be home in T-2 days, we miss you all!


Mariah, Sydney, and Eliana
(Here are some pictures from yesterday and today)

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Day 8 June 24

Day 8 blog by Connor.

The day started off with the typical breakfast, starting at around 7:30.
There we were served: eggs with chicken, rice with beans, watermelon,
pineapple, yogurt, and an excellent guava juice.
Following breakfast we got another hour and thirty minutes to wrap up our
experiment and presentations. Our groups were under a ton of stress
considering we changed our project two days ago.
We were sitting on the deck inserting our final data into the
presentation when Ibrahim came by and helped us finish up right before the deadline.
Presentations lasted around three hours with our group pretty much going last.
After presentations we went directly to lunch where we got spaghetti.
Lunch was delicious with another amazing kiwi juice.
Right after lunch, we gathered our stuff and headed to a second waterfall in a tractor.
It was a bumpy ride! Once we got there we were met with Minnesotans at an organic farm.
She took us through her farm and introduced us to the French tour guide.
We started the hike around 1pm on nice flat grass.
However, it slowly become more and more difficult.
The trail was covered in mud along with sections where we crossed the streams.
We arrived at the waterfall 30 minutes later with an amazing view.
The waterfall was huge and pretty deep.
As we ventured down towards the waterfall we began to question
how we would be able to get back up once we realized it was pouring,
we had no clue what to do. We ended up just going with the flow and trekked through it.
Everyone’s boots were filled to the top with water, which made it extremely hard to
get back up the hills. When we were almost done with swimming it began down pouring,
and all of the rain water came flying down the hill.
We eventually got the okay to go onto the trail so we went ahead on our gnarly
adventure consisting of mud and rain boots filled with water along the way.
We arrived back at the farm and were greeted with coffee, and flavored water,
with a fire to sit by. Everyone took  the tractor home and we later arrived at Finca la Anita.
Once home, everyone went straight to dinner.
Dinner consisted of chicken, pork, beans and another mango juice.
Today was one to remember!!
Tomorrow we leave Finca la Anita and head to Horizontes research station!

Starting our hike

Our group, CHAM(P) presenting our research.

Students on the trail

swimming at the waterfall

Recovering from the cray hike at Hacienda Luz del Corazon

Add caption

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Day 7 by Mitchell and Ben

Announced by Steve Irwin: Day 7 out here in the wild. It's come down to the wire on the cannibalism pact that was made when we arrived here. Theo's leg is looking mighty fine right now.

Today was a science packed day with a lot of hard work and stress involved. Our group had barely started on our experiment when we woke up this morning.We got the our daily dose of rice and beans at breakfast (we need McDonald's badly), and got to work. At first, we checked our preliminary experiment which had actually gone according to plan, leading us to start our actual experiment. The first few hours were not so good, we saw little to no results and were worried we would not finish our project in time. After a little counseling from the G.O.A.T. Allan, we decided to switch from a lab experiment to a field experiment. We went out after lunch while the other two members of our group did some research that they conducted in the lab. After about 2 hours of being out in the field, we finally had all of the data that we needed and were just in time for our coffee break. In which there were cinnamon rolls but with chocolate instead of cinnamon on the inside. Eventually, we had to get the "exact" data from our experiment and added it to our final presentation. For the rest of the night we worked hard to finish our presentation for the morning.

All the other groups are working to meet tomorrow's deadline! (Our's will be the best presentation)

Collecting data for our experiment

Sydney: Wants to sleep
Mitchell: Thinking about what food to get at the airport
Eliana: Zoning out due to sheer boredom and exhaustion
Ben: "Contemplating Life"

Photos- Saturday, June 23

Saturday morning

Good morning parents and friends-

All is well. The students are hard at work and will be doing science all day. They are doing a GREAT job!

There will be a full blog post later, but we are just letting you know that we have added a link to our google folder with the pictures that we have so far.  Look on the right side of the page, under "Home".

We will add more pictures as we go.

Liz and MJ

Friday, June 22, 2018

Day 6 by Alana and Anna

Day 6 is brought to you by Alana and Anna

Our day started by waking up to an alarm at 5:30 a.m. Alana and Anna realized waking up was getting harder and harder everyday. Breakfast was served at 6:00 a.m, cacao nib pancakes were on the menu. The vans left at 6:45 a.m to Rincon de la Vieja, a Costa Rican National Park. Once we squished into the vans, our amazing driver, Felix, allowed us to plug into the AUX and he joined in on the legendary jam session. We listened to throwback songs from NSYNC, Michael Jackson, and obviously, Katy Perry. After an hour and a half drive to the national park, the gang had no idea they were about to embark on a five hour hike. Ten minutes into the hike, we crossed a stream and almost stepped on a small but venomous snake. Shortly after, we got an alert from our adorable guide, Freddy, that there were spider monkeys and howler monkeys above us in the canopy. For about half an hour we watched the spider monkeys as they "performed" acrobatic tricks for us. After taking a million pictures, we trudged through the rain forest, seeing many species of bugs including stinkbugs, cicadas, fire ants, and stick bugs.

After slipping, tripping, and laughing for about two hours, the gang finally arrived at the natural thermal springs. Leaving our friendly boots and tube socks behind, we hopped into the water and submerged ourselves in the eggish smelling water (the water smelt like eggs because of sulfur). The iconic Eddy, our faithful driver and companion, found some natural exfoliating clay and put it everywhere, influencing us to do the same. After taking some disgustin' (inside joke @Mitchell) pictures, we finally headed to the waterfall. Once we arrived, we slowly made our way down the slippery slope into the waterfall and swimming hole. After having hypothermia, we slowly got used to the temperature of the water, and everyone enjoyed jumping off the rocks into the brisk water. (For all the moms concerned about safety, we didn't get actual hypothermia, and the water was deep enough for us to jump in). The waterfall was the highlight of the day but it sadly had to end and the gang had to make their way back to the vans. The hike back was another two hours but felt much longer because we had to walk up rocky hills. Before leaving we had a nice picnic in an abandoned looking historical building that Teddy Roosevelt stayed at to train U.S troops in the jungle. The picnic consisted of american hot ham and cheese sandwiches, potato chips, juice, and some amaaaaazing chocolate cookies. The drive back to Finca was equally as legendary with Felix, featuring Bruno Mars, Miley Cyrus, and Felix's personal favorite, AC-DC.

When we got back, it was time to work on our experiments. Quick FYI, after three days of studying leaf cutter ant colonies, the scientists gave us a choice to study water quality. Anna's group is determining the change in dissolved oxygen and turbidity after rainfall. After two days of no rain, almost all hope was lost for having the necessary rainfall. So naturally Anna stood beside the pond and did the "rain dance" which looked a little like hula dancing, which actually worked and made it storm. Alana's group is studying bacteria diversity and pH levels in different bodies of water near the village and deeper in the rain forest to determine whether humans drastically effect water quality. Getting the water samples from the streams and pond was tricky, Alana slipped many times but gracefully recovered... not really. Although Alana and Anna's groups are studying water, other groups are studying leaf cutter ants or biodiversity in a variety of ways.

Although the dinner was really good, we had to get back to experimenting. Anna's group quickly headed to the pond and nearby river to collect dissolved oxygen levels, temperature, and turbidity, only to deal with frogs jumping into the samples. Alana's group successfully collected their final samples and swabbed their bacteria onto petri dishes, tomorrow they will test pH (acidity).

As we write this blog we are anticipating taking a much needed shower and sleeping with the friendly lizard that lives in our cabin. Thanks for exploring with us, goodnight!

PS Alana and Anna have both been invited to Eddy's wedding next year :)

Our super sweet tour guide, Freddy

Our "healthy" hike

The killer... but he's cute

Natural Thermal Springs

Waterfall fun!

Rustic dining at historic National Park building

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Day 5 by Madeline and Hanna

            Hola! We are writing to you after a long day filled with many exciting and memorable activities. Our day started at the impossibly early time of 5:30 a.m. which is 4:30 a.m. to you guys. We had to eat breakfast at 6:00 in order to leave for horseback riding at 6:30. Breakfast consisted of the usual flavorful rice and beans along with eggs, queso, and delicious juice.
            We piled into our van with our awesome driver Eddie. Along the way we sang to NSYNC and it's been stuck in our heads all day. When we arrived at "Cerro Frio", the horse place, they put us in order based on our previous experience. We were than matched with horses based on our experience level. Unfortunately, those of us who were deemed most experienced actually knew pretty much nothing. This was a learning experience. Once we set off on the trail it was clear that each of the horses had their own very unique personalities. The trail was absolutely breathtaking. We went through eucalyptus trees, and crossed over rivers. When we got to the end, we had a gorgeous view and could see Lake Nicaragua. Once the horses knew that we were getting close to their homes on the way back, they all decided to speed up... very fast.
              Due to our early departure and horseback ride, we had 5 hours of free time! We all spent this time in different ways. Some went to play cards and all the guys trekked to the market. Meanwhile Eliana and ourselves proceeded to get almost lost in the rain forest trying to get pictures. In  the middle of free time we ate lunch! We had amazing fish (literally the best fish you could ever eat) we ate salad, rice, beans and in the words of Hanna Schneider, "the greatest iced tea on the face of the planet."
             After another break we started the science part of our day at 2:00. During this time we split into our groups and started our experiments. Some of us studied fancy things like dissolved oxygen in bodies of water. Others studied pH and bacteria levels in bodies of water. Finally the last group of us stuck with the Atta Cephalotes a.k.a. the leaf cutter ants and worked with repelling ants with association. We continued with our projects until 5:00, which is when we departed for our next adventure.
             Our next experience was at "Cafe Campesino". This was definitely one of the most memorable experiences so far on our trip. Immediately after we arrived we were greeted with open arms...literally (best hug ever). During this ordeal we helped to prepare an amazing, authentic, Costa Rican meal. It included pollo cariveno (chicken that originated from the Caribbean side of Costa Rica), arroz y frijoles (rice and beans), verduras (vegetables), ensalada (salad), plantains, and tortillas, and queso (cheese). For dessert prestinos, which was amazing. Some of the members tried lemons juice and salt which was fun to watch while making tortillas. As suspected the meal was amazing but what was really great came afterwards. Lets just say dancing and singing with a bunch of people who you don't know and don't speak the language of is unforgettable. It was a very much indescribable experience and our time spent with the people there was extremely memorable.
          And we close at 9:06 p.m. with well wishes from everybody here at Finca La Anita!

Buenos Noches!
Madeline y Hanna.
Horseback riding.

Final product!

Us with friends at Cafe Campesino.
We made a new friend today!

Tues June 26

Hi everyone! This is Liz and MJ with our last blog post of the trip!  We are giving the kids the night off so they can get packed up ...