Saturday, March 12, 2016

Semana siete/week seven (2/14-2/22) Monteverde, Costa Rica

This week was more of 'lets get stuff done before you go on vacation' than anything. We had papers due, a midterm and two brand new long-term assignments. I can't complain, it's got nothing on the one week last semester where I had two labs, two tests, seven hours of homework and an oral exam. That was rough. Anyway, midterm was on Thursday and, like all tests, it was stressful. It was actually 20% of my grade so I really hope I did well. And that my professor is willing to give partial credit. The first paper due was actually a proposal for my final project in my Tropical Ecology course. It wasn't hard and was actually really fun to write. My project got approved, just FYI. It's on ant behavior. I am very excited. The other paper was a single page on Solanaceae, or the Nightshade family. That was actually really fun to write too as many of my favorite foods are in that family. Eggplant for one, tomatoes and, of course, potatoes. (And now I really want to cook) The second long term assignment is kind of a roll-play negotiation simulation. It's gonna be so much fun. I am kind of the bad-guy in it, in that I represent the coffee farmers who are polluting the river with the cherries from their beans. Fortunately I have the perfect solution and with a bit of maneuvering, I am sure things will all work out as I planed. I am really looking forward to this, can you tell?

We didn't have any field trips this week, we're saving all that for the next week where we are going to be running around the country visiting national parks. But I started my final project for Tropical Ecology! Actually I started my project, seriously revised my methodology and they tried again. It worked the second time but the first had me sitting in the damp for an hour staring at a piece of fruit in honey for an hour while nothing happened. The second time was much more fun and had results that support my hypothesis! Which I don't feel like reveling. It has to do with ants, that's all I will say. I also visited the Monteverde Reserve with one of the other students who is doing her Tropical Ecology project on hummingbirds and needed a hand taking data at the feeders they have up there. We saw Purple-throated Mountain-gems, Violet Sabrewings, Green Violet Ears, Green-crowned Brilliants, Coppery-headed Emeralds and Magenta Throated Woodstars. It was wonderful. There were more than one hundred of them, swooping past us like we didn't exist. The Mountain-gems were especially bold and more than once one stopped inches from my face and hovered for a few seconds, I think trying to figure our whether I was a flower and if so where my nectar was. I didn't get impaled by any beaks so clearly upon closer inspection I do not resemble a flower. Mores the pity.

We did visit Bajo del Tigre again for a Tropical Ecology lab. We counted visitation of pollinators to the flowers there. It was interesting in that the subject is fascinating and we were outside but I had about three pollinators visit my plant in two hours. But the plant was covered in ants. So I counted ants for two hours. Also saw a squirrel cuckoo again! That was exciting. It actually does act like a squirrel, it hops from tree to tree and does a weird flip with its tail to stay balanced.

That afternoon I went to a local Soda (a tiny restaurant, locally owned) called El Pollo (chicken) for lunch with one other girl in my group. We talked, bought pastry before hand and generally enjoyed the delicious food. I had been wanting to go there since we had arrived but hadn't had the opportunity. I had chicken, salad and a tortilla topped in a really spicy pickled sauce. It was delicious. As it turned out, we were lucky that we went when we did because not three days later the restaurant burned down. It was a bit of a shock to walk past it on my way to the Institute and see a smoking ruin where I had enjoyed lunch a few days before hand. It really is too bad, they had excellent food. It was actually attached to a larger restaurant that was where the fire started. It was called Johnny's and I never really felt inclined to eat there, too touristy.

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