Life in Costa Rica

I can’t actually figure out how to put this text in with the photos! So if you’re reading this then be aware there are two preceding posts with some photos that I’ve added, so don’t forget to look at those too!

Sorry for not writing for a bit, (yes I have been told off), for a start internet access is pretty limited, and also we have kind of gotten into a routine on base so I also felt that there was not much new to report.  I have now given myself a solid clip around the ears and reminded myself I´m doing amazing stuff so now back on track!

Life at the station is pretty good, we´ve settled right in, and in fact the people that were only staying for 5 weeks are finished already.  Its really hard to believe how fast time is flying by.  Im starting to really take the time to sit back and enjoy the amazing things that surround me on a daily basis.

– There are no cars.  The biological station is only accessible by boat.  There are a fair few boats buzzing past (one of our weekly tasks is to keep a log on one day a week of the number, so we can report to the conservation agency the impact of boat traffic in the region), but in general it means things are amazingly peaceful.  The loudest noises are the thousands of frogs and birds in the area who make a racket at all times of the day and night, followed by the distant crashing of the waves from the beachfront

-The wildlife is absolutely amazing, and I´d say the highlight of the experience out here.  It is SO cool to look up while having a read in the garden and to be able to see monkeys swinging from the trees, dozy iguanas falling out of trees (they do this all the time), hummingbirds drinking nectar from flowers, frogs & toads, and even snakes if we are very lucky.  There was a BIG snake in the dormitories the other day, it was not poisonous but it was at least 5 feet long and we had to chase it out… The Mouse Oppossum in the previous photos is a NAUGHTY creature, it looks very cute but it eats everything that it can get its paws on.  We are strictly forbidden to keep food in the dormitories, and one of the reasons is that the oppossum will eat through your bag to get to any food left in them….

-Turtle season has been quite slow to start this year, but we are starting to see more activity which is great.  A couple of other turtle related activities we´ve undertaken recently:

There is an organisation called the Carribbean Conservation Corporation (CCC) and they have participated in something called a Tour de Turtle.  This is a study whereby 10 turtles from around the world (2 from the Tortuguero area) are satellite tagged and released back into the ocean, then hopefully they are able to be tracked to see where they go.  Turtles travel thousands and thousands of miles between their nesting grounds and feeding grounds, and we still do not know exactly where they go.  This study will hopefully help with understanding this a bit more fully.

GVI also does a weekly walk which aims to study an emerging phenomenon specific to the Tortuguero area which is the predation of green turtles by Jaguars.  The numbers of predated turtles have been rising and rising over the past few years, potentially due to reduction in the natural rainforest habitat of the Jags, or possibly just because turtles make easy eating!  The Jaguars kill the turtles by taking one bite out of their neck, then don´t bother to eat any more of the turtle, instead leaving them dead on the beach for scavengers.  I partially completed one of these study walks with a PhD student who is doing her thesis on the diet of green turtles.  To study this she required samples of their carapace – as you can tell from human hair and fingernails clues about diet and health, you can also extract information about the turtles´diet from the layers of carapace as they grow.  It was a LONG day on the beach while she drilled samples from these dead turtles, and as they were all in various stages of decomposition it was fairly gruesome as well.  But once again it shows us how we are actually contributing to science and research.

I´m having a long weekend at the moment – the 5 weekers are heading home, and a new lot of 5 week people will be coming in, and of course those of us staying longer will be heading back to the station as old hands.  I´ve travelled with 11 others over to the Arenal area of Costa Rica.  We´re staying in La Fortuna which is a small tourist town at the base of Arenal Volcano.  Arenal is an active volcano which towers over the town.  Yesterday I had an amazing day, in the morning we went up to the La Fortuna waterfall which is huge and incredibly beautiful, dropping 50m or so through rainforest into a mountain stream.  We went swimming at the base of the waterfall, fighting the strong current but enjoying the cool crystal clear waters.

Last night we booked a tour to check out the live volcano, a very bumpy ride followed by a short hike to a viewing hut.  The guide handed out rum n cokes (strictly medicinal, to keep us warm while we waited) and we waited for the volcano to do its stuff.  The night was a bit cloudy, but we were rewarded for our patience with two short bursts of red lava shooting up into the night sky like fireworks.  We then were taken to the free hot springs (as opposed to the very built-up luxury ones, where you have to pay a small fortune to get into).  These were basically a HOT river flowing down from the volcano!  Our guide had brought some flaming tiki torches and sitting in this steaming hot, fast-flowing river by flickering torch light was an amazing experience.

I´m heading back into the jungle tomorrow for another 5 week stint, tonight we´re having dinner and some drinks to say goodbye to those heading home…. I hope all reading this are well and happy and I´ll update again soon!

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4 Responses to “Life in Costa Rica”

  1. Iris Says:

    Thanks Jess – it is great to be able to experience this vicariously!

  2. rachel Says:

    sounds awesome! how is the spanish coming along?

  3. Auntie P Says:

    Absolutely fasinating ! Sounds like you are having a wonderful time – I am so pleased. xx

  4. Mark K Says:

    Was great to receive your mail. You look so happy and vibrant it’s fantastic to see the difference a few months saving the planet can have on someone. Clearly you’re having a fantastic time.

    Keep up the blogs they’re really good to read, and the photo’s show you’re getting healthier, happier and fitter by the week. (not that you were an old grouchy slob before you went) You know what I mean.

    Life here hasn’t changed a great deal, crap summer (despite met office warnings of a hot one!) redundancies continuing at our old company.

    My house is the most decorated, extended and beautifully tended ever. So bored, I’m sad to say that I’ve started missing work and am now in active discussions with a few companies. Will keep you updated.

    Take care and keep having loads of fun. LOL

    Mark

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