Our first week in Costa Rica for Summer Session II has been full of adventure, laughter, and crazy weather! After the first few days of getting-to-know-you and orientation at the Center, we took off on our first field excursion to Poco Sol research station. With our all-important snack sandwiches packed in our bags, we got on a bus for a three hour drive to the Children’s Eternal Rainforest. The view was spectacular the entire way there — Costa Rica is incredibly green and there are mountains everywhere you turn! After reaching the road to the station, we hiked up to where we would be staying (which looked mostly like a large and very nice tree house) and got settled in to our temporary home.
It didn’t take us long to figure out where Poco Sol gets its name — we soon had to break out our rain gear for our orientation hike through the trails surrounding the station, and even with that most of us ended up pretty wet! We learned all about different plants in the forest and were given a rundown of what the expectations were for our first field exercise, which was to formulate our own field studies in small groups based on observations we made on the hike.
After taking a break because of some particularly intense rain, we hiked back up into the forest to take a look at some fumaroles that heat up part of a stream that runs through the forest — a wonderful, if smelly, experience! Afterward, we returned to the station and divided into groups for the field exercise before attending a class with Achim on the history of the Costa Rican conservation system. We then relaxed a bit over dinner before splitting off to either return to the dorm building or go on a night hike! Those who chose the hike accompanied Achim and Edgardo down to a lagoon nearby the station in the hopes of encountering some amphibious friends. We did see a few cane toads and several frogs, and luckily avoided any run-ins with the infamous fer-de-lance (a poisonous snake native to Costa Rica). Finally, we all turned in for the night in preparation for the next day’s activities.
During our second day at Poco Sol, we all headed out into the field to collect data for our studies. Some of the topics included tadpole coloring and camouflage strategies, studying ferns and their relationships to other vegetation, and examining the importance of adventitious roots. After collecting all that we needed, we all packed up and hopped back on the bus to return to the SFS Center! All in all, a grand adventure!