Last Saturday, we split into our Directed Research groups and headed for Manuel Antonio, Palo Verde, Santa Teresa, and Cerro de la Muerte. It was difficult to leave three fourths of the people we’ve spent nearly every waking moment with for the past three months, but also exciting to explore a new region of the country and get started on our research projects. I headed to Cerro de la Muerte prepared for no WiFi, freezing cold nights, and nothing to do after 6 pm. Our time on the “Mountain of Death” was dysfunctional at times but way more fun than we imagined.
Here are some things I learned during our eight days there:
1.Don’t hold a hummingbird with cold hands (might kill them!).
2. Pay attention when you’re ordering at the restaurant because you may accidentally end up with tongue.
3. Don’t get too close to the edge of the cliff when you’re trying to take artsy pictures.
4. Don’t get your hopes up when setting up nets in the páramo because there is only one hummingbird there and she will not get caught in that net no matter how large it is or how many times you move it.
5. Surviving a week without WiFi is possible! Our days were spent mist netting hummingbirds, hiking to the páramo, observing hummingbirds feeding, and (my personal favorite) identifying pollen samples under the microscope. The páramo was disappointing in terms of data collection, but it was beautiful and offered ample time for group bonding.
Overall, we gained valuable research experience and enjoyed the break from the hot, dry weather in Atenas, but I for one was happy to get back to the Center and start our final week in Costa Rica with the rest of the group.