The students at the SFS Center for Sustainable Development Studies in Atenas, Costa Rica arrived just three weeks ago and it has been a packed three weeks! Every week so far, we have gone on a gira (the Spanish word for “field trip” or “excursion”). So far, we have hit the Caribbean side of Costa Rica in Guapiles while visiting the DOLE plantation and a sustainable farm; we ventured to the north to Santa Rosa to visit a dry forest; we then hit the beach at the Tarcoles River, had a class in a mangrove forest; visited Carara National Park; and as I am writing this, the students are surveying tourists at the Poas Volcano.
My favorite field trip so far has been the gira to Santa Rosa National Park. This was my first time visiting the park and I got to see some incredible things that I had yet to see in my 8 months in Costa Rica. Even the bathroom stop on the way to the park was filled with toucans and scarlet macaws!
We set up tent upon arrival and then had our first Tropical Ecology class in the middle of the dry forest. We then summited to a great lookout point where the students had an extremely windy but beautiful Natural Resource Management class to learn about the history of Santa Rosa and the great Guanacaste region. The area was an old cattle ranch dating back to the 1700s, but it was reforested in the 80s, led by the “father of conservation” in Costa Rica, Daniel Janzen. We even got to see Janzen dining in Santa Rosa.
The students spent the rest of the weekend working on their research projects for Tropical Ecology. During our time in Santa Rosa, we saw a pit viper, multiple white faced monkeys with their babies, scorpions, and some incredible birds. The same troop of monkeys surrounded our tent and we got to learn from a researcher who has been studying this group for over 7 years. On our last night, we took a night hike through the dry forest and saw a plethora of insects and an incredible full moon. I think it is safe to say that we all went home feeling content and much cleaner than we all expected.