I’m Afraid of Bugs, Dirt, and Germs (& I can’t swim). Was Caño Palma has Tough as I Thought it Would Be?

As part of our GCELE experience we have to blog about our experiences in Costa Rica. The posts have be short which makes sense, so I picked 3 very specific topics. If you have any questions about things I didn’t cover, feel free to reach out @AmeliaR_N. These blogs will also be reposted on my personal blog.

Before Cano Palma people who knew me would crinkle their faces and respond with “Why are you going?” or worse, they’d smirk and say “You’re going to die.” I’m not very big on the great outdoors.

When I got back most people would say “You survived!?! Was it as bad as you thought?”

Here’s the thing. It was amazing and I’m extremely proud of the work I did there. That being said it wasn’t like I showed up and was greeted by a 5 star or even 2 star resort. Conservation work is extremely hard and when you Google ‘how many Sea Turtles are left?” or some other question, the amount of work that went in to that answer you searched in 0.40 seconds is staggering.

fbpost^As soon as I got WiFi I wanted to tell the world what was happening.^

Here is a list of some of the tougher things we experienced on our trip ( a small look at all the work conservationist do):

  • Washroom Things
    There was no hot water –ever. To conserve water you flushed by pouring half a bottle of rain water into the toilet. The water on base tasted heavily like metal. I used very little water to shower or brush my teeth (which I did in the company of giant bugs).

washrom

  • Bedroom Things

It was always hot in the rainforest and never dry. We had a fan we could use if Necessary. Since people worked all hours of the day and night, the rooms were almost always dark (so people could sleep whenever) and very quiet. We slept in bunk-beds which we had to cover with Mosquito nets. Those nets made it extra hot but it was either that or get eaten alive –your call.

bed

  • Workload Things

The shifts were varied and 24/7. Patrolling the beach to protect Sea Turtles, Hiking in the jungle to track animals and record data, working in the community, tagging trees, maintenance around the station. The chores were endless, usually very physical, and never ending. We were told that Centennial’s presence was a big help because it allowed overworked-scientists to catch up on rest and recover from illnesses.

workload^Wearing dark clothes with long sleeves for the hot Night patrol (can’t scare the turtles away!)^

  • The Nature Thing

It was always hot and always wet.  Clothes never dried. Shoes and feet were always damp. This meant you were always, damp, itchy and sore. Bugs might not be a problem for everyone but the bugs were huge. A bird flew in the room once which was cool until I realized it was actually just a big bug.walk^My regular walk from the dorms to the kitchen^

  • The Isolation Thing

WiFi was scarce and you were working nonstop but in the few off times you’d sometimes notice how out of touch you were with your ‘home-life’ and while it’s not always a bad thing, it can be lonely.us^IT HELPED THAT THESE GREAT PEOPLE WERE HERE.^

Stay tuned to read about my favourite part of the trip!

@AmeliaR_N

FIVE THINGS TO DO IN LLANO BONITO

FIVE THINGS TO DO IN LLANO BONITO

This is my compiled list of five things to do in Llano Bonito, Costa Rica. As well as, it can be a guide for making the best out of your rural living-condition experience.

By: Sherry Ing, Centennial College Massage Therapy student currently in Costa Rica.

  1. HikingOn your sole, get set, GO! In Llano Bonito, there are routes and passages that you can discover by foot with a hiking companion ofcourse. I personally wouldn’t go alone, two mind is better then one. I like to hear someone with a different view set as me and can point out things that I might otherwise have not seen with my own eyes. Along the unmarked path, sometimes there are no sidewalks, along the hills, you can get a taste of the edible berries and fruits from trees and bushes. Not sure what they are, but its good to have a local person guide you on what fruits that can be eaten. An unfamiliar fruit I had tasted was a “Manzana de agua” (translated as water apple in Spanish) Everyday the weather is different and you can always guarantee that the same place looks different. Sometimes you can be walking through the mist and fog, or have lightning and thunder in the background.
  1. Fotbol FieldGoal! There is a solo outdoor fótbol (soccer in Spanish) field in Llano Bonito. It is bigger then the indoor soccer field located within the elementary school of Llano Bonito. Every Friday evenings, the female and male soccer players would have a game there. My homestay brothers play a family soccer game every Sunday with their cousins after church in the outdoor field. Sometimes there is a serious soccer game played on a Sunday there. People of all ages would gather to watch it behind the fence or sit on top of their cars.
  1. Play dress up and find the needle in a haystack. There are little shops that you can find and buy used clothing. It is sometimes San Pablocalled “tiende de ropa americana” ¢200-¢300. You can find interesting patterns and fabrics from the mountain pile of clothings. It really is a workout and like finding a needle in a haystake as I mostly watch the girls pull clothing out of the pile and help with the pulling and stacking as well.
  1. Its good to get out of the district once in awhile. Take the bus to the nearest canton, such as San Pablo or San Marcos. The cost for a bus ticket is approximately ¢900 Colones.
  1. Attention all Coffee Lover out there, visit a coffee plantation and learn how its processed and how they do it here in Llano Bonito. It’s a 24 hour non stop coffee assembly during November to February and sometimes March. Local family and workers that come from the nearest country such as Nicaragua during this time to help out with the coffee picking and the production. It is also the summer season and time of harvest for the coffee plants.

A GLANCE INTO A DAY AT WORK IN SAN RAFAEL ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

A GLANCE INTO A DAY AT WORK IN SAN RAFAEL ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

I have documented and shown a day into my life as an intern in Llano Bonito at an elementary school called San Rafael and what my Monday looks like last week.

By Sherry Ing, Centennial College Massage Therapy student currently in Costa Rica

5:30am

Woken up to the sound of my brothers leaving for work. The Mother Hen is always busy in the kitchen early in the morning to prepare us breakfast.  I ate a traditional breakfast called pinto: fried eggs, rice with beans, and sour cream on the side.

8:30am

Started work at the San Rafael elementary school and ended at 11:30 am. The children just returned from a 2 week vocation. We helped the English teacher with the kids by reviewing potential topics for their upcoming test. We utilized active learning. I had the children play a mini competition between each other when they reviewed their shapes. I drew a robot and a house and gave instructions to the children to construct the same drawings by dictating in English to them a shape to draw.

12:30pm

Coffee PlantationWe visited and toured Coope Llano Bonito coffee plantation. This is a fair trade certified coffee plantation in Llano Bonito. Fair trade certification is a set of guidance that the plantation follow so their workers are treated fairly in terms of work payment and working condition along with how the coffee process is done. Our tour guide is an Engineer and showed the group around the plantation. He talked about the grading of coffee and the stock exchange in New York, U.S regarding coffee prices. During their busy season, mid November to February, sometimes into March, the plantation runs 24 hours. They have machines that reduces the number of manual labours in the process. There is a hot and humidity control systems that the coffee go through.

1:00pm

Hiked up the mountains, came across trails of ants carrying miniature leaf cuttings along the way.

5:00 pm

Visited a friend and their friendly Iguana. We did some cardio workout as well and lyrical dance with her daughter to her favourite songs by her favourite pop idol.

8:00pm

Returned home for dinner. I had choyote, potatoes, fried plantains, white rice, red beans, and a side of aquacate.