Let’s go to the beach, each. Let’s go get away.
My final week in San Jose flew by. I could say it was my host mom’s delicious cooking or our five hour-long Spanish conversations about life in my two-person language course that made this week so enjoyable, but the truth is our weekend getaway to Playa Manuel Antonio really put the icing on the cake. While it had only been three full weeks since spring break, we were in desperate need of a mini vacation. We had recently survived 100+ degree weather at Palo Verde Biological Station, traveled around 3 different cities in Nicaragua, and were preparing to reenter the rainforest where we would be conducting 14 straight days of solid field and laboratory research. So yea, we deserved some beach time…not to mention it would also be our last opportunity to see a Costa Rican sunset while sitting in the sand/drinking from a coconut.
Manuel Antonio is a touristy little beach town located on Costa Rica’s central Pacific coast, just a four hour bus ride south of San Jose. And I have to say, it is definitely tied with Monteverde as my favorite destination in Costa Rica. It has a gorgeous coastline, a national park highlighting beautiful rainforest, and some great restaurants. We decided to spend our two days relaxing on the beach and eating good food…aka we didn’t feel it was necessary to pay the 16 dollars to enter the national park when we’ve been living in the rainforest and waking up to the sound of howler monkeys for an entire semester.
Hands up and touch the sky
After getting ridiculously burned (thank you sun for always reminding me of your powerful presence) and spending the entire day in the ocean on Saturday, we thought it best to get our beach activities done early Sunday morning…you know, before it got scorching hot! At 8 am we were flying high above Manuel Antonio. I’ve been parasailing once before (in Mexico, four years ago) but this experience was incomparable. Hopefully, this picture can give you a sense of how beautiful the view was: teal ocean, clear blue sky, and lush green rainforest for miles.
Back to “school”
While it was very hard to say goodbye to Manuel Antonio and my loving Costa Rican host family in San Jose, it was time to head back to La Selva and finish out my last three weeks of life in the rainforest. Fortunately, our rigorous independent research projects were not to start right away. We had a couple more “school” activities to enjoy before I would be culturing bacteria samples 24/7. My favorite activity was one related to our ethnobiology course (a class dedicated to learning the human uses of the nature that surrounds us). In the image below, you can see our creative use of the “lipstick” plant. Often used as a lipstick (obviously) or a blush for indigenous women, the bright red plant can also be used in art or to make cool temporary fern plant tattoos on your body! We also got the opportunity to do an incredible and educational 3 day visit to the indigenous community of Kékoldi where the Bri Bri people live. There we witnessed the firsthand use of many plants for medicinal and alimentary purposes. We also got to visit a chocolate co-op run completely by indigenous women within the community…a visit that was both inspiring and delicious!
It’s clear that the last two weeks have really been nothing but smooth sailing. I mean I got to parasail, relax on the beach with friends, meet wonderful Bri Bri people, and play with plants. But now it’s time to get to the real work–the part of the semester we have been preparing for since day 1. Wish me luck with research and hopefully I will find time to update you all soon!
This week I learned…
2.) how to surf…well kind of. Yes, I am from southern California and just surfed for the first time in Playa Manuel Antonio.
3.) That there is this super cool tree called the “rubber tree”. When you peel off the bark, you are peeling off actual strands of legitimate rubber. So fun.
Haylie Butler '17