Que será será

I have always been that kid who reads the syllabus online before the instructor goes over it in class. I’m the kid who buys all the textbooks early to get an early start on the reading. I’m the kid who has her course schedule printed out and memorized well before the start of a semester. Education is my life, and I pride myself on being over-prepared.

But this semester, I could not be further removed from that element. There is no semester schedule or program itinerary provided to the students, so every day is spent waiting on the word of the program leaders about what we will be doing. We did receive and review this semester’s syllabi today—so I have an idea of what to expect—but much of the next four months remains a mystery, revealed only in tantalizing tidbits a day at a time. It’s unlike anything that I have experienced before, save perhaps in early childhood.

I can already tell that this semester will stretch me in more ways than I knew possible. I had an inkling of that going in, but somehow I assumed that the immersive homestay, or the close quarters at the remote field stations, or the rigor of the long days conducting field research would be the most challenging part. I’m sure those will all bring challenges of their own, but for the time being, I’m learning how to comfortably not know everything. It’s surprisingly liberating.

Here’s a quick country map. We’re in San José at the moment, but we depart for Palo Verde Biological Station (in the northwest) bright and early tomorrow morning. I hear that it’s famed for the sunsets. I can’t wait!
Our hotel is a beautiful blend of rooms and gardens. I’ve spent much of the last two days investigating the exciting and unfamiliar plant species.
Passion flower! I believe it’s Passiflora edulis, a vine which is not native to this area but is often cultivated for both its tasty fruit and pretty ornamental properties.
Mimosa pudica, or “sensitive plant.” A light touch is enough to make those little leaflets fold along the stem in a thigmonastic response. See the real-time video below!
There was a steady stream of leafcutter ants spanning about ten feet of a sidewalk in San José, but this fellow was the only one moving slowly enough for my camera to focus. Sluggard.


Sunset over San José viewed from the roof of the hotel.

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