Drinking Problems

Costa Rica takes their coffee very seriously. Since 1989, the government has forbidden the growing of the lesser coffee, Coffea canephora (robusta). It is only legal to cultivate Coffea arabica, which is considered the superior coffee because its lower caffeine content decreases bitterness and allows for more subtle flavors. If you buy specialty coffee, you’re buying […]

Mandatory Fun

I have long excelled at doing nothing. One of my favorite childhood pastimes was sitting on a riverside rock for hours upon end, whiling away the summer just watching the fish, frogs, and water voles cavort in the current. Then adulthood came and I was expected to actually do things with my time, so that childhood habit fell […]

Searious Business

Another week, another sunburn. But this time it’s from the Panamanian sun, so I shall fondly cherish it as a souvenir. We have just emerged from the wilds of Bocas del Toro, a Caribbean archipelago in the northernmost province of Panama. Literally called “Mouths of the Bull,” the island chain is a maze of twisting channels and […]

Spring Breaking with the Breakers

  Aside from the San Pedro homestay period, there has been little time for extracurricular exploration. But then Easter heralded the arrival of Spring Break, whereupon all the students got booted out into the great unknown and were told to not bother anyone for a week. Seven friends from the program and I have decided to stick together, so our merry band […]

Head in the Clouds

I’ve been living in a cloud for the last week. After ample research and an extensive analysis of the data, I think I can reasonably conclude that clouds are very wet. Also very cold. We’re staying at San Gerardo station in “Bosque Eterno de los Niños,”  an extremely biodiverse nature reserve spanning 22,000 hectares in and around the cloud […]

Life in the City

We’ve made it to the city in one piece! …More or less, after the mosquitoes have taken their pound of flesh. We’re presently in the midst of our homestay in San Pedro, a city within the metropolitan area of Costa Rica’s capital, San José. After several weeks in constant company, all of us students are […]

Bugs, bugs, bugs!

I love arthropods. Perhaps to an unhealthy degree. But I realize that many people do not (and for the record, they are wrong), so I am trying to contain my enthusiasm to a single post. There may be a part II later, though. First, a small dose of unsolicited education: bugs, insects, and arthropods are not the […]

Peak Experience

After the last couple of weeks at Palo Verde National Park, we packed up our sunburns and headed off to a new location. Destination: Cuericí Biological Station, high in the Talamanca mountain range of Costa Rica. Much of the area is a recently restored montane oak forest, courtesy of landowner Don Carlos who works to […]

Mud, Glorious Mud

Today, the classroom was a mudpit. And a most pretty mudpit, at that. We spent the better part of the day hiking through a mangrove forest occupying the brackish swamp where the freshwater Tempisque river meets the salty Colorado gulf. We took our first quiz of the semester whilst sitting in a semicircle on fallen […]

Another Semester, Another Campus

My morning began with a beautiful hike through the tropical dry forest here in Palo Verde National Park, Costa Rica. It’s surprising how quickly that became a normal part of my routine; between the nature walk lectures, the field research, and the insect identification assignments that force you far afield in the name of homework, […]