The time did that thing again…

You know, that thing when it seems like you have so much of it and then POOF next thing you know you have less than 2 weeks left and you are craving greek yogurt like none other.

Ok the greek yogurt thing is more personal but Central America is not up on their grecian dairy yet which always saddens me.

So recently I’ve been doing oodles and oodles of data collection in the form of observations and interviews which really just entails me going to town and talking to people. It’s a pretty sweet deal but I always feel like I don’t have enough and continue to go out and get more which will be useful in the end…and also lead to many hours of analysis. But since this blog is not really about the research aspect of things (because talking in research language is no fun) all that is important to know is that I have enough data to start some analysis and I am very excited to churn this baby out. I feel like I technically never graduated college which kind of excites me, especially because writing essays was my favorite  one of my favorite parts!

Don’t worry I own the nerdy vibes. I am currently wearing chacos, leggings, and a bright-ass blue tie-dyed shirt with turtles swimming on the front. I am so cool.

So I went to Guapiles last Saturday where there are about 10 types of stores repeated in almost the same pattern up and down the streets and I really don’t understand how any of them stay in business. It was a Saturday so there were some cool little things going on but most importantly a FARMERS MARKET which made me so excited because during school I went to the farmers market every Saturday and have been going through withdrawals since then that a coffee addiction really can’t cure. It was a beautiful sunny day and I tried some new fruits like a columbian zapote that tasted like a pumpkin and a pejivalle which is like a sort of palm fruit. Both bright orange and tasty. Then I bought some pork tamales and took them to the big central park filled with benches to enjoy along with a coconut cookie and some fresh squeezed oj…

another exciting thing: salt in oj is totally a thing, and it totally blew my taste buds away because it makes the sweetness come out.

(It would also taste good with a little tequila if you ask me)

And I listened to a group playing some traditional windpipe music which was just delightful. And then I met three women who brought some little crafts and jewelry to sell and the gift buying voice in my head went off so be ready loved ones you are getting some of this stuff. All in all a great day and I still got back to the station in time to do an evening run in the sun.

A couple days later I went to Cariari with the class and Michelle to do some shopping, get some lunch, and figure out a phone card situation.  This turned into a huge ordeal…basically the place where I had bought phone cards just 3 days before was now denying that they sold them.

Then they told me they sold them next door…

And then the place next door told me they sold them next door…

And then one of the students bought something and was charged 3 times instead of one so I dealt with that whole situation…

And then everybody hated the gringos for ruining the flow at the checkout which is just bound to happen at some point.

Next thing you know I realized that all of that took an hour and it was time to get lunch with Michelle and La Marisqueria which is just Spanish for “We sell good seafood here.” The grilled tilapia and ceviche were great reinforcers to the good seafood reputation and the rum mixed with club soda and lime were great reinforcers to the rum reputation of Central America (Flor de Caña and Centenario are the big ones here). We talked and I met one of her friends that lives in Cariari who knows everyone and can help me get some info for my study. The rest of the trip was just picking up fruits and snacks from the store since Cariari is an “errand town.”

Other than that the station has been it’s usual, awesome self. Michelle’s class is bringing a lot of great attitudes and fun times in the forest as proven by a crazy scavenger hunt mapping activity and the spontaneous singing and dancing that has popped up while they are doing work. We have even gotten treats from the US brought by Michelle like cheese and magic anti-itch cream that we enjoy on the little veranda at the faculty house while watching the sunset and looking for giant potoos (you have to see this) by making wookie-esque noises.

It’s the little things sometimes. But mostly it’s the making giant potoo noises.

So Many Stories, So Little Time to Type

It has been far too long my dear reader(s) (for all I know all my views could be from my mom…Hi Mom!). And even if it hasn’t seemed that long to any of you guys, it seems like I have been withholding information of great times and updates and all of that business. So now is the time for another list!

Prepare yourselves…because not much of this is written in chronological order.

1. SLOTH WATCH 2013 IS OFFICIALLY OVER!!

Yes the day came when I saw a sloth.  Here’s the thing, sloths sleep very high in trees and all just look like big fur balls which also look like termite nests which are EVERYWHERE. Even with my glasses I couldn’t find one for the life of me but I was still hearing about everyone seeing sloths and being amazed and here I was missing out. And then the sloth came to me, right outside the house in a small forested area. So even though I was wearing shorts and Chacos (the greatest adventure sandals ever) which is normally just an outside no-no because of the blood-thirsty mosquitoes I raced out, camera in hand, to get a picture of this big lazy blob anyways. First off it took about 5 minutes to see it in the tree and then another 5 minutes to 60x zoom with my camera AND find it again with the zoom.  Sounds pretty quick, right?

WRONG.

The next day I managed to find no less than 15 bites all along my legs.  And at that time it seemed worth it and I was so satisfied and I now have a couple pictures that I can’t post yet because the internet is like molasses.  And next thing you know I see 2 in the forest a couple days later and then….

2. Tortuguero National Park

15 minutes into our 3-hour long boating adventure to the lodge we saw 2 sloths in a tree. And you know how many mosquito bites I got from that? Zero. It’s all about the experience I suppose. Anyways I’m kind of jumping ahead here just so I could get the sloth watch update in and then the semi-frustration about how easy it was to see them as soon as I got into a boat on a jungle river. But looking at it now if the worst things that could be happening in my life is that I received a lot of bites while looking at wild sloths and then getting in a boat to ride to a national park overflowing with wildlife and 100 different shades of greens on the trees than I’m probably doing something very right.

But yes, after spending a weekend in San Jose (more on that in a sec) we took a 2 hour bus ride to the boat and then proceeded to ride through jungle rivers and canals for 3 hours.  So if you have been to disneyland, think about the jungle cruise ride, subtract half of cheesy tourist-y jokes (our guide Modesto provides just the right amount of wildlife knowledge and jokes), subtract tigers and rhinos and indigenous tribes, add about 20 feet to all the trees, some sunshine, and a lot of birds, then you can basically imagine what this experience was like.

After this we get to the Laguna Lodge where they had some towels waiting for us to wipe off residual sea/river water (I will admit I was not used to this luxury business and almost didn’t take because I preferred to have a reminder of the awesome ride I just had). This lodge is basically like a stationary cruise/best summer camp your parents could send you to. River on one side, Caribbean Sea on the other, a small soccer field, volleyball nets, 2 pools, buffet style meals, and rocking chairs on the patio of your room which really bring out the grandma I feel I slowly becoming with these early bed times and wake ups, sometimes I also envy the flowy dresses the older women in town wear.

This place is awesome and currently where I am now, we will be going on a bird watching boat ride through a small jungle canal later, a turtle walk, and zip lining through the canopy. Pretty sweet set up if you ask me.

3. The Weekend in San Jose

Costa Rica is an interesting case in terms of colonial history. I can’t remember if I’ve already blogged about this but basically they have Spanish, Chinese, and African American populations spread out throughout the country.  I have seen about 500x as many Chinese restaurants that I would have thought but to be fair I thought I would only be seeing one…or less. But Costa Rica has not suffered nearly the same level of corruption and prying as other central american countries which is one of the reasons it’s so safe and tourist friendly. (Most of the corruption comes in the form of pineapple and banana plantations, so maybe more on that later). Anyways I was heading to San Jose for the weekend to get a head start on observation work and meet up with the wonderful professor who gave me this opportunity (she may be reading this right now since she has recently joined the Facebook world where I will be posting this) and I’m not sucking up because this is actually true, and everyone should be jealous of how awesome primatologists are.

I did some data collection for research on the general layout of the city and looking at how many western restaurants there are (note: A LOT) but there was also a cultural fair going on in one of the city parks. There were little street vendors with local artisan gifts, some standard tourist trinkets, and a little boutique booth where I bought a dress from the guy that sewed it, looking forward to the moments when I can say “It’s one of ind from Costa Rica.” And even though I am slightly ashamed at that level of snobbiness I am also very excited because it fit perfectly. One of my favorite things about San Jose is that they have a lot of city parks with plenty of benches that people will actually go hang out in and they are all constructed in this beautiful colonial architectural style which had me thinking about Midnight in Paris (except more like in Spain). From the jungle to this wonderfully aged city I can see why Costa Rica is slowly becoming one of the top destinations for retirees.

4. I’ve already lost track of what I’ve done.

I started writing this post yesterday morning with all these great ideas and then I started doing more great things and now I have a brain full of great stories that I just don’t have time to write so if you want more details there than hopefully we will be seeing each other shortly and then have a coffee date that will last 3 hours because I will have so much to say.

5. Zip-lining

This was awesome for 2 reasons. First because it gave me a good idea of what the canopy is actually like and the forest we did it in looked very similar to the forest at the station. The monkeys and sloths and many other things have it pretty nice up there. Second, because my Spanish is now at a level where I get benefits for speaking the local language. The guides were really nice to me and we got to talk about life and culture in Costa Rica and I can count that as part of my research which is another reason why anthropology wins.

6. Turtle walk

Moonlit beach, sky full of stars, no flashlights needed (or allowed). We followed our guide along the beach and met up with a conservancy program, who then pointed out that a turtle was nesting about 10 feet away from us. We gave it some time before walking up and when we did I was amazed. I mean, I knew sea turtles were large (and can live to be over 100 thanks to Finding Nemo), but this mama was MASSIVE. And she was just chilling there popping out 100-200 eggs like it was no big deal and sure let’s let all these tourists come and invade my privacy. And then she used her back legs to cover up the hole which looked like a little child making a sand pile and patting it down and she scurried off into the moonlit ocean to never see her children again.

She was pretty fast mover too.

7. Sunrise

Even though there are still plenty of things missing from this post. The last thing I did is worth telling. 5:10 AM alarm went off this morning and I looked out the window if I could see the sun peeking out and thankfully the cloud coverage was minimal so I grabbed my camera and phone (for twice the picture taking abilities) and walked out onto the beach to see the sunrise over the Caribbean Sea.

There have been few other moments in my life that have made me feel completely appreciative and at peace than that moment.

Pura Vida.

XOXO Gossip Girl

I’m going to let you in one some secrets and gossip going around the field station.  It’s highly classified so consider yourselves lucky.  Also be forewarned that not all of this may be true in the first place and it is also possible that some was lost in translation but I enjoy the telenovela aspect to it.

So the head woman of the field station is named Rosie, her husband Palomo is the super badass forest-trekking machete-wielding dude and they have 3 kids Deibe, Augustin, and Nelson.

Augustin is 19 or 20 I believe and works around the station doing forest work and helping Palomo out. At one point a field school came here and there was this super babe Italian girl named Fabiana.  Fabiana and Augustin fall in love or however you would like to put it but sadly she has to go back to Italy when the program is over.

Side note: She speaks Italian and Spanish so there is no language barrier.

We are pretty sure Fabiana also has a boyfriend in Italy who may or may not be aware of this romance. Anyways, Fabiana comes back to visit and everyone is all hither and tither with more gossip and wondering if they go by girlfriend boyfriend or if they are just keeping it casual or what Rosie thinks of her son seeing this Italian girl who is around 6 years older than him and coming to visit him FROM ITALY.

And then when I tell the girls at the station that when I met her Augustin had his arm around her all sweet-like they were on-cue awww-ing at the whole thing so moral of that story is that even if you do have a boyfriend in another country you are still cute as long as the boyfriend here shows some affection.

Fabiana decides to give us a real treat and make pizzas for dinner.  This is a huge change because this will be the first meal where neither rice nor beans are served…crazy, I know.  This is also very impressive because pizza-making ingredients are no where near the most popular items found in Costa Rican grocery stores. I rode with Rosie 30 minutes down the road to get cheese from a woman’s house for crying out loud.  But Fabi, as she is known here, goes on pounding out 21 pizza dough rolls to make sure we have enough for everyone.

If you could see the size of this woman you would be even more impressed. She is probably 5’3 and 110 pounds. As far as I’m concerned being a pizza-making Italian woman needs to be the new diet craze because she looked uber fit and had the energy of an 8 year old.  She danced around the kitchen and sang to the songs on the radio. Eugenio, Rosie’s brother, also showed up and grabbed Fabi to start dancing around and then I saw his hand was kiiind of low on her back and I was just thinking, “woah is this ok? Is there a weird cultural thing that says it’s ok to sensually dance with someone else’s girl?”

And then Eugenio goes and sits down next to Gretl, a 21-year old girl who also works at the station while taking classes in Cariari. He proceeds to put his arm around her waist as she pre-cooks the rolled out pizza dough before toppings are put on them.  At this point I have just been thrown for a loop because Eugenio stays like this for a good amount of time and Gretl doesn’t seem to be uncomfortable but ALL of the other people in the kitchen notice and start whispering jokes and commenting on it RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEM.  I mean there is no way they didn’t hear. And Eugenio has to be at least 10 years older than Gretl but I understand his moves because Gretl is pretty much a Tica (Costa Rican word for local) babe and she intimidates me sometimes because she seems so cool.

And if this wasn’t enough to keep track of there is another woman in the kitchen named Nana who is large frame and even larger personality whose phone keeps ringing with texts.  Everybody keeps asking her whom she’s talking to and she just smirks so you can get a glimpse of her gold-capped tooth as she happily and very-knowing mumbles I don’t know. And at the same time Fabi keeps telling her she is putting too many toppings on the pizza, especially the oh-so-tender looking pork they have been slow cooking all day and Nana just makes a mimick-y voice and continues to pile meat on when Fabi turns her back which is a very Nana thing to do. Then everyone starts chiding her about having multiple boyfriends and my brain is still trying to catch up with the fact that Eugenio, Rosie’s brother, still has his arm around a young girl that works for Rosie while her 19 or 20 year old son has an Italian girl that is multiple years older than him visiting and staying in her house. That Rosie is one to stay cool under pressure.

 

So that’s a snapshot of how romance in a small Costa Rican rural town works.

 

Who knew summer made people so love crazy? (Actually I’m pretty sure a lot of people know this considering “summer romance” seems to be a thing).

 

Oh and one more thing…

The pizza was pretty delicious.