3pm – 07-18-17: Milking Cows and Planting Seedlings at Rancho Margot

Students had the opportunity to milk cows and plant seedlings today at Rancho Margot, a fully sustainable working farm.  The majority of the food prepared here comes from the farm, including the beef, poultry, pork, all the dairy (milk, eggs, cheese, yogurt, butter), vegetables and fruits. Students have enjoyed learning today about the way an organic, sustainable farm functions, and participating in the process.  Apologies for some blurry pics, which is due to humidity getting into the camera.  Humidity is one thing you cannot avoid in a tropical rain forest ecosystem!



11:30 a.m. – 07-18-17 – Day 7: Rancho Margot

Yesterday we left Tirimbina to head to Rancho Margot, which is where we are now.  Rancho Margot, is a fully sustainable, working farm, that all the students would agree feels like heaven!  Coming from a hotter climate zone, this temperate climate zone is a refreshing change from the sticky, lowland rainforest feel.  We are still located in the tropical rain forest climate zone, but we are fairly close to Monteverde, which is a cloud forest climate zone.  This perfect location between two zones creates a moderate temperature, with frequent rain showers, but absolutely delightful.  The cool breezes and sounds of the birds are calming and restorative.  Students have already had a chance to relax, and immerse themselves in their research topics and enjoy some group time today.  The group is also getting a tour of the farm, will get a chance to milk cows and work on the farm later today, and get some time to work on projects, do yoga, or soak in the warm compost-heated pool.  Pictures will follow later!

On the way here yesterday we made a couple of awesome stops. Our first stop was the Iguana Bridge, where we saw a large assortment of iguanas basking in the trees, and we also enjoyed some delicious ice cream!  Our next, and totally amazing stop was at the Venado Caves. These originated 17 million years ago, pushed up from the sea by tectonic plate movement, at a location where the Caribbean plate pushes up or subducts the Cocos plate.  The caves were spectacular!!!  Huge limestone stalactite and stalagmite formations, beautifully sculpted by water erosion, surrounded us.  Four species of bats make their homes in these caves, and students looked thru Mark’s telescope at nectar and vampire bats.  The group climbed through a narrow passage called ‘el nacimiento’, or the birth canal, got to wriggle under ledges, up a rock staircase, and under a spectacular waterfall to see the ‘Papaya’ – a formation shaped by stalactites and stalagmites joined together from ceiling to floor.  It was an experience that students will always remember.   We purchased a CD of pictures that were taken by a professional photographer inside the caves.  We will post those later after we get access to an external CD player to upload the pics from the CD.  Additional pictures include views of Arenal volcano from the bus, Ginger the dog at Rancho Margot, students enjoying the delicious food at Rancho Margot, and students working in their project groups.  Pura Vida!


7-15 to 7-17 Tirimbina in the Tropical Lowlands

These past two days we have been at the Tirimbina Field Station, which is part of the Tirimbina Ecological Reserve (http://www.tirimbina.org/).  Daisy and Pablo were there to welcome us with lunch, after a canal boat ride out of Tortuguero and the bus ride to Tirimbina.  The reserve is used for ecological research and tourism, all with the aim of promoting an awareness of the beauty and vital importance of the forest in this northern tropical region of Costa Rica.  We began our first day with an unbelievable bird walk, where a myriad of species were seen.  The afternoon was also breathtaking, with a walk across the largest suspension bridge in Central America (800 feet long), that spans the Sarapiqui River, where we saw toucans and a Howler monkey.  Continuing on, we had a presentation on the history of chocolate. A separate post of those pics will follow.  We finished the day off with a night walk, where we saw multiple species of frogs, a snake, cool insects and arachnids, and a two-toed sloth. Special thanks to Daisy and Pablo for hosting us, and to Mark and Raul who enabled students to see some really cool animals up close and personal!

Yesterday we left Tirimbina to head to Rancho Margot, which is where we are today on Day 7 of our trip. See pics below from our time in Tirimbina, the iguanas at the Iguana Bridge, and a couple of pics before we headed into the Venado Caves.  A full set of Venado Caves pics will be posted once we get access to an external CD player and can upload the pics from the CD we purchased.  Pura Vida!