Monday, April 21, 2014

Paraiso Quetzal

This weekend I wore three sweaters, tights under my jeans, ear warmers, two shirts, fuzzy socks, and I was still freezing. Yes, I am still in Costa Rica. My Tropical Ecology class took us to Paraiso Quetzal. My teacher was warning us all week that it would be freezing in the mountains so I bought two more sweaters and ear warmers to be prepared. When we first arrived on Saturday all I could think was, ‘this is cold?!’ It wasn’t cold, it was sunny and beautiful. I was hoping it would get cold so I didn’t feel like I just wasted money when I don’t have money to waste. (Not that I spent too much… Pequeno Mundo is so cheap that you feel like you should buy everything, because you can.)
Everyone had little cabins as rooms. They were beyond adorable. My room had fresh flowers in it and a breath taking view. My room had to have the best view, we were on the side of the hill so nothing was there to distract from the mountains. I immediately was thankful that I was able to visit town, and even more thankful that it was completely free. That’s right, my meals, room, and transportation was covered. Can you imagine that happening in the US? Haha, what a laugh. That would never happen.
We settled and then went on a walk where my teacher explained a bit how to recognize certain types of plants and families of species. So I can walk through a forest in Costa Rica and can probably point out at least one thing and have a clue what I was looking at, besides moss. Everything around us was beautiful. There were flowers everywhere both wild and planted. It was obvious that this place is carefully taken care of.
After lunch and taking a mad amount of photos, it was time for the actual school work. Of course, this awesome trip has a downside, we still have to do work. We got a space of land and had to list and count all of the species, which involved having to invent our own names for plants such as “hairy girl legs” and “orphan tears.” Once all the plants were accounted for we got to explore more! I was having a really hard time with breathing for some reason. I was light headed most of the day and just could not regain my breath so I had to take it easy, but I still saw a lot!

My wishes of coldness were fulfilled when the sun started going down. Within an hour I went from, eh this light sweater is plenty, to HOW IS IT COLD HERE?! I NEED BLANKETS. TURN THAT SPACE HEATER UPPPPP. I think it’s safe to say that I am not too use to the cold anymore. It is terrible, no one likes shivering. People like shivering even less in Costa Rica.

After waking up at 4am, no that’s not a typo. I was awake at four in the morning. We had to hike up a mountain, death mountain. It was unbelievably cold. My skin and lungs were burning, all I could think about was being in a warm bed. The trail was pitch black, luckily I had a phone with me so I could make a makeshift flash light and avoid falling. We made it to the top before there was any daylight. The stars were amazing. If it wasn’t so cold and I wasn’t surrounded by people it probably would have been quite romantic.

The sun was starting to come out and everyone had their cameras ready. I’d like to say that I got amazing photos that really capture what it was like seeing it, but I can’t. I mean I have some photos, but a camera isn’t able to capture that level of beauty with all of its limitations. I guess you’ll just have to go freeze your butt off like I did to know what I am talking about!

Finally, I was able to feel my fingers and toes again and we ate a delicious and very much needed breakfast. I half napped before having to go to our next activity, hummingbird observation.

Hummingbirds can be very aggressive! I was shocked by how nasty some of them were, attacking others and trying to intimidate everyone. It was actually really interesting watching them and learning from their behavior. I am now proud to say I point out four species of hummingbirds and tell you a little about them. I am basically a scientist after this weekend trip.

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