Pura Vida!

Hello everyone! My name is Deidra and I will be spending the next seven weeks in Costa Rica learning about tropical ecology and biodiversity and then completing and independent research project in conservation biology. I am taking part in the NAPIRE Program, which stands for Native American/Pacific Islander Research Experience. It is a program through the Organization for Tropical Studies. I arrived in Costa Rica 6 days ago, on June 7th. My flight left Denver at 12:10 A.M. and landed in San Jose around 5:30 A.M. We traveled to the hotel we would be spending the next couple nights at and had breakfast, which consisted of gayo pinto (spotted rooster), scrambled eggs, and fresh fruit. Gayo pinto is a staple of the Costa Rican diet, it consists of rice, black beans, and various spices including cilantro, garlic, and onion.

The first day was very laid back, we were assigned to rooms with 3 roommates. My roommates were from all over, Britany is from Hawaii, Tiffany from Palau, and Audrianna from New Mexico. There are a total of 19 students in the program, including me. The second day of the program included a trip to the main office of the Organization of Tropical Studies in San Jose, followed by a visit to the national museum, and dinner at a local restaurant. After dinner we had an introduction to the indigenous people of Costa Rica. The third morning we traveled down the Caribbean coast to the Bribri territory, where our adventure really began! After about 5 hours in the bus, it broke down in the middle of the forest! We had to leave our stuff behind and start hiking. We were eventually picked up and shuttled to the Finca Educativa of the Bribri people, where lunch was waiting. We were to spend the next 3 nights with the Bribri, attending various discussions about their culture and how their traditional values related to present day conservation biology. We had a Bribri religious leader, or okom, speak to us about the spiritual side of their culture as well as traditional medicine. The next morning we traveled to a Bribri furniture workshop, and had a discussion about forest and agroforestry system management. That afternoon we met with a BriBri medical doctor who had gone to Cuba for medical school and returned to his people to work. Our last day in the territory we visited a cacao farm, and learned about the Bribri Women Association Project. Our last activity consisted of a cultural exchange with the Bribri. Yesterday we left the Bribri territory and traveled the Cahuita, where we spent the morning swimming in the Caribbean Sea. We arrived at La Selva Biological Station last night and began our series of lectures this morning. We had lectures on tropical ecology and biodiversity in the tropics, and were given topics for group research projects which we present Tuesday. So far this has been quite an experience! More next week…

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