Monday, January 8, 2018

Another Strong, Independent, Woman Scientist....Guest Blogger

Yesterday evening we went out to meet with Dr. Richard LaVal, a noted bat expert.  I'll report on that in another blog post.  Here, though, I want to relate the following story.

I was minding my own business, standing in the dark in the cloud forest in Monteverde, when out of the dark I heard a woman's voice saying "DR V, ITS ME..."  Then I got a giant bear hug.  Naturally enough, with my rakish good swarthy looks, I'm used to that kind of treatment in the middle of the pitch dark cloud forest...

In this picture, you can see those rakish and swarthy looks.  Ok, honestly I look like a pudgy Costa Rican Santa Claus, but it was windy and cold, and I remembered every time I do this bat thing I'm freezing I dressed warm.  On my right is WSU Alumnus Ariana Becker (ENVS 2017), who took the bus over to visit the crew!  She was on the WSU Costa Rica trip in 2016 and after graduating, came here to do an internship.  Here's Arian's story....

Hi there! So I have never blogged before, but Dr. V insisted I write something here. It all started when I wanted to study abroad. I was really nervous and I almost chickened out, but I forced myself to go on the Costa Rica trip (2016) even though I didn't even know anyone else going. Through this, I learned incredible things and made some lifelong friends. 

Upon arriving home, I decided that 2 weeks wasn't enough and I needed to go back to Costa Rica. Dr. Parshall informed me that the Monteverde Institute does internships so I started browsing and found one working on a reforestation project. We had spent a day doing this field work on the class trip and I was really excited to continue this work for a month in the summer. During this time I worked with a group planting trees, collected field data, and began analyzing it. I had the opportunity to travel to a small town called Guacimal and visit the Sustainability Demonstration Center. I mindlessly put my name and email in the guest book there and forgot about it for quite a while.

When it came time to graduate, I was really unsure of what I wanted to do. One day I happened to get an email from some place in Costa Rica looking for volunteers. Upon further investigation I realized that I had been there and I remembered clearly loading up the 1,000 trees to plant and taking care of the baby toucans they had rescued. A few emails later and I was on my way to Costa Rica yet again.

So now I have been here for almost 6 months. When I first arrived, I helped a lot in the small store (Cosas Buenas Market) owned by the same people as the SDC. Here I served tourists and became a baker too. Unfortunately it was close to the river and the tropical storm/ hurricane (Nate) completely wiped it out. BUT, luckily the Center is in tact. Here I give historical tours of the building and property, help out on the farm, take care of animals (donkeys, pigs, a sheep, even an emu), work in the tree nursery, help run community programs, and occasionally deal with wildlife rescues. My Spanish has improved greatly and I've really enjoyed being part of the community.

Being only an hour from Monteverde (where the WSU group stays for a bit) I was really excited to arrange time to meet up with them. So I showed up last night while they were mist netting for bats and helped with the field work today.

It has been an amazing experience and I learn more every time I travel. I still don't know what I want to do with my life, but Dr. V and Dr. Parshall have assured me that they don't know what they want to do either. I'll be staying in Costa Rica another 3 months then returning home (as I am pretty homesick already). I suppose I'll figure out the rest as I go.

Life is what you make it, enjoy the journey!

1 comment:

  1. That’s an amazing story, good for you! I’m the mom of one of the guys in the group that’s there wishes!!