Interning at the Monteverde Butterfly Gardens

One year ago, I found an advertisement for an internship on WorkCabin and two months later arrived in Monteverde as a new intern at the Monteverde Butterfly Gardens. I was greeted by the owners Bryna and David as well as their son Eli and another intern Mike. I had no idea what I was in for. I spent 2 1/2 months as an intern guiding tours and working in the gardens. What started as a joking “hey, you should come back for a few more weeks before you go” turned into me extending my flight and returning to the gardens after traveling Costa Rica for a couple months. I then went back to Canada to work as a naturalist running public education programs in Ontario. One day Bryna sent me a message, she asked me to come back as an intern coordinator! I was thrilled, but had already accepted a job in Canada. The downside to this job is there is an off season, so I offered to come back for a few months and help develop an intern coordinator position for the gardens. David often jokes that they can’t get rid of me. So at the moment I am the acting intern coordinator. A few of the interns have mentioned that they were looking for more information on working at the gardens and came across my blog. So here it is from someone who has spent a collective 5 1/2 months at the Monteverde Butterfly Gardens.

Teaching local kids about metamorphosis

Teaching local kids about metamorphosis

Tours start in our nature center with 1-15 people!

Tours start in our nature center with 1-15 people!

I started off my training and quickly found out that I was going to learn a lot. Like, think an entire entomology course a lot. I arrived not knowing the difference between an insect and an arachnid (I focused mainly on marine biology in university) and now can ID most insects and arachnids then give you a 5 minute interpretive talk about how cool and important they are. As an intern you first learn to give hour and fifteen minute tours through 4 butterfly gardens and a nature center with beetles, tarantulas, and giant stick insects. You develop basic familiarity with all of the animals, enough to give a funny and informative tour, and then learn at your own pace. I can not stress enough how much I learned while here. There are textbooks available, you are immersed in the insect and arachnid world and the more you learn the more you want to know.

I could talk about tarantulas and beetles for hours if you let me

I could talk about tarantulas and beetles for hours if you let me

Some owl butterflies in one of the gardens

Some owl butterflies in one of the gardens

We often see other wildlife around the gardens as well!

We often see other wildlife around the gardens as well!

Between tours and learning we also have garden work to do. We keep our gardens to quite high standards putting out flowers and nectar in the mornings, raking trails and doing other chores. Between learning and garden work we keep very busy! In the nights we often go out for night hikes, looking for praying mantis, katydids, and other night creatures. We all live together, work together, have family dinner and pizza night every week, and go out together. It really just feels like a big family.

Interns showing off our cool entomology

Interns showing off our cool entomology

You have to be motivated, enthusiastic and flexible. You work 6 days a week and sometimes you do 4 tours in a day. This can add up to 5+ hours of talking enthusiastically to people! Some days, you do no tours, which means you have to find things to keep busy. Sometimes you are going to work until 4, other days you’ll still have tourists in the gardens at 6. These traits apply as both an employee and as a roommate. You’re going to be eating rice and beans the majority of the time, not showering as often as usual, and going without many North American luxuries. You have to be open to adjusting to the Costa Rican lifestyle! I’ve seen many interns come and go. Self-motivated, flexible individuals are the ones who enjoy their time at the gardens the most.

One of our interns, Matt, is particularly excited about catching animals on trail cam. He sets up a trail camera every night and checks out his cool photos in the mornings

One of our interns, Matt, is particularly excited about catching animals on trail cam. He sets up a trail camera every night and checks out his cool photos in the mornings

Bryna and David are amazing naturalists. Not only are they into entomology, but they are also avid birders, herpers, and really all around amazingly informed and knowledgeable people. I credit Bryna for my interest in snakes and public education, David fostered my interest in the scientific details of entomology and evolution, and Bryna and another intern Mike introduced me to one of my favourite hobbies: birding. Depending on the blend of interns here at the time, you have the opportunity to learn about many different aspects of nature.

You may find yourself leaving with a new hobby or two

You may find yourself leaving with a new hobby or two

Monteverde is an amazing place if you are interested in nature. You have opportunities on your days off to explore so many amazing reserves and hiking areas. I usually grab a pair of our Eagle Optics binoculars and walk around one of the reserves, grab a coffee at a local cafe and hike to one of the cool fig trees nearby. You’ll also hear a lot from tourists about different areas around Costa Rica. It is definitely worth keeping some time open to travel after your stay at the gardens, as you will be tempted to extend your fight after hearing about all of the amazing places to explore.

Days off spent exploring

Days off spent exploring

You can't make it all the way to the beach on a day off, so it's worth spending an extra week or more after your internship!

You can’t make it all the way to the beach on a day off, so it’s worth spending an extra week or more after your internship!

You can check out our tumblr, regularly updated by the interns to get a better idea of what intern life at the gardens is like: https://www.tumblr.com/blog/monteverdebutterflygardens

Apply for an internship! http://www.workcabin.ca/jobs/education/education-and-outreach-internship

Discussing Body Image: Don’t tell your kids they aren’t fat

I was recently discussing a friend’s 13 year old daughter with him. She came home one day and declared that she was fat. “I am fat” is a dreaded sentence for any parent! His reaction was to tell her: “no you’re not fat!”. Which is absolutely true, she is a very small person. He also discussed how he wants her to be able to talk to them about anything. All of that is really great, hooray for open discussion parenting! I didn’t feel like I could talk to my parents about this sort of thing. Growing up there were certain things we did not discuss, body image and sexual health being a couple of them.

But, there is a “but”. No, this particular girl is not at all fat. She’s TINY. But, what if she wasn’t? How would the discussion have gone then? We need to focus not on reassuring people that they aren’t fat, but instead on health. Are you healthy? Can your body do the things you want it to do?

I lost 20 lbs and then gained about 50lbs over the course of one year due to an eating disorder. I have finally learned how to accept my body and eat intuitively. And I have been leveling out to a healthy weight for my body over the last few years, which is looking to be between 140-150 lbs on my 5’7″ frame. Most people would probably look at me and consider me a little chubby. And if I were to show you a photo of myself at my lightest (when I was counting every calorie), at my heaviest (when I was binge eating), and now, people would probably say I was “at my best” at my thinnest. That was when I was chronically tired, could maybe make it 8km running, could hardly carry my climbing gear for the hikes into climbing areas, and actually had to quit midway though an exercise bike lab. I was not capable of doing the things I wanted to do. In the last year? I backpacked 52km over 3 days, I ran 21 km a couple weeks ago, I rock climb 3-5 days per week, I have a job where I sprint after butterflies and dragonflies with children, I am really good at AcroYoga (google it) and you better believe that if a frisbee ends up in a tree I’m going to be the one climbing up to get it out. That is how I am going to gauge my personal healthy weight. This is my body, it does amazing things, and I love it.

THAT is the conversation we need to be having with our kids. Is there a legitimate health concern due to their weight? Are they actually too heavy or too thin? If the answer is no and they are a healthy person who is capable of living the life they want to live with their body then the conversation should look like a discussion about media portrayals of health and beauty, about changing weight as you age, about how healthy looks different for every person, and about self confidence.

Don’t tell your kids they aren’t fat:
Teach them that “fat” is a noun, not an adjective.
Teach them that some people naturally have very low body fat, some people are muscular, and some people are curvier.
Teach them to appreciate the beauty of every body type.
Teach them to live their life pursuing the physical feats they want to accomplish, not a body type.
Teach them not to compare their bodies to others.
Teach them to not give a flying fuck if someone tells them they are “too skinny”, “too muscular” or “too fat”, because their body type is theirs.
Teach them that their value and self worth is in no way dependent on the amount of fat they carry on their body.

As for me?

My body is flexible, I like to do yoga

I like to do yoga

I like to do AcroYoga

I like to do AcroYoga

My arms are strong and I've got pretty good balance: I like to surf!

I like to surf!

My favourite thing to do: rock climbing!

My favourite thing to do? rock climbing!

I can go ziplining with my mom, who is also beautiful and loves to kayak, cross country ski, and go for walks with friends.

I like to go ziplining with my mom, who also has a body which lets her do the things she wants to do. She loves to garden, kayak, cross country ski, watch cool documentaries and go for walks with friends.

Please excuse me while I portage this 70 lbs canoe for 1km

This is my body. It’s not for everyone, but these are the things I like to do, and it lets me do them. Now please excuse me while I portage this 70 lbs canoe.

Adventures with Bats: Conservation of Canada’s Flying Mammals

I’ve been a little bit bat crazy ever since reading the Silverwing series as a kid. But more recently my bat love has turned from reading about them to working with real live bats! Last week I had the opportunity to help with mist netting project for bats in Ontario. I’ve assisted with mist netting in Costa Rica and really fell in love with bats while I was there. What I took away from my experience in Costa Rica was that the bats of North America, particularly Eastern North America, are in trouble! I learned a little bit about white nose fungus, which can be a fatal problem for bats and is currently spreading into and across Canada.

A little brown bat, very common in Southern Ontario - Photo by Christy Humphrey

A little brown bat, very common in Southern Ontario – Photo by Christy Humphrey

Most people don’t realize how large of a role bats play in our ecosystem. They are responsible for seed dispersal, pollination, and some serious insect control. Like, 1,000 mosquitoes per hour insect control! Even as someone who loves animals I can appreciate a hatred of mosquitoes. Bats also pollinate agave plants, which are used to make tequila. So when you think about bats, think about drinking tequila outside while not being bitten by mosquitoes. Just picture that for a moment…Now hopefully you’re on board with saving the bats! Which we’ll come back to in a moment.

Save the bats, save the tequila.

Save the bats, save the tequila.

Outside of a known roosting site, a church in Southern Ontario, we set up some large mist nets (mist nets look like volleyball nets, but are made with very fine mesh the bats have a difficult time detecting). This was luxury mist netting, in Costa Rica we set up our nets across paths in the jungle! We counted over 200 bats flying out of the roost and caught 38 of them. The studies I assisted with in Costa Rica were purely population dynamics: identify, record gender and species and let them go. This was a little more invasive. We held the bats until they were processed and then released them.

A bat caught in a mist net. As long as you are diligent about checking the nets frequently they don't get too tangled. Photo by Stuart

A bat caught in a mist net. As long as you are diligent about checking the nets frequently they don’t get too tangled. Photo by Stuart

Processing involved weighing, measuring the wing, banding with an individual ID tag, checking for scarring on the wing (evidence of white nose fungus), taking a small sample of tissue from the wing for DNA analysis (surprisingly this did not seem to disturb the bats based on their lack of reaction), and taking a small hair sample for molecular analysis of metals.

Placing a lightweight band on a little brown bat - Photo by Christy Humphrey

Placing a lightweight band on a little brown bat – Photo by Christy Humphrey

The primary purpose here was to monitor for white nose fungus. This fungus was first recorded outside of New York in 2007 and has since spread up to 2,000 km away, infecting bats in many Eastern states and provinces. As of 2013 the fungus has been confirmed in bat populations as far West as central Ontario in Canada and Western Missouri in the US.

A distribution map of white nose fungus from whitenosefungus.org

A distribution map of white nose fungus from whitenosefungus.org

White nose syndrome is named for the appearance of a white fungus on the face - Photo by US fish and wildlife services

White nose syndrome is named for the appearance of a white fungus on the face – Photo by US fish and wildlife services

This fungus causes bats to behave strangely, coming out of hibernation in the winter which results in excess energy being used and an inability to survive the winter. Approximately 50% of little brown bats in an affected colony will die over the winter in an affected colony. 90-100% of bats in some regions have died. In Southern New Brunswick, an area boasting a population of 7,000 bats in 2011, the estimated population is 22 bats in 2014. That is not a typo. Twenty two bats!

The fungus causes damage to the wings, and even those who survive the winter often have extensive scarring on the wings. - Photo by US Fish and Wildlife Services

The fungus causes damage to the wings, and even those who survive the winter often have extensive scarring on the wings. – Photo by US Fish and Wildlife Services

Stopping, or at least slowing, the spread of this fungus is extremely important. Bats are important everywhere, but our Westernmost province has the most to lose. With 16 species of bats (including 8 endemic species) found in British Columbia, half of which are either red or blue listed, BC would be hit hard by this fungus.

Cavers are very important in helping to stop the spread of this fungus! If you enter a cave, after ensuring it is safe and not closed due to conservation reasons, always wash everything you were wearing/using before entering another cave. Humans moving between roosting sites, mostly while caving, have been the main factor in spreading this fungus. You can report any strange behaviour in bats (ie. flying around in the middle of the winter) to the local natural resource agency, build a bat box to provide a roosting site for bats (plans can be found online), and not disturb hibernating bats. See other suggestions on how you can help bats here: https://www.whitenosesyndrome.org/what-can-you-do-help

There are many myths out there about bats, but once you get past all of the bad media they are amazing creatures and very necessary for our ecosystem to thrive and survive! We need these little creatures to stick around, so try your best to love the bats. When in doubt, think of the tequila.

Nature’s Engineers: Bird Nests

Animals have been building nests for millions of years, there are even fossil records of dinosaur nests! Over time nests have become very complex and from birds to turtles to termites and wasps there is beauty, diversity and much to be learned from these structures!

When we hear the word “nest” we tend to think of a standard woven cup structure built by a song bird of some sort, but there is an amazing amount of diversity in nests; materials, shape, strength, size that we don’t necessarily think about.

There is quite a bit of evidence for evolution in bird nests. Some ground nesting birds don’t build nests at all, others make small depressions by rubbing their breast into the ground. Some birds make stick nests either on the ground or in trees and others weave together materials into some of the more complex animal built structures. Birds are always competing for resources, and nest materials are no exception. To deal with competition for nest materials some birds use specific materials or habitats not utilized by other species for nesting. Using different materials can sometimes require some creative engineering, and we end up seeing some amazing structures as a result, such as the hanging nest of the Montezuma Oropendola:

The Montezuma Oropendola weaves a hanging basket using sturdy vines attached to overhanging branches. It continues to add smaller wines and other fibrous material until the basket is complete. These birds utilize the environment by nesting in areas with hornets in them! The honets deter cowbirds, who often lay eggs in the Oropendola nests.  Photo by  Amy Evenstad

The Montezuma Oropendola weaves a hanging basket using sturdy vines attached to overhanging branches. It continues to add smaller wines and other fibrous material until the basket is complete. These birds utilize the environment by nesting in trees containing hornets! The honets deter cowbirds, who often lay eggs in the Oropendola nests. Photo by Amy Evenstad

The Great Crested Flycatcher will often weave a snake skin into it's nest

The Great Crested Flycatcher will often weave a snake skin into it’s nest (2)

A particularly interesting example of creative uses of materials to build a unique structure suited perfectly to utilize an environment uncommon for nesting is the cliff swallow.

A cliff swallow leaving it's nest: a mud based structure on the side of overhanging cliff faces, man made structures such as houses and the occasional tree. Photo by Jerry Kirkhart.

A cliff swallow leaving it’s nest: a mud based structure on the side of overhanging cliff faces, man made structures such as houses and the occasional tree. Photo by Jerry Kirkhart.

There are not many birds who a. nest on cliff faces and b. utilize mud as a primary building material. The cliff swallow is really taking advantage of a niche market. Even between Cliff and Barn Swallows (another mud utilizing nest builder) the mud composition is different, so the two species are not competing over the same mud. This likely contributes to the differences in nest shapes between the species. Barn swallows build a more cup shaped nest while the cliff swallows build a dome. Cliff swallows (both male and female) will collect mud pellets from alongside bodies of water and place them on a vertical wall, under overhanging structures to create a nest composed of 900-1,200 individual pellets of mud! They will often also add plant fibers and hair to the structure, then line the inside with feathers and other softer fibers.

Cliff Swallows will nest in groups of up to 1.000 individuals!

Cliff Swallows are very social when it comes to nesting, and will nest in groups of up to 3,700 nests! A great way to deal with predators of other species, but sometimes this results in nest parasitism, where one bird will lay it’s eggs in another bird’s nest.

It takes 1-2 weeks for the Cliff Swallow to build it’s nest, which all things considered is actually rather fast! This structure has no load bearing capabilities from below, yet will support 4-6 eggs for 12-14 days and once hatched, nestlings will remain in the nest for 23 days. The design of the cliff swallow nest has been studied by engineers and shown (in engineering terminology I don’t completely understand, but appreciate due to the parts I can understand as well as trust in the peer review process) to have a nearly perfect design for it’s use!

Basically what I’m trying to say is that bird nests are amazing. From the ground nests of penguins, to goldfinch cups, mourning dove, chipping sparrows and cliff swallows. Nature’s engineers are hard at work creating amazing structures in which to raise their young.

Mourning doves create a rather flimsy platform of twigs, sometimes using an old nest from another bird as a base. photo by mnchilemom

Mourning doves create a rather flimsy platform of twigs, sometimes using an old nest from another bird as a base. photo by mnchilemom

The American goldfinch creates a cup shaped structure built of woven plant fibers including bark strips, all bound together using spider webs, caterpillar silk, and other woven fibers.

The American goldfinch creates a cup shaped structure built of woven plant fibers including bark strips, all bound together using spider webs, caterpillar silk, and other woven fibers. The goldfinch will always build it’s nest above a fork in a tree branch.

You can find a bird nest yourself by going out and following a bird carrying food or nesting materials, just remember not to get too close. Bring a pair of binoculars and look from a distance or wait until the nest has been abandoned to get a closer look. If you disturb the nest the baby birds might try to fly away before they are ready!

Costa Rica in 3 weeks: Part 3: The Yoga Farm

This is by far the farthest into my inner hippy that I have gone. I took a school bus to the end of a dirt road and then used my broken Spanish to talk someone into letting me and two other travelers hop in the back of his pick up to drive us the last half hour. I then hiked up the hill from hell with my pack (which had all of my climbing gear as well as traveling things and was very very heavy) and arrived at this beautiful series of small buildings tucked away in the forest.

The main building had a yoga studio on the top floor and dorms on the bottom. The yoga studio, open and surrounded by jungle, was the perfect place to get back into my practice. One day while doing yoga we saw a chestnut billed tucan, just sitting watching us from a nearby branch.

The kitchen had freshly prepared vegetarian food prepared by the volunteers each day, as well as a lovely kombucha station. I’m actually in love with this place. There were so many birds, most of which I did not identify! We had one 90 minute yoga class each day, and access to the studio all day long. I walked down the the beach at least twice each day to go for a surf or a swim or use the internet at Roberto’s where his wife Free (spelling?) would make the worlds most amazing smoothies. We would usually walk down to watch the sunset, it never gets old. The only way to really appreciate this place is to go there. It was my favourite part of my 3 week travels. But some pictures will give you a general idea!

 

The walk up the hill

The walk up the hill

The beach

The beach

Sunsets

Sunsets

Learning my insects

Learning my insects

This was our studio/bedroom. Yoga will never be the same

This was our studio/bedroom. Yoga will never be the same

Facepainting with one of the owners of The Yoga Farm and her wonderful children

Facepainting with one of the owners of The Yoga Farm and her wonderful children

We even got some Acro in!

We even got some Acro in!

The children in this community were your best friends as soon as they met you and were so high energy!

The children in this community were your best friends as soon as they met you and were so high energy!

Acro on the beach

Acro on the beach

 

Costa Rica in 3 weeks, part 2: Cachi Crags and Uvita

My second week of adventures following my internship at the Monteverde Butterfly Gardens and my surfing trip in Tamarindo included a trip to Cachi Crags for some much needed rock climbing and a stopover in Uvita, a small town next to a beautiful marine reserve.

Cachi crags

I met up with Jenny and Chase, who I’d come into contact with through a friend of a friend, in the small town of Cachi, south of San Jose. I was a little tipsy as I’d gone into a bar for the wifi and come out 4 beer and 3 Facebook friends richer, but we went to the local market set up on the side of the road and picked up some delicious veggies and homemade yogurt. After a ridiculously steep drive down a single lane dirt road, we met Don-Vidal, owner of the climbing property, who set us up in a nice little cabin approximately 10m away from the crag. We were literally able to watch each other climb from the kitchen. We had 4 days of climbing with 1 rest day.

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Our little cabin in the woods

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The natural pool was awesome after a day of climbing

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Some crazy rock. It looks like it would have amazing holds everywhere, but its really rather slopey, and although you almost always have good feet the hand holds can be thin.

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Chase hops on what I believe is a 5.12b if I remember correctly. Which I may not…

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Jenny is a pretty amazing camp cook

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Our kitchen

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The deck turned yoga studio upstairs

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So on ‘ojo del tigre’, there was a wasp nest critically close to a handhold. One makeshift torch later we learned that the wasps were of the stingless variety. Anyways, he sent it.

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Jenny got it just as bad as the wasps. The torch swung and scraped her up pretty well. I’m just glad she wasn’t impaled.

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My 10c project, I toproped it first just to be sure. 5 months off climbing will do that.

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View from the top, not half bad

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On our rest day we visited Gyuapa National Monument, an archaeological site. This is a top view of the foundations of multiple buildings and an aquaduct system.

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Pretty impressive stone architecture

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Aquaduct system remnants

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The lizard petroglyph

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A parasitized wasp we found, super neat!

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We also drove up to volcano turrialba

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The view on the drive up, gorgeous farm houses

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Pretty successful rest day!

Cachi was pretty different from most of the climbing I’ve done, really interesting, I tend to rely more on being good at finding small balancey feet rather than searching for awkward hand holds, but that’s what you’ve got to do here as you generally have good feet! There is definitely room for development if anyone wants to commit to cleaning a lot of forest off of rock. As of now I believe there are less than 20 routes, plus a few projects, and nice wide range of difficulty! I was able to work on a 10c while Jenny worked a 12c and Chase projected a 13b.

With my forearms sufficiently sore and missing a significant amount of finger skin I made my way to Uvita, mid pacific coast area, to enjoy the national marine reserve for a couple days. I had a small room to myself near the beach, with a Spanish only speaking staff which made things like losing my key interesting… On my first day I visited the south end of the reserve, then arranged for a snorkelling/whale watching tour the next day. I went down to the beach as I heard there was music on my first night. I was met by a woman who introduced herself as brighthawk and invited me to join in the fire circle. They played drums and danced for a while, apparently there was an event called forest dance that I had just missed where they performed fire circles every night and that’s about all I got before I went to bed.

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Welcome to the park!

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Golden orb weaver

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The beach. Most people: “white sandy beaches!” Me: ” can you please direct me to the rockiest area on the beach?”

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And I found it. Tide pooling and surge channels. Unfortunately it was kind of mid-high tide though. You’d think I didn’t check the tide tables or something…

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But I found this cute little limpet

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Lots of crabs!

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And, unrelated to tide pools, a cicada.

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Landcrabs on my way to the beach.

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Day 2, snorkelling near the north entrance of the park at the whale tail

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We saw a humpback whale and her calf

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Island ballena where we snorkelled again. Parrotfish, coral, sea urchins, other neat fishes I don’t know the name of and gigantic sea.stars! I may have been pulled into a surge channel at one point while exploring sea urchins and algae…

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We then went to some beautiful caves, where I swear you could do some awesome climbing if the water were deep enough

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Going through a cave

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Brown footed boobies!

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Once I had my fill of salt water for the day I joined a few people for a few hours at a waterfall nearby. You can slide down the watersfall, and climb up the rock around it. To the left, a long-ish V0. To the right, anything from V0-2 depending on where you were and how wet your feet were.

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Sliding down the waterfall

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We had a little fun stacking plastic bugs back at the hostel

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Sunset swim on my last night in Uvita

With burned on tanned skin, salty hair, sand everywhere and a surprising number of ants in my backpack from my room I told the ocean I’d never leave it again, packed up and left on the 5am bus for The Yoga Farm in Pavones.

Costa Rica in 3 weeks, Part 1: Border Hopping and Tamarindo

I’m finished most of my internship at the butterfly gardens and just had 3 weeks to travel before a two week volunteer stint at Cano p
Palma research station. I started by going to San Juan del Sur in Nicaragua, then spent a week in Tamarindo surfing, climbed in Cachi, snorkelled in Uvita and spent a week at The Yoga Farm in Punta Banco. I’ve been a terrible blogger and haven’t been keeping up at all, so I’m going to write this in three parts, breaking it into:
1. Nicaragua and Tamarindo
2. Cachi
3.Punta Banco

Nicaragua and Tamarindo

San Juan del Sur is a very touristy town in Nicaragua so I probably shouldn’t have been surprised to learn I was sharing a room with 11 frat guys, or that one of them had shat on the floor the night before. The area surrounding the town is quite gorgeous though! I spent a bit of time on the beach my first day, then hiked around more on my second day, got a little bit lost, but figured it out and had a pretty great time overall.

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So this is what was taped to the bunk next to me when I arrived

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A nice beach, with a very large Jesus statue looking out over the town

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About a 45 minute walk from town, or a 2 hour walk if you’re me and accept a ride from someone who has no idea what you’re talking about when you say petroglyph and takes you to a suburb..but either way you can find a beautiful river with a large petroglyph.

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I don’t know very much about it, but it is amazing to look at!

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Hiked back to town then up to the Jesus statue where the view is amazing!

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Me and Jesus watching over the bay

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A few of the guys in my dorm went on a booze cruise, came back and promptly passed out after drawing on each other drew, then puked and peed their beds. Nice work gentlemen. My bunkmate let his friend who peed in his bed join him in his bed as long as he promised to “respect my bunkie, you’ve gotta be nice to my bunkie because she’s a marine biologist and I love her”. So that was funny.

After an early morning border crossing, which was mad hectic and involved a 2 hour line up in the dusty heat, I was en route to Tamarindo.

Tamarindo

I spent a week in Tamarindo at Witches Rock Surf Camp. When i arrived I barely had time to put my things in my room and throw my swimsuit on before my first lesson. The waves were pretty big on my first day, and i may have overstated my surfing experience en espanol, so my instructor kept chucking me on big waves. It was pretty sweet, I dropped in on a few pretty good ones and intimidated most of the guys in the camp. We had a 90 minute surf session everyday plus some type of tutorial like surf safety, surf etiquette, history of surf, science of waves, and a couple video analysis where we essentially watched the best bails and rides of the day from where we were secretly filmed in the bushes.

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So ready to surf

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An afternoon tide pool exploration turned into putting sea stars on our heads

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Check out the cute nudibranch!

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Surfing in the river mouth, the waves were kind of small after the first couple days but we still had a great time

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Coconut on the beach

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My roommate was into crossfit so we did WODs (workout of the days) in between surf sessions

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Barnacles!!! Yes I am 3 exclamation marks excited about barnacles. I got to show people tide pools and explain the joys of barnacles to them. Most people don’t realize that there is an animal in that little cone structure. Well, usually, unless a sea star or something has eaten them.

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A visitor at breakfast

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We had an infinity pool which was actually pretty nice to relax in. I’m normally against pools next to beaches, but I came to accept it as something pretty wonderful

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We were able to watch Robert August shape a custom surf board, he has done over 35,000 of them!

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Shaping that board

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Last day with my two favourite instructors, Axel and Maria

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Our surfer stances. My favourite lesson from Maria was how girls need to pop up slightly differently because we have “the boobies” and the booties.

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Some of the crew on our last night

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And i now have a surf diploma, pretty much going to frame it next to my BSc.

So surf camp was a pretty killer time. Worth it for sure, if anyone wants to go if I recommend you you get $50 off or something. I tried out my new surfing skills in Punta Banco and got smashed by the huge waves, but to be totally honest, I deserved that. The waves were really big.

Next up, Cachi Crags and Uvita!