Ecohydrology Team here! It’s week 5 of 6 at the Soltis Center and our research and jungle fun is quickly coming to a close. Our boots are smelly, clothes moldy, bodies sore, but we are all beginning to reminisce about the experiences that we’ve encountered in the past weeks.
Last week we returned to the swimming hole in La Fortuna for the last time. Knowing that we would not return, we finally got all REU participants to jump off the rope swing into the unusually turbulent water. We did not want to leave our beloved swimming hole, but we headed out to the local hot springs for the later part of the afternoon. We, along with several mentors and other A&M researchers posted up at a table by the pools with a beautifully clear view of Volcan Arenal. For several hours, we steeped ourselves in scalding baths heated by geothermal activity from the volcano. After a few hours of melting into a soup of students, we ended our day off at Don Rufino’s for another fantastic evening of food, drinks and good company.
With our last day off behind us, we frantically got back to work the following day to wrap up our research projects before leaving beautiful Costa Rica. For some of us, this meant going into the field and collecting some final information about the forest. Leland, with the help of Gavin and Emily, performed a series of slug tests to determine hydraulic conductivity and marched upstream with a pH meter, which proved to be a surprisingly daunting task. For many of the other students, the final week was characterized by good quality time in front of their computer monitors, scanning leaves and analyzing sediment properties in Excel. Gavin still has yet to collect tree cores and determine sapwood densities, which provides a quality excuse to return to the forest in these last few days.
Our time in Costa Rica has been so enjoyable in part to the Soltis Center Staff. Leland and Gavin will miss eating the Center’s great food which surprisingly includes rice and beans (Emily is looking forward to Chick-fil-A). We will miss beautiful landscaping, made beds, fresh towels, clean rooms, and particularly the cute towel animals that brighten even the most disheartening days. We are thankful for the watchful eye of Benedicto, Juan Carlos, and the most adorable guard dog Susie, who keep us safe and secure at night. And of course we couldn’t have stayed sane without the Managerial Staff helping us get materials, organize outings, and tending our needs.
There are a few things we won’t miss:
- Coming in from the forest smelling like a wet dog who just swam in a stagnant pond of severed feet
- Providing an all you can eat buffet for mosquitoes
- Going to bed 3 hours after dinner
- Cheese that doesn’t melt
- Long work days
- Nasty beer
- Isolation from the happenings of the world
- Constant perspiration
We are thankful for our time here at the Soltis Center and how we’ve grown together as researchers and friends. We look forward to a few weeks in College Station before we return to our lives outside of this REU universe.
Over and out,