Saturday, June 20, 2015

Day 10 The Beach!!

Today we awoke after a lovely night’s sleep, oh joy! After a refreshing breakfast we enjoyed the sights of beautiful Horizontes, Costa Rica. Many played cards and reveled in a shared comradery, knowing our blessed time in Costa Rica is coming to an end. Lunch was a luxurious mixture of foodstuffs. John gave a speech on our upcoming presentations in Minnesota.

The beach was a lovely affair. We left Horizontes in the early afternoon, arriving at the sandy expanse at the most beautiful time of day:2:30 pm. We donned our suits of bathing and set foot in the glorious Pacific Ocean. We began to discuss an expedition to a magical estuary; a place where two waters meet. Our walk there was brisk, and upon reaching the mouth of the river we knew our journey had not been in vain. The estuary was beautiful, this is all that can be said, and after a short dip we returned to the beach from whence we came. As the little country of Costa Rica turned away from the sun, we began dinner. Shortly thereafter, we departed from the magnificent beach. As we drove into the night, we considered the fact that we would have the pleasure of seeing the sun rise in the morning on our way to the airport.
black beans in white sea
we consume you daily, yum
a scrumptious treat
-Isaac &  Heather

Day 9

Yesterday we said “goodbye” to Finca La Anita and said “hello” to Horizontes. We woke up to a delicious breakfast before getting the chance to buy some merchandise and homemade Finca chocolate. After spending lots of our money, we said “adios” to Pablo and hit the road for our next adventure!

The drive took us several hours, and we stopped by a grocery store and a souvenir shop along the way (Father’s Day is on the brain for many people). After spending even more money, we arrived at Horizontes! Horizontes is very different from Finca; it is in the middle of the dry rainforest and near the west coast, while Finca is in the wet rainforest nowhere near the coast. We were given our rooms and we set about unpacking. I think I speak for all of us when I say that Horizontes is not nearly as glamorous as Finca. The floors are cement, the walls are white, and nothing here is remotely “fancy” or “luxurious” (even Jack’s pillow was stuffed with cotton balls!). Oh, and we have to check for scorpions in our beds before we go to sleep every night. Nice…

After unpacking, a delicious lunch, and lots of card playing, John made several announcements for us. First of all, he reminded us about our presentations to all of you on July 9th, and told us that we needed to trim off (or “shave” rather) about half of our 10-12 minute bioinformatics presentations to make them only 5 minutes long. We’ll need to shorten and cut slides and talk a lot faster if we want to be able to fully communicate our studies to you.

Secondly, during our time at Finca, we have been invited to participate in the Hospital Microbiome Project. This project is an effort to map every kind of microorganism that exists in every part of every hospital in the U.S (especially the “sterilized” areas). Our Seeds of Change group has been invited to map a hospital microbiome as part of this project. Because we were invited only recently, we have not chosen a hospital to map yet, or a time to do it, but it is something that will be planned and scheduled relatively soon.

Finally, Bridget and Karin gave us more in-depth information about sea turtles, and their pioneering efforts to track them. We learned about the different kinds of sea turtle tracks, and how to distinguish them, but most importantly, we leaned about their idea and efforts to record sea turtles using drones. Their idea is to use automated drones to scan previously unreachable beaches (due to their dangerous terrain) for sea turtles. They have tested it in makeshift environments (like the park) and proven that it can work, and have already filed a grant request. They are revolutionizing the way scientists search for sea turtles.

After the meeting was over, we passed the time until we went to the beach to look for sea turtles the old fashioned way. We set down our blankets, turned off our lights, and slept (more or less) under the stars and with the sounds of waves crashing. Bridget and Karin took groups in different directions on the beach to look for sea turtles. They would spend around 45 minutes each looking for tracks, and would ask for or find volunteers to come with. By 2:20 AM we had come up empty and headed back to our rooms for about 4 hours of sleep (unless you wanted to skip breakfast, which is a very valid option that I’m sure many people will accept). Ben had to leave the trip early, and we all said goodbye to him before hitting the hey.

Today is a new day, and a new blog I won’t have to write. We’ll see all you parents tomorrow!

Raymond Martinez

Friday, June 19, 2015

Day 8

Hello everyone, sorry for not posting the blog last night until today. We didn’t get back from our amazing trip until 11pm.

The morning began by having another amazing breakfast at eight o’clock, which is getting harder and harder to get up for. After our breakfast, we ventured into the classroom to listen to the rest of the group’s presentations (that was six presentations total). Once the presentations are done, we had time to change into our swimsuits and get ready for a fun adventure. After we had our lunch, which was amazing as always, we took a 1.5 hour drive to Rio Perdido. The first thing was to go zip lining. We didn’t know what to expect, whether it was through woods or across rivers. However, what we saw was truly breath taking. We zip lined through a canyon, and to get to some platforms we had to climb up some rocks, like a ladder. We also got to experience, on the zip line, a mini Tarzan experience across a waterfall. Some people even swung twice. After the Tarzan experience we have to walk across the “OMG Bridge” which the guides would shake causing the “OMG”. The last zip line was giant scenery view, which was amazing. The next adventure we have to take, with the same tour guides, was tubing down a canyon river. This included some rapids. Some people’s greatest memories were the mini heart attack going to the next mini waterfall. Some people fell off due to the rapids and others were flipped. Sadly, we had to end our tubing with a small hike up stairs with the tube. Some of us went to the pool or went to natural hot springs, which had a mud bath. We have to eat an amazing dinner which some tables included playing some games at one table. After our amazing adventure, we had another long bus ride back, which is where many people fell asleep.

The Gingers minus Bridget

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Day 7 presentation prep

Blog: June 17

We ate a delicious breakfast of eggs, fried cheese, corn tortillas, rice and beans. We spent the entire day working on science. Pablo had a chocolate tour in the morning, so we were asked to do science in the indoor lab area, which has significantly slower wifi than on the porch. After a lunch we were able to return outdoors to finish our research.
Today is the last work day for our presentation. We had four groups present their findings today. Team
“beta lactamase” discovered antibiotic resistance in cyanobbacteria found in the oceans. Team “bioluminescence” studied pathways that make organisms glow. Team “fungus garden” who explored relations between different gardening insects and team “microbial communities” compared the abilities of microbes from around the world. Everyone else will finish presenting tomorrow morning.
Afterwards we ate dinner, which was an extremely delicious hamburger and plantain fries. Also, Happy Birthday to Delane who turned 18 today!

Bridget, Olivia, and Sabrina went to Amy’s house to continue their service project from Monday. Their job was to find a way  to extract the essential oils from ginger so the women of the village could sell it. The ginger is cut into very fine pieces and placed in a crockpot with olive oil where it is heated for two days. Then, the oil has to be poured into a container so the olive oil and ginger oil can separate. Tomorrow, they will go back to Amy’s house to figure out a way to separate the ginger oil from the olive oil.

Olivia and Karin