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"It is the journey which makes up your life."

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Hello From the Jungle!

I'm in Costa Rica!!! I've been here since Monday and I'm already having adventures. Right now I'm at La Selva station, which is a preserve owned by OTS on the Caribbean side - lowland forests. There are all kinds of enormous trees dripping with vines and birds and snakes and THE COOLEST bugs EVER!!

It's incredibly dense and kinda intimidating but beautiful in minute ways. Hanging out with thirty other biologists is fantastic because it makes you notice everything. Everyone here is really enthusiastic, and it's infectious. We have four profs who travel around with us, eat with us, hike with us, and just teach as they go. It's like having friends who know EVERYTHING! The other students know a lot too, and they're all cool. I'm impressed.

So right now I'm hanging out and having a few classes at the field station. I actually just got back from a 6 hour hike... they took us halfway around the preserve in small groups pointing out trees and birds and frogs as we came across them. Then for the afternoon we have a class on geology, soccer for the brave, the willing and the muddy, dinner and another night hike. Tomorrow I think we go rafting... So it's been very active so far. I am hungry all the time because of that, but the food is pretty good. I have to learn to make rice and beans like this!
This weekend I go back to San Jose and meet my host family and start my spanish lit classes. San Jose is alright for a city. Very smoggy and the driving is crazy. On the way from the airport, people J-walked across the freeways, motorcycles zoomed around cars and into oncoming traffic. There are barely any signs, much less traffic lights, and if you survive something as harrowing as an intersection you might turn a corner and find a tree growing out of the middle of the street. Except for the cars, though, the city is pretty friendly. Lots of little parks and plazas and things. The day I arrived was national poetry day, so I stumbled upon a little festival with live music and tables selling Costa Rican poetry. I also walked through some kind of labor demonstration. There was a van with loudspeakers parked in the middle of the street outside some old castle-looking building, which might have been the parliament, and the street was filled with people carrying orange flags. A guy was giving a speech from the van about how the people would rise up, and would not tolerate this oppression, and would lift their voices and so on, but I couldn't figure out what it was about. Peaceful - though. Democracy on the move, I guess. The graffiti here is pretty interesting too. Except for the occasional "Mauricio te amo" it was all political. Stuff like "No TLC" (the US/Central America Free Trade agreement), "Bush is a murderer" "the word of government is the word of god" and all kinds of things like "so-and-so is a (pinche) neoliberal!" I think I have a lot to learn about it. I'll quiz my host family.

So.. what else? Salsa dancing is fun. The University of Costa Rica is right next to my language school. It's much bigger and much prettier than I expected... like a lot of the city, I guess. The nice neighborhoods have sleek modern buildings and very old beautiful houses, and the rest is a mix of the old majesty, trees, and corrugated metal shacks painted in bright colors. Not bad, in all. And they have the best pineapples ever!


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