CURes in Costa Rica: Trip Highlights

This series of blog posts chronicles the summer course that CURes offers for LMU students in Costa Rica called “Tropical Science and Culture in Costa Rica.” We teach this interdisciplinary overview of tropical science, policy, and culture course (and the interactions between them) in conjunction with the Monteverde Institute.  The course consists of lectures as well as field visits and presentations.  Students also develop specific areas of concentration for their studies by collaborating with course instructor, Dr. Peter Auger.  Overall, CURes and the Monteverde Institute aim to provide students with a broad Costa Rican historical and social context in order to facilitate a better understanding of the tropical biology of the region.  To read more about the course, please visit the description on the CURes website.  To read more of the blog entries from this year’s trip, please visit the LMU Costa Rica 2015 Blog.

Buenos Dias (Good Morning) from San José!

Course participants are in the process of arriving at the Juan Santamaría International Airport in San José.  While we are waiting we thought it would be nice to show family and friends where we are in the world, and the size of Costa Rica in relation to the greater Los Angeles area, from where most if not all of our participants are traveling.  It really puts things in perspective!

Arrival at the Costa Rica Tennis Club in San Jose 

Course participants traveled overnight and the first group arrived at the San Jose’ airport, where after they went through Immigration and Customs, were shuttled by our MVI guide, Mark Wainwright, to our first place for lodging, the Costa Rica Tennis Club.  This location offers great rooms, hot showers, amazing food, unlimited hot and delicious coffee and tea, and unsurpassed hospitality, which students will need after a long night of travel!  See this website link for information on the Tennis Club.

Students enjoyed a nice breakfast and will have free time until we reconvene at 3:30 for our first group meeting and then a presentation by Mark on the History of Costa Rica.  Meeting and presentation notes to be posted later today.  Students will then have dinner together at 6:30 in the main dining area.

Pura Vida and best wishes from our LMU group on this, our first day in Costa Rica!



Group Meeting and Presentation 

The group met at 3:30 as planned, and after instructor and participant introductions, an important overview of the course followed.  Highlights relayed to students by our MVI guide, Mark Wainwright included the following:

  • due to more than average rainfall on the Caribbean side, we may have to change our trip itinerary around, possibly starting at Monteverde in the north, then going to the Pacific side on the west coast, and finally making our way to the Caribbean side on the east coast at the end of the trip; we will know more tomorrow about conditions and then the decision will be made at that point
  • each student is encouraged to have what Mark terms, “a healthy case of paranoia”; by this he means be aware of your surroundings at all times; the rain forest is like the city in many ways in that there are dangers you have to be aware of; but instead of cars there could be things like snakes and bullet ants (#1 on the Schmidt pain index)!! bottom line: look before you touch, think before you leap, just be aware and make good choices
  • keeping an eye on one’s health is very important; stay on top on any medical issues that could arise; if you are not feeling well, approach one of the instructors as soon as possible so you can get any care you may need
  • participants are encouraged to put all electronics or anything you don’t want to get wet, into a plastic bag, such as a ziplock
  • IN YOUR DAYPACK 24/7 you must have the following with you at all times:
  •   WATER
  •   CAMERA

Professor Auger then went over course requirements and the good/bad news that the course is only 17 days but that the final project has to be done in that time. He went over various suggestions for topics based on students’ majors and interests and suggested students team up on topics such as videography, hummingbirds, macrophotography, vocalizations/dialects, turtle nesting, etc.  He suggested ways students could present their information such as via a report format, poster that could be presented at the LMU campus when appropriate, video documentary, powerpoint, etc.  Professor Auger will meet with students as necessary to help them decide on a topic or discuss research methodologies, etc.

After an amazing presentation on the history of Costa Rica, Mark reminded students that we would never be doing the same thing twice, so he encouraged everyone to make the most of each day.

After the meeting we had another delicious meal at the main dining area, discussed the plan for tomorrow, and headed for some rest.  Tomorrow begins our adventure to the various regions of Costa Rica!  We are ready for an amazing adventure and learning experience.