Archive for May, 2012

“Gravity always wins eventually”

Later: Right after I posted that blog post I saw a steely vented hummingbird feeding on pretty flowers just outside the student union.  It was so pretty!  It made me think of my hummingbird Daddy.

Then we had a fantastic lunch.  It is unusual that I feel the need to share this info.  We had lentils and rice, steamed veggies and avocado and mango salad.  After lunch we had classes, wooh.  Is that the reason we are here…?  During neotropical biology we admired the clay colored robin who was feeding her babies in the rafters of our classroom.  I recommend you Google all the animal names as I mention them.  Then we took a short nature walk.  The jungle is, in my most professional opinion, da bomb.  So I didn’t know that we are not just on the top of a mountain, we are on a volcano.  (Mom don’t freak out!)  But it is extinct.  There is one 5-10 miles away which is still active.  And apparently there are earthquakes sometimes but all of the buildings are wooden structures so it is ok.  (Mom don’t freak out!)  Regarding volcanoes and their tendency to turn into hills, Dr. Moran said “Gravity always wins eventually.”  That is practically the story of my life (and is the inspiration for the name of this blog post).

Anthropology class was great, except when I looked at the robin I felt like I was distracted whereas in biology I was still on task.  After class I tried to read and had a short 10 minute nap.  I was much more productive in the library.  (We have a library!)

Before dinner I chatted with Drs. Moran and Penner.  Moran said that Mississippi has the highest per capita distribution of writers in the nation.  Hellz yeah!  I also went to bed before 9 and it was great.

5/29 BONG
I saw hummingbirds chasing each other before breakfast.  Then during breakfast from the window we could see a pair of Euphonias (blue and yellow birds) alternating between guarding the nest and feeding the babies.  There were cute little open mouths in the nest!  I was very happy.

Then we saw a huge cane toad chillin’ in front of our dorm.  It was exciting to see but he was sick or old so that was disappointing.  And a beautiful Blue Morpho butterfly!  There is so much to see.  Like during our biology class we heard a three wattled bell bird mating call, which sounds like a BONG.  It travels 2 miles which is the loudest animal sound.  And during anthropology a motmot flew past and landed in the trees next to our open-air classroom.

You wanna know what fun thing happens here sometimes?  Pickup soccer games!  Whenever I got the ball from one of the Ticos (Costa Rican people) which, granted was not very often at all, the other Ticos would laugh at the boy.  It was maybe a little bit because I am a foreigner, but probably a lot because I am a girl.  So after that was lunch and a 5 hour break.  Know what I did in that break?  Took a hike!  (Clearly I am excited about all of these things.)  We saw 2 agoutis before we even left!  Then an army ant group was on the march carrying pupae.  We saw 3 more mammals total:  a capuchin monkey, variegated squirrel, and a coati.  It was a great hike.   We then tried to figure out where the trail spit us out, and saw the cutest calf.  I am jealous of his eyelashes.  We came across a couple of researchers birding and learned about a few of the species we saw.  For instance, a social flycatcher, since it is not a songbird, calls and does not sing.  Also the main distinguishing factor between the yellow crested elania and the great kiskade is that one has a white crown and the other’s has a gap in the back (more like a tiara).  We never would have noticed that alone.

We made it back to the student union for a much needed snack then showered and read before a 5 o’clock film about Costa Rica’s Monteverde region.  It didn’t rain during our hike but it did during the movie.  The rain was so loud on the tin roof that we had to cut the movie off because we could no longer hear anything.   On our way to dinner from watching the film, all I had was my waterproof bucket hat so of course I climbed into Chris’s poncho with him and looked out of the arm hole to make it to the union for dinner.  That was fun.

There was a leetle bit of drama at dinner.  There was a fire!  In an all wooden structure!  (Mom don’t freak out!  :-P)  And all of the Americans were freaking out and the Ticos were kind of like “que pasa?” as they ambled over to see what the problem was.  Finally someone realized there was a fan blowing on a gas burner keeping the food warm, so they unplugged the fan.   All better!  Until there was a cockroach in my room and lots of girls freaked out.  It was unpleasant.  Someone killed it but then it was still alive!  Zombie cockroach.


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Commence funny looks

So I’m in Costa Rica.  How cool is that?!  Would you like to hear how I got to this amazing place?  Well it is a boring story and took about 16 hours to get from house to bunkhouse.  So I will condense it.


Most of the Hendrix-in-Costa-Rica group left from Little Rock, and luckily Chris the Boyfriend is a LR native.  We left his house at 10 yesterday morning for our noon flight to Houston.  We zipped through security and hung out with our fellows at the gate.  Commence bonding!  We had a small bumpy flight to Houston followed by lunch and a 4 hour layover.  When I travel in a large group, for the sake of those around me I am terrified of getting hungry.  As such, within our 4 hour layover I ate both lunch and dinner.  You are welcome, gang.  We also had a giant round of B.S. going on the ground at the gate for our next flight.  We got funny looks.  It probably will not be the last time we get funny looks.  In fact, I hope we get more funny looks as the trip goes on.


Then we had a much bigger plane from Houston to Costa Rica’s Liberia airport.  It is worth pointing out that the plan was for everyone to meet in Houston.  Nearly everyone was there, except Paige (a fellow rising junior) whose flight out of Nashville was delayed.  She had to run, in her ankle brace to boot, in order to catch the flight.  I started a round of applause from the back of the plane where all of our group was.  More funny looks.  Worth it.


We landed in Costa Rica 3 hours later!  Followed by waiting on the plane to get off, waiting to get through customs, waiting for our luggage, waiting for our bus, then waiting for our luggage to get tied to the roof of said bus.  Many people had not had dinner and by this point it was 9:30 PM so the only place for food which was open was… Drumroll… McDonald’s!  We traveled 1720 miles in order to have an American chain, but I’m not complaining.  There was an advertisement outside of a big mac and next to it was an avocado slice, teehee.  Oh, globalization.


Our bus ride from Liberia to San Luis was 2 hours and 45 minutes.  The first hour I slept and the remaining time was on a bumpy, curvy gravel road.  So I did NOT sleep.  We saw on the road: a cat, 2 cows, and 3 horses.  They all had places to go!  We followed the cows and horses down the road for a bit before they turned off onto their respective driveways.


I have officially decided that I do not like arriving at night.  I couldn’t see anything on the way in.  But at 1 in the morning, we finally made it to the University of Georgia Ecolodge!  The naturalist who met us to show us our rooms is a Hendrix grad too.  Woohoo, represent!  We pulled our luggage over grass and gravel to get to our bunkhouse.  I have 5 roommates and share a wall with the other 6 girls on our trip.


I finally slept at 2 and woke up around 7 for breakfast.  There was a light rain around 6 and it sounded great on the tin roof.  So, if you know me well enough, and you did the math, that is a horrifyingly small amount of sleep for me.  I’m living on the edge, man!


Next day (which is today, May 28th): Breakfast was am-ah-zing.  Tea, rice and beans, local cheese, mango and watermelon, and pancakes with maple syrup.  Plus some of Sam’s (fellow rising junior, male) mango too.  Nom.  We had an orientation meeting with Kestin (the Hendrix naturalist) and have been left to our own devices ever since.  Mwahaha.  Wish me luck in my explorations!

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“Normal” hair

Have no fear! It is not for good.

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Preparing for Costa Rica

Hello McKenna Travel Blog readers (aka friends and family)!

I am getting ready for my summer study abroad in Costa Rica.  I leave Sunday May 27th and will start blogging again then.  Feel free to remember what I did during my gap year (located in archives), or read them for the first time.  I hope my antics make you smile.  Oh, and don’t be alarmed by reddish brown hair, the exciting colors will return when I am back in the States.  Wish me luck!

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