Bittersweet Goodbyes

So today, I go home. Trust me I am ready to go home because I miss being home but honestly I am going to miss it here with everyone.

We went on our last tour and before we knew it we were back in San Jose to prepare for our flight home.  The ride to San Jose took about 4 or so hours and along the way we had to say goodbye to our professor Freddy Gamboa. When we arrived we were assigned rooms and given dinner. The dinner was super good, I had a burrito and fries which I had been craving forever so i’m glad I got it while I was there. Also, to my surprise I had no roommate in my hotel room so I had the whole entire room to myself to fully enjoy(Im not bragging, just excited).

Anyway, as much as we all tried to avoid it, we had to say our goodbyes as we were all leaving at different times and some weren’t leaving at all but nonetheless it was really sad and for the first time during the whole trip I felt bad for ever wanting to go home.

Now on to today,  we ate some delicious breakfast and a couple of us accompanied by Josh’s parents walked over to a museum near the hotel and checked out all the cool art and then we walked to a park and just took in the sights. It was awesome because I got to spend some more time with my friends before leaving to the airport.

Around 10:30 or so, the shuttle showed up to pick up Matt and I and once again we had to say our goodbyes to everyone and finally left to the airport. The airport wasn’t all that bad but it was super crowded with people with large families. After getting through security, I visited the super crowded and huge gift shop that had some of the most expensive things in it but that did not stop me from buying some items from it but my day got brighter because as Matt and I waited for our plane, we ran into Elizabeth, my fellow Mizzou Tiger.

Long story short, Matt and I got through the Dallas airport together and then unfortunately we had to say our goodbyes as he was going to Colorado and I was heading to Missouri but it was all good. Actually, plot twist my gate was changed and I was not aware of it but luckily the new gate was not as far so I was able to run from it with 8 minutes to spare.

I got home in Missouri around 10pm and honestly did not think I was going to miss home as much as I did but it was an awesome and life changing experience that I wouldnt change for the world and I am so glad I got to go. I made some of the greatest friends and created some great memories. Trust me I am glad I’m home but my trip to Costa Rica will hold a special place in my heart.

Thank You for reading!

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La Flor

Hello and Welcome,

So earlier this week, I had to say goodbye to Earth University as for the duration of the trip we would not be back. However, I got to say hello to Earth University-La Flor. So La Flor is really cool mainly because it has AC and private bathrooms but the setup is completely different from the main Earth. The food is just as good and the landscape is still really cool, so anyway my day started at 6:30am with breakfast and then afterwards we took a bus to the forest and took a little morning hike. It was good being back in the forest because I haven’t entered one since the first course with Dr. Skole. We saw a lot of cool things and beautiful scenery which calls for a photo op!

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Photo taken by Savannah

After the hike we stopped by a couple of mango trees and ate some fresh mangoes, they were so freaking good! And then after that we had some free time before lunch and not going to lie, I took a nap because hiking is exhausting! Later after lunch was consumed, we traveled to a classroom and worked on an assignment, the assignment was to created a presentation of our time in the home stay and it had to be presented all in Spanish! The presentation went well as we all worked together and presented together!

The next day also started at 6:30am with breakfast and the arrival of the other Earth students. After breakfast, we traveled to the field with the other students to work with them and learn about soil and all that good stuff! It was really hot, of course, but my group got done really fast so it was all good. I am glad that we had worked with the other students because we got to learn from them on an educational and cultural level. Work lasted to about 12ish and so we traveled back to the campus to eat lunch and prepare for the lecture at 1:30pm about the data we collected in the field. The lecture was taught in Spanish, with a little bit of English translation but it was really nice trying my best to understand everything that was going on, I like a little challenge in my life. The lecture lasted until 3:45!

At 5:00, as part of our curriculum we have to present a presentation on a certain crop and today the banana group consisting of Meryn, Brooke, and Jenny educated us on bananas. They did really well and I was amazed at how well informed and put together their presentation was because we have been so busy these past few days! My day ended with a sighting of a pisote and chicken for dinner!

*Please do not ask how I did not mention this earlier but before arriving to Earth-La Flor we stopped by a cocoa farm and ate so much chocolate that I thought it was Valentine’s Day! The husband/owner of the farm, Pablo started off our tour with showing us how to make ceviche and cut up some fresh Heart of Palm and it was so good I had to get seconds! The really good part came in when he made fresh hot chocolate, and gave us all these treats that were covered in chocolate, needless to say I was overcome with happiness and joy. We even toured the farm and he cut up some cocoas and let us try the inside of it. This visit made my day because chocolate is my life!

Thank you for reading!

Home at the Homestay pt.2

Hello and welcome,

This post is part two to my time at the homestay with Merilu and her family! So the day started at 6:30 with another wonderful and fulfilling breakfast by Merilu and a much needed glass of jugo de naranja (orange juice, I love orange juice). Our adventure started with a ride to a black pepper farm owned by a guy named Victor! It was a rainy day but we were put to work helping Victor clean the drainage canals of all the leaves and weeds in the way. It was a lot of work but crazy thing is that Victor, an older gentleman does all this work by himself! A running theme throughout my post so far is appreciation for where my food comes from, once again I find myself reminiscing on all the black pepper I have used and never once have I thought about the hard work that went in to making it for me.

Work at the black pepper farm lasted for a few hours but we got it all done. The couple were really nice so that once we were done they had coffee and crackers waiting for us on the table. Still raining, we traveled back to the house and had some more food…yes we had more amazing food! Afterwards, we were given free time to take a nap or do whatever so my friends and I played a card game called euchre, which I improved at since learning at La Selva!

Around 4 or so, Merilu and her husband came back with ingredients for us to make donuts! Merilu pulled out her recipe and all of us got to part take in the process of creating them. They came out so good and she even added chocolate, sugar,coconut creme and sprinkles to them. They were so freaking good but I could only eat one because they were so heavy and I had to leave room for dinner. Dinner was really good and on top of that the rest of the Rojas family came over so you know what that means…more bailando! It was such a long night but it was super fun because the music was bumping and so were all of us!

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Photo taken by Sara

The next day, we had another family day in which we all traveled to Termales, a hot spring water park! We all had so much fun and the pools were crazy! Everyone was jumping from every which way and splashing water it was honestly reminded me of my younger days, just kidding I’m still young! Anyway, I got to interact with everyone and practice more of my Spanish! Merilu, Issiah, and Freddy were cooking food for us when we got out of the pool and it was superb, there was this bean dip that I would mind flying four hours just to get…yes it was that good but besides that there was chicken, beef, sausage, tortillas, vegetables and this pineapple dip. After that, my friends and I played a game of euchre, which my partner and I won and then we finished out the day out by drying off and singing songs like Vanessa Carlton’s A Thousand Miles and The Jackson 5’s I Want You Back!

After we were done at the hot springs, we packed up all of our things and got on the bus to go back to the house where we prepared for dinner. However before dinner we had a heart to heart with Merilu and Issiah, they told us how much they cared for us and how much they enjoyed having us be apart of their family. Even though I did not say anything, I would just  like to say to Merilu and Issiah ” Muchos gracias por el ayuda con mi espanol porque mi espanol es muy muy mal!”

The next morning, we had to say goodbye to the Rojas and it was so sad because I really enjoyed it at their house and with their family but I am very thankful for the experience and memories!

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Photo taken by Jenny

Thank you for reading!

 

Home at the Homestay

Hello and Welcome,

This post will be about my amazing time at Merilu’s house. So part of this course in sustainable agriculture is living with host family and learn by doing because when in Costa Rica…you know the rest!

So i’m not going to lie on this post (not that I lie on them any other time) but I was super nervous about coming to the homestay because they did not have wifi and yes I know it sounds sad but hey i’m young and stupid but get this the homestay was soooo fun that I actually forgot the whole ‘wifi situation’ and fully realized that it is good to be apart for the technological world(sometimes). Anyway that is besides the point, the Rojas family consist of Merilu, her husband Issiah, and their two kids Merilyn and Issac also accompanied by their cousin, Oscar!

The first day of work, we went to the farm and we got to milk some goats and cows, which is my area of interest! As an animal science major it was great to take what I learned at Mizzou and apply it to real life so that was really cool for me to do. Everyone got to learn how to milk and i’m glad because it’s something that changed my perspective on livestock and it actually is fun to do. Also I have never milked a goat so it was something new for me to experience as well!

After that we went to the pineapple plantation and helped Issiah weed because weeds are harmful to the development of the pineapples. The task seems easy that is until you are doing it and it looks like it will never end! It takes a whole lot of work to do that because my back and knees were aching which once again makes me appreciate where my food is coming from because once you are on the other end of the spectrum the view of a simple pineapple changes. Unfortunately, I do not have many pictures of my experience because I did not bring my phone to work but it was fun and exhausting all at the same time! Also, after weeding we helped harvest the pineapples and that was really cool too because we all worked together so smoothly that we were done quicker than I thought we were going to be!

After doing work all morning, we had some of Merilu’s wonderful cooking and chilled out before preparing a little family excursion to el rio (the river). The trip to the river was so really fun because I rode in the trailer and well you had to be there but it was so bumpy and had me cracking up the whole time (shout out to Savannah!).

Anyway, the river was so nice and refreshing  and honestly what I needed after a long day of work but the real nice part about the river that I appreciate was the fact that it felt like I was actually part of this family and it was quite heartwarming because prior to leaving for Costa Rica, I only had a day in between leaving Mizzou and boarding the plane that I did not have a lot of family time before departing so it felt good to have that home away from home since I couldn’t be with my real family!

The day ended with another exquisite meal by Merilu and bailando(dancing)! Everyone in the Rojas family can dance super good! Overall, I had a great day!

Thank you for reading!

On the Road to Monteverde pt.2

Hello and Welcome,

This post is “On the Road to Monteverde part dos” and by far the most thrilling and exciting post I will write about( at least for this course anyway). So because of some rescheduling with some of the events occurring we did the fun part first which was zip-lining with a surprise at the end! So at the facility we geared up in our helmets, gloves, and harness and did a practice line to get acclimated with how to properly zip-line. At first I thought it was going to be scary but it was so relaxing and soothing to be on that all my fear melted away.

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We took at tram all the way to the top of the hill and  prepared for our first line. But first we took a picture! The steps to get up to the start point was about 5 flights and by that time I was getting a little nervous because this was not the practice line anymore. I started freaking myself out with un-necessary thoughts but needless to say once I got on the line and started rolling, I had a freaking blast it was so amazing! Once again it was not scary but just zipping down and seeing all the treetops and mountains in the distance was quite breathtaking!

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Photo taken by Sophie

We did 5 more lines after the first one, each one was higher and longer than the one previous to it which was once again so amazing because I have never done anything like this in my life and so I can proudly go home and say I have truly done something hardcore. So coming from the last line the instructors said they had a surprise waiting for us and that once again made me nervous because well sometimes the unknown can be scary but if you can guess what the surprise was then you guessed better than me because the surprise was to bungee jump off the bridge..it was kind of the only way down unless you wanted to rappel down but that’s not hardcore so you already know what I did…yes, I jumped!

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It was super scary because we had to jump backwards and if you read my earlier sentence then you know that sometimes the unknown can be scary! The jump even though it wasn’t that far, it felt like eternity free falling before the rope caught but I had a blast and I’m so glad I did it because I have been wanting to do both these activities for a long time!

After the adrenaline rush from the two previous activities, we took off our gear and had ourselves a canopy tour of the forest. We saw so many cool things in that forest because folks, rainforests are never boring. Our guide was really good and pointed out like four different quetzal birds which are very precious to Costa Rica as a whole! The only part of the tour that I did not like whatsoever were the suspension bridges and we had to cross FOUR of them, each one was longer, higher, and wobblier than the one before it. It was really getting to me but I cleared all four stages and beat my high score of  doing things that are completely insane. But enough about me, the forest was awesome and after completing the tour we settled for lunch at the facility and it was so good, I had a paninni with caramelized onions, plantains, and bacon.

Leaving the facilty, we went back to the lodge and had an official cloud forest tour and it lasted for a good 2 hours and 30 minutes to be exact. Now that I am writing about it I realized I should have stretched before doing this because it was real hike as it was through mountain but it was so worth it once we got to the top cause the view was so cool. It was so cool because we couldn’t see anything because it was covered in a huge cloud. The tour was exciting, we saw another, yes another Quetzal and some spider/howler monkeys up closer than usual! The only thing I could not deal with were the horse flies, like they were ruthless  because they bite and well you bleed. I was not a fan because for some reason they were really attracted to my legs and were such a nuisance that I really could not enjoy the tour as much as I wanted too but all in all it was all still pretty cool!

The night ended back at Tra’Monti’s for dinner which was pasta. And once again the food was delightful but it was also kinda sad as we made a toast to not only the end of the course but to Dr. Skole and Stephanie our TA as they were leaving now that the course is over!

Thanks for Reading!

New Beginnings

So as of today, my classmates and I start a new course on sustainable agriculture. Our day started at 7am as we ate breakfast and prepared to meet our new professor who is none other than one of Earth’s many graduates Freddy Quiros from the class of 1995, as well as our new teacher’s assistant, Ricardo!20170529_143341_HDR

In the time we had our lecture, we picked groups for our future presentations on a crop of Freddy’s choosing which consisted of bananas, conventional pineapples, organic pineapples, and black pepper. My group made of Kori, Elizabeth and I chose black pepper, which should be interesting to learn about because I know absolutely nothing about black pepper so I’m very excited to go to this farm and check it out. We also chose an activity that we complete while at Earth which would consist of us really getting some hands on experience in the field. I chose to work at the dairy farm, I chose this because as an animal science major at Mizzou and being in dairy club/challenge, I work closely with cows and I would like to further my education and experience with this opportunity!

After class, we got on the bus and headed to a pineapple plantation and tons and tons of pineapples growing, it was almost insane thinking about the amount of work that goes into this because as we drove by we saw a covering over all the pineapples to protect them from the sun but somebody had to do it, right? Our professor, Freddy cut open a few pineapples to show us how one should look and he even gave us a few tastings which were soooo good. As we were there we saw the workers harvesting the pineapples! Fun fact: did you know it takes about 9 months to grow the flower and about 5 months for the flower to bear fruit, I surely didn’t!

After leaving the field, we headed to the pineapple packing plant and saw the craziness that goes on there! First we had to put on hair nets and that is always a struggle for me cause my hair is just so darn big, but happy ending, we got it on! Anyway, we saw how they clean the pineapples and test them to make sure……(we also got to eat more pineapples)… The packing plant was just so busy but it was cool to see the synergy that was created by the workers as they were all working together in what I thought looked confusing.

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On the Road to Monteverde

So only after a day of coming back from La Selva, I was already packing my bags again to head to out next excursion of this course which was Monteverde. Monteverde was a good 7 hour bus ride, partly due to the construction going on that caused us to sit there for like an hour but hey, I dont mind long road trips. Just getting up the mountain was a little over an hour and thirty minutes but the scenery was exquisite.

On a different tone, I was really sad going to Monteverde because one of the best friends I made here, went home as she was only staying for two weeks and not four. But she was so awesome and I as well as my other friends still miss her. Have fun Beth and hope you can come to Mizzou sometime!!!

When we arrived there, we stopped to eat at a restaurant named Amy’s and the food was really good, I had pizza with bacon(just as a side note)! The town is not huge but I was surprised to see how busy and touristy the town was. Also, because the town was up in the mountains, in the cloud it was a lot colder as compared to the rest of the places I have been in  Costa Rica. After eating at Amy’s, we headed to our lodging, which was at the….. I really liked it there because they had bunked beds and minimal bugs which was alright for me! Dr. Skole then allowed us to explore the forest on our own and we hiked our way all the way to a waterfall, a very beautiful one at that!

And then after our hike to the waterfall, we then loaded up into the bus and went into the town and got time to explore. The town like I mentioned before is not huge but it was still pretty exciting. They had a cool little gift shop that we all went to and I personally walked out with cocoa because why not! In our search for tacos, my friends ended up at the TreeHouse Cafe and ordered some drinks, I had a mango smoothie and it was the bomb-diggity, so for a while we chilled out and talked with one another and plus it was raining.

For dinner, we headed to a restaurant called Tramonti’s  and it was an Italian themed place with some awesome water pouring waiters. We had pizza, salad and bread and it was super good. Everyone had a good day but honestly all of were super exhausted and most of us fell asleep as soon as we got back to our rooms.