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Last Day at La Suerte Biological Research Station, Cost Rica

It’s Jess again, Today was our last day of our Anthropology 445 Course in Costa Rica. We now have to say goodbye to the place we considered home for the past three weeks. I developed such a close relationship with my trip members, the professor and T.As, and the staff. I almost teared up when the staff asked when we were coming back. I didn’t know how to respond, but I assured them that I would never forget them and I will try to add some of them on Facebook. When I finally stepped outside, I said my goodbyes to the rainforest. Living in the rainforest has by far been my most cherishable experience. There were many challenges that came along with the trip, but I got through them and those challenges made this trip that much more rewarding. I have grown more as a person and have learned so much more about the world around me and I now understand what we are losing when we cut these forests down. We are losing beauty, diversity, homes, and lives and I cannot sit back and watch it happen. This trip has inspired me to pursue conservation research and it has made me grateful that I experienced the rainforest for myself.relationship with my trip members, the professor and T.As, and the staff. I almost teared up when the staff asked when we were coming back. I didn’t know how to respond, but I assured them that I would never forget them and I will try to add some of them on Facebook. When I finally stepped outside, I said my goodbyes to the rainforest. Living in the rainforest has by far been my most cherishable experience. There were many challenges that came along with the trip, but I got through them and those challenges made this trip that much more rewarding. I have grown more as a person and have learned so much more about the world around me and I now understand what we are losing when we cut these forests down. We are losing beauty, diversity, homes, and lives and I cannot sit back and watch it happen. This trip has inspired me to pursue conservation research and it has made me grateful that I experienced the rainforest for myself.

Jessica Gutierrez

 

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Living in the Costa Rican Rainforest

After spending a few days in the city of Alajuela we began our four-hour drive to La Suerte Biological Research Station where our Anthropology 445: Sustainability, Conservation, Ecology, and Evolution course would begin. I knew we were an hour away from the nearest city, but I did not know what to expect of our living conditions. When we arrived, I was amazed by the rich green forest right outside of the field house. We could walk just a few feet away and we would find  ourselves surrounded by tall green trees and bushels of heliconia plants. It was incredibly beautiful. The first three days, our professor and T.As lead us into the large and small forest in order to become familiar with the trails and to explore the biodiversity. We also collected practice data on capuchins and mantled howler monkeys. After the three days, the students worked on their methods of data collection and the next day we organized ourselves into groups according to our individual projects.

 Costa Rica 3 2016  

Our morning routine consists of waking up at 4:00 AM, eating breakfast, and we would head to the predicted location of the mantled howler monkeys. Once we were in the forest, we would split up individually and listen out for their howls and track them as fast as possible. After tracking, we began our data collection on the activity budget and diet.

  

~Jessica Gutierrez #ACESabroad #imagineaces

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ACES298: Discovering Caribbean Agriculture Systems

Dominican Republic

January 4-15, 2016

January 7, 2016

We rose bright and early to begin our day with breakfast and bid farewell to the Drake hotel. Our class boarded the bus to head to our first tour of the day, Goya Food Processing Enterprise.
We learned a great deal about the process workers take to can important Dominican products. Green beans are the main focus at this time of year, but coconuts are most frequently processed in this plant. We left Goya realizing that this developing country, has established a strong system of efficient canning that is able to be shipped internationally.
Our next stop was MACAPI, an avocado processing factory. Upon our arrival, our bus was greeted with waving children and many smiling Dominican citizens. The factory manager informed us that six months ago, the USDA found a Mediterranean fly infestation within a shipment of green-skinned avocados at the Punta Cana airport. This caused a ban to be placed all across the island on exports of this avocado sent to the United States. MACAPI is only allowed to ship currently to Europe.
After our tour of the avocado plant, our class was taken to a terrace where we ate guacamole and drank mango punch. For many of us, this was the first time trying guacamole and we enjoyed experiencing it on the island all together. During our tour, we became more knowledgable about how much hard work goes into products we buy and consume daily.
Next, our bus headed to the Agora Mall for a quick lunch and a little bit of shopping, prior to departing for the United States Embassy. The United States Embassy has a sector of focus called USAID. They place much emphasis on climate control and the education of the agricultural community. During our visit, we were informed that the United States made the decision to reaccept the imports of green-skinned avocados. This change will greatly affect the amount of processing completed in the MACAPI plant.
The bus became a little louder as our class got back on and became excited to venture to Our next destination.
Unfortunately, on our way to the beautiful city of Santiago, our bus broke down. Luckily, the kind people of the Dominican Republic were able to help us and send us on our way in no time.
Arriving in Santiago we all loved, Aloha Sol, the new hotel we will be staying in. It was stunning! Our first experience in the city was to go out to eat on a patio restaurant in Downtown Santiago near our hotel. The restaurant we chose helped enforce practicing our Spanish language.

-Alanis Rich

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Puerto Rico: From Fajardo to Mayagüez

Approaching Day 5 after a relaxing first few days in Puerto Rico, I’m excited to see the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez and learn more about agriculture!

The second day, in Fajardo, we ate breakfast at a small local café then headed uphill (upmountain) to El Yunque National Forest. El Yunque is a tropical forest and what they call a cloud forest.

After heading uphill on a curving road in the 15 passenger van and looking out at the other large hazy mountains, we got on a trail to hike to a waterfall. The forest had many palm trees and many tropical trees IMG_2862with sturdy fan-like leaves, and we could hear the diverse, colorful birds that flew between them. Hiking up and down trails, we finally reached the waterfall, already filled with people clambering on the rocks and swimming in the water. We joined them, climbing on the rocks and taking our shoes off to dip our feet in the cool water.
Once we got our fill of rock climbing, we sat on the rocks and looked down the hill at the water running down the rocks until the forest pinched it out of sight. A moments rest, and we hopped back on the trail. I was relieved when a refreshing sprinkle of rain and fresh squeezed lemonade met us at the end of the trail. Back in the van, I enjoyed my lemonade as we descended down the mountain.
A brief lunch, and we were mounting horses to take a ride on a relaxing trail through the countryside alongside the forest. My horse did not like to sit still and ran a little faster than I expected. Every horse had its own personality. Some stopping to eat grass. Others galloping ahead to be in front or staying behind to be with another horse. I had never ridden horse before, but by the end I felt comfortable and had a good handle on the reins. Plus, I couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful place to ride, with the various species of tree and bird surrounding us in the fields and the hills.
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Day 3 we hIMG_2869ad another relaxed morning at a café then headed to the beach while the Puerto Ricans enjoyed the holiday Three Kings Day. At first the rain threatened our sunny day at the beach, but we swam anyway and waited for the clouds to pass. We enjoyed various occupations throughout the day. We swam, skipped rocks, played in the sand, and read casually on the beach. And ended our day with a refreshing walk, seeing crabs and cranes along the way. A relaxing day 3 in Puerto Rico.
Day 4 we piled in the van with our luggage and headed to Mayagüez. Now, settled in our apartment outside of the university, we await a Day 5 with more learning, new adventures, and new people!
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