Field Trip in the Forest
When I think of field trips I tend to consider images of little children walking in a single file line on their way to a museum, or perhaps a factory that may include some delightful sample at the end of a tour. Not so at Universidad Nacional, I tell you. This class of mine, Arte en el Cine (Art in Film/Movies), offers not one, not two, but seventeen – and counting – options for field trips and other discounted activities outside of the classroom; all of which merit extra credit and most of which involve overnight stays in various parts of the country at severely discounted rates. The first of the multi-day trips happened this weekend at a biological reserve called La Selva, “The Forest”, and there were 12 of us students who were able to take advantage of this unique opportunity.
Leaving promptly at 6:30 a.m. we arrived at the reserve and got right to work earning our discounted rate by doing some manual labor. I helped with stabilizing a terrestrial bridge, which basically required lugging and wheelbarrowing around a bunch of rocks. Later we got to do some activities that registered more under the category of “leisure”, like explore some of the trails and find some cool animals. Being the students of the silver screen that we are, we did actually watch a movie while we were there too (“Home”, a film akin to “An Inconvenient Truth” that advocates eco-awareness). Later, we squinted our way through a nocturnal hike to enjoy some of the aspects of the forest that come alive only when the sun goes down. The next morning we were made aware of what a difference a guided hike makes because we got to see a lot of colorful birds and learn things about the forest we otherwise would have missed. Having the afternoon free, we watched Barcelona beat Real Madrid on TV and then I had the best
soccer-playing experience of my life. Not because of the quality of my performance (my skills were essentially gringo garbage compared to theirs), but because we started a pick-up game, “mejenga”, with La Selva workers until the sunset that came a solid 2 hours later on this tiny little field in the jungle that had more mud than it did grass (and we won!). After a thorough shower and a hearty dinner, (buffet 3 meals a day = best part of the trip), we all shared in drink and conversation long into our final night and even introduced the Ticos to the messy deliciousness of s’mores. The next day we hiked up, down and around Laguna Hule, which was really a beautiful (and also incredibly muddy) experience. Capped off by an exquisite lunch overlooking the laguna, this field trip was one I’ll never forget. Not only did I get to experience one of the top-tier biological reserves in the world, but I got to make friends with a great group of Tico guys in the group who really helped improve my Tico-ness by teaching me some of the frequently-used (mostly-appropriate) slang.
As for everything else, things are going Pura Vida. I feel like my level of Spanish has kind of accelerated in the last week or so; perhaps due to a combo of coming off such a spanish-filled weekend and efforts to expand my vocabulary by reading all I can to underline and look up words I don’t know (there are still lots of marks on the pages, but less and less with time I suppose). My first basketball game with the university is this Sunday at 9:00 a.m., which I find to be an odd – and rather un-Catholic – hour for a game, but so be it. Friday I have a trip with IFSA to a cacao farm in Tirimbina to give me a break from all the homework I have piled up after this week, and hopefully I’ll be able to make connections with my professor’s boyfriend to do a little bike-riding around San Jose with his Saturday morning cycling group. Hopefully it stays dry enough to allow it – the rainy season is right around the corner!