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My Trip to the Rich Coast: Derek Bartram, Major Environmental Resource Management, Minor Watersheds and Water Resources

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Posted: June 17, 2013

It was the ideal image of a rainforest with a thick overcast in the sky and dense vapor coming from the trees as they transpired...

My trip to Costa Rica during the 2013 spring break was an experience that will remain at the top of my memory archives. The Costa Rica trip was an imbedded travel experience for the ERM 499A Costa Rica Study tour. Ever since I was enrolled into the Environmental Resource Management major, I had anticipated the trip to Costa Rica. This trip wasn’t only to fulfill a desire to travel outside of the United States, but to fulfill a dream I had since I was a child, which was to see and experience a tropical rainforest. I couldn’t have picked a better place to experience a rain forest since Costa Rica has one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems in the world.  Though my focus was to see the multitude of ecosystems in Costa Rica, I experienced more than I ever thought possible and gained much more than I expected.

The beginnings of my trip to Costa Rica began around 10:30 Friday night while riding my bike with a forty pound army sack strapped to my back. During that cold bike ride I dreamt about the warm tropical climate that I would be in approximately 12 hours from that point. From Newark airport we traveled for 6 hours until we landed in San Jose, Costa Rica. I could immediately feel the difference in culture and climate.  Our means of transportation from San Jose to Earth University, a two hour drive to Limon, Costa Rica, was a turquoise and white van driven by the greatest driver in the world, Omar, and guided by the very knowledgeable, Jose. Before we left San Jose, we stopped at a restaurant for dinner. The meal was fantastic, and the atmosphere was very uplifting. After gorging ourselves, we began our trip to Earth University.

BartramCR2.pngAfter a very eventful drive to Limon, we entered the gates of Earth University. The first thing I noticed was the diversity of the student body. The other thing I noticed was how nice our rooms were. The campus as a whole was nice and I couldn’t help but to sit outside and listen to the rain after I got settled from our long trip. The day after our arrival we went to the rain forest on the campus. It was everything I expected it to be. I was never so focused and in the moment on any other individual experience as I was then. We then went to the dairy farm at Earth University which was hosted by very knowledgeable and bright students. These same students performed a cultural dance for us that night. It was great to see the major differences in the students individual cultures, yet the similarities with the energy, passion, and pride put into expressing themselves.

It was fun going to the various natural parks, particularly the waterfall gardens.  The waterfall gardens were very touristy, but it didn’t completely take away from the beauty and power of the waterfalls. It was the ideal image of a rainforest with a thick overcast in the sky and the dense vapor coming from the trees as they transpired. All I wanted to do was get lost in the rainforest so I could get the full experience, however, that wouldn’t have been a good idea for the sake of the overall trip. I also enjoyed the Poas volcano which we visited prior to the waterfall gardens. The immensity of the volcano was breath taking. My favorite experience was my ascent up a huge ridge alongside the beach in Jaco Costa Rica. It was almost impossible to ascend due to the thickness of the vegetation (there were no trails-the ridge was obviously not visited very much). The experience was all the more thrilling when I learned that the holes in the ground I was using as a foothold were actually snake holes. The view from the top of the ridge was a great. I then lived the rest of my day in bed after I got very sick-it was awesome.

BartramCR3.pngI had the time of my life in Costa Rica, and I’m sure I will return someday. The people are great, and precious would be an understatement for describing the ecosystems in Costa Rica. I feel very relieved that I was able to see the tropical rainforests, and take part on my own little adventure in the dry forests of Jaco. I was only able to skim the surface of my trip in this essay. But I can ensure the reader that the trip as a whole was incredible. The people I was grouped with were friendly and wonderful travel mates. If I were to take anything from this trip, it’s that there’s nothing like getting food poisoning on the only day that you have to do whatever you want.