UGA Costa Rica Research – Water Quality

One of the best things about UGA Costa Rica is getting to meet so many interesting people with such specific interests.  How often does someone get to sit down and talk mothing politics with someone as interesting and as mildly attractive as me?!  Almost never! And after forty-five minutes of hearing my passionate opinions on moths and moth research, those people usually regret it…

I get to meet some pretty decent people too.  Seeing as how the naturalists are often busy entertaining the guests and students, I’ve gotten to know my fellow researcher fairly well.

Kelli, one of my drinking buddies friends here at UGA Costa Rica, is spending her last semester of college working on a research project studying water quality in Costa Rica.  We’ve really hit it off for several reasons.  We are both hilarious, incredibly attractive, and we share a love of booze and snacks — it  also doesn’t hurt that I’m secretly planning on stealing her boyfriend.

From what I understand, her project (or at least part of her project) is looking at the watersheds in the Bellbird Biological Corridor to evaluate water quality and to create indices for water quality in different environments.  They are also looking at are the water laws and regulations of Costa Rica.  I’m sure there is much more to it, but really the only reason I’ve said any of that is so that I can talk about getting to go sample the water with Kelli and the doc heading the study.Image

The first day that I went with them, we were looking at the sites nearest to the coast.  During the dry season, there were several rivers that just didn’t make it that far because of all the unregulated water usage.  That being said, my main concern was how many land changes and pueblos those rivers had been through be the time they were getting to where we were sampling. I am no delicate flower, but I am a bit hesitant to walk around in shitty, shitty water.  At each of these sites, we took water samples, macro-invertebrate samples, and recorded water flow.  I’m sure there was more, but I was concentrating on my looks.  Looking this good takes work, but looking this good while wading through a river that is possibly contaminated with fecal matter takes much more.

The farm's irrigation trenches using this river had more flow than the river itself.

The farm’s irrigation trenches using this river had more flow than the river itself.

Another important detail is that we tried mozote.  This is a refreshing cold drink that had me confused the entire time I drank it.  The consistency is something like…honey or syrup, and it tastes a bit like sweet tea (to me).  Every time you go to drink it, there is this strange moment where you encounter some resistance from how thick it is.  Honestly, that’s about the best description I can give.

Kelli strikes a pose before we get to work.

Kelli strikes a pose before we get to work.

The second day, we did a few more sites higher in elevation.  The sites were beautiful, and by that time, I was basically an expert at my tasks.  There isn’t much more to say.  Doc and Kelli were a fun pair to travel around Monteverde with, and it was nice to get away from the moth boards and into the river.



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I’m a Moth-er!

I'm a Moth-er!

Our photo-journalism intern at UGA Costa Rica, Kathryn Ingall, took this when she went out mothing with me.

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Nicaragua – San Juan del Sur

People talk about San Juan del Sur like it is some crazy party town.  Because I hate almost every college age partier that I know, I had already prepared myself for spending half of my time loving Mark and the other half hating everyone else.  This being said, I’d already decided that the first frat boy that drunkenly ran into me or gave Mark and I side-eye was going to get stabbed.


San Juan del Sur was beautiful, and it was also large enough that any partying was out of sight. Mark picked out the perfect place to stay, because he is a great planner and a beautiful person.  However, he is not a morning person and was not into the daily photoshoot at breakfast.

IMG_1544On our first full day in San Juan del Sur, we did a bit of hiking along the beach.  The beach right along the town’s coast is not exactly the best in the world, but it’ll do in a pinch.  Also, the coast eventually turns into rocks along a cliff base, so there it was some prime coast hiking area.  After we headed down the cliff face for a while, we came across some stairs that were falling apart.  Because we have no respect for rules or for our own lives, we obviously had to climb up the broken staircase.  There were some awesome places up that cliff.  Plenty of places with amazing views, and the backdoor entrance into one of those huge Jesus statues.

IMG_1566We spent a lot of our time on the second day swimming in the ocean right along San Jan del Sur and exploring the town.  It is definitely an awesome place, although it is definitely not as cheap as some other places in Nicaragua.  Tourist prices for sure.

On our third day, we took one of the buses to Playa Madera.  It is a beautiful beach that has tons of surfers.  It’s also a very fun place to swim, but during the busier surf times…not so much.  If you walk along the coast, you do come across some equally nice beaches with little to no surfing.  One of the ladies who worked were we were staying told us that there is only a beach there and absolutely nothing else.  She weren’t wrong.  The hostel there had a slack line, so I was able to introduce Mark to this.  We are both people who are confident in our sense of balance.   We are also both people who suck at walking on the slack line.


Fifteen minutes before the last bus of the day was supposed to arrive, I went to go gather my things.  I was a little worried about leaving my wallet with my stuff, but Mark and I are pretty damn smart, so we figured it would be a great idea to bury it underneath where I was leaving my shirt and sandals. We are apparently not smart enough to factor in the tide into our plans.  As soon as I started to go towards my stuff, I realized that someone had moved my stuff so that it didn’t get wet in the tide.  Of course, that meant that my wallet was buried in some random place on the beach.  Mark and I spent about 10 minutes digging up that whole damn beach, and I spent the next 5 minutes pissed at myself and at good samaritans.

In any case, we had to go back to Costa Rica the next day.  We spent our last day together exploring a tiny bit of Liberia.  I expected something like San Jose, but it actually seemed like somewhere I might want to stay…and not somewhere I want to leave as soon as possible.

Mark flew out the next day, and I made my way back to Monteverde.


This might be a crappy post, but I had to rush through it so that I would put it off any more.


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This mantis is posted partially because it is amazing and partially because I haven’t written anything else about the Nicaragua trip yet.

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Nicaragua – Back to the Border!

So I’ve only just now gotten back from my second trip into Nicaragua.  It wasn’t exactly time for my visa trip out of the country, but Mark was absolutely miserable without me, so I decided to throw him a bone and travel with him on his spring break to San Juan del Sur.  Some people think that I might have missed him too, but those people are know-it-alls who should not be trusted.

Since I had already traveled to the border once, I was immediately happy that this time would be much easier.  This happiness lasted right up until the point when Mark told me that he was flying into Liberia.  He said it was to save on tons of money, but I am conviced it is because he secretly hates me.  My easy, nothing out of the ordinary trip got a tiny bit more complicated.  There are zero buses from Monteverde to Liberia.  Instead, you have to catch a bus from Monteverde to a stop along the main road, and then catch a bus from there to Liberia.  This sounds incredibly simple, especially when the ticos are all explaining this as though it is the easiest thing in the world.

In reality, the result is some white kid standing on the side of the road for two and a half hours.  If that person is a defeatist, as I am, he soon gets convinced that he will not only not make it to Liberia, but he will die right there were he stands.  Let me explain my problem with catching buses on the side of the road.  Locals often know what the buses look like.  They know to wave down the blue and white bus for city A and the green bus for city B.  Not being local, I did not have that going for me.  Fortunately, all the buses have signs on them for where they are going.  Unfortunately, all those signs are tiny.  By the time you can read them, the bus is already passing you.

Thirty minutes after my defeatist attitude had me praying for a swift death, I saw a bus that was headed to Liberia pull into a gas station.  What the bus catching system lacks in…the catching portion, it makes up for with its knowledgeable and friendly bus drivers.  Half of my travels are only successful because of these guys.  The bus driver told me that they were passing right in front of the airport, and he could drop me off there.

After getting to the airport, the rest of the travel to San Juan del Sur went smoothly.  Waited for the first hottie to get off the plane (luckily for Mark, he was the most attractive person there), took a bus to the border, ignored everyone trying to “help” us, and then took a taxi the the beach town of San Juan del Sur.

Since there weren’t really too many pictures taken on the way, here is a picture of me feeling the beach life:

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Harvest Time

Harvest Time

I haven’t been posting for a long while, but that is only because I’m so very important. Hopefully, I’ll post more soon, especially after next week when I get to see Mark in Nicaragua!

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White-headed capuchin

White-headed capuchin

That is gonna go straight to its thighs…

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