Saturday, April 20, 2013

Thursday Pictures (4/18) - Mangrove Reforestation Project

On Thursday, we woke up earlier to get to the Mangrove Reforestation Project by 8:00. Before going out to see the mangroves, the project managers introduced the importance of mangroves and the specific way this project approaches mangrove reforestation. We learned that there are seven types of mangroves where this project is done. Mangroves are mostly important as buffers between the ocean and land/rivers. This includes protection of land during storms coming from the ocean, and protection of the ocean from pollution/plastic that people throw on the ground or into rivers. Plants are by far the best way to create this buffer, as they are natural, reproduce and fill out on their own, and generally do not eventually break or fall apart as walls may do.
As we started on the walk to the first part of the mangrove reforestation project, we came across this large iguana ("chicken of the tree" in spanish):

 Here is a sprouted coconut we saw on the way, something I haven't ever seen before!

 Our first stop was the mangrove nursery. The actual nursery is in the process of being built, but we just put the mangrove propagules (the seedling that grows on the tree before dropping, similar to a spider plant) into  a large hole in the ground.

 Our project managers explained that we would plant the mangrove propagule in small containers until they are big enough to plant in the soil and act as a buffer to more propagules planted behind them (explained in more detail later with the picture of the final product!).

 We got very dirty in the process!

 Here are Anisha, Aida, and I, posing with the mangrove propagules ready to be put into the nursery! (see the pit in the background)

 After the first part of the mangrove project at the nursery, we had lunch and then headed down to the place where we planted the mangroves. Here is the "before." Notice how it is just mud! We were also filmed as you can see in this picture, be sure to watch us on the Weather Channel this Monday, April 22nd.

 One group prepared the first buffer from the tides, wooden sticks that were to be criss-crossed in front of the newly planted mangroves.

 This is the final product! The sticks act as the first buffer, and the mature mangroves as the second, protecting the mangrove propagules from the rushing water of the tide going in and out. Eventually this shore will be filled with mangrove plants and leaves.

 It was a very muddy process!


Meeting with the Vice President!

Immediately after we facilitated a conversation with Al Gore and other students... We were able to have a picture taken with the Vice President and the CEO of Education First.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Manuel Antonio Beach

Today, we had one of the most relaxing days thus far. We spent nearly 4 hours at the Manuel Antonio National Park, and have the sunburns to prove it! We hope you enjoy this picture, and be sure to look forward to tomorrows postings about a mangrove reforestation project.


Panorama of La Fortuna

Picture from the La Fortuna Waterfall, where we spent a few hours on Monday!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Monday/Tuesday Pictures (4/15 - 4/16)

Monday, 4/15
We stayed in the Arenal region for two nights, visiting many places near the hotel. Before our zip lining tour, we stopped by the side of the road to see the active volcano.
Zip lining was very exciting, and with our remaining energy we went to the base of a 75 meter tall waterfall where we stayed and swam for a couple of hours. (This is a picture from the top of the stairs we had to climb back up after swimming)
 When we got back from the waterfall, we visited a local coffee producer who went over the process of preparing beans to export. He explained that coffee growing can be a completely sustainable process if the producer burns the "parchment" or husk of the coffee bean for energy. The burnt parchment will also produce fertilizer for coffee plant nurseries. In this picture, the green beans have the yellow parchment removed. The beans only turn brown after roasting.

Tuesday, 4/16
Our guide bought us water apples from the side of the road... They have the consistency of pears and taste like sour plums.
After a long bus ride to the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, we went on a crocodile/bird-watching safari. Here is a small crocodile cooling itself.
The driver got off of the boat to lure in some crocodiles and feed them chicken.
(Photo by Izzy Gray)

From the crocodile safari to the hotel, we stopped once more at a small school with about 35 students, grades 1 through 6. Some of the students performed several dances for us, eventually pulling us in to dance with them!
(Photo by Izzy Gray)


Sunday pictures (04/14)

We've had a great three days so far in Costa Rica (wow, it doesn't seem like it's only been that long!). Several of the coolest things to me at the INBioparque were the immature pineapples and the finishing touch, a sloth hanging in a tree. I had heard that pineapples grow in bushes, but it was hard to imagine before actually seeing it.
One of the goals of our trip was to see a sloth, so we were surprised when we saw one on the first day here. Fun fact: Sloths are known to grab their own arm thinking it's a branch.
 Later, we went to hot springs and relaxed in the warm/hot water. Here are Zach, Anisha, and Eric enjoying themselves.
 Happy Birthday Aida! Here she is celebrating with a cake.
 We made sure to close our doors so that visitors such as this one did not get in.