Greetings from Costa Rica!

First things first, I'm sorry it took me so long to finally start updating and writing in the web-long, but I've been really busy since I arrived here and I've also had a hard time getting connected to the servers back at ISU. I will be able to update much more frequently now, and with a little more regularity. Since I've been here about a week I'll go through the different days.

I have so many things to talk about that I don't even know where to begin, so I guess I will start at the beginning. I arrived to the San Jose airport in Costa Rica on May 19th. From the airport I had an hour and a half taxi ride through the mountains to get to the La Selva biological research station. I got to La Selva at about 3:00 pm. That night after supper Jim took me on an incredible nature walk to look at frogs. One of the paths we used was flooded, so we had to wade through water up to our waists (or at least my waist since I am a lot shorter than Jim). We saw a lot of different frogs that you would never see in Iowa, so it was really neat. The nature walk was awesome, but by the end of it I was more than ready for bed, I had to get up at 4:00 AM to catch my flight, so needless to say it had been a long day.

My first full day in Costa Rica! The main lesson of the day was that you don't sleep in. The monkeys start making tons of noise at about 5:00 or 5:15 in the morning, so it's kind of like a built in alarm clock (that doesn't have a snooze button).
Currently, I am living in the River Station here at La Selva. The River Station is very rustic lodging, but it's really awesome. I've got a great view of the Puerto Viejo River from my room, which I really enjoy. It is a short walk from the rest of the research station, but it's nice because it allows you to get away for awhile. Sometimes it's a little creepy walking out there at night, but it's a great way to see various reptiles and amphibians.


The picture on the left is a view from the backside of the River Station right when you get to it from the trail. It's a real rustic looking place, but it's really neat. The picture on the right is a view from outside my door looking over at the other part of the River Station.
Overall today was a pretty busy day. I learned how to run the Root Elutriator, which is a device we use to help us separate roots from the soil cores that we take. We need the roots so we can measure the biomass.

Today was the first day that I got to go out to the plots, and it was really neat. Our plots are a 5 kilometer bike ride from the main part of the research station. On the way to the plots it started raining on us, but after about 15 or 20 minutes the weather cleared up, and we began our work. Today we were collecting roots of various trees. I learned a lot about the different tree species in our plots, and since I'm not an ecologist or botanist there was a lot for me to learn. I really had a lot of fun.
I also found out how hard it is to take pictures in the rainforest. There seems to be about 4 factors that make it hard to get good pictures. First, it rains so much you can rarely carry a camera with you, and if you do carry it with you, you only have small windows to take pictures before it starts raining again. Second, it's so humid that the lens on the camera always wants to fog up, so you have to be careful of that. Third, if you want to take a picture of an animal, reptile or amphibian, they never seem to want to sit still for you, so it's really hard to get good pictures of anything with legs or wings. Finally, it's hard to get good pictures of the big trees because you can't back up far enough to get them in the picture. Regardless I was able to get a couple of pictures that are pretty neat.


Bamboo on the bike ride out to our plots


View of the rainforest from the plots

This is a view of the Peje river by our plots; Ann, Jim and myself ate lunch there that day

This is a picture of a Blue Jean Dart Frog, it was taken at the Plots

Everything here is so beautiful, as can be seen in these photos. The Blue Jean Dart Frog is really blurry, but I was standing on a muddy slope to get that picture, but I hope to get some better photos of it while I'm here.
When we were biking back to the research station we got caught in a pretty heavy downpour that wound up lasting pretty much the rest of the day.

Ok, I know I just jumped several days forward, but the last few days I've been working with roots in the lab and trying to work on the website to figure out why I haven't been able to connect to the servers. Now that I am up and running I promise that the web-log will start being a lot more interesting.
This weekend there is a town festival in Puerto Viejo, so I think a group of us are going to head in to see that; I should have lots to talk about in the coming days. For now I've thrown some more pictures in at the bottom that are of interest. Also, if you have any question about what it is like down here or anything else please email them to me at njo35@iastate.edu and I'll either email you back, or if it is a frequent question I'll answer them in my web-log. Thanks a lot for stopping by and I'll keep posting.


Around La Selva

This is the suspension bridge we use to get across the Puerto Viejo River to get to the other side of La Selva. (it's only 3 or 4 feet wide).
This is one of the labs. We use the porch to have drinks and relax at night.
This is on the way out to the River Station. This a really pretty walk.
This is also on the way out to the River Station. This is another little bride we have to cross.


This is a White-nosed Coati. Oscar's grandpa says that if you see these out working hard for food, its going to storm.

This was a huge Gecko that was on the wall outside our lab one morning.

This is a giant Mantis that Bernal caught for me to get some pictures of.

This is a picture of a Katydid on a leaf.