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Archive for August 15th, 2010


I tag along for some bird watching in the morning. The only new bird we see is a Purple-crowned Fairy, a bright purple hummingbird. Despite the lack of lifers, the mist rising from the mountains is gorgeous. It is a postcard view to be sure. Moments like these remind me of where I am and prevent me from taking it for granted.

Rainforest morning

After breakfast, we go planting. My backpack is fairly large and I have done enough backpacking to think that I can take 12 seedlings. Bad idea. The combination of the heat and weight of my load wipe me out, sweat pouring off of me. At least I brought water this time. I am charged with hacking 100 square foot plots and clearing vines in the thick vine tangle. All of this is done by machete. I flail about wildly at the dry vines, plants, and grasses. We make slow progress. At one point, I go into the forest to get stakes for marking of plots. On my way there, I brush up against a vine with urticating hairs. These little hairs are irritating and often painful. I suddenly become itchy. This is the worst itch I have felt in my life. It is burning my arm as if I have just been burned. I sprint to a small stream nearby and dunk my arm in it. This helps to some extent. We finally finish hacking some time afterward.

After this, we eat lunch and go play soccer. We think that it will be Ticos vs Gringos, but there are not enough Ticos to make up an entire team. So, we split up and play schoolyard style. The Ticos play barefoot. I am far too afraid to do so because each time I played barefoot in the past, I have wound up breaking a toe. I am afraid of hurting them, but Mary assures me that they will think nothing of it. I have a great time except for when I charge a back pass to Martin. His m is greater than my mxa and the basic laws of momentum decide me the loser. I fall and hit my head against the ground. It is pounding. I open my eyes to see Martin looming over me. I hop up, perhaps out of machismo, or sportsmanship. At any rate, I play on.

The class has a lecture on the great diversity of mammals here, most of which, like the four species of monkeys here (spider, squirrel, howler, and Capuchin), sloths, and cats (jaguar, puma, ocelot, marguay, and jagarundi) are completely novel to us. After lecture, we go to dinner. Too bad that alcohol and head trauma do not mix. As a result, I cannot have any of the beverages at the party. My head is still pounding as the blood rushes through it.

We go to the bull riding competition. It is very loud and hurts my head. The actual event is not, in my mind, all that exciting. It consists of long, boring stretches of downtime punctuated by moments of sheer, gut-wrenching terror. The actual riding is not scary. It is only after the rider is thrown off and a whirl of angry hooves comes down around his head that sends a shiver down my spine. The whole event is fueled by alcohol and machismo. After this, I crash in a stupor of exhaustion and ibuprofen.

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