It was a New Year�s Eve I�ll never forget. My feet burned as I
stepped to the rhythm of the salsa music, and I had a sizzling
partner in hand who was quietly whispering something to me in
Spanish that I couldn�t understand. The tiki torches were
flickering, providing a dim light, and the sounds from the bar and
outdoor grill floated over the dance floor. Despite the vibrancy of
my surroundings and the cacophony of conflicting sounds, images of
ants were floating through my head, and suddenly I realized, I�m in
Michael's College Tropical Ecology Study Tour group in
the rain forest. Click to enlarge!
Over winter break, a group of twelve students led by Professors
Banschbach and Martin of the Biology Department and their husbands,
departed on a trip to Costa Rica to study tropical ecology. The
course itself was designed to introduce students to tropical
ecosystems and to help them experience the unique culture of Costa
Rica. From group projects to canopy zip-line tours our group shared
memorable moments that we will cherish for a lifetime. Though the
dancing, culture, and recreation were exceptional, I must confess
that the diversity of flora and fauna has left the biggest
impression on me.
Our journey began in the capital city of San Jos�, but we quickly
set out to Monteverde cloud forest, which is characterized by
frequent low-level cloud cover. The accommodations were just feet
from the park entrance and resembled something you�d see in a
Jurassic Park movie, except instead of velociraptors and
stegosauruses there were howler monkeys and coatis roaming freely.
After long hours of trail hiking, designing experiments, collecting
data, and presenting our work, we left the cloud forest and traveled
towards the Atlantic to La Selva lodge and rainforest reserve.
The rain was overwhelming at times, but being able to experience
the incredible range of plants and animals all in one area made it
well worth the soggy socks. Such a rare educational environment is
hard to come by and I couldn�t have imagined a better way to start
the New Year.