Travel to Peñas Blancas (3-13-10)

So we left Monteverde for our second field trip to the Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica and Panama on March 13th. We hiked from the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve 10 miles (16km) to Peñas Blancas (aka Eladio's). Left around 9am and got there around 3pm (I think). It was a ROUGH hike with a 30 pound pack on my back, but completely worth it.

Make sure to remember your lufa.

Swimming holes are always a welcome break.

Seeing the house over this hill was the most glorious sight of my life. Finally made it.

Eladio is this cool dude that used to live at this house in the middle of nowhere with his wife and kid, farming and living the simple life. But he sold the land to keep it protected and now travels back with student groups. He cooks amazing food and tells some great stories. No photo of him... sorry.



So here is where I have been living. The Monteverde Biological Field Station:



Inside, main stairs:

Upstairs with my TA about to moon me:

The "classroom":



Computer Room:

Where our laundry is done (it is done for us...):

Side again with "Boys Cabin" up top:

Our Cabin:

My bed on the bottom left:

Bad bathroom photo:

View from the Cabin:

Leaving Monteverde tomorrow morning for two and a half weeks. Going to the Carribean Coast and then to Panama and then back to Monteverde. When I get back, I will be at the station (seen above) for a few days, then we are moving into our homestays.

SOOOOO you will not hear from me for about 17 days. Hope all is well back home. Sorry I haven't sent any mail to any of you (my friends/family) or called...anyone. Been super busy. Took two midterms and wrote two papers this week. It was ROUGH. So this break is well deserved and I am really looking forward to it.

More to come when I return. Be well. Be happy.


Farming (3-9-10)

On the 9th, for Humans in the Tropics, we visited the Monteverde Cheese Factory. This place is well-known throughout Costa Rica.

Milk comes in from local farmers around the area. The furthest dairy farmer lives 4 hours away.

They test all the milk that comes in and pay the farmer based on quality. 250 colones per liter is average (about 50 cents).

Our tour guide, who was from Milwaukee, WI and went to South Division High School. SMALL WORLD. Had a nice chat with him.

Some of you may know what WHEY protein is. It is in a lot of protein shakes. It is a byproduct of the production of cheese (90% of milk in cheese production becomes WHEY). It is water, protein, and lactose. This WHEY needs to be decomposed before it can re-enter the environment, otherwise it would be a huge waste product. So the Cheese Factory feeds their WHEY to pigs and the pigs poop is fed to cows and the cows poop is filtered and released into a stream. This all happens on a semi-industrial farm. This was my first time seeing, in person, everything I have read about and everything I have seen in movies about how terrible industrial farming is. And what we saw is NOTHING (NOTHING!) compared to the farms in the US. It was depressing. It made me angry. My proffessor asked if these pigs were "happy". The woman responded, if they aren't happy, we need to feed them more antibiotics. Keeping them happy is economically efficient. Such bullshit. BULLSHIT. All I could do was take pictures... Hide behind my lens...

Then we visited the opposite. A family run farm, sustainable. Run by a man of dignity who loved where he lived, where he came from, and the land he took care of. This place made me happy. At least, it picked up my spirits a bit.

Happy cows:

Overall, it was an awesome day. Finally got to see the enemy and the answer. It was fun. A day full of emotion. A day that brought some answers.

Random photo: