Peanut Butter Machete

March 22, 2018

Hello faithful followers of the Bardian blog!

Today’s adventures included sixty species of orchids, twenty-nine butterflies, nine monkeys, five sleepy sloths, and one anteater. The day began with an extra hour of sleep and a simple breakfast before taking off to the Hacienda Baru National Wildlife Refuge in two taxis. As per usual, it was a sunny and sweaty morning, and we were a little tired but still excited for the events of the day. Upon arrival to Hacienda Baru, we awaited our tour guide before starting our walk through the lovely orchid garden. As we strolled through the lush vegetation, our knowledgeable guide imparted a variety of facts to us about orchids.

Costa Rica has approximately fifteen hundred species of orchids, while Hacienda Baru has fifty to sixty species. While the United States only has terrestrial orchids, Costa Rica has epiphytic, semi-epiphytic, and terrestrial orchids. We were struck by the vast variety and differing appearances of the orchids. We were especially interested in vanilla, which is semi-epiphytic. It takes a year to refine the vanilla beans after pollination. In the garden, we were also allowed to sample cocoa beans, which smelled like brownies and tasted like very bitter dark chocolate.

After leaving the orchid garden, we were graced with the presence of a beautiful sloth and spent an unprecedented amount of time staring at it through binoculars and taking pictures. Sloths are, after all, a group favorite.

Then a few paces down the same road we discovered nine white-faced capuchin monkeys hanging out in the trees! They were face down with all four legs hanging over the branches. There was one especially adorable couple cuddling. Much to our great excitement, we spotted about four more sloths lazing around in the trees, and because we had a time constraint and spent so much time staring at said sloths, we were forced to take a shortcut back. Our tour ended eventfully when we spotted an anteater, something even Cathy, who sadly had to stay back to do paperwork, was jealous about.

Next we ventured down the road to a private beach and satisfied our hunger with some sandwiches, employing a machete to spread peanut butter to bread before frolicking onto the long stretch of sand that sat before the crashing waves of the Pacific. The sun was beating hot on our backs as we made sandcastles, waded in the strong tides of the blue waters, and had some well-deserved relaxation before heading back to Firestone where we had a wonderful lunch of rice, beans, salad, fresh pineapple and perfectly seasoned mashed potatoes.

After lunch and a brief break, the class broke into two separate groups to investigate the progress of our butterfly traps before dismantling them. One group went out to the waterfall, discovering a few specimens of Archaeoprepona demophon centralsi in a couple different traps.

The other group travelled up the hill, surviving the roller coaster of a car ride. It was all going perfectly bumpy until we reached a tree in the road, but Cathy, our amazing, badass professor, persevered and used what was once a peanut butter machete to chop down the tree and save us from walking up the treacherous path. Because of her resourcefulness, we were able to discover an abundance of butterflies waiting in the traps.

For dinner we had a delicious mixture of rice, beans, and chicken. Dessert was a treat with ice-cream brought by a group of students who made a snack run. Then we all met in small groups with Cathy to finalize our independent projects for tomorrow. We are currently all sitting in the lab, talking and sharing stories about Bard, and it is a perfectly sweet ending to a sloth-filled day.

Signing off,

Mary and Gracie

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