Friday, January 11, 2008

Our last day at the Morgan's

Today, we finally were able to sleep in. After yet another delicious breakfast prepared by Greg and Tracy Morgan, we enjoyed the beach, the hammocks multiple games of Banana-grams, singing and dancing to music while writing our research proposals. It was pretty much a perfect last day at the lodge!

Over the last ten days we have experienced so many amazing experiences that it is hard to put it into words. We have experienced the culture, the people, and the wonder of life that makes our time here worth it. It has truly been the trip of a life time and we are all so thankful that we made the journey down here. We came here to experience the biodiversity, the beaches, and the science that drive our thirst for knowledge; we have accomplished our goals and we hope that others will recognize what we have come to know through our actions in up coming decades when we share it with them. Costa Rica is a wonderful place! Pura Vida, which mean the good life!

All the Morgans wish to say hi and send their love to all the people back on the ground at home.

Beach Hike

Today we took a beach hike to investigate tidal pools and view the natural wild life. The pools were abundant in various tropical sea life including cowrie shells, sea snails, and octopus, eels, pregnant crustaceans, and fish which would jump between pools. Also ever present were creatures of the sky. We were able to spot Great Blue Herons, Cormorants, Road Side Hawks, Black Hawks, Frigget Birds, Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher, Tropical King Bird, Parrots, various Plovers, and the ever circling Black Vultures. As the morning progressed the temperature rose drastically as we scurried from shade spot to shade spot.

Following the hike, we stopped at a local lodge, Iguana Lodge. There we were greeted by lodge dogs and body surfers. We rested from the sun and enjoyed a cold beverage and fine Costa Rican cuisine before taking a well deserved dip in the ocean.

Finally it was time to return to Morgan’s. The local taxis were busy so we hopped a ride in a local banana truck for the thirty minute trek back to the cabinas, laughing and ducking from branches for the roller coaster ride back home.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Humpbacks, Snorkeling and Curious Capuchins

Our day today was too amazing even for words. While taking a lovely boat ride on the way to snorkeling at Punta Adella we were blessed with a whale spotting. Two humpback whales, a mother and her calf were swimming approximately 30 feet from our boat. We left the Morgan Lodge around 7:15 am. The water was like glass, spanning as far as the eye could see. A local, working at the Lodge, who has lived here his entire life has yet to spot these amazing mammals. It was truly a gift. Then we saw a pod of bottlenose dolphins playing in the water in front of us.
After a brief stop at Gulfito we headed out to Tortuga Reef, stopping to check out some sea caves on the beach, cool off in the water and be amazed by the acrobatic jumps of our classmates. We stopped for snorkeling along the coastline. As I jumped into the clear water, my first sight was of a sting ray residing on the bottom of the sea. We saw parrotfish, chancho surgeonfish, panamic sergeant major, a spiny lobster, scallop shell oysters, and many others. There was even the occasional jellyfish encounter. After swimming with the fishes we headed back to Morgan’s for a swim back to shore. There was a moment of excitement as we swam in, when the equipment canoe was washed back out in the tide. Andrew got a hand on it and we safely got it out of the tides reach. We spent the rest of the day at Morgan’s.
A relaxing evening on the beach was interrupted by visitors…Capuchins. They came to check out our monkey feeder experiment. Sadly, none of the monkeys managed to learn the association between pulling the pencils and getting the banana inside. They did try some new methods of getting the banana out, pulling off the top where we reset the feeder and trying to drop the feeder.
One group of students decided to enjoy some genuine Tico music and dancing and headed into town for a quick visit. Everyone had a good time and slept soundly. We hope its enough to get us through our 6 mile beach hike. At this stage of our trip everyone is very healthy with only a fes minor bug bites and sore spots.
We truly appreciate everyone especially the parents, professors, and great support of the Morgan brothers, Gary, Greg, Randy , Tracy and the lodge staff Jackie and Manuel. We are truly blessed to be on this incredible journey. of discovery

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Research Day at Morgan's

Hi, this is Whitney and Mary Kate. Yesterday we (most of us at least) woke up with our daily alarm, Howler monkeys at 4:30. After a stroll to tiger point to see the clay deposits and some albino crayfish…the best bait for red snapper we were told, we had a delicious breakfast. It was research time. We moved palm trees to help stop shore erosion and raked leaves, plots for tree growth and succession were established, and an ant study with cornflakes. We went on a nature hike and saw Cecropia trees with Azteca ants (they smell like bleu cheese when we crush them)

A small group of us decided to try a local treat, soft shell crabs fresh off the beach. We had to dig down about 5 ft (at least it felt like it) following the tiny crab hole. After bringing them back to the lodge we fried them in butter and ate them like potato chips. It was delicious! One really brave soul (Andrew) tried a new form of protein…termites. Others had milky sap from the cow tree. Its supposed to help your stomach problems, not that any of us are suffering since the food is fantastic.
The rest of the group seemed addicted to a game that Amanda Morgan introduced us to, Banana-grams, a scrabble-esque game of strategy and speed. Some of us played long into the night. There was also the competitive game of rhythm that Gary taught us.
We are thinking of those back home and say hi, Gary especially.
Today we are going into town to see the botanical gardens, some caimans and gators. We will post this there and catch some sun at the pool (w/ sunscreen of course mom).

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Two Adventures at a Time

Yesterday and today we spilt into two groups and went horseback riding through the rainforest or walking through a creek to a waterfall. Both were amazing. We rode for an hour on a wagon to get to the horses then another two hours by horseback to the lodge. It looked like something out of Swiss Family Robinison, hammocks and a view of the canopy. We swam in the creek, after lunch, to cool off before heading back to town.

Today we walked a pristine creek, climbing over small cascades and over rocks. Every time checking for a snake or a poison dart frog(we wished). At the end of our walk was a stunning waterfall. in the midst of the green jungle the fall dropped twenty feet into the pool below. We swam under the falls and climbed about 6 feet up the face then jumped back into the pool.

The wildlife is up close and personal here. We saw toucans so close the serrations on their bills were visible. Howler monkeys woke us up at 4:30 am this morning and yesterday some white faced capuchins visited us for breakfast. Tracks in the sandy beaches at night lead to imagination of all manner of creatures great and small.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Our First Day in Paradise

Date of Entry: January 4, 2008

My name is Chris Young and I have volunteered to be the first blog in this newsletter to keep everyone up to date with the Osa Peninsula. Of course I am being assisted by two lovely ladies, Gaby and Francesca. After cramming all 16 students, 9 girls and 7 boys, into the most well equipped vans money could buy we left Xavier University. The twice delayed flight out of Dallas however, was well worth the beautiful scenery that greeted us as we entered Costa Rica. As the small hopper flight took us to Puerto Jimenez we sat in awe of the landscape and greenery that awoke before our eyes as the sun rose. We were buffeted by intense winds, but it was hard to be afraid as we stared across mountain ranges and deep green valleys. When we landed we loaded ourselves into two vans with open backs. As we drove through Puerto Jimenez, Dr. Farnsworth and Dr. Blair entertained us with information about the lush scenery and varied animals that we passed. As we continued this trail, leaving the stresses of civilization behind it became us, the animals, and nature- our own piece of heaven.

We have finally arrived at the Morgan Jungle Lodge. We are secluded in lush flora as far as the eye can see. The beach that is 100 feet from us or less at high tide, offers a 360 degree view of pristine natural landscape, beautiful water, and mountainous ranges in the distance. The weather is absolutely perfect, warm and sunny with a breeze of the sea and fresh forest. The animals are out to greet us. Within the first 30 minutes of our arrival we have seen a sloth perched high above in an almond tree, Halloween crabs scurrying across the beach, lizards scampering to investigate the newcomers. We have heard the infamous howler monkeys nearby but are assured that they will be out in the morning to wake us to another beautiful and adventurous day. For once in our college careers, we are excited to wake up at five in the morning. Tomorrow our group is going on a horseback ride and then a creek hike.