Thursday, November 5, 2015

Palo Verde National Park, Costa Rica by Masha Toulokhonova

The entire bus shouts “CLOSE THE DOOR!” with terror and panic resonating in our voices. Given all of the forewarnings and advice we received regarding Palo Verde, this was a highly anticipated moment. In the less than five seconds that the Coaster bus door was open, at least eight hefty sized mosquitos flew in. At least we were mentally prepared.
            Although I cannot speak for the rest of the group, I can say that personally, I had negative emotions coming into Palo Verde. However, I certainly left with a positive outlook on the experience and a newfound appreciation for the less well-known ecosystems of Costa Rica.
One-centimeter sized bugs called mosquitos caused these negative emotions. To be honest, I was very afraid. Right before jumping off the coaster and into the nearest building, I put on sweatpants and a sweatshirt in order to protect my extremities. As pajamas for the first night, I wore a long sleeved shirt, long pants, and I requested that my roommate tuck me into my mosquito net. I am ashamed to admit that it was between 80 and 90 degrees while I wore this clothing. Absolutely ridiculous!
Much to my surprise, the mosquitos were not as bad as expected. I was able to run outside on a beautiful path each morning without a bother and by the second night I was able to wear shorts and a tank top like a normal person would do in hot weather. Tempted by the delicious food we were served, white-faced capuchin monkeys strolled the roof of the comedor and leapt from tree to tree to examine us curiously with their cute little faces. We saw the rarest of migratory birds bathing in the beautiful wetlands as horses and cattle strolled nearby, and we stood nearby as two elegant tayras (Eira barbara) fought on the limbs of a tree and then fell into the river below. The wildlife I was able to see and the knowledge I gained from experiencing the wetlands and dry forests of Costa Rica allowed me to totally neglect the cause of my concern.

From our stay in Palo Verde, I realized that I shouldn’t let rumors or speculations affect my outlook to a great extent. It’s important to be prepared and to have some expectations, but to have such strong emotions beforehand can leave you predisposed to have a negative attitude. This week was a valuable experience and one I won’t forget!

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