Hello from the non-Spanish students, George and Danny!
Today was an eventful day which started with a 6 AM breakfast of the classic scrambled eggs, beans and rice, and toast. Accompanying this meal was coffee, juice, and water. This energy helped fuel a quick turnaround and before we knew it we were on a 90 minute bus ride to Rincon de la Vieja National Park. From there Freddy and Eddy (we are not making those names up) guided us on a 3 hour round-trip hike to the hot springs located under sulfur vents of the volcano. Not even one minute in, we came across our first specimen, a Golden Orb Weaver. The female was significantly larger than the male, she was about the size of the palms of our hands. The males on the other hand were TINY compared to the females, only about the size of a quarter. Leafcutter ants were also abundant on the trails that we traveled, and it was awesome to watch them carry their chunks of leaves back to their nests. Another type of ant we saw was the Army ant. We were informed that the army ants are constantly moving their nests, and once they finish building their temporary home, they create a swinging line of ants that pick up all insects and up to medium sized animals in their path. Only the largest Leafcutter ant colonies can keep them away. Once we reached the hot springs we were greeted with a revolting smell of sulfur. We eventually got used to the smell and were able to enjoy the cool flowing stream and the hot springs which accompanied it. On the way back we stopped at a waterfall which was roaring due to the recent rain. After a few encounters with some frogs, snakes, and lizards, we made it back to the main lodge. Felix, one of our bus drivers, greeted us there with homemade sandwiches, potato chips, cookies, and a slushy soda drink, all courtesy of the Finca La Anita ranch cooks.
After a fabulous meal, we returned home and started our experiments with the Leafcutter ants. This was the first time groups collected data. Some teams used colonies that had previously been dug up, while others went out into the forest to start their experiments. After spending a couple of hours working hard on science, we switched gears and started working in the kitchen.
A couple minutes down the road, and we arrived at Casa Aricelli where the owner taught our entire group how to cook a variety of different foods. The first was a beautiful salad, which was followed by the best rice and beans anyone in our group had had. Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, Aricelli taught us how to cook tortillas on a stove top heated by burning wood. The meal also included sauteed vegetables and of course, fresh fruit juice. The meal was finished off with Neapolitan ice cream in a cake cone. Felix and Eddy then drove 18 exhausted kids and 2 even more exhausted teachers back to Finca La Anita. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s horseback riding adventure and more! (See pictures of our day below)
We’re getting used to the constant threat of snake attacks and the early bird calls,
George and Danny