8 students from Robbinsdale Cooper High School in Minnesota are traveling to Costa Rica July 2010 for the science experience of a lifetime!  Below is a daily blog chronicling their experiences.
We are very excited to share our experiences with you through pictures, but the internet in the rainforest is having trouble handling the data transfer. Please check back often!

Day 11: “I want to go home, but I don’t want to leave.” (Students)

Tue, 27th July, 2010

A great adventure needs a great ending! This adventure has one. The sciences experiments crushed any expectations that could have been set. The presentations were even better. The students contributed everything they could every time we had an event no exceptions. The only thing left to do is thank the people responsible. Parents/family members/friends this great trip would not have happened without your support. Thank you! The great staff at Finca La Anita, for everything, food, cabins, and all your ants. Thank you! Dr. Pinto and Diego for all your wisdom and excitement for our projects. Thank you! Mary, for all the planning. This trip would have never happened if it was not for all your hard work. Thank you! If I have forgotten someone I am sorry, but it has been along travel day and I could use a nap.

James Stanton

We had some delays but we made it home to friends and family at Minneapolis/ St. Paul airport bright and early this morning. This trip with 8 students from Cooper was a year in the making, full of expectations and dreams. The students far exceeded my expectations with their inquisitiveness, dedication to each other, and their openness to experience Costa Rican food, culture, and language. I echo James’ recognition of the parents, families and friends that helped us make this trip possible. I also wanted to recognize the staff at Robbinsdale Cooper High School for hosting our inaugural Costa Rica Science Research Experience; John Doleman who is inspiring others to achieve more than they could dream of through his own thirst for knowledge; Dr. Cameron Curry from the University of Wisconsin, Madison for including us in your outreach efforts and giving the kids your time and insights before departing on the trip; Ann Bauman and the science teachers at Mound Westonka who allowed us to use their trip as a basis for this one; Dr. Adrian Pinto and Diego from the University of Costa Rica for spending a week with students from the states to share their expertise and experiences, it was inspirational; Ana and Pablo along with the staff at Finca La Anita with your warm hospitality, patience, English translation, excellent cooking and organization; the community of Colonial Libertad who welcomed us with open arms sharing their time, games and history with our students; The Seeds of Change Board members: Jim, Julie and Lou who helped fundraise for students and the time and direction you gave to our little organization; and of course James Stanton who had no idea what he was getting into accepting to go on a trip with students to Costa Rica, but was excited, and adding value every step of the way. I couldn’t have asked for more and can’t wait to see the great things that Beagan, Cait, Nicole, Steve-o, Connor, Maggie, Sarah, and Megan will be doing in the future.


Mary Fitzpatrick

Tj Beagan - Wed, 28th July, 2010

Wow! Mary and James, your wonderful thoughts are indeed a fitting end to a fabulous journey. Thank you.

Day 10: “AND it is still raining..”

Mon, 26th July, 2010

Where do I begin..
Today was our last FULL day in Costa Rica and I think we ended it on a wonderful note. 
We started off our day with breakfast at Las Tortugas where we all enjoyed super yummy cinnamony french toast and orange juice. Ha, but the boys didn’t join us today, they decided to sleep in and make themselves fried eggs.

After breakfast, we had our free time and all decided to head to the beach. Us girls started off with some tanning, but after 15 minutes of dripping with sweat…WE HIT THE WAVES!! The boys rented boogey boards and attempted to get some use out of those, while the girls just went in and basically ate the waves..haha. We also bought really cool necklaces and bracelets from a lady on the beach. And after today’s morning at the beach, I think everyone is complaining about their fresh sunburn.  But, you can’t go to Costa Rica and not come back with a little color..right?

We met for lunch at the hotel and we were all a little tired and hungry from playing in the sun. We had choices, but mainly everyone chose a cheeseburger or a grilled ham and cheese sandwich for lunch. (Once again, the food here does NOT even compare to what we had Finca La Anita). The estuary tour followed lunch, and I believe that was a quite eventful afternoon activity. We drove down to a wetland area and from there took canoes out into the water. The water was actual saltwater from the ocean, but it was very brown and muddy and resembled a swamp. We paired up and got in to canoes, and Cait and I were the first to be pushed out. The man gave us one last push and I fell straight off my seat and my paddle went flying..what a great way to start. (ha.BUT, as soon as I heard the man say crocodiles, there was NO WAY I was going to let that canoe tip!) We paddled all the way to a little jungle spot and there we got off to explore. The forest wasn’t very active today, but we did get to see a few monkeys in the trees and TONS of bright orange crabs scurrying back into their holes as they heard us. It was beautiful and sunny on the way out, but as we were venturing back in, the downpour began, and has not stopped since. Once we got back, we were all a little irritated with being completely soaked and all went back to our rooms to take shelter. (You have to remember, we packed all our stuff in carry ons, clean, non-sweaty clothes are VERY scarce around here.  ) And then it poured for the next three hours..thunder, lightning, you name it.. and when it came time for dinner..you guessed it…STILL RAINING!

Our last dinner was shared at a local pizzeria owned by a man from Spain that Ana and Pablo know very well. The food was very good and we definitely pigged out tonight. This place was a little on the fancy side; we started out with an olive and a tomato concoction appetizer and we’re then served very decorated salads (..the tomatoes were shaped in a rose!) Then, we had close to 8 pizzas brought to us, all greasy and cheesy and baked in a big pizza oven outside. (Four cheese, Shrimp and Veggie, Pepperoni and mushrooms, Cheese with peppers and onions, etc) And as if that wasn’t enough, Ana topped it off with a double chocolate cake and ice cream! The cake was so cute, it said, “Gracias” (Thank you) and then had all our names written on it. It was a wonderful way to end our trip, awesome food, great people, and amazing memories shared. 

It is 11:00 pm and I imagine everyone is shoving everything into their suitcases as we speak, because breakfast got bumped to an early 7:30 and we are leaving the hotel by 8:30 tomorrow. Our plan is to do a little souvenir shopping and then head to the airport.

THERE ARE NOT WORDS TO DESCRIBE THIS TRIP, THE EXPERIENCES HERE ARE UNFORGETABLE. I KNOW IF WE COULD, WE WOULD ALL DO IT AGAIN IN A HEARTBEAT! I know this experience has changed my perspectives on many things and has taught me so much about myself as person. And, I believe I can say that for everyone here, we have grown as individuals and have been shown how beautiful and rewarding life really is. PURA VIDA!!

I’m sad to be leaving, but I’ll be very happy to see my family and DJ tomorrow night. And I’ll end this here, because we have a FULL day of traveling tomorrow, and I must get sleep tonight because I’ll be way too excited to get any on the plane. 




Deb - Mon, 26th July, 2010

Welcome home! This has been really fun reading about your adventures, experiences and thoughts. Maybe you can each do another blog after you've been home a bit and had time to reflect? And of course we can't wait to see all the pictures! Happy travels to all.

Deb - Mon, 26th July, 2010

Welcome home! This has been really fun reading about your adventures, experiences and thoughts. Maybe you can each do another blog after you've been home a bit and had time to reflect? And of course we can't wait to see all the pictures! Happy travels to all.

Day 9: “Leaving, listening to Michael Jackson..“

Sun, 25th July, 2010

Today, was definitely bittersweet, we had to say goodbye to Finca La Anita and to the wonderful town of Colonia Libertad, BUT we were off to the beach! We had our last breakfast at Finca this morning; papaya, watermelon, pineapple, eggs, rice and beans, and sausages. Everyone was sad that we were leaving, and the van was filled with “Oh, I’m gonna miss..”. :/ However, we were all happy because Ana (the owner of Finca) and her daughter are accompanying us on our trip to Playa Grande.

On our way to the beach, we stopped at a little shopping mall and got to see the town’s festival being set up. They had everything from a mechanical bull to a man shouting down the aisles of the supermarket; it was quite fun to see. The boys went off and got some new shoes and enjoyed virgin pina coladas. The girls strolled through the supermarket and bought tons of goodies to bring home to share with you all…and couldn’t resist the little ice cream stand. We tried the pastries we bought from the store and they are THEE best things I have ever had!  AND..Mr.Stanton found coke in a 3 LITER bottle and HAD to buy it. haha. Then we piled back into our tourist van and enjoyed an hour of crazy driving to Playa Grande. (The roads are very narrow and cars constantly pass on two ways..a little too close for my comfort.ha.)

Once we arrived at the Playa Grande, we checked into our hotel “Las Tortugas”. We are all staying in little condos around the lot, and they’re all very nice, but I think the girls got the short end of the stick on this one. The boys have been treated to their own bachelor pad, and have a pool and a huge 4 person bathtub…its CRAZYY!..and sooo not fair. But, Cait and I have the cutest round circular bed in our “honeymoon suite” and we don’t need to the pool..we have the ocean! 

After we all got settled into our rooms, we went to lunch at the restaurant in Ripjack’s hotel. Many of us ordered cheeseburgers and fries (a definite American comfort ) and others had quesadillas and fish. It was very good, but NOT even close to the food at Finca.

The afternoon was ours to spend how we wanted, and of course, we all had to check out the waves! The views while walking along Playa Grande are breath-taking and there aren’t tons of people on the beach, making it very calm and relaxing. The boys took off and jumped right in, while the girls walked the edge and collected seashells…typical. After, the guys went to explore and then finished their free time with going to supermarket to buy eggs and butter because they insist on making themselves breakfast tomorrow. (Yes, we have kitchens and eating areas in our little homes!) Us girls roamed off and found the one store here; Frijoles Loco and made some purchases for our families. Then, we spent to the rest of our day at the beach and waited for the sun to set so we could get some awesome pictures!

For dinner, we went to La Marejada, which is a small little bar and restaurant by the hotel. I had pasta with a creamy white wine sauce and a mango and pineapple smoothie…SOOO YUMMY! The others had pasta, beef and cheese ravioli, burritos, and mini cheeseburgers. AND if you haven’t heard, everyone likes the Coca Cola and Fanta down here way better than from back in the states. But, the ketchup is sooo not our thing; it’s sweet!...very different. While eating dinner, it started POURING and hasn’t stopped since. Many of them ventured back to their cabins in the rain, but a few stayed back to blog with me and keep shelter til it lets up. ;)

The beach and these little condos are much more glamorous, but don’t be mistaken..WE STILL HAVE BUGS AND TONS OF LITTLE CREATURES ANNOYING US!! Sarah and Maggie had a scorpion in their bathroom and saw a big preying mantis. We have all seen little lizards around and little crabs are all over the place! (…you see them crawling on the streets and we even had some join us for dinner.  ) AND this experience would not be the same without our mosquito friends…Beagan is up to 90 bites!..it has become a competition around here..haha.

WE ALL MISS OUR FAMILIES AND CAN’T WAIT TO SEE YOU ALL MONDAY NIGHT!!...but that doesn’t mean we’ll be happy about leaving here. :/

Nicole 

I MISS EVERYONE!!...thanks mom and dad for commenting..and now you get to hear from me!..I wanted to blog for the beach days..big shocker there right.

Deb - Sun, 25th July, 2010

scorpion,eh?.... may I suggest that you all check your bags very carefully for hitchikers before you leave! :) Glad your sense of humor is intact for you all! Enjoy!

​Day 8:

Fri, 23rd July, 2010

Today is our last official day in Finca la Anita. We started off the day with breakfast, eggs, watermelon, pineapple, papaya, toast with marmalade. After we finished our breakfast, we finished our science experiments and practiced our presentation with Adrian and the rest of the group. Afterwards we had lunch: chicken, potatoes, cabbage salad and rice. Then it was time to start our goodbyes. We presented our experiments to the locals as well as our piers and had a Goodbye Dinner with everyone. Dinner was a fajita bar (chicken, beef, cheese, sour cream, beans) and for dessert chocolate cake with a warm chocolate frosting. Now tomorrow we’re off to the beach!

It’s our last full day at la Anita, so I thought I’d let everyone say what they wanted about our time here instead of just what I did today. So here goes…

“I loved staying a Finca La Anita. The people here are so nice and easy going. I have had such a great time, my abs are going to be in great shape, just from laughter. I am going to miss it here and I have already been changed from my experience.” -Sarah

“I am so glad I decided to come on this trip! Everything was absolutely amazing from the food to the activities to the science. I would most definitely recommend this trip to everyone!” –Maggie

“I have had sooo much fun and I can’t believe that our time at Finca la Anita is already over. I have learned so much about field research and the ants. We have made so many new friends and I’m sad to leave them. Well now we are off to the beach! Be jealous!” –Megan

“There aren’t words to describe this beautiful place and all the wonderful experiences I have had here. Time went by way too fast. I will miss Costa Rica sooo much! BUT I will NOT miss these bugs!! I miss everyone at home and I can’t wait to see you all! I’M OFF TO THE BEACH TOMORROW AND THEN SHOPPING! I’ll definitely be in my element.” –Nicole

“Costa Rica has exceeded my expectations in every way. The locals, the places, the science, and the overall atmosphere has taught me what Pura Vida really means. I know that someday I will return to Costa Rica to visit all the friends I have made in this wonderful town. Costa Rica is, by itself, its own unique and beautiful world.” –Connor

“Today during the mock trial presentation I learned that we all have a lot to learn about field research and presenting your findings. Overall this trip has been life changing and I am always going to remember this week” –Beagan

“I’ve never dreamed of such a beautiful place! I am amazed by the culture here. Very simple but very happy and I am very jealous. Pura Vida describes the atmosphere of the town and I think America should follow suit. Maggie and I found great success in our experiment. Our findings may prove an effective way to control the population of ants! Go team Amazing!” –Steve O

“I started the blog at la Anita and I’m ending the blog at la Anita. This week has been beyond amazing. Words cannot even begin to describe Costa Rica, you have to see it for yourself. Overall this experience has truly changed my life. I’ve learned so much about myself in these past few days and I don’t think I could have done it without coming here. Too bad I didn’t learn Pura Vida earlier in my life, because it’s a wonderful phrase! I can’t wait to come home, but I’ll miss this place like crazy. See you soon!” –Cait

Karen - Megan's mom - Sat, 24th July, 2010
I'm so proud of you all, it sounds like you've gotten more out of this trip then we could ever have imagined. I'm glad you all had the opportunity to experience this and hope you share the exciting times you've had with all of your friends and families.

Anne - Cait's mom - Sat, 24th July, 2010
All I can say is WOW! Reading each one of your reflections was a beautiful way to wrap it up. I hope you have a great time at the beach and shopping! We'll see you Monday night.

Deb - Sat, 24th July, 2010
I don't know how to capture that slower, simpler, happy way of life, but it is sure worth trying as you've all found out! Enjoy the beach! Maybe a little snorkeling?:)
Maggie - we'll see you at the airport:)

Nicole's mom - Sun, 25th July, 2010
Have fun your last couple days in Costa Rica...Natalie and Eliza and I spent all day at the softball tournaments today and everyone was asking when you are coming back - we miss you. Your team did very well today lost first game won 2 games and lost the 4th game..so was a very good day, but very long too...we got lots of sun. See you soon!

Day 7: Let the Games Begin!

Fri, 23rd July, 2010

Today started off with the normal breakfast of eggs, black beans and rice, fruit and toast with a guava or a pineapple and papaya marmalade. It was delicious as usual. After breakfast we broke off into our small lab groups and worked on our experiments, some had more work to get done than others. In my case my team had a lot of data to collect and measurement s to be taken. We had a blast jamming to music and getting our work done in the lab thanks to Adrian and his cell phone. After all our hard work we had a mouth watering lunch of spaghetti and meatballs. We were also served these awesome toastadas that were filled with cheese and pesto, they might have even been better than the traditional garlic bread.
Once we finished lunch we headed into town and were challenged to a Gladiator competition with some of the locals. When we arrived the locals split us into two teams Azul and Gris, Gris being the obviously better team being that I was on it. Most of the games consisted of either carrying water or carrying a person, sometimes it was even both. In the end the team Azul came out victorious but I declare that we need to have a rematch. After the games some of us stayed to play a game of soccer and the rest of us went back to the cabins to get cleaned up. By the end of the afternoon we were all exhausted but we still had a full night ahead of us.
For dinner we split up into boys and girls again and went back into town to have dinner with the families. The boys went to Renaldo’s in-laws’ house for dinner and the girls went to have dinner with some of the local girls and their family. Our dinner consisted of beef and veggies, rice, black beans, cheese, salad, platanos and chili. For desert we had caramel cookie that had a fudge like texture, mangos and a fruit that tasted like a tart green apple. After dinner we talked to the girls about our day today, our life back at home, and what the girls like to do for fun. Once we were done talking, the girls decided that we needed a dance lesson and got us all up on our feet for a little after dinner dance. Some of the steps took awhile to learn but we eventually got the hang of them. The boys came later and joined the fiesta.
I had a ton of fun today and I can’t believe that tomorrow is our last full day at Finca. It’s crazy how time can fly when you are having some much fun.

Megan :)

Anne Hennen - Fri, 23rd July, 2010
I love to hear that you have melted in to the culture and way of life there.
Paige is counting the days until Caitlin gets back so it can't be soon enough!!!
Enjoy the rest of your journey -

Karen - Megan's mom - Fri, 23rd July, 2010
It's wonderful to hear that things are still going great and you're all having the time of you lives. From all that I've read about the great food you've been eating it sounds like all of you need to spend your first day home at the gym! Can't wait to see you all on Monday night and have a fun rest of your trip!

Lori Merriam - Fri, 23rd July, 2010
Good luck with your science research presentations today. We love the pictures! Have fun at the beach and remember how lucky you are!

Barb - Steve'o's mom - Fri, 23rd July, 2010
Megan and all, we wait every day hoping to get a message, we love hearing of your adventures and of course, the food you are eating. We are excited for you all, hoping this pushes you in a new direction for your futures! Have fun

Day 6: I still see ants when I close my eyes (Steve)

Wed, 21st July, 2010

Today was much more low key than the previous days. We started off with the familiar breakfast of watermelon, pineapple, papaya, scrambled eggs, fried banana, pinto de gallo and fresh fruit juice. After breakfast, we gathered in the dining area where Adrian talked to us about future plans in the science field. This included how important it is to get acquainted with the school before seeking out professors that are doing research you are interested in. This way you can begin to build a relationship with them in order to get involved with their projects. Once he was finished giving his advice, we split up into our project groups to get started on our individual experiments. Depending on what experiment the group was doing, this took up the majority of the morning.

At la Anita today there was a farm tour going on, so lunch was very similar to yesterday as well. Nevertheless it was still delicious and consisted of seasoned rice, heart of palm with chips, beans, vegetables and some roast beef carne. Since we didn’t have a scheduled tour or anything today, we had a little bit more time to change into swim suits before hiking. Today’s hike was much more local as the river we went to was right in town. Although it was raining, several of us still got into the chilly river for a very refreshing dip. When we were done swimming, we had some free time before dinner during which some took naps, some visited the pulperia, some played cards and some played soccer with the locals in town.

Dinner came next consisting of fish, potatoes, vegetables and rice pudding for dessert. Though I didn’t care for the pudding it was still interesting to try all of the different foods that have come along over this trip. Tonight was the first night of this entire trip when we were actually able to see the stars and moon out in the sky. It really looks incredible with how clear everything is! Also happening tonight was my groups successful viewing of the active ants in the mature colonies. It was crazy!! There were literally hundreds of ants coming out, and later bringing leaves back. So far it seems that we were correct in thinking to apply bleach to the trail affects their productivity. Success!!

Love, Maggie

Nana - Thu, 22nd July, 2010
It is wonderful to hear of your days and routines. This is the experience of a lifetime!! Enjoy!

​Jeff Hennen - Thu, 22nd July, 2010
​Loved the picture of the group in the waterfall. Looks like your having a blast!
Cait, Are fried banana's better then fresh ones. ;-)

Deb - Thu, 22nd July, 2010
Love the swimwear with boots! You are all setting the new fashions! That's great that you were able to see a lot of ant action and a clear night. Soak it all in! Are you bringing back recipes? What is pinto de gallo?

Jody Norling - Thu, 22nd July, 2010
Hey Nicole...looks like you are having fun...I hope that picture isn't you zipping upside down....be safe. Love the boots and swimsuits picture. Love you, mom

Tom Wasmoen (Steven's Dad) - Fri, 23rd July, 2010
It sounds like a trip for a lifetime a great balance of science and fun! I have finally figured out that I can't read this blog on an empty stomach however because of the continually mouthwatering descriptions of every meal you guys are given! Certainly blew away my expectations of what the grub would be like! 
(Too many Boy Scout trips with beans & weenies I guess!)
Time is moving for those of us at home than it is for you so hold tight to every second and enjoy it!

Day 5: Diego is the first King of the Ants. (Adrian Pinto)

Tue, 20th July, 2010

I woke up to the rooster making a ruckus like the other mornings. After breakfast, we got started on our science portion of the day. We had a session with Diego, a grad student at the University of Costa Rica, in the lab, watching him start his own research on the fungus and bacteria. After leaving the air conditioned lab, my science group started a mini experiment within our experiment to determine which leaves the ants prefer.

After lunch, it started pouring and we were getting ready for our wet horseback ride. We drove over to the Santa Maria horse rental and we got settled on our horses. We headed out into the rain, thunder, and lightning. It was a fun ride and we trotted a little bit. However, we had to cut the ride short due to the weather, so we only rode on the road. It was too bad that we couldn’t have a longer ride. At the building there were talking parrots, a toucan, and a monkey. The parrots were speaking Spanish and making siren noises. The boys fed the monkey rice and beans in bowl and he took the whole bowl and started eating. We could get really close to the toucan, even feed it a little. As we waited for our ride back to the plantation, we had Fantas and Cokes.

Back at the plantation, we relaxed in our cabins; almost everyone took a nap because we were exhausted. A couple groups worked on science before dinner. We had delicious lasagna for dinner. After dinner we went to bed, even though it is dark and early.


Nicole's Dad - Tue, 20th July, 2010
It looks like your having a great time. I love you and look forward to hearing from you on the blog. Miss you very much.

Debbie B - Thu, 22nd July, 2010
Hi Sarah,
I can't wait to see your pictures and hear more stories when you return!
Aunt Debbie

Day 4: “BAILAR!!!”- locales

Tue, 20th July, 2010

Today was not unique from the others in that it was nothing short of amazing! Breakfast today was primarily fruit with some toast and homemade marmalade. After our fresh meal we got ready and departed to the jungle.
Dr. Pinto decided that we(students) were ready to dig into the colonies. Beagan and I decided we would dig today and we both collected rather large samples of fungi. After a long walk back to base camp where we had a rather refreshing lunch with several tourists who came to see Finca La Anita. The lunch was roast beef, white rice, lots of heart of palm, and various fruits. ALLLL FRESHHH!!!!!

After becoming rather engorged with delicacies we freshened up and jumped in the land rover. We traveled for about 30 minutes and ended up deep in the rainy tropics. The 20 minute hike through the forest was not too bad, and we ended up at a huge hotspring! It was quite a site, but instead of stopping we continued deeper yet. After another ten minutes we arrived at a small waterfall. I immediately took off my boots and shirt and ran into the cleanest water I have ever seen. There were several levels and waterfalls to climb, each pool getting deeper than the next. We jumped off rocks and swam against the current. We did just about everything you could and had a blast doing it. After about an hour it was time to go. We packed up fast and started back.

After putting on some nice clothes and much need deodorant we grabbed some gifts and walked into the village. The boys split from the girls and we went to separate homes for an amazing meal. The family we were eating at consisted of the parents, grandpa, at least 6 girls and 5 birds. Our host family brought dish after dish until we were too full to move. Then we presented our gifts of candy and small toys. To our surprise the girls put on music and TRIED to teach us how to dance. Steve-o did the best and Beagan was not far behind, I on the other hand had a little trouble. After about an hour I had picked it up. At about 9:45 we left the family and said our goodbyes. It is about 10:15 now and I’m ready for bed, today was by far my favorite and I can’t wait for tomorrow.

Connor Merriam

Sandye Adams - Tue, 20th July, 2010 
Great Job young scientists!
I have very much enjoyed reading your blogs. And look forward to hearing about your work and bacteria growth.
What kind of media did you plate your stinky toes on?
Please tell John and Adrian "Hola" from Sandye.

tj beagan - Tue, 20th July, 2010 
Ya'll are having far too much fun without us. 
More pictures, more pictures, more pictures

Lori Merriam - Tue, 20th July, 2010
Hola everyone,
How great that you are experiencing so many wonderful things. Have fun and work hard and Connor continue dancing. mom

Stan - Megan's dad - Tue, 20th July, 2010 
I look forward each day to reading your blogs. I wish I could be there to experience everything you are doing. Put more pictures on the website.

Connors Dad - Wed, 21st July, 2010 
Keep up the "Hard Work".
I know Monday is a long way off, but I'm sure you guys will tough it out somehow!

connors brother - Wed, 21st July, 2010 
have fun dont get bit by bullet ant

Day 3: “Dos Manos!!”

Sun, 18th July, 2010

​Today started off with a wonderful breakfast that consisted of Watermelon, Pineapple, and Papaya. Along with the fruit we had Yogurt with granola, and Gallo Pinto. Directly following breakfast we went out into the fields to observe the Leaf Cutter Ants Colonies. Observation is the first step of scientific field research. We observed two different ant colonies, one smaller one that was around 1 year old, and a much larger one that was 5-8 years or so. The larger of the two was probably about 15 ft in diameter. On the way back from observing the colonies we stopped back at the smaller one to dig it up and take the Fungus and the Queen. When we returned to camp the ants and fungus were put into a container and labeled by who collected it and what the date was. Dr. Adrian Pinto and his grad student Diego collected this sample, they are both extremely intelligent.

For lunch today we had puréed frijoles (beans) over arroz (rice) with mashed fried plantain, Salad, and fruit. I can’t stress enough how much all of us are enjoying the food down here, it is amazing. After lunch we hopped in a van that was driven by the town bus driver, Wilbur. We drove for about a half hour before reaching the Zip-line canopy tour. We strapped ourselves up in harnesses and leather gloves, and then hiked up the mountain for a good 15 min walk. On the way up we saw wonderful plant life, and a couple monkeys!! Once at the first platform we were instructed how to zip-line correctly, one of the instructors did it upside down which some of us did later on. On the tour we went by 14 platforms and 11 chords. During almost our entire tour it was raining pretty hard, but the rain was hardest as we went down the last and longest chord across a vast field. This is when we had to use “Dos Manos” (two hands) to break on the way down, thus the quote of the day. We had three very talented instructors and one of them looked identical to my friend Tim Vincent. I have to say that Zip-lining is absolutely amazing and I think we all thoroughly enjoyed it. On the drive home we drove through a herd of roaming cows/bulls. Haha.

After returning back to Colonial Libertad we were given a Spanish oral history of the settlement of the city from one of the original Pioneers that founded it, Juan Lacayo . Our host at the farm, Anna, translated for him to the rest of the group, Cait and I understood most of what he said because we speak Spanish. He was 25 when he settled here after moving his entire city from Guanacasta because of flooding from the river that destroyed their crops. He shared many stories with us about the hardships that he and his people went through trying to establish a new city in the middle of the rain forest that had previously had no civilization. After chatting for a bit we were treated to Coffee, juice, passion fruit (amazing), and Prestino which resembled a giant frosted flake!

For dinner tonight we had an amazing porkchop with a delicious sauce, a sort of root that tasted similar to the potato like plantain, a salad, a cauliflower dish, and Flan for dissert. After dinner we checked out our Petri Dishes from the day before. Many of them had grown bacteria on them, it was really cool to see what sort of things had bacteria and what didn’t, some of the samples that did were: The garbage, Pond water, a Flower, and In between my Toes =P. I’m excited to continue to observe them for the next couple of days.

Well that’s it for today’s blog. Hope you like it. Just want to let you know that everyone here is safe, and we are all learning so much, and having a great time. Thanks for your support and interest!!!

Ryan Beagan :D

Karen - Megan's mom - Mon, 19th July, 2010
Sounds like you're all having an amazing time. Enjoy every minute of it, take lots of pictures and be safe. Can't wait until you come home so you can share this with us!

Deb - Mon, 19th July, 2010
This sounds like so much fun! What sort of stuff did you see on the zip line in the rain? Enjoy!

Hennen - Mon, 19th July, 2010
Oh my gosh, what a fabulous experience!! More fun to come!
Love you! Enjoy! Nana &Papa

Hawkinson - Mon, 19th July, 2010
Great commentary, guys anad gals. I hope you are having the time of your life! I wish I was there!! Be good to Mr Stanton! =)

Erin (Ryan's sister) - Tue, 20th July, 2010
Yay! I am so jealous. It sounds like you are having a great time and getting to experience all kinds of new things. Enjoy it, I'm sure you already noticed how fast times flies in these situations. I love you and miss you and can't wait to hear all about it with tons of pictures(you better be taking tons of pictures). Luuuuuuurv you. 

Mozey - Wed, 21st July, 2010 
That sounds really cool Beagan! Glad you're all having fun. The zipline thing sounds really cool! And I laughed a little at the Prestino frosted flake thing. Sounds really good! 
Thanks for the updates, and keep them coming!

Tony McNeely - Wed, 21st July, 2010 
Dude, way jealous, i bet you guys are having a FANTASTIC time!!! btw, If i had gone to cooper, i'd so be there with you guys right now

The dogs only speak Spanish!!!--Connor

Sat, 17th July, 2010

Day 2

This morning, cabin number 7 (the men) woke up slightly earlier than all of the women. We got warm showers! After our showers, we freshly brewed our coffee and sat on our porch while looking at the morning clouds slide over mountain tops. This will be our routine for the rest of the week. I am looking forward to it quite a lot.

Breakfast, all I can say is amazing; seasoned scrambled eggs with veggies, tortillas, cheese, and amazing fruits as always. After breakfast, the learning began! A tour of the farm was provided for us by the owner of the organization and land. Pablo Cespedes is turning this ranch into a diverse farm with dozens of different fruits, veggies, and flowers! The connections he has made around the world to investors and consumers are amazing. Pablo brought his machete along to give us samples of the amazing tropical plants there are here. Most of which were given to me (Steve’o (aka Steven Wasmoen)) to carry back to the cabins. I believe there is a picture or two of the garden on my back somewhere…

After we returned from our hike/tour, the wisdom of Adrian Pinto began to be bestowed upon us. The basics of microbiology were covered and a fun group activity commenced. The group of 8 was given petri dishes prepared with LB Culture media on the bottoms. The objective was to prove there are bacteria everywhere! Some examples of tests we conducted include but are not limited to: in between Ryan Beagan’s toes, pond water, toilet water, seat and handle, and even a dollar bill! It’s a really interesting concept that microbes are more abundant than anything else on earth and we can’t even see them! In our bodies alone there have 10 to the 14th bacterium! In one person! Ryan (Beagan) and I agree we have learned more in one day than in the last 4 years of our lives.

Lunch, Steak fajitas, plantain chips, rice con queso y seasonings I don’t recall, and a salad grown here on the farm. During meals all we can talk about is food. How good it is, fresh it is, and how it is just so much better than all the processed food back in the states! A tour of the village was provided for us after lunch. Catlin described the lifestyle in the previous blog and the tour today reinforced this well. Farms, open doors, dogs, chickens and horses a plenty for every establishment, and a relaxed state of living I am very jealous of. We stopped at the local store which was quite like a convenience store for some ice cream. The “Pulperia” is also the hang out spot for the town, which seems very chill. The closeness of the community was expressed from how quickly a woman from the Peace Corps knew the whole town! She has been here for 7 weeks and already, she is like family to everyone we passed on the street. She had joined us for the afternoon.

Now, I have played some soccer before, but I must say, the pitch we played in today was by far the most epic stadium ever. We are in a valley surrounded by mountains, and the soccer field had a perfect view of the foreign landscape. We played a women’s league team with an age range from 15 to 30. Costa Rica-4, USA-1. We may have gotten schooled in futbol, but everyone came out smiling in the end. By the way, the goal scored for us was shot by the Mayor of Colonial Libertad! He is quite a cool guy. He also gave us the tour of the town.

Dinner, bomb mashed potatoes, amazing chicken, some kind of tasty potato (or perhaps a fruit?) and Costa Rican chocolate candies. They grow cocoa here. Best chocolate ever. Yet another amazing day in Costa Rica! I love you all and good night!

Steven Wasmoen

Barb - Steve'o's mom - Sun, 18th July, 2010
Sounds amazing, I think I need to step up my culinary skills before you come back! So proud of each of you for taking on this rare opportunity. Such an adventure!
Oh, love the Connorisms!

Jeff, Anne & Paige - Cait's family - Sun, 18th July, 2010
Barb - I agree. I think it will be the farmer's market only when they get back!
I can't wait to hear what you get to eat (I mean do) today :)

Day 1: “Even the chickens look cooler in Costa Rica” (Connor)

Fri, 16th July, 2010

Pura Vida!

We arrived today to Liberia around 12:30, checked in through customs with no problems and went right to Casa Verde (Green House), a little restaurant in Liberia, Guanacaste. The majority of the group had fajitas, but we also enjoyed fish, and also a choice of carne (shredded beef). To drink we all enjoyed either a melon or blackberry drink. The dessert was a carrot cake with raisins and a lime cream frosting.

Following lunch we made the hour and a half drive through trees, trees, and more trees to get to Finca la Anita. The roads were small and somewhat crowded but we made it just fine. On the way we enjoyed a brand new fruit to all of us called, mamon chinos. See picture. It looked scary, but tasted DELICIOUS. It was sweet, with a grape like texture and very juicy.

Once we arrived at Finca la Anita we all went to bathroom (Nicole and Connor had to go the worst out of everyone) and soon enough we were brought to our cabins. We had the chance to sit around and get used to our new surroundings for about an hour and a half before we left to go get dinner. For dinner tonight we had fish with pesto, potatoes, carrots, choyote, salad, and for dessert we had flan. All the food is really fresh and delicious!

The difference between Minnesota alone and Costa Rica is very apparent. The houses are everywhere, in no block type formation. They are much smaller and crowded, yet open at the very same time. The streets are small, and people as well as animals have no fear walking down the streets. There were cows everywhere, many of which were on the side of the road. Chickens and dogs were also all over the road. On the drive to Finca la Anita we could see the mountains, which also had plenty of volcano smoke. The atmosphere in Costa Rica is very calm, and simple. It seems as though time doesn’t really exist, and they go day by day without worries. Life isn’t materialistic at all, and they enjoy just living their lives as well as being in this beautiful country. The temperature is humid, although today was pretty windy, and so it wasn’t as bad. By the time we got to dinner, the sun was going down, and as we finished our food, it was pitch black. It’s very windy, and I’m sure tomorrow we will get the real feeling of the weather and the humidity but we’re here and it’s beautiful so I don’t care!

Today was really fun, and we all enjoyed the trip and once we got to Costa Rica it was clear that it hit us where we were at the same time. We’re so excited for our new experience. Don’t miss us too much…only 9 more days!


tjbeagan - Fri, 16th July, 2010
Awesome description of the first day's experiences; i feel like i was with you, and I'm soo jealous. 
Buenas noches!

Barb - Steve's mom - Sat, 17th July, 2010
So glad to hear you are in awe of your experience. The food sounds amazing and your surroundings even more! Keep making memories!

Jeff, Anne & Paige - Cait's family - Sat, 17th July, 2010 
Paige wants to smell that air with you! 
Glad you made it there safe - enjoy

Deb - Sat, 17th July, 2010 
It sounds like you are off to a GREAT start! Thanks for the note - it's fun to hear about your adventures!

Sandi Moinichen. - Sat, 17th July, 2010
Hi Cait, I met u at the stamping class for your fund raiser..glad to see u made it, enjoy the once in a lifetime experience..can't wait to see pictures..Sandi

Craig and Alison - Sun, 18th July, 2010
Fun read, thanks. Enjoy, Cait.

Daily Itinerary

Wed, 14th July, 2010

Robbinsdale Cooper 2010 General Itinerary
*All activities are subject to change due to weather or availability

Friday, July 16
Day 1
• Depart Minneapolis to, La Anita Rainforest Ranch, Costa Rica
• Dinner and program introduction with Dr. Adrian Pinto, grad students and their research

Saturday, July 17
Day 2
• Farm Tour to science project/lecture
• 1st small group meeting to determine science projects
• Tour of the community-Welcome by the community association and introduction of the students to community
• Introduction to community project
• Soccer game

Sunday, July 18
Day 3
• Science activity
• Zip-line canopy tour
• Hear story of the history of the community from community elders

Monday, July 19
Day 4
• Science Activity
• Hot Springs
• Dinner with a family in town

Tuesday, July 20
Day 5
• Science Activity
• Guided Horseback riding

Wednesday, July 21
Day 6
• Science Activity
• Nature hike with River swimming

Thursday, July 22
Day 7
• Science Activity
• Community Project-spend time with students at local school
• Dinner with families in town

Friday, July 23
Day 8
• Prepare research for presentation in the afternoon
• Final afternoon ceremonies with farm and locals (show science work to members of Finca La Anita presentation to farm)
• Good bye Dinner

Saturday, July 24
Day 9
• Departure to Playa Grande
• Free time at the beach
• Overnight at Las Tortugas at Playa Grande

Sunday, July 25
Day 10
• Estuary tour/science lecture
• Free afternoon at beach
• Overnight at Hotel Las Tortugas

Monday, July 26
Day 11
• Depart Liberia, Costa Rica to Minneapolis

Karen - Megan's Mom - Sat, 17th July, 2010
I was jealous before you left and even more now that I've read the first blog. Have fun you guys and enjoy every new experience while you're in Costa Rica.

Kate Osterman - Mon, 19th July, 2010
My best friend in the world,
your writing made me wish I was there experiencing this with you.
I know you're having a great time.
Keep studying and enjoy a new country.