The Quetzal – Continued

The quetzal let out an awful screech and leapt out of Dr. Limke’s hand, but before it flew out, the quetzal struck the tip of her finger with a single peck.  As if by magic, the storm dissipated as the menacing creature escaped into the forest.  Disturbed by the actions from this wild fiend, she did not even consider treating the wound it had caused her.  However, as soon as she set foot inside her faculty suite, she felt a wave of dizziness and nausea, causing her to gracefully fall onto her king-sized bed.  Obviously confused, she grabbed the mango off of the bedside table and took a single bite from the juicy fruit, thus contaminating it’s sweet nectar.  While passing out of consciousness, she struggled to return the mango back to its place on the table, but instead she misses her target and the mango rolls out the door of her room.

As Paul left his room to check on the girls, he noticed this seemingly innocent mango lying on the floor.  “Bazinga!” Paul exclaimed. “Who would waste this delicious treat?”  Unfortunately for our group members, the bite hid from his current view.  He picked it up and put it on a nearby table for the others to enjoy.  Slowly, each girl unsuspectingly helped herself to a part of this fruit until it was devoured.  The sickness from the contaminated mango did not take long for the students to feel the effects.  Within minutes, sounds could be heard of the girls emptying out the contents of their stomachs.  In an attempt to escape this overwhelming plague, Dr. Wright and Paul retreated to the bedroom with gusto.

With the lightning knocking out the electricity, communication was not possible.  All hope was lost.  The girls wandered about the residence as the evil virus consumed them.  Again, the situation was bleak for the last two men – Ronnie and Pablo.  In a single moment of silence between the expulsion of stomachs and cries from the last two survivors, an explosion erupted from the entrance of the cabin.  BOOM!  Mr. Anderson broke down the hinges of the door as if he was The One to save the day.  Joseph Garcia swung through the door with his Yo-Yo on the upmost beam and in midflight, flipped seven times over Mr. Anderson, without spilling a single drop from his Pepsi.  Blake Jordan, being the Renaissance Man that he is, strolls in with ascot, top hat, cane, and all.  Triumphantly, Michael Lunn enters, and like Rafiki, holds the key to their salvation – The Sloth.

Through its milk, the gallant men are able to cure this plague that has spread through the house.  They rush up the stairs to Dr. Limke’s side.  She pleads for them to rescue the others first, but they know in their hearts that they need her letter of recommendation.  After administering the therapy and making sure she is all well, the incredible fellowship of extraordinary beings tend to the needs of the now sick and weakened group members.  Hope was restored.  Salvation brought.  All thanks to the four, heroic males.

The End.


A day later, Dr. Wright and Paul James were found shivering and clinging to each other as if holding on for dear life.

– Blake Jordan, Joseph Garcia, Matt Anderson, and Michael Lunn


The Quetzal

Four days since last contact with the outside world. We had arrived safely at San Gerardo de Dota to what seemed like any other day in paradise. Trees glimmered in the sunlight; the air was filled with the quetzals’ song, yet paradise was short lived, for a dark cloud loomed over the mountainside. By nightfall, the first of it had begun and our lives would be forever changed. If we had known what would happen, we would never have come. This is the story of the survivor tribe.

In the beginning, our tribe was 18 strong, 12 girls and 6 men. Being adventurous, to gain a bearing of our new environment, the four male students valiantly set out on a quest for the Holy Quetzal.  Thus, placing them in the wild for a day. Therefore, leaving the girls unprotected and vulnerable to the true nature of the San Gerardo valley.

The storm had just settled in over the camp. The loud impact of the lightning hitting the transformer not only knocked out the power but also produced an earsplitting girlish squeal of terror. Dr. Limke rushed Dr. Wright outside to console him. In the midst of the chaos, a ray of sunshine revealed the emerald coat of the Holy Quetzal. Leaving her in awe, Dr. Limke extended her arms to the heavens, because she knew that the rarity of the quetzal was a sign of hope; hope that they would safely return home. The quetzal gracefully descended right into her palm.

As she looked into its sinister eyes, she realized that she had made a horrible mistake…


– Blake Jordan, ]oseph Garcia, Matt Anderson, and Michael Lunn

San Jose vs. Limon

My first impression of San Jose was that it is a very busy, big and filled, and I mean FILLED with dirty pigeons… EVERYWHERE! (Side Note: people would actually play with these things. Gross!) But as we got to explorer the city in our individual groups and as a big group I began to familiarize myself with the city and notice not only things that are obvious but things that might not catch someones attention the first time.

Although San Jose it is a very busy city, the food is incredible. The mall has many food choices like ours in the US, such as fast food joints, but around the plazas there are a ton of little mom and pop places or non-chain restaurantes with tasty food. Pollo (chicken) is very popular out here, as well as a traditional main dish of rice and beans. One particular food item I have found very delicious is the natural beverage selections; Pina en aqua, fresa en agua, basically any fruit available in Costa Rica in water form or en leche (milk). Another place that has grown on a lot of us is POPS. POPS is an ice cream palor that has literally the best ice cream ever! It feels so light and is very creamy and delicious. Overall the food quality here is very different of that in the US; ketchup is sweeter, pizza is softer, every thing just tastes fresh and not like it was prepared 3 days prior.

Limon, also referred to as “The Old Port,” has a very homey feel to it. It’s not as busy as the city  of San Jose or as crowded. Limon actually kind of reminds me of Louisiana. Not that I have ever been but the buildings here seem to remind me of pictures I have seen before of Louisiana. Limon, specifically our hotel, is right next to the Caribbean Sea and is very close to the equator. With that being said, you can probably guess it’s very hot and very humid here. Compared to San Jose, it is quite the difference coming from warm and sunny/overcast to hot, sunny/overcast and extremely humid. People out here also almost seem way more willing to do surveys than some places in San Jose, which was very helpful. The food is almost the same but the seafood tastes a little fresher considering we’re by the sea. I enjoyed a rice dish tonight with shrimp which was very delicious. Regarding “Pura Vida,” my group got the chance to meet a man named Lloyd, who described the people of Limon to be the true meaning of “Pura Vida.” From how I interpreted it, he described San Jose to be more of a copy cat or market of “Pura Vida,” but the people of Limon live by it and that is all they know. I am wondering if that is the vibe I was getting of the more home like feeling here in Limon verses San Jose..

-Nicole Greenway

Volcano Day

Yesterday we visited the Poas Volcano, which was incredibly different than expected. It’s funny when we were getting ready to leave the hostel we contemplated whether or not to bring jackets, but as it’s Costa Rica we decided to not…And then we arrived…and it was a bit nippy out. Apparently, some days are warmer than others. This also effected our ability to see the inside of the volcano through a cloud of fog. A small group of us also walked the path to the lagoon, although it was still too foggy to see much. For lunch we went to a small restaurant, which was delicious! The food here is just overall amazing. We also got to see a small garden with numerous hummingbird feeders. They were stunning deep blues and purples.

Then we headed over to Grecia and did some more research. It was interesting because there was an obvious class difference between it and San Jose. The buildings weren’t as homemade and it was a bit cleaner. The people were still very nice and willing to help us out. When we finished up we went to Paul’s host family’s house and asked them about “pura vida” and their thoughts on La Carpio. They had immediate reactions to La Carpio, based on things they’ve seen in the news and stories they heard. Overall, it was a fun day.

-Jessie Johnston

Collecting Data in Costa Rica

I have really been enjoying my experience here in Costa Rica. The people are friendly, well most of them, and they are willing to help us in any way possible. They have a carefree and patient attitude that I really admire. There are only a handful of spanish speakers in the group. However, we are able to get our surveys done because people are understanding and help us help them. Today was much more relaxed than the other days. My group leisurely got our surveys and got lunch. It was really interesting when we were able to meet some university students. They were so full of life and laughter. Even though I didn’t understand everything that they were saying, I still had to mirror their smiles because they were so contagious. It was their last day of school and they were willing to sit and talk to us for awhile. They even invited us to hang out with them before we leave.

I really enjoyed today because my group is getting into the swing of things. We are becoming more comfortable with one another and have a rhythm in collecting data. I also really enjoyed eating dinner with the group because we had so much fun together. This is such a fun group and we all get along really well. I think that I am really going to miss hanging out with these wonderful people when we head home.

– Hannah Dawson

Nicaraguans in La Carpio

As Jordan mentioned in her post about our trip to La Carpio today, we got to meet with Gail and several people in the community who have been affected by her influence in the community. La Carpio is mostly comprised of Nicaraguan immigrants, who have traveled across the border to Costa Rica in hopes of a better life. As Mexican immigrants are often looked down upon and sometimes seen as “lower” in the eyes of United States citizens, Nicaraguans are also viewed the same way in the eyes of Ticos (Costa Ricans). Walking through La Carpio and  through talking to Gail, we see the effects of Nicaraguans’ being ostracized: the physical location of La Carpio (about 9 miles outside of San Jose), the way that they have formed their own community, and their treatment by many Costa Ricans.

I have been to Nicaragua and have lived in a small village outside of Managua for a short time, and I was definitely brought back to that place in my mind as we walked the streets of La Carpio. From my experience, most Nicaraguans are not as bubbly and initially warm as many Costa Ricans, but there is this underlying quiet, peaceful, yet determined attitude in the way they interact with other people. I noticed this same vibe while traveling with Gail today; even though they do not use the phrase “pura vida,” as the Costa Ricans do, they still are tranquil and know that everything will be okay. They have a very positive and resilient attitude, despite all that has happened to them, both individually and as a people. To them, life is still good, and will remain good, no matter what happens.

-Jamie Grubert

Adventures in La Carpio

Our group spent our day exploring the streets of La Carpio, meeting incredible people everywhere we went.  Gail Nystrom, founder and executive director of the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation, taught us about the culture by teaching us some basic Latin American history, giving us a tour of the streets and helping meet fantastic people for interviews.  Personally, the opportunity to speak with several Nicaraguan women was the most profound experience today.  Several women took time out of their day to be interviewed by our group.  They discussed how their family relationships and serving loved ones (and serving God) bring meaning to their lives.  They authentically discussed the trials and tribulations of living in poor economic conditions.  One woman opened up with her fears about providing for her family while she battles diabetes.  She wept as she told us that her sister also has diabetes and is slowly dying – she fears for her own future in the midst of her sadness.  Another woman discussed her experience with grief when she found out that her husband passed away while raising her children alone.  It was stories like these that captivated our hearts.

We struggled to overcome the language barrier as we attempted to express our empathy for these women and other community members of La Carpio.  Their living conditions are highly unfavorable, yet these people were some of the most warm, authentic people that we have met in Costa Rica thus far.  We were humbled as we observed the incredible resilience of these people today.  They continue to work hard to provide opportunities for their children despite the adversity the consistently face.  Some of the women said that they experienced hope by seeing our smiling faces visit their communities… but I would venture to say that our trip to La Carpio had much more impact on our research group than we had on the people there.

We are learning so much about the value of time, what it means to experience “the good life”, living in the moment, engaging one another (strangers too!) in an authentic way, while continuing to learn that every person has a story to tell.  It is our hope that we take these incredible lessons (and insights from our reflection and discussion) home with us.  We are humbled by our experiences here and we have been inspired to embrace the Costa Rican way of living!  There’s been lots of excitement over the past two days, but we’re looking forward to what the rest of the trip holds for us!

-Jordan Sloan