Arriving at Cuericí Biological Station from Las Cruces Biological Station, the first thing I noticed was the change in temperature. With fall coming, I was becoming nostalgic for the fall season back in the Northeast United States, which I haven't been able to experience since I left for college. However, this quickly dissipated when I realized how much colder it got at night at the Cuericí Biological Station, and the lack of warm clothes I brought to Costa Rica. Despite the cold, or maybe thanks to the cold, and the lack of Wi-Fi, I feel like our group of ten became much, much closer as a group those four days. We all quickly fell into a routine of congregating into the dining area after our last class, next to the wood fired stove, the main source of heat in the building. As we all sat together in front of the stove, someone suggested we should read a book out loud together, and coincidentally one person had Lord of the Flies hiding away in their luggage. Rewinding back a week when we were stationed at Las Cruces Biological Station, there had been an ongoing joke connecting our ten students, isolated in the forests of the biological stations and the ten boys lost in the jungle in the book. Adding to this silly comparison, every morning back at Las Cruces we would wake up and find hundreds, if not more, dead moths covering the floor of our common room. Ultimately, we called ourselves Lord of the Flies.
Not only did we become closer at our little OTS story time before bed at Cuericí, we definitely bonded when hiking in the Páramo forest. From Cuericí Biological Station, the Páramo forest was only a 20 minute short drive down the Pan American highway. We hiked at elevations exceeding 3000m in the Páramo forest, struggled to keep up with our guide Jenny, and were constantly trying to catch our breaths due to the high elevation. Despite our struggle it was interesting learning about different plants, and other fun uses for them such as teas, flammable explosives, and snacks. At the Páramo we found ourselves finding flora very different than what we were used to at Las Cruces Biological Station. Everything was smaller, and shorter. I learned that because of the high elevation, and the extreme conditions, the plants here have to adapt to survive with elements such as wind, cold, and UV light. However, it was very exciting to see that we were capable of identifying numerous plants (without our notes!), as there were many shared families with the plants back at Las Cruces Station. Being able to see a plant, and identify it by just looking at it, or with the help of crushing it, smelling it, and perhaps some hints from our T.A. Jose Antonio was a really satisfying feeling.