On one of the days that we had free, I took a walk through the dry forest to reflect on the program and have some alone time. I didn’t know where I was walking to and didn’t particularly care. While heading down a main road of the park, I saw a trail called the ‘mirardor’ trail and figured that if I was going to be spending a couple weeks here I might as well look at the park at a lookout site. The trial wasn’t kept up as indicated by the fallen trees over the path and the apparent lack of visitation. After about an hour or so I came across a small pile of limestone rocks. As I kept forward, I saw that the rocks got larger and larger until I saw them go to the top of the side of the mountain. The path had just stopped so I decided that it would be a fun idea to scale the side to get a better look at everything. Climbing up the rocks, getting cut by Agave seemanniana, and avoiding cacti made the end of the walk a little more difficult than the mosquitos had already made it. Once I got to the top, I sat on the edge of a rock and looked out over all the dry forest. The view was beautiful and the gentle breeze made the rest comforting.
While looking out I came to realize a few things from this trip. My first was that I am so lucky to have been given this opportunity to join this program. Being a low-income first generation student, I had never imagined being able to go to Duke, let alone live in Costa Rica for four months. Traveling from Las Cruces to Palo Verde and everywhere in-between has been an unforgettable experience. My second was that to an extent, I really enjoyed doing fieldwork. I loved being able to collect samples from the natural environment and perform experiments with them. While this might not make its way full time into my future endeavors, I want to incorporate to some degree an aspect of fieldwork. Collecting my own samples from nature helped put a lot things into perspective for me. Lastly, I realized that this trip is going to stay with me for the rest of my life. The experiences, friends and knowledge that I gained during this study abroad are one of a kind and I’m very happy in my choice to join OTS.