Student News

Living Simply and Waiting for Turtles in Costa Rica

August 9, 2013

Under the guidance of science teachers Mandy Irwin and Jeff Jewett, a group of Deerfield students are traveling to the Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica, where they will learn about tropical ecology, conduct sea turtle patrols, and participate in an ecological restoration project in the recently established Caletas-Ario National Wildlife Refuge. View a slideshow of photos from the trip and read reflections on the trip so far by Lili Brown, Alyssa Moreau, and Ashley Cooper.

From Lili Brown, August 3, 2013 - 

As our hunger began to consume our every action, the long journey slowly came to a conclusion. Or so we thought. After a two hour drive from the densely populated San Jose to Puntarenas, we loaded onto a ferry, ate PBJ’s, and occupied our time with a game of mafia. After many rounds, we looked up from our game and saw the scenery that acted as only a background to our fun moments ago. I was mesmerized by the never-ending mountains, lush greenery, and topography that I, and many of my peers, have only seen on the much too complicated Internet. The amazement ceased to exist when we got back on the bus. Now in the mountains, we became part of them, like peanut butter with the jelly rather the crust (ferry) observing from the outside. Traveling up, then down, then around, the bus danced along the gravel. Upon arriving at CIRENAS (Centro de Investigacion de Recursos Naturales y Sociales) at what felt like 6 o’clock but was actually 3, we were welcomed by the founders and directors of CIRENAS, Caroline and Tucker, as well as the rest of the CIRENAS crew.  

The dinner circle:  A CIRENAS ritual to reflect on what happened and anticipate what is to come. Tucker started us off  by asking for everyone to share what they are excited for to days to come, going next to the plans for the following day and finally a quote by the day’s leader followed by a silence with stomachs growing. The quote that Tucker shared with us was this,”Live simply so others may simply live.” At that moment my stomach stopped making the unattractive noises, and my mind went into a place of reflection. My excitement of being in a different country and funny tummy noises had distracted me from one of the reasons any one chooses to travel: to experience new cultures, ultimately influencing how I choose to live my life. Remembering that 7.8 billion people do not have the privilege to eat like private school kids do and that quote captured it all. Only 34 hours into the trip, and I have already thought of a way to change.

From Alyssa Moreau, August 4, 2013 -

After a long trek on horseback through muddy valleys and steep inclines around the soon to be new CIRENAS campus site we came to the Ario River. Being in the front of the pack my horse, Pinto, smacked each foot into the water. The murky, brown water of the river rose to right below Pinto’s belly. After a long hike, Pinto arched his neck to gulp the cold water as we splashed through. We stood still in the water for a second and watched the water slowly slide by around our feet as everyone else began walking their horses into the river. The river bed, lower than the surrounding forest, allowed us the opportunity to gaze at the forest and see its grandeur as it surrounded us. We came out of the other side of the river, horses refreshed and ready to keep riding into the forest. Riding all morning I realized that with every passing moment I will learn and laugh and Costa Rica will feel like home.

From Ashley Cooper, August 5, 2013 -

“I like Finding Nemo. The turtles are, like, California hippies.” – Daniela, a local biologist and instructor for our trip.  Although not the most introspective comment of the night’s turtle patrol, Finding Nemo was only one of the many subjects we touched upon during the two hour walk on the beach. Lying with our backs on the sand near the town of Playa Manzanilla, we covered topics ranging between Pixar movies, Costa Rican ghost stories, and global warming. Seeing as this was our second night patrol, and we had yet to encounter a turtle, we turned to conversation to occupy our time. Our discussions wandered away from finding a mother laying her nest to the reasons why we had come here in the first place. The reality that in 50 years the beach around us would most likely be underwater was an ever-present thought. All movie references aside, Daniela pointed out the increasing struggles not only turtles but all of us would be forced to face. And, although this information was far from new, the picturesque backdrop reinforced this message with a startling clarity. We began to realize that maybe the best part of a turtle patrol was not in seeing a turtle, but in waiting for one.