Thursday, May 16, 2013

Day 4: Exploring the Beauty of Tenorio National Park

We begin our first full day at Tenorio National Park with a walking tour. I was really excited for the tour, because Tenorio is one of the most beautiful national parks in Costa Rica. I also liked the idea of seeing the park that we are going to spending time working in over the next few days. Our tour guide was Ricardo.

Our first stop on the tour was the Rio Celeste Waterfall. Notice how blue the water is! This is due to a mixture of chemicals that occurs when two rivers converge further up stream.

We spent about 30 minutes here taking photos and soaking up the beauty of the waterfall. With its blue water, it was unlike anything I have every seen before.

This is a compilation of a few other sites from our tour.  (Top left) Natural hot springs that are located along the river. (Top Right) This area is called Blue Lagoon. I think the name is pretty self-explanatory. (Bottom Left) Another view of blue lagoon. (Bottom Right) This is the Rio Celeste Convergence. This is where the water turns blue. It was pretty neat watching the brown water on the right turn blue right in front of your eyes.

The hiking tour lasted nearly four hours. It rained for a little bit, but overall the weather was great. There were several bridges like this one constructed along the trails. It was neat spending the entire morning just walking through a rainforest.

There were some giant trees and leaves in the rainforest. Look at how big these leaves are compared to my foot! Some people call these leaves “poor men’s umbrellas”, because if it starts raining, you can just pick one up and use it as an umbrella.

After our walking tour, we were able to swim in the blue river for about 30 minutes. Our professor Luke (pictured here) was the first to jump in. I took the opportunity to jump in as well, because when else will I ever be able to say that I swam in a blue river in Costa Rica.

 After lunch, we used the afternoon to begin our service learning project. As part of the class, we are going to spend four days working to help Tenorio National Park build up its infrastructure. In this picture, Ricardo and Ethan are clearing brush and checking for vipers to make it safe to work. I’m not going to lie, I was a little nervous working in the forest where there could be vipers! No vipers were found, but we did come across a Coral Snake.

Our first task was moving rocks out of a creek bed into a pile. These rocks will be used in the future to build up trails. We created a human chain and passed rocks from one person to another.

We did this for several hours. It was a lot of hard work, but it was also very enjoyable! I had fun working along side the other group members. It was also neat to see how many rocks we moved in just a few hours.

      After a hard earned dinner, Ricardo came to our bunkhouse with two dead specimens. The first was a coral snake that is extremely poisonous. He also brought the head of a huge viper that Ricardo killed the last time Luke and Ron brought a class to Costa Rica. Ricardo took out the Viper’s fangs to show us how they inject their prey. It was very neat and informative! Only in Costa Rica!

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