The past few weeks have been packed. Pretty unbelievable, but I only have 9 days left in Costa Rica. As the time to leave gets closer, I’m getting more excited to come home, but also more and more aware that I will miss this place, and of the culture shocks to come once I get back.
We’ve been buried in work for the past couple of weeks. After leaving La Selva, we went to a gorgeous farm and medicinal garden called Finca Luna Nueva. It’s an organic farm and also a center for research on medicinal plants. While we were there, we conducted mini research projects of our own, and presented them to the guides there, so that they can use what we found in the future.
After that, it was back to Las Cruces biological station. Over the course of our trip, this is where we spend the most time – of anywhere we’ve been, it definitely feels the most like home. The first few days were dedicated to studying. Final exams are over! It’s a little strange to be done with finals this early on, but definitely a relief.
After finals, we spent time preparing for our research projects. My topic of research is food security and dietary diversity in highly mobile and non-mobile indigenous populations. We’re also comparing the BMIs of children in these two groups. This whole process has definitely been a learning experience for me. This kind of research – with fieldwork and all that – is definitely a test of patience. There’s been so many changes of plans, trials and errors, miscommunications, and other problems. Not to mention long, bumpy rides in the back of the Safari! Working out logistics has been harder than we would have ever imagined. We’ve spent the last few days out in the field, working with our cultural adviser, conducting surveys, and editing along the way. What we’ve found is pretty depressing. Most of the people we’ve talked to don’t have enough resources to properly feed their families, and a lot of the kids are underweight. Their diet consists of whatever they can come up with, and varies a lot with the seasons. It’s been really interesting to consider this, especially when coming back to the United States happens so soon. The two lifestyles are definitely a stark contrast. We’re not totally done with the research yet, and we present a poster on it next week. Hopefully, what we find will be useful to help the community in the future.