Always ask the students what country in South American they would hit if the traveled straight south from Chi-town. It's a trick question, but most of them fall for it. (pause for your response) You miss S. American altogether. North and South America tend to be rotated clockwise so they fit better on a rectangular page, so that's the source of the misconception that S. America is directly south of us. In the Atlanta airport, they had a new mosaic set of tiles that took us awhile to figure out; it was a narrow slice of the Earth's surface at the latitude of Atlanta GA. We passed the geography test that most people didn't even notice.
From start to finish our trip from the upper midwest to a field station in north eastern Costa Rica took 10.5 hours. That is still pretty amazing even by today's standards. In the old days when the roads were worse and the route more circuitous, and you had to boat upriver to the field station, it could take 7-9 hrs to get here just from the San Jose airport. The weather was expected to be wet, but it's actually pretty hot and dry, and very, very humid. Hey, it's the tropics, and rain can be expected at any time really, so an umbrella is part of your kit that never leaves your side. The dinner was pretty good Costa Rican food, rice with nicely stewed lentils, fried fish (corvina?), some steamed green squash that wasn't chayote, cucumber and tomato pieces, and a small custard. And there wasn't much in the food department today, so everyone was pretty hungry. Got the usual safety talk: don't mess with big black ants, watch out for pit vipers, carry your umbrella and flashlight. A small gecko is barking, but this is an invasive species native to SE Asian. Some cicadas are piercing the night with their calls and a river of leaf cutter ants is moving along our sidewalk. A swarm of some other ants already forced 3 students our of their room, but by tomorrow it will probably be theirs again. Glad this year's group of students seems pretty relaxed about such things; one fellow from the past woke up screaming that ants were crawling all over him. They weren't but he was a basket case who thought nature was out to kill him.
The wi-fi has definitely improved. Along the road, saw lots of heart-of-palm and pineapple plantations, not so many bananas. Coffee grows on the other side of the mountains; cooler places. Hope that have some orange papaya for breakfast. And now for a decent sleep.
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