I just finished up my OTS course and it was incredible, one of the best experiences of my life, hands down.
Lets start with where we left off…Cuericí….
Cuericí is not a place you typically think of when you hear the words Costa Rica. It is located high in the mountains, around 2600m in elevation. This was the most rustic of our accommodations in this course, but also the most magical.
We stayed with this amazing mountain man, Don Carlos, whose goal in life is to conserve the natural world on his property and live sustainably off of a small portion of the reserve. Don Carlos took us up in the mountains and showed us many beautiful things. He taught us how to identify trees, plants and talked about the natural patterns he observed in the mountains.
We stayed in a wooden cabin, with a wood burning stove. The sleeping quarters were all open to each other so it really had a summer camp kind of feel. Each evening we would all gather around the wood stove, socks and shirts hanging above the heat, and share what we had encountered during the day. We were developing our independent research projects. Kate Ortenzi and I investigated the differences in epiphytic communities on two species of oak tree, Quercus bromeliodes and Q. costaricensis. We were interested in this because moss (Bryophyta) make a significant amount of the epiphytic communities in these high-elevation forests. Additionally, we found out that there are mosses that are endangered and threatened by commercial harvest. Therefor we wanted to investigate what contributes to epiphytic (primarily bryophyte) diversity and draw some attention to these micro-communities. In our half day of sampling we got significant results (yes we are that good, mostly due to my partner Kate). We found a difference in epiphyte community structure between the two species of oak tree. This is important because to the untrained eye these oaks look eerily similar, but are starkly different in the kind of habitat they create for epiphytes.
Okay enough about the science stuff… I leave you with Cuericí the same way I left it…with a beautiful poodle horse, how it got this way is a science mystery in itself.