Better Together in Costa Rica

¡Hola desde Costa Rica! Hello from Costa Rica! We (Dr. David Hoffman and MA students Sallie Dehler, and Jessy Arends) are keeping busy with presentations and sweating out the toxins built up from stress of the semester in humid Costa Rica. The team is here presenting the preliminary analyses we performed on data that we collected last summer. The data we are presenting is part of David’s NSF grant that investigates human migration to the borders and three national parks in Costa Rica. This blog entry will detail what the team was up to in their first park destination, Carara National Park.

Carara National Park is located along the central pacific coast near tourism centers known for coastal recreational activities (such as surfing and scuba diving). The park itself is most frequently visited by birders looking for the scarlet macaw (interesting fact: the scarlet macaw mates for life and eats almonds) that is abundant in the area. This project worked within communities in the 10 kilometer buffer zone of Carara National Park that had demonstrated a statistically significant increase in population due to in-migration of Costa Ricans from other parts of the country. The communities around Carara National Park included parts of Orotina and Quebrado Ganado. Orotina is known as an agricultural and commercial hub while Quebrado Ganado is a destination for migrants who want to access coastal development and the tourism employment opportunities.

We began our work at this park by contacting informants who had participated in the interviews that were conducted last summer. While we couldn’t reach all of them (there were 41 across the buffer zone) the ones we did come into contact with were happy to see our preliminary results on paper and we were happy to see them again! It is very rewarding to visit old friends and contacts. Another big part of this trip is presenting our preliminary results in a more formal setting back to the development associations of the communities and to the park officials. We were able to drop off a copy of our preliminary data report to the mayor of Orotina and briefly chatted with the vice-mayor about potential collaboration and presentations in the future. David did a great job presenting to the development association of Quebrado Ganado and to the park officials at Carara National Park! Jessy and Sallie’s courtesy laughs played an integral part by lightening the mood! The presentation at the park was briefly interrupted by a surprise guest appearance; a park official had wrangled a gigantic boa constrictor from the nearby town we were staying in and had brought it by the presentation in a doggie carrier. We were shocked and terrified but thrilled to see such a magnificent creature of the wild. The presentations were a hit; the communities and the park were pleased with the results and eager to utilize them in improving upon policies and projects relating to community development and relations.

David presenting for Carara National Park Officials

David presenting for Carara National Park Officials

The boa constrictor

The boa constrictor

While the team has certainly been working hard this trip, the pressure of collecting massive amounts of data is off, and they’ve been able to balance work with some fun! We went to an amazing, expansive beach one afternoon and today completed a grueling and steep waterfall hike. We are enjoying our last fieldwork trip together and have come to the conclusion that everything is better, together. We hope you are having an awesome summer and we will check back in when we are finished with our work at our next park destination, Arenal National Park.

Sallie and David in front of Carara National Park Office

Sallie and David in front of Carara National Park Office

As they say here, pura vida mae!

Jessy Arends

Graduate Student

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