Posted by Yvonne on July 12 for July 9
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Posted by Yvonne on July 12 for July 9
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
We are right into the daily grind here in Santa Maria, where we travel each day to coffee farms and take data on the productivity of the farm. Each farm we select 30 coffee plants to record the height and width, the number of trunks, and number of productive branches on each tree. Then on 5 branches on each trunk we count the number of coffee beans that are growing. I have gotten as many as 170 beans on a single branch, though I am a lot happier when I have a branch of 1…
While we count the coffee plants another team digs soil samples, estimates ground cover, and measures soil density. The soil samples basically fill a gallon-sized Ziploc bag. I have not done soil duty yet but I think tomorrow will be my day. I have helped out cleaning the dirt though. You heard me right, we clean the dirt of all its sticks/rocks/living materials. I am pretty sure this is the job Joe Millionaire had before he got on tv… and probably what he’s doing now as well.
Some things I have come to appreciate during our trip:
Cleanliness: Seriously, I have never loved being clean so much as each night we return from the farms and get to shower and change clothes. I have worn about 5 pounds of dirt back with me every night. The owner of our cabins does the laundry for whatever price we think she deserves. With the clothes I have given her, I might need to take out a small loan…
Showers that don’t electrocute you: Our shower has an extra large head attached to two electrical wires. When the water enters the head, it is electrically fried into hot water before being pushed out onto you. If you don’t see where I am going with this, let’s just say I know what 120 Volts feels like travelling through my left arm.
Flushing toilet paper: Our t.p. has to go in the trash can. Imagine the possibilities.
Thankfully, we do have…
Coca-Cola: A taste of America!
Anti-insect measures: I would say the insects here are about as bad as they come. In the morning, I cover myself in Deet, duct tape the ankles of my pants closed, and put my trained pet praying mantis (named Diablito- the little devil) on my shoulder. Ok, so I have not been able to train a praying mantis, but until then we have all been relying on Benadryl anti-itch gel.
Ok, so I have a feeling soil duty is ahead of me tomorrow. Once I have cleaned my hands well enough, I will write again. Until then…
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
I thought it would be fun to get a few words from some of the team members tonight. The reason for that is twofold...first, I am too exhausted to think and be clever...and second I thought it would be fun to get some different perspective on the day's activities. I hope that everyone enjoys the commentaries from the team.-Holly
Did two farms today, which was a first - as was counting coffee beans, which was an enjoyable experience with Sebastian. The second farm proved particularly difficult as the grade was incredible. Overall, an exhausting day but a productive day. Love, Zach
Team H&H (Holly and Hillary) We make a great pair. Two farms down, about 6 more to go. The sun mixed with rain and mud made for an exhausting day, but we had alot of fun! The teamwork with in our group is amazing and we will see what tomorrows day brings! <3 Hillary
I spent the day with bugs. We picked up traps set the night before and took them back to the lab. There we sorted the bugs for transport to San Jose for identification. I learned a lot about the bugs that we were catching from Dr. Banks and Lisa. We also had a pretty good time. In the afternoon we went back into the field to set more traps for tomorrow. I am looking forward to rejoining the rest of the team tomorrow.......Shawn
The "Alpha Team" (Tim and I) really have our coffee bean counting system going! New things I appreciate: counting in twos and being clean. If you are reading this right now and you are clean, take a moment to appreciate how nice it is. Then teach a small child how to count in twos... ~Brandon
Yes, the "Alpha Team" (as we are known among coffee-bean-counting talent scouts) is really revolutionizing the game. The team work, the sun, the mud, the coffee beans--it has all been great. Looking forward to getting out in the fields again tomorrow!
Today was LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG!!! It was more humid today and the sun was beating down on us as we counted coffee beans; other than that things were great!! We are really becoming confident in working in the fields and counting the beans. I find that we are really more comfortable with each other too; I guess we can attribute that to our nights player gin rummmy and texas hold 'em for sugar packets worth an extraordinary amount of 20 colones!!! aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhh....the coffee counting life! ---sabrina
We finished the day with a great meal (rice and beans, chicken with vegetables in a pot, salad, and a delicious juice), and fellowship around the table. People have been playing cards in the evening, but tonight we are so tired that we are turning in early. Thanks for reading and posting comments! Yvonne
Today we were up early and headed out to the coffee plantation G 25. We set up three different transects and then in small groups, were responsible for taking soil samples, doing 1M x 1M ground cover foliage analysis, and doing coffee
plant evaluations. When on a Coffee Plant (CP) team we determined and recorded information
including the base diameter, the number of nodes per branch (both with and without coffee berries)
and the total number of coffee berries on pre-
Yvonne hard at work.
Shawn takes his work seriously,
Tim not so much.
It was a great day to be out and working. We had sunshine the whole time we were in the field and other than some nuisance insect bites, the research went off without a hitch. We headed back to the research lab and unloaded the equipment. After that we enjoyed a great lunch of sea bass, fresh veggies, mashed potatoes, and homemade bread sticks. Dessert was rice pudding and cinnamon rolls.
Coby relaxing at the lab after lunch.
Can you smell the coffee roasting?
From the lab we headed to the CoopeDota coffee co-op in Santa Maria where we are staying. The coffee tour at the co-op was really fascinating and very informative. We even saw coffee beans that would be traveling to Starbucks in Europe. At the end of the tour we were able to experience coffee cupping. This is a multi-phase activity that is done after the coffee steeps for about 5 minutes (for this you stir the coffee "breaking the foam layer on the top of the cup" and experience the aroma)... and finally tasting the coffee (which is a combination of sipping the coffee from a spoon, swirling it over the palate, and then spitting it out so as to avoid an excessive caffeine buzz).
Holly and Sabrina moving a sack of coffee beans (~70kg) to be stacked before shipping it off to the UK for Starbucks.
Hillary, Brandon, and Zach at the coffee cupping.
Most of the group liked the Quetzal coffee the best.
Before coming home we got to choose a complimentary drink, and most people chose a variation of coffee (although my choice was for a chocolate milk shake).
Check out some more photos at: http://picasaweb.google.com/buckuwt/TarrazuEarthwatchJuly2009#
Sunday, July 5, 2009
So after an exciting 3 days of tours with other group members to the Canopy tour, Teatro Nacional, Poas Volcano, a casino for poker night (despite the fact that there were no poker tables) and other small sites, I decided to attend a small tour to the IN Bio parque by myself on Saturday morning before our scheduled meeting with the entire Earthwatch group.
Posted by Yvonne on July 5 at 6:45 am
Saturday, July 4, 2009
I have had a good time being in Costa Rica. Some of the things I’ve noticed…
The food is great and the people are very friendly. Everyone is proud of their country (which, according to our tour guide, has the best economy in Latin America).
Outside our hotel within one block there is a McDonalds, Taco Bell, Burger King, and KFC. What, no Wendy’s? There are plenty of local options too but there is always a line at the American restaurants. Oh yeah, the first restaurant I saw after getting off the airplane was a Schlotsky’s. Glad my people have made it down here too…
I wish there was a place I could bet on the population of San Jose EXPLODING in about 2 months. This is the most pregnant women I have ever seen in my life.
The speed limit on the highway is 50 km/hr. The speed limit on mountains with twisting roads and hairpin turns and no guard rails? You guessed it: 50 km/hr.
In the shower today my face soap went over my nose and when I exhaled it blew a bubble that went completely over my mouth. This has nothing to do with Costa Rica but I’ve never done that before!
We were lucky enough to get a room with a view of the plaza outside our hotel. There is a mariachi trumpeter who plays all night at regular 5 minute intervals. In related news, I didn’t sleep much.
Despite the lack of sleep I have been loving every minute of this trip! At 3 PM MT we are being picked up by the Earthwatch people. I’m looking forward to the expedition, even if it is a little work. I hopefully will have an internet feed at some point there and will write again. Until then…
Friday, July 3, 2009
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Just in case you were wondering about the purpose of the trip:
“Costa Rican Coffee From Community to Cup” aims to help increase sustainable coffee farming practices in the Tarrazú region of Costa Rica , with the ability to be replicated in other farms and coffee regions. Volunteers will use GIS tools to improve understandings of relationships of soil conditions, coffee, plant cover shade, slope, aspect, erosion, water courses, nutrient cycling and farming practices. Also, this project will examine how fertilizer and shade tree management relate to coffee production, environmental sustainability and certification criteria.