We spend our days in the lab. Soon, when we have everything prepared and have memorized all the tree species we’re looking for, we will go out into the field. But for now, if you’re looking for us, the lab is a good place to start.
I should clarify that when I say lab, what I actually mean is our small office inside of the old lab building. The actual lab-type facilities are next door, in the building referred to as the new lab. Past that is the ALAS building, with my favorite room: the arthropod collection. The building is named for the Arthropods of La Selva Project, which was running for over ten years at the station; if you’re interested, you can read more about it here: http://viceroy.eeb.uconn.edu/ALAS/ALAS.html. Also in the cluster of buildings around the lab is a herbarium, where plant samples are dried and stored, and a small library with books and publications about Costa Rica.
At mealtimes we go across the river to the cafeteria. The cafeteria building is open on one side, and multiple ceiling fans keep the humid air moving. There are rows of tables inside, as well as a few tables and a short mosaic-decorated bar just outside. We show the cooks our yellow meal cards, and they serve us a solid meal, consisting rice and beans (for breakfast, lunch, or dinner), usually accompanied by a vegetable, a meat dish, and salad. On each table is a jug of juice, made from local fruits and often bitingly sour, and a large sugar shaker to help mellow the taste of the juice.
Our rooms are in cabina 5, on the same side of the river as the lab. The cabina is painted light green, and has beautiful wood floors and walls.
The rooms are equipped with very nice ceiling fans, and have enough space for two beds, a side table, and a small closet. Our room is on the second floor, and it connects to a balcony overlooking the river. Two days ago army ants swarmed through our cabina, considerately cleaning out any other bugs and leaving before we had to go to sleep.
This morning I spent a bit of time exploring some of the trails around the station. One leads over a canyon to another series of cabins called the river station. Every time I walk in the forest, or even just around the lab, I see something new–plants, spiders, lizards, birds. Today’s list of new sights includes a toucan, an iguana, a poison dart frog, two butterflies, and a tree standing in an arch over the path.