Standing in the middle of a rainforest at 10 pm at night with a flashlight as the only thing guiding me, surrounded by all sort of unfamiliar animal noises and the uncertainty of wherever or not my life was at risk was a very thrilling experience. Our tropical ecology class had the privilege of spending the night at La Selva, which is a biological reserve in the rainforest. It was such an incredible experience. We got to have hands on experience with the wildlife and nature and enjoy the different interactions with plants and animals. We arrived on saturday and went for a hike after lunch. Of course it started down pouring as soon as we started our nice little walk. Let me just tell  you that trying to take notes in the rain is a lost cause. Pencils just don’t write well on soggy, wet paper. I guess we shouldn’t have been as alarmed as we were when it was raining because, I mean, it is the RAINforest. Wendy, our professor is quite the expert when it comes to the wildlife here in Costa Rica. Following her around and hearing about how everything works together was very entertaining. I still don’t understand how one person can know so much about plants. I just couldn’t do it. She knew where things would be as well. Right at the beginning of our walk there was a post that had a small hole in it. The first thing she did was shine a flashlight inside it and sure enough there was a bat roosting in there. Honestly, how she knew that is beyond me.

At night we took a hike in the pitch dark. We came across insects that are way bigger than they need to be. It was like wildlife on steroids. I’ll never forget the giant spider web we came across, it was taller than our professor. We saw bullet ants the size of my pinky finger, caterpillars the size of my foot and walking sticks the size of my forearm. I was a nerdy little tomboy growing up and so this exploration brought me back to the memories of my bug catching days. There is just so much to see, and at night there’s a whole different life out there. When we go to bed is when many creatures awake. We also saw a baby wildcat. It got spooked by the lights and so it was too hard to tell what type it was, but it was still cool.

The next day we had our presentations. We got to show off all of the sweet knowledge that we attained through this experience by getting into groups and presenting for 15 minutes on different locations in the rainforest. I learned so much more this weekend than I thought. It’s really cool to see what we learn in the class room and experience it in the real world. It’s fascinating to hear about the different interactions, adaptations and habitats in the rainforest but it’s an incredible opportunity that the school provides by allowing us to actually travel and see it in person. We are so fortunate to have the chance to see this and I can tell you now that this is an experience I’ll want to remember. When else can you say you got to go for an adventurous night hike in the rainforest? I can check that off the bucket list!

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