The Rainbow after the Storm

Marlena Lopez

Senior, California State University, Pomona, Department of Biology

Ethno-Botany Tour: fresh coconut water and temporarily tattooing ourselves using plants
Ethno-Botany Tour: fresh coconut water and temporarily tattooing ourselves using plants

No wonder it’s called a rainforest: it can begin pouring on you in an instant when you least expect it. The howler monkeys, however, are courteous enough to shout out a warning and let you know to pull out your umbrella seconds before the rain starts falling.

The rain has been a challenge for completing my project; I am working with Dr. Martina Nagy and fellow REU Kyle Reid on the social organization and vocalizations of the proboscis bat (Rhynchonycteris naso) and we cannot work on the project while it is raining because the valuable recording equipment we use cannot get wet. However, that’s how science works; you devise a wonderful plan and Mother Nature or some other force will disrupt it.

I am grateful to have a mentor that always has a plan B ready to go; Martina, through all of her years of experience, has learned how to expect the unexpected and she always has an idea about what to do next. It has been a valuable learning experience to work beside and learn from her. This internship has taught me so much about how to be a successful researcher and carry out a scientific experiment.

Cheering on Costa Rica in the World Cup
Cheering on Costa Rica in the World Cup

The highlight of the past 4 weeks has been living in a country that made it to the quarterfinals of the World Cup. The Costa Ricans (ticos) have so much passion and love for their country, and it was great to share the experience of watching their team succeed game after game. You know that you have an awesome job when your mentor tells you that work is postponed until after the futbol game, so that you can join the ticos in cheering on their team and yelling at the referee on the television in Spanish.

Baby and Mama sloth spotted at the station
Baby and Mama sloth spotted at the station

As soon as I received the email stating that I had been accepted to this program, I immediately told all of my family, friends, professors, and any random person I saw because I was that happy and excited about it. The next thing I did was research the animals of Costa Rica. So far I’ve seen howler monkeys, basilisk lizards, green tree anoles, spectacled caimans, sloths, cat-eyed snakes, and green and black dart frogs just to name a few. Coming from the city of Los Angeles where buildings and cement surround you, to a tropical forest where you can see beautiful and exotic animals everywhere you look has made this a dream internship for a beginning zoologist like myself, and I look forward to the rest of what Costa Rica has to offer.