I had never been out of the United States, so everything from flying alone to having limited phone service was new to me. We started out in the city and came just at the beginning of wet season so there was no avoiding getting soaked throughout the trip. That was when I really appreciated my over preparedness, it saved me in wetting my other stuff and paying a ton in laundry latter on. Even so, if I were to repeat the trip, I would pack less bulky and more strategically to take better advantage of my time instead of building my arm strength hauling luggage and instead holding onto the reins of horses.
During daily birding, you may come across ten or one hundred species, but you always came across birds. My favorites were the ever so elegant owls large and small, toucanets and toucans, quetzals, hummingbirds, motmots and tanagers and trogons and countless coastal birds… well, I guess loved more birds than not. I was even able to see the rare Royal Flycatcher up close and personal; it was so breathtaking; I was unbothered my pictures came out blurry. The diversity of not only the birds but the other wildlife was fascinating and what I pulled the most joy from! We came across a crowd favorite, sloths, also an adorable anteater, and Brahma cows everywhere, monkeys galore, basilisks in the trees, poison dart frogs and cane toads, Fer-de-lances and bats lurking, and spotting a coati was a dream I did not even know I had come true! Some of us were on the lookout for the elusive tapirs and kinkajoos, of the thousands of reasons I would go back, that is a high priority.
My strategy for having as much fun as I possibly could was to roll with the punches. Being on the trip made me feel like I was in a whole different world where mountains are blocked by mist and stray dogs walk up to you with full bellies, unsightly plastic is not everywhere, and where you walk across sky-high cable bridges in the canopy. The hiking was not as strenuous as I would have liked, but extremely doable for the average college student and made the trip more appealing to a broader student base. The most invigorating hiking experience was at the Karen Mogenson Nature Reserve where we carried everything and lived in the middle of it all. Nothing compares to the sounds of the rainforest at night and playing games out on the porches or hiking and diving in waterfalls. I plan to reminisce on the timelessness of those two weeks for many years to come.