In The Media

This past summer I spent three months...

By Cassandra Elphinstone • Schulich Leader at University of British Columbia
Fall 2013

This past summer I spent three months camping on a remote beach in Costa Rica studying the ecosystem there and teaching tourists about the nesting sea turtles on the beach. Thanks! The Schulich Scholarship allowed me to to take this opportunity.

You can read diary entries from this trip on my blog. The paper I wrote is available for download.

One entry summarizes the essence of the trip:

“Some days I wake up, staring at a huge spider on my mosquito netting, other days I jump out of my sleeping bag and rush out to the beach to see the sun rise. Slowly I am falling into the routine of camp life. I have stopped wearing shoes entirely as the temperature and humidity is destroying my feet when I wear my boots. I have begun to recognize the moon cycle and learn the tide patterns. I walk patrol every night for 6-12km under the stars and watch as they rotate overhead. I have fallen in love with the amazing bioluminescence in the ocean and the fireflies that inhabit the pastures around camp every evening. As there is no electricity at camp I have grown accustomed to rising everyday with the sun and going to bed once it has set. Jimme taught me how the camp water system works and I learned to pump water using an engine and the well. Slowly I am physically adjusting to camp. Each day I walk a minimum of 10km and a maximum of 20km. In the mornings everyone does ch ores around camp. Chores vary from washing the kitchen, getting water, or raking sand around camp to clearing trails, getting food from across the river, moving sand for the hatchery or cutting trees. In the afternoons I walk down the trail and collect plant samples for my research. Sometimes I wander into town to access electricity, wifi and sugar coated food. The sight of cars, lights, and the well-polished floors of the bakery that I visit, are shocking and other-worldly. Walking into town, I almost always pass howler monkeys enjoying the cool morning from the tree tops, and occasionally the odd snake would scurry across the road. So far I have never spotted any crocodiles in the river while crossing during the day but I know they lurk beneath the surface at night with only their eyes reflecting the light of my flash light.”