Finals time   Leave a comment

So from my last few blogs, or my facebook photo albums if you can see those too, you might get the impression that I’m on vacation here in Costa Rica – I talk mostly about trips to the beach, volcanic hiking, soccer games, and more trips to the beach. But believe it or not, I am still doing schoolwork as well. As a matter of fact, like my fellow Oles, I am approaching the end of my semester, which means finals. For me, it’s crunch time. I don’t have finals in the same form as most semesters back at Olaf, but I am experiencing the same feeling that usually comes at the end of the semester: so much to do with so little time left. So what better time to tell you a little bit about the conclusions I’m finding from the project that I’ve dedicated my four months to…

There are organic products out there that work as herbicides! Whoo! I was successful at killing weeds on the farm, which is good news for the farm. In fact, by now they’ve sprayed almost the entire farm with one of the products that I was testing, and I found that this practice has the potential to help them have over 60% savings in their weed control practices! It has been really exciting to realize what my work has the potential to do – there really isn’t a lot of research out there on organic herbicides (as I found out with my struggles during the background research process), and even better, Hugo is going to work with the man who created one of the products to try and set up a more standardized business and production process and eventually marketing this product. There is still a lot of work to be done, but my project has been one of the first steps towards achieving these possibilities. Here are some pictures of what my products can do:

The clear border of my plots appearing after 2 weeks due to plant mortality


A comparison of normal plants to...

..plants treated with my products

A lot of the excitement about my project surfaced when my advisor (and owner of Finmac), Hugo, came to meet with me to discuss my results. The meeting actually resulted in a surprise trip the following day back to the farm, for an extra follow-up day of collecting data – so that I could have data from 2 months after the herbicide applications. It was really great to get to go back to the farm and see my friends and family that I wasn’t sure if I was going to see again – it was quite a surprise for everyone. I was reminded once again of the oppressive heat and humidity, got a giant plate of fresh fruit for lunch from Doña Lucia, got to ride around on a motorcycle again, and talk to the farm workers and the ladies from Amazilia again – a perfect little day to fufill all the things that caused nostalgia for my rural home.

However, the trip to the farm also meant a lost day of data analysis, plus extra data to enter and therefore re-do most of the analyses that I had already done. So the following day I was at ACM working late, when I got another surprise Costa-Rican experience – the first earthquake here that I’ve felt (the first that I’ve ever felt in my life!)! I was upstairs in the ACM building with a fellow student when the shaking began, and after a few seconds we both realized what was happening. It was quite strong, and lasted long enough that we decided we needed to take our earthquake evacuation route out of the building to the “safe zone”. At first for me it was quite exciting, but soon I realized some of the staff at ACM were somewhat shaken by how strong it was (pun not intended, but I decided to leave it) – apparently it was the strongest one that they’ve felt in San Pedro for a while. It was all my family & neighbors were talking about when I got home – the phone was ringing every 5 minutes with family calling to discuss where they were when it happened and what it felt like (and check if everyone was okay). Apparently it was a 6.1 on the ricter scale, lasted about 20 seconds, and the epicenter was 45 km southwest of San Jose. There weren’t any deaths reported from the quake, and only minor injuries and damage close to the epicenter. Oh – the other weird thing… it was Friday the 13th…. spooky.

Finally, Saturday we had our “goodbye party” with ACM: all of the students and our families went to a park for a day to spend the day together: playing soccer, swimming in a pool, a large delicious lunch, group dance session with our instructor Roy, piñatas, and just all-around fun with our friends and families. The soccer game is a tradition: the students (los gringos) vs. the family memebers (los ticos) – The ticos supposedly win every year. Well we were darn close: we were ahead nearly the whole game, until we ended up tied 8-8 with only a few minutes left. The ticos managed to score a last-second goal to win the game 9-8, although I’m still convinced that we actually ended in a tie (I thought we were still up one when they scored that goal). The afternoon dance session was also a blast: my host mom was out there showing off her moves and heckling our dance instructor and fellow students – I knew she was fun, but it was the craziest I’d ever seen her!


Posted May 28, 2011 by rwieme in Uncategorized

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