by Marcello Colombino
Time in Costa Rica is going very quickly. Spanish classes are for me a strenuous fight against Italian; the two languages are so similar that I was placed in an advanced class but I cannot help mixing them up producing entertaining misunderstandings. The course is very efficient and I am progressing very quickly: I can now have normal conversations with my host family without many problems.
After Spanish classes we have technical engineering training: the classes are very well organised and Billy, a clinical engineer with 30 years of experience in the field in developing countries, is an immense source of knowledge and good advice. I really feel that, after two years of abstract theoretical knowledge, I can see where this can be applied and how useful it can be to produce a real concrete result. Every day we have a one-hour lecture over one particular piece of medical equipment and a three-hour lab where we learn practical tricks for troubleshooting machinery or building useful electrical circuits.
Last Friday we left San José at 6:20 am to visit a hospital in Turrialba, a very interesting experience because we could practice on the field on some real equipment, which helps getting an idea of what we will find in our hospitals next month.
On Saturday morning we took a bus to Monteverde: a little village in the northeast, which is famous in the whole world for the amazing scenery and its rain forest (which takes its name very seriously and makes sure that there are no more than two consecutive dry hours). On Saturday afternoon we went walking in the forest and we were all very deluded because the place was extremely touristic and the track consisted of a paved street cut in the forest that was level and large enough to make sure that even the largest American tourist could enjoy the “wild”. We later had a night tour in the forest planned but due to the bad experience in the afternoon, a large part of the group decided to skip it…bad mistake… The start was at 5pm (sunset as Costa Rica does not have daylight saving time) and we stayed in the forest until 7:30 pm. The guide was a local biologist, genuinely enthusiastic and extremely experienced. In two and a half hours we saw with our flashlights an enormous quantity of animals: two sloths, a porcupine, all sorts of insects including two stick insects mating: the female is nearly a foot long and a centimetre in diameter while the poor male is only a few centimetres long and a few millimetres thick. We then saw a tarantula, some tropical birds sleeping and loads of hummingbirds.
The day after we w0ke up early again to go zip lining in the forest. The weather was wonderful for a change and the view from the cables was fantastic, especially the ones that were connecting two different valleys and were above the tree line. The bus drive back was hot and uncomfortable but we were all so tired that we slept like bricks the whole journey.
I have to thank Jens for the pictures because i stupidly left my camera charger in London..