In a little less than a month, I’ll be leaving to go to the sunny, blissful paradise of Costa Rica, quite literally, almost a tourist nation with the majority of its revenue coming from tourism. It makes sense, seeing as Costa Rica is a fairly safe country. There are many rankings for which (considering only Latin America, at least,) Costa Rica takes the gold, most specifically: Happy Planet Index in 2009 which also took the first worldwide, Environmental Performance in 2008, Press Freedom and Democracy in 2007, Travel and Tourism Competitiveness in 2008, and Life Satisfaction Index (2006-2007) in 2008. So with the compilation of all those firsts over a relatively short amount of time, I can deduce that if those rankings are worth any of their salt: the Costa Ricans are a pretty happy little tourist country with great environmental standards.
Sounds like my kind of country. Even moreso when you consider there are primates that live in Costa Rica, which will be the purpose of my visit. I am going through the Maderas Rainforest Conservancy at the La Suerte Biological Field Station in order to study primate behavioral ecology for one whole glorious month. And I could not be more excited.
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous: I’ll be meeting people from all over the country that I’ve never met before, I’ll be living in conditions I’m extremely not used to, I won’t be able to have immediate contact with friends and family, and I’ll have to get used to not being able to access the internet on a whim. There will be bees and snakes, and I will potentially ruin many pairs of underwear and pants as a result. But at the same time, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t thrilled to be attempting those things.
The most anxious part of the experience is creating my own research. I would really like it if I could come out and be able to publish something–something that I can contribute to the world’s knowledge. Not to mention, use it to give my future career a jumpstart and have even more reason for grad schools to select me as their student. But as it stands, I’m having an exceptionally hard time trying to think of anything original, or at least, maybe even worthwhile? Whenever I come up with a topic, I immediately rush to Google Scholar and–bam. Already done, or at least variations thereof.
Another factor to consider is that there are only three species of primates (IUCN 2007) living in the area I’ll be in. There are Mantled Howler monkeys (Allouatta palliata), White-Faced Capuchins (Cebus capucinus), and Geoffroyi’s Spider monkeys (Ateles geoffroyi). This isn’t a bad thing because it narrows down the literature of the species I have to examine, but it does make it a little harder considering there are only three and I don’t know the visibility/commonality of any of them in that given population area.
Regardless, until then, I will be anxiously awaiting my experience with the monkeys.
IUCN, SSC, Primate Specialist Group. (April 2007). Primates of Costa Rica. http://www.primate-sg.org/costa.rica.spp.htm.