It was a trip to La Selva Biological Station on the Caribbean slope of Costa Rica as a tourist in 2000 that got me hooked on tropical biology. I will never forget the sounds and smells of the rain forest the day I arrived at the station on a muggy sunny evening as an eager tourist. Parrots and parakeets were streaking across the fields outside the station, flying to the tops of giant ceiba trees in the evening light. I could hear howler monkeys in the forest as I approached, behind the din of the parrots. Walking across the bridge at La Selva was like entering another world. I was quickly subsumed by the deep earthy (greenhouse-like) smell of the forest. The whine of the cicadas then enveloped me, and was only punctuated by the occasional ethereal calls of tinamous as darkness closed in around me.
In March 2007, I took a break from my usual research routine and La Selva to put on a stream survey program for students from a local school. We had a great time getting into the water and learning about the macro-inverts present there. We also learned about bio-diversity and foodweb relationships. The students finished their day with some time for reflective journaling by the stream. The lesson plan I developed was used by the Organization for Tropical Studies for at least several years after I left.