Category Archives: Caribbean

Snorkeling in the Caribbean

June 6th:

Today the group started our morning with breakfast at the Almonds and Corals resort. The group all had a variety of choices for breakfast, all if which were delicous. After breakfast, the entire group got ready and drove just north to a spot where snorkeling is best. Just into the water you could already begin to see large clusters of coral. All around the coral were various types of tropical fish, gleaming with vibrant colors and different stripes and markings. Everyone seemed to really enjoy swimming around and observing this truly unique and complex ecosystem. Some of us had an up and close experience with the coral, as Brandon and I held a piece of fire coral. We had no idea, but the nematocyst within the living coral stung us on our hands, which lasted shortly but was extremely uncomfortable. After observing the coral reefs for a few hours, everyone piled back into the van and headed back to the hotel for lunch.image

Lunch was served to us at the hotel, which was one of the best meals we’ve had so far on the trip. Everyone had a choice of sandwhich, a salad bar, and a delicous desert after the meal. After lunch, the group split up to do a few different things. Tommy and I hung back and relaxed after an exhausting day of snorkeling. Some of the others went into Puerto Viejo de Limon, to shop and look around the town a bit. Dr. Allen observed something quite interesting. At the famous surf spot Salsa Brava, he observed the sewage draining directly into the bay with people swimming just a few hundred yards away from it. The others described the town as a beachy, off the radar town with Afro-Caribbean influences all around it. Chris and Kyle napped for a bit then headed out to beach to enjoy possibly their last chance to swim and enjoy the Caribbean sun. They swam a bit and threw a frisbee around the beach when Dr. Allen and Brandon met them on the beach.

Dr. Allen and Brandon rented some body boards and headed out to catch some waves. The waves were fun, fast, but relatively small, as they enjoyed themselves out on the water. While Brandon was out in the water, he felt a sand dollar on his feet. He pulled it out of the water and set it on the board, looking at the brown outer shell with four holes on top for breathing. The entire bottom was like a red velvet carpet with fibers, which moved as the sand dollar breathed. They talked about how interesting and amazing it was to find and hold something so unique and alive. After finishing up on the beach, everyone freshened up and headed down to the hotel restaurant for dinner. Everyone seemed to have a great time today as most of us had never had a chance to snorkel. Our time is short here, but all of us are thouroughly enjoying the rest of our time here.

~Joey Prokop

Pineapple Plantation and Travel to Manzanillo

June 5th This morning we all awoke to clear skies at La Quinta Inn. We had a wonderful breakfast before visiting the nearby organic pineapple plantation for a tour. While riding in a covered wagon, Michael, our tour guide, explained to us how pineapples are grown and harvested.

Tour guide, Michael, Finca Corsicana

Tour guide, Michael, Finca Corsicana

The Finca Corsicana farm consists of over 3,000 acres and each acre contains roughly 22,000 pineapples. In order to keep this huge operation running, there are approximately 325 employees working 8 hours a day. The company has wonderful benefits for the workers including a clinic, a restaurant, a grocery store, and educational programs. Planters typically make about $60 per day which is much better than the normal $18 – $20 per week that pineapple workers usually make in neighboring Nicaragua. While watching the planting process, we saw that this company uses plastic tarp to prevent weeds in the crop so that they do not have to use herbicides. They also do not use pesticides and use only natural fertilizers. Natural induction is a process whereby the pineapple forms on its own due to weather condtions. However, since this is a commercial process and the pineapples need to be formed all at the same time, ethylene is sprayed on the crop to mimick the natural induction process. Micheal picked a fresh pineapple from the field and allowed us to try it. I have to say that this was the sweetest pineapple I have ever tasted and most definately the freshest. Later we learned how they take shoots from one generation of pineapple to plant for another crop. They also cut the tops of the first generation crop and allow the shoot below to produce for the second year. After viewing the harvesting process and the packing process, we enjoyed some products from the Collin Street bakery. The pineapples produced at this organic farm can be purchased at Whole Foods and other supermarkets in America.

Pineapple field, Finca Corsicana

Pineapple field, Finca Corsicana

After the tour of the pineapple plantation, we left La Quinta for Manzanilla and the Almonds & Corals Lodge. The trip was approximately four hours and there was much to see. The flatlands hosted various agriculture crops, which went from pineapples primarily to bananas near the coast. There were also many rivers that we crossed over and the vegetation became more dense as we approached the Caribbean coast. Limon is a large port and a huge shipping center. The companies Dole, Del Monte, and Chiquita are located here and they ship thousands of containers of fruit from this port. While traveling down the coast, we made a pit stop at the Cahuita National Park. Marco, our tour guide, gave us a tour down one of the trails and we observed various animals and plants. Some of the wildlife that we saw included two-toed sloths, howler monkeys, and leaf cutter ants. The Caribbean beaches looked very nice and the trees grew almost right up to the surf. Upon arrival at the Almonds and Corals lodge, we checked into our rooms. This resort is very unique and very sustainable. The cabins are built over the forest floor and are open to the forest with mosquito netting for walls. All of the grounds are within the dense forest in the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge. A few of us headed down to the beach for an hour before the sunset to catch a few waves. After cleaning up, a delicious dinner was served by the lodge staff. We all look forward to snorkeling over a coral reef in the morning.

Room at Almonds and Corals

Room at Almonds and Corals

- Ryan Baucom