Who? Marieke Tichler, third year student of Animal Management
What? Research on the reproduction of the wild nutmeg tree
Where? Drake, Costa Rica
Why? 'I wanted to do research in the jungle'
'Life in Costa Rica was the complete opposite of life here. Everything was much more relaxed! I stayed with a nice host family, together with my fellow internship partner, in a little cabin by the sea. There we were, in the middle of nowhere. The nearest village was an hour's walk away, and had two bars and an internet cafe. Sometimes with internet, even. Our hostess was a real gossip and liked to spy on everyone, but she was also very motherly. We had to get used to the food. We ate gallo pinto, or rice and black beans, three times a day. Quite something, having that put in front of you at six o'clock in the morning. Once a week we got pancakes, and my joy knew no bounds.
We set out early every morning, and the first obstacle was the clay hill you had to climb to reach the nutmeg trees. If it had rained, the hill became a waterfall and you had to slither and clamber your way up it. Then you were grateful for that substantial breakfast. In the rainforest we were mainly busy counting fruits and seeds on the wild nutmeg trees, so as to estimate their reproduction rates. We also observed which animals ate from the trees, and how much they ate.
There are many rare species of birds in Costa Rica and I also saw a lot of monkeys. The capuchin monkeys came up very close; they were cheeky and tried to chase you away. My fellow intern once ran away with a troupe of monkeys chasing after her. But if you growled back at them, they backed off. There are many snakes too. When I was climbing a waterfall, I almost stepped barefoot on a poisonous adder! The work was tiring at times, but the surroundings were incredibly beautiful. I spent five months living in a paradise.''