Pop Quiz #7

Test your knowledge on the flora and fauna growing along UGACR campus trails and throughout the Monteverde Cloud Forest here in Costa Rica. You never know when a trivia night will call for tropical ecology facts…

Q: How many species of wild orchids are there in Costa Rica?

A. 30,000               B. 1,600                C. 600

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Habitat for Humanity: Costa Rica, Part III

As part of UGA Costa Rica’s Housing and Household Economics Maymester program, a group of eight UGA students and two faculty members traveled to Puntarenas, Costa Rica to participate in an international Habitat for Humanity build as a service-learning component of the experience. During the four-day build, students chronicled their experiences via journal, detailing feelings and experiences related to the build.

Join us for a three-part series summarizing their endeavors. Make sure to read Part I and Part II also!

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Habitat for Humanity: Costa Rica, Part II

As part of UGA Costa Rica’s Housing and Household Economics Maymester program, a group of eight UGA students and two faculty members traveled to Puntarenas, Costa Rica to participate in an international Habitat for Humanity build as a service-learning component of the experience. During the four-day build, students chronicled their experiences via journal, detailing feelings and experiences related to the build.

Join us for a three-part series summarizing their endeavors. Read Part I here!


Day three brought with it both difficulties as well as positive experiences.

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Habitat for Humanity: Costa Rica, Part I

As part of UGA Costa Rica’s Housing and Household Economics Maymester program, a group of eight UGA students and two faculty members traveled to Puntarenas, Costa Rica to participate in an international Habitat for Humanity build as a service-learning component of the experience. During the four-day build, students chronicled their experiences via journal, detailing feelings and experiences related to the build.

Join us for a three-part series summarizing their endeavors.


The first day’s task could be summed up in a single word: dig.

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Weekend Snapshot: Promoción de la Salud en San Luis

Forget Men in Black, today’s post is all about women in blue.

On Saturday, June 6th, nursing students from Georgia Highlands University Health Science program geared up in their royal blue nursing attire and transformed the nearby San Luis community center into an educational health fair, complete with face painting and give-a-ways.

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Humans of UGACR

As it is with a number of developing projects, Humans of San Luis is undergoing some changes – and we want to keep you updated.  Because the objective of this photo series is to focus on a range of subjects, from tourists to students to locals, we believe a more appropriate, all-encompassing name for the project would be Humans of UGACR. The intention of Humans of UGACR was, and continues to be, to share the thoughts (epiphanies even), that come from people visiting, working, and living within the community surrounding the University of Georgia Costa Rica campus here in San Luis, Monteverde.


Today, we meet Elisa Mata Leitón, a local coffee farmer who takes time from her gardening and craft-making to weave tour groups through her hillside of coffee plants, banana trees, and root vegetables, informing them of her organic coffee and sugarcane growing processes.

How do you feel about your farm being organic?

I feel good because we know that what we are eating and producing isn’t contaminated, for us and for other people.

Why do you enjoy giving tours?

I like to communicate with people even though I don’t speak English, but I like to share with others. It is also a way to provide a bit of income for my family. When Alvaro was well he also used to help me with the tours, but lately it’s almost always me. But I like it.

Do you remember your favorite things that tourists have said to you?

People say that I give a very nice tour and they enjoy being here and extracting [the juice from] the sugar cane. Also [they say] that I am very fortunate to live in such a place with a beautiful view. I like San Luis, I like it here because we have peace and tranquility. If we live in the cities there are many people, a lot of noise and I don’t like this. I like living here.

~ Elisa Mata Leitón

Blog post contributed by Alex Fylypovych, UGA Costa Rica Photojournalism Intern

Medicinal Garden Tour

I’ve wound my way through the medicinal garden a number of times, passing piper plants, lemongrass, and angel’s trumpets, and sharing my findings with you. Just when I thought I had crossed everything off of the garden to-do list, like observing the oddest plant, tasting the sweetest leaf, and guessing correctly between lemongrass and citronella, I turned a verdantly opaque corner and nearly shish-kabobbed myself on this:

Would you believe me if I told you this plant isn’t dangerous?

Hint: You probably shouldn’t.

The Sandbox Tree, Hura crepitans, its bark in particular, has toxic properties. Stay away, right? Wrong. The kicker is that Costa Ricans once used the tree to harvest food. Here’s how it worked: because the tree is typically found in riparian environments, fishermen used to slice up and grind the bark of the tree, activating and releasing the toxic sap. They would toss the bark into streams to poison fish by way of stunning. The paralyzed fish were then easier to catch, and were killed after regaining consciousness in a bucket and supposedly detoxing, therefore becoming “safe food” for Ticos.

This practice of fishing is now banned in Costa Rica, not only because of a direct threat to human health (contact of sap with eyes can cause temporary blindness), but also because the toxic sap is enough to kill other organisms in the streams.

Two points, Costa Rica for taking steps to keep your streams clean!

Blog post contribution by Alex Fylypovych, UGA Costa Rica Photojournalism Intern

Humans of San Luis

“Usually we cut stuff, bring it back to the lab, and then draw it. But here we’ve actually had the chance to go outside and sit down and actually observe… [My professor] Gene always says, “if you’re not willing to sit down with it for three hours, don’t draw it. Cuz you’re gonna get bored.” And he’s right, because you really need to take the time to explore how the plant or bug or any other animal functions before you can really understand how to draw it. Because with different flowers, the stem comes out different ways and each thing is individualistic, it’s really unique, and it’s important to get that correct in the drawing. It’s really necessary to our major. We need to know how things connect, how they go together. I mean if you’re just drawing a picture of it and you’re not making it accurate, what’s the point of scientific illustration?” ~ Taylor Harrell, UGA Scientific Illustration major