In San José . Aug, 21, 2014.


I woke up to screeching birds this morning and had fresh fruit and eggs along with lemongrass tea for breakfast. Costa Rica is awesome. And beautiful. As I indulged in the greenery and flora around me, I had to admit how lucky I am to be here, to be able to study tropical ecology and pursue a research project with biologists and researchers in a country renowned for its ecotourism and conservation efforts.


During my 4 months here, I hope to not only immerse myself in the culture of another foreign country, but also the culture of the wildlife naturalist, the informed and seeker of everything living. I may be diving in the deep-end here as I know little about ecology (except that it’s El Niño this year so I lucked out on traveling to Costa Rica during the wet season), but just being here, surrounding myself with those passionate in science, will get me started on understanding species interactions, a natural precursor to becoming more critical on the myths and decisions made around our environmental impact. Since I strive to be a designer, I also know great design is founded on great research so I must be doing something right placing myself here, at least methodologically speaking, even if where I am is such an exotic (albeit exciting) realm, far away from the tech world. In any case, I will soon be leaving San José, Costa Rica’s capital, and begin studying ecosystems and species in many parts of Costa Rica, eventually landing myself full-on into a research project at a biological station in Monteverde. As the saying goes, ¡pura vida chicos!

Sketching Plants

Here are some fun facts about Costa Rica:

Best cerveza in town!
Best cerveza in town!
  • 60% 0f “Ticos” (aka. Costa Ricans), live in San José
  • 94% of Ticos are of European descent. Most of the indigenous population were wiped out upon European arrival.
  • Size comparable to Sri Lanka or West Virginia, whichever makes more sense.
  • Universal healthcare is the best here in Latin America. In fact, many folks leave their own country to get their dental checkups or cosmetic surgeries done here. Although rural care is still lacking (some areas don’t even have x-rays!).
  • Low infant mortality rate- about 8.5 per 1000 live births.
  • Life expectancy- 78 years. World avg. is 68 (and for the US-centric, 78.5)
  • Officially Roman Catholic, but no one cares.
  • Highest literacy rate in Central America- 96%.
  • Service is 64% of workforce, including ecotourism, medicine/dentistry and online gambling.
  • Agriculture is 14%, mainly bananas, coffee, pineapple & cattle.
  • Tech industry is 22%, of course who doesn’t love the engineer?

Most importantly, you should know that though San José is divided into a grid, there exists no street signs. Ticos here only recognize and give direction via landmarks. In other words, you’re in for a wild ride where everyone just goes and no one knows.

Colones (550 colones is about a buck)
Los chanchos
¡Los chanchos!
San José
En frente del Banco Central
En frente del Banco Central
Train tracks