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Costa Rican Global Navigators in the Land of the Volcanoes

On a warm and sunny morning, the Navigators left Isla Chira behind them; they bid farewell to the island which had hosted them and loaded the boats one last time for the mainland. They had spent the last few days studying the island's sustainable practices, and were now ready to take this new understanding and apply it to a larger scale. What happens-- they wondered-- when we apply the same sustainable mindset to meet the needs of the entire country? To answer this question, they would spend the next module of their course studying Costa Rica's sustainable energy practices from their new launching point of Guayabo.


The Navigators toured this Geothermal plant in preparation for their lessons on the pros and cons of the energy source.


 They also stopped at the nearby solar plant-- and witnessed one of the drawbacks of this energy source... Costa Rica is somewhat cloudy.

The next day, the Navigators realized they needed to better understand the main types of renewable energy used by Costa Rica. The instructors said "Hey, why don't you make some posters about them?" and the Navigators said "Golly gee that's a great idea!" And so they split into groups, each researching either solar, geothermal, wind, or hydro power. When they were done, they presented these posters to their classmates, so that they could all share in the awesome knowledge of the new experts.


Who said making posters wasn't stressful stuff? 


Teamwork makes the dream succeed.


Angela and her awesome team explain the pros and cons of wind power with awesome facts and diagrams. And that triangle.  IMG_7402

Hydro power is complicated. Good thing these experts stopped by to explain it to us. 


David looks like he knows a secret about Geothermal power that he isn't planning on sharing.

Now that they were all experts, it was time to apply their new knowledge. Yep, you guessed it-- s'mores and legos! The Navigators broke into new groups and set to work constructing their own solar ovens (which they would test with s'mores) and wind turbines (which they would test with... well, wind).


Is Chris doing the 1960s Batman dance? I think he is. 


Once you eat a solar oven s'more, you never want the mainstream kind again. 


Mmm... tastes renewable. 


You're certainly doing your job today, mister sun.


Not even Corey knew Corey liked s'mores this much until it was time to eat it.


Chris may have found his career as a wind turbine engineer... so long as they find a way to greatly increase his size so he can assemble them as a giant. 

Once they had finished building their wind turbines, the Navigators did the only sensible thing-- took them to where their bigger brothers lived in order to test them out.


 Instructor Gisella teaches about wind and all the wonderful things it does.

Can you tell which are the real wind turbines and which are the ones the Navigators built??? 


Whoa, I knew Naija was strong, but geez.

If we ever run out of wind turbine sites, we can just get Daniel and Angela to hold them. 

The next day, the Navigators took a field trip down the road to Rincon de la Vieja National Park. Along the way, they got to see a beautiful landscape pocketed with mudpots and hot springs, stretching across the sprawling forest.


A beautiful group in a beautiful place.


They're all thinking, "...if only it were a few degrees cooler..."


 "I have detailed files."


Chris has had enough sulfur for one day.


Waterfalls on volcanoes?! Now I've seen everything! 

As they left the National Park, their instructors explained to them the controversial question of which the park is caught in the middle: as the area is obviously rich in geothermal potential, it would be an ideal location for a geothermal plant-- but this would mean disturbing much of the area the Navigators had just explored. And beyond the loss of this particular ecosystem, it would also set a dangerous precedent for energy projects within the borders of supposedly protected areas-- if geothermal can build a plant there, what's to stop the drilling for oil? The Navigators were now coming to see that even the best alternatives for renewable energy have their drawbacks as well.

They would return to questions like these the next day-- but for now it was time to wash the stress away with some good old fashioned waterfall swimming!


Someday they'll tell their kids about the ol' Costa Rican swimmin' hole. 


If you're not swimming in a waterfall, you're just not swimming. 


They kept getting pushed away by the current. It took four tries to get this picture. 


Katie also found out she's a butterfly whisperer...


...while Sal practices his high fashion.

Now that the Navigators had learned about solar, wind, and geothermal power, they had only one stop left on this module-- the Arenal reservoir, to learn about hydropower. During the catamaran tour of the lake, their instructors explained how this area had once been a farming community, but was cleared and flooded to create the reservoir, a move that many of those displaced are still bitter about. Hydro, as well, had its drawbacks.


We all float down here! 


This happened in less than three minutes after leaving shore. He's king of the world. 


Oh boring, we have to have class on a boat... 

The Navigators now had a firm understanding of the range of sustainable energy practices operating in Costa Rica, and the respective pros and cons of each type. This meant that now they were ready to move on to their final location-- Monteverde, in the Cloud Forests. Here, they would learn about conservation practices to pair with the sustainability module they had spent the last weeks studying. What else would they find in the Forest in the Clouds? Owls? Rain? Only time would tell! 


She's king of the world.

More soon,


Words by Kyle Ritland

Photos by Trevor Ritland