We are back in Las Cruces! (well, we were in late January, when I should have written this post :) )
Since I already have a post about Las Cruces, I have a few more things to add….
The ride from San Jose to Las Cruces is about 6 hours. We stop on the way in the mountains for breakfast. It’s always a shock to get off the bus: after being in fairly warm San Jose, then in the temperature-control of the bus, to step into the fresh (and by fresh, I mean contrastingly cold) air of the mountains.
This is the place where we stop. It’s one of few rest stops on the way, and they carry a variety of things. There are tropical fruits for sale, all sorts of sweets, and there is a restaurant . The restaurant is buffet-style, and seems to focus on serving mainly fried foods: Lots of types of eggs/omeletes, tortillas/fried doughs, sausages, and of course, gallo pinto. It’s good to be conservative when choosing which foods are going to be in your stomach when the next fews hours ahead are winding through the mountains!
When we arrived at Las Cruces, the staff showed us a snake they had recently captured in the garden (Reason number one why to always wear close-toed shoes!). I can’t remember now what type it was, though there’s a good chance that it was a terciopelo (aka fer-de-lance).
This time on the walk through the garden, I caught a shot of the prayer plants. You can see the difference in the positions of the leaves. The ones on the left are all folded up (looking like hands in prayer, hence the name), while the ones on the right have their leaves in the position to catch as much sunlight as possible.
This time while we were in Las Cruces, there was group of biologists from throughout Central and South America there to take a graduate course. It was interesting to meet even more people from many different countries and to practice my Spanish. There are many different dialects of Spanish, and despite having become pretty good at understanding ticos speak, it was difficult to understand through the accents of some of the students from other countries. They were all working on independent projects, and on my free day, I spent time with a group looking for leaf-miners….
Leaf miners are the larvae of insects that eat the tissue inside of a leaf (called the parenchyma, thank you Dr. Klemow and Bio 122 ;) ). Since the miners are damaging the tissue that they are eating, you can distinctly see the patterns that the miners leave behind them as they munch. The path starts out small (because the larvae was small) and becomes wider and wider until the insect is large enough to move on to the next stage of its life and leaves the leaf. The group was studying the patterns the larvae make: do the larvae munch haphazardly through parenchyma or do they navigate around the veins in the leaves? It turns out that the paths tend to go around the veins, and that when the larvae do cross a vein, they more frequently do so through the thinner parts of the veins, towards the edges of the leaves.
Also in Las Cruces, there is a HUGE strangler fig that is composed of many trunks with a space in the middle (where the tree that they strangled used to be, before it died). Because there are some many gaps and holes, it’s easy to climb inside, and you can easily climb up about 20-30 feet (then there is a bee hive in the tree, I wasn’t going to mess with that!).
Again, we’ve had some awesome panoramic views from Las Cruces.