A tip of the (chef’s) hat to Romelio at Palo Verde

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It’s been a week since I’ve returned from a month in Costa Rica in OTS’s Tropical Ecology course. As I try to get caught up on life at home, I still keep getting smacked by occasional waves of memories that I didn’t fully process at the time. The four am howler monkey “alarm clock”, two hours after I returned from mist-netting tropical bats at La Selva. The simple elegance of Sean’s hand-made flowers for his bee preference study at Cuericí. The look on Rolando’s face when his plate was piled high at Los Chespiritos. The easter bunny viciously attacking a downed Christmas tree in Andrew’s last two talks. On and on. Et cetera, et cetera. It’s going to take time to sort and process.

Before we all completely return to normal (like Kate’s leg did with time and antihistamines after a nasty reaction to an insect bite), I’d like to give one last shout out to the man in the white chef’s hat in the kitchen at Palo Verde. I can’t tell you how great it was to be greeted with a warm smile and plate of specially prepared gluten-free dinner that was set aside for me while I was out being stung by acacia ants in the hot sun. Thanks for always being friendly, for making such amazingly good food, for seeing our various food problems as a challenge rather than a pain in the ***, and for speaking to me like a small child so I could feel like I understand Spanish better than I really do. Thanks for giving us all a first-hand look at how to work really hard and take pride in what you do. Romelio, patron saint of gringos with food allergies, thanks for being so awesome.

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