¡Hola! On December 29th, we will be in the city of Alajuela.
Introduction: Alajuela city is the second largest city in Costa Rica. It serves as a large metropolitan area and is also the capital of the provice of Alajuela. Alajuela is described as a “laidback city with a friendly Tico (colloquial term for native Costa Rican) population”.
History and Significance: Costa Rica, along with the rest of Central America, never fought for independence from Spain. However, Alajuela city served as a strong supporter for independence. Following the end of the Mexican War of Independence (1810-1821) the authorities in Guatemala declared independence for Central America.
In 1856, Filibuster William Walker overthrew the Nicaraguan government and attempted to claim other countries within Central America. Alajuela is most famous
for being the hometown of Juan Santamaria, a Costa Rican national hero who sacrificed his life in a battle against the forces of William Walker.
- Home to the Juan Santamaria International Airport
- Trade center for cattle and sugar
- Famous coffee growing region called “Sabanilla” is in Alajuela
Things to do:
- Enjoy the nice weather in the city’s central park.
What can we expect?
- A buzzing metropolitan area with a lot of local transportation
- Statues and landmarks in dedication to Juan Santamaria
- Fabio Tour – During this day we will get a tour of the Fabio station and learn more about the Anaerobic digester and the treatment of wetland. We will also begin preparing for our team projects.
For more information on Alajuela:
In the afternoon, we plan to travel to the Guanacaste Province. We will be staying at Hotel Guadalupe.
8 AM: In the morning we had a traditional Costa Rican breakfast. We then departed for Fabio station to learn more about wetlands and anaerobic digestion.
9 AM – 2 PM: Fabio Experimental Station
Fabio station is a center developed with the University of Costa Rica to test out experimental theories on a large scale. Two main parts of the station are the wetland and the anaerobic bio digester. We began by discussing how solid waste such as food waste and plant matter are broken down through a series of steps to generate two main products: biogas and fertilizer. From this chemical and biological process, toxic water is created. To clean this water, a wetland system is set up to remove toxins from the water.
Because dead organic matter will reintroduce toxins to the wetland environment, a maintenance cycle is done on the system. This means that approximately every week, one square meter of the plant matter in the wetland is removed and replaced. This insures that the plants stay healthy. We got the chance to help remove some of the plants from a floating mat in the wetland.
After this, we went on a hike through Fabio station to explore the other parts of the station. One very unique aspect of Fabio station is the various plants grown for experimental research. It is through this research that the University of Costa Rica hopes to gain a better understanding of agriculture and agricultural, environmental, and ecological engineering.
2 PM-3 PM: We ate traditional casado lunch at Cafe David.
3 PM-6:30 PM: Drive to Tileran, Guanacaste
The drive to Tileran took approximately 3.5 hours with a helado (ice cream) break. We arrived to Hotel Guadalupe in the evening and had dinner.
8:30 PM-9:00 PM: Group Discussion:
In the evening, we met to discuss an article that we all were required to read. This article highlighted many of the truths and difficulties of environmental and ecological engineering. One of the main takeaways from this discussion is the differences between environmental and ecological engineering. At the end of the discussion a question was posed: are humans part of the ecosystem? It was largely decided that in fact we as humans are an important part of the ecosystem and should consider this when making engineering decisions.
9:00 PM-10:00 PM: Team meetings
To end the night, we met with our design groups to begin brainstorming ideas for a solid liquid separator that would help filter solids entering the wetland at Fabio station.