I’m Christian Gehrke, a recent graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University (OWU) from San Mateo, California. I am down here in Costa Rica to both be a sort of liason between Geoporter and OWU, but also volunteer for Geoporter and help the community of Bahia Ballena until the end of August.
Now how did I get here, you may ask? Well, the answer is basically a mix of luck and right timing…and I suppose a little bit of skill on my part. I frankly need to rely on that skill, since before coming to Costa Rica, I was able to speak about five words of Spanish. But, I’ll have you know, I’ve been down here for over three weeks now, and I can confidently say that I know almost 16 words at this point, and counting – I know, I’m a fast learner. The people have been very understanding and patient with me, which I cannot thank them enough for.
One of the ways I distract the locals from my complete ineptitude in learning and retaining their language is with one of the instruments that I came down with, which is a drone with an attached camera. One of my tasks while I am down here is help update the aerial imagery of the area, mostly Bahia Ballena, which hasn’t been properly updated since 2001. This is helpful for Geoporter in terms of mapmaking, analysis, reference, and more. It’s also fun for me to see the reactions of some people when they see it fly.
The cool thing about this drone is that you can control the angle of the camera while it’s flying, so after I have captured the straight-down images that can be stitched together, I like to angle the camera up, and you’re able to see just how beautiful a place this is; the ocean, the mountains, the clouds, I find it all breathtaking. I honestly think I was a bird in another life, and this drone helps me tap into that inherent love of seeing things from above.
Anyway, the three-plus weeks that I have been down here have shown me a lot, about the country, myself, and they have already given me a unique perspective, which I know will shape my mindset as I go into the future. I don’t know exactly what I am going to be doing after this, and I honestly don’t know what I want to do after this, but already, this experience has helped shape my mindset as I prepare to go even further into the ‘real world.’ I look forward to seeing what the next four weeks will provide. ¡Pura vida!