Hikes ‘n Hot Springs

Establishment Labs has a very good internship structure, and for that reason, we have received many interns from Costa Rican and American Universities throughout the summer. This morning a new intern toured our offices and looked at Christine and me like we were tenured employees -a pretty jarring experience, as we’ve only been here a month. Then again, we’re starting week #5 and we have, surprisingly, fallen into the swing of things very comfortably. Because this is week five, we’ve also published enough blog and personal social media posts that many people know we’re currently doing an internship in Costa Rica and are curious about what we’re actually doing here. I still haven’t found a particularly good answer to this question, as most things I work on are device design, development, and research. All being fields that are surprisingly secretive. Competing companies are trying their best to make their product lines better than one another, which is why we try to keep everything we’re working on so hush-hush. That being said, we’re working on some very cool projects!

What I can say about my project is that I’m working on Class III medical device design (but if you’ve been keeping up with the blogs, you know that by now). The art of telling somebody about your work in the Research and Development department is a tricky one: you need to outline enough detail so that people know you’re not just twiddling your thumbs all day, but not so much that you breach your strict non-disclosure agreements. Over the past week, we have been in the process of reviewing pre-clinical reports for various devices. Thankfully, the FDA  has very strict rules when it comes to animal trials, and no fewer than an infinite amount of reading material on the subject, so there is never a dull moment when it comes to learning how to outline such a trial!

Now that the summer is officially well into its second “semester”, we are also beginning to think about our implementation projects for the year. I will be on the team helping to develop and implement the Consultika app here in Costa Rica, so Sarah, Ahmad, Hannah and I took a short break from work on Friday to meet with our local Costa Rican contact (and GMI alumni) to discuss the project. We spent the entire morning breaking down the Costa Rican healthcare system, how it differs from many other countries, and the pitfalls one should avoid when trying to bring clinical trials here. It’s a daunting task, but we’re looking forward to researching it more in depth this week.

Our cohort seems to have had a healthy balance of Coast vs Altitude when it comes to our weekend adventures. This past weekend we opted for the latter and headed to La Fortuna, a town near Arenal National Park (home to the famous Volcan Arenal aka Arenal Volcano). We kicked off early Saturday morning with heading to the national park. The most embarrassing thing I’ve done so far on this trip was forgetting to pack an umbrella and rain jacket, even though I knew I’d be living in Latin America during the rainy season, but I have since acquired one and am (finally) prepared for the weather! We started our trek up to Volcan Arenal on Saturday morning where the weather fluctuated between sunny and hot and down-pouring and humid. After about 30 minutes of taking our rain gear on and off to either cool down or cover up, the climate decided on a healthy downpour WHILE STILL BEING hot and sunny for another 30 minutes. It was a beautiful hike, so beautiful, in fact, that a few of us were too entranced with looking for sloths and getting lost in nature that we (quite literally) got lost and wandered away from the group. We ended up arriving at the cooled-20-year-old-magma flow way before the rest of the group, where we took a much-needed break to admire the volcano and its lake.

Hiking through the jungle of Volcan Arenal- see if you can spot the sloth! 😉

Hannah and me at the top of the Volcano

After a hot and sweaty morning of national-park exploring, we decided to experience nature in a much more comfortable atmosphere. Many local resorts have capitalized on the fact that they are near a volcano, and its subsequent geothermal energy, and have created a pseudo-waterpark out of the available hot springs. There were varying temperatures of pools, 75 F, 87 F and 110 F and countless natural cave saunas. The best way I can describe the hottest pool is having you imagine getting in a hot bath. It’s the same temperature that makes you think “wow this is hot, but it will cool down in a minute to a perfect temperature and then I’ll be chillin’” except it doesn’t cool down and you slowly boil alive, which was perfect for our sore, muddy muscles! What was not good for our muscles (or any other bone in our body), however, was the water slides that definitely do not abide by any standard of water slide in the USA. In big waterparks back home you think “wow this is high up/ wow this is fast, but I know there is a regulatory agency that is present to ensure my safety so I’m just going to enjoy the ride” but here you think “haha this is fun… hey, we’re going kind of fast don’t you think… Ow, my entire body was just violently bashed the other side of the slide again.” and then it finishes with feelings of sheer terror until you inevitably end up flipping out of the end of the slide, hydroplaning for 15 feet, and eventually sink to the bottom bruised and disheveled. We finished off this relaxing weekend by hiking 500+ steps down to a waterfall and, of course, 500+ back up to the bus on Sunday morning -effectively tightening all the muscles we spent the past evening relaxing at the hot springs. All in all, it was a solid adventure and I would do all of it again but for now, back to work!

The view of the Costa Rican countryside on the way to La Fortuna

500 leagues (steps) under the sea (waterfall)

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