Snapshot of Europe

I’m completed embarrassed that it has taken me almost a full year to post pictures and stories about my trip to Europe! I’m very busy and in heavy procrastination mode, so naturally this is the time I chose to write about Europe!

July 2012, Aimee and I headed to Europe for five weeks of backpacking. With having done barely any research and made very few plans this trip was bound to be an adventure! Here’s what our route looked like: Ireland -> England -> Czech Republic -> Germany -> France -> Belgium -> The Netherlands -> USA.

This trip feels like it was ages ago and I don’t want to bore with too many details, so here are some of the points that I remember the most:

1. Aimee cannot understand anyone that speaks with an accent (meaning I was in charge of asking for directions and help).

2. Nutella is the best food ever and goes well with everything.

3. Paris subways stop running at 1am and it’s extremely easy to get lost underground. The police will promptly yell at you to leave when wandering around trying to get out.

4. Everything in Ireland is cheap and amazing! Watch out for biting ponies though.

5. On Wizz! Airlines, people will literally race to the plane from the gate…run fast or they will take all the good seats!

6. Speculoos. Greatest thing ever. Especially in ice cream.

7. Drinking and eating fries with fun toppings in Brussels city center is the best way to end a trip.

8. Being in Amsterdam during Gay Pride weekend makes the people watching exponentially greater.

9. Every city has some huge tower, monument, or church that is famous and you must climb. Kept us in great shape.

10. “Friends” is watched and understood in every country. Quoting Friends is a universal language.

11. Trains are great…except when a four hour ride turns into eight and you can’t understand what’s happening because the announcements are in German.

12. Sleeping in airports is totally acceptable. Just find a nice corner and use your bags as pillows.

Overall, this was an amazing trip and I’m so blessed that Aimee and I were able to have this experience.ImageImageImageImage

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The Borlaug Institute

Recently, I’ve been accepted into Texas A&M University (yay!) and one of the great things about that school is that The Borlaug Institute is housed there. Most people that are familiar with agriculture have probably heard of a man named Dr. Norman E Borlaug (1914-2009).

Dr. Borlaug has earned the title “The father of the Green Revolution.” His passion was in agronomy and humanitarianism, which earned him many awards including a Noble Peace Prize. Dr. Borlaug worked with creating new varieties of wheat, making them higher-yielding. This seems like a simple feat, but the long-term results have been more food security and food supply for countries such as Mexico, India and Pakistan. While Dr. Borlaug didn’t do this alone and isn’t the only one to credit for such improvements, he is highly regarded in the field and had a major impact.

The Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture at Texas A&M University is building off of Dr. Borlaug’s legacy and work. Their goal is to help students, faculty and others to work and make an impact in international agriculture. They work to implement programs around the world to help improve food systems and security, offer training programs to professionals and serve as a resource to everyone.

The Borlaug Institute offers many programs around the world, from the Peace Corp program to programs for high school students. By working with the institute, you will gain knowledge and probably travel experiences that will help to educate you and help others.

The work that the institute does is great and something that I hope to be a part of in the fall when I start school 🙂

The institute also is a great place to stay up-to-date on news in international agriculture through their Twitter (@BorlaugTAMU) and through their blog (Dispatches from the Globe). I highly recommend that you start to follow either (or both) of those resources.

Learn more here.

Jardín Botánico Lankester

Another beautiful place we visited on our trip to Costa Rica, was the Jardín Botánico Lankester in Cartago. This botanical garden is part of the University of Costa Rica to promote enjoyment, conservation and education. They focus on sustainable use of the epiphytic flora through scientific research, horticulture, and environmental education and pay special attention to orchids.

I don’t know much about different types of flowers and plants, but this was a really beautiful place to visit and spend an afternoon. It’s open to the public and you can even purchase flower cuttings to take home and plant yourself. Enjoy!

Linda Vista

During my two-week trip to Costa Rica, we visited several very interesting horticulture companies, gardens, conservatories etc. The first place was in Linda Vista, Costa Rica. This is the location of a growing and production facility for Ball Horticultural Company. Ball is the leading North American producer and distributor of ornamental plants and their seeds.

One of Ball’s largest facilities is the one that I visited in Linda Vista.It’s a truly beautiful place and was very interesting to watch the workers trim and breed the ornamental plants and flowers.

Hope you enjoy some of my photographs from the visit!

Ball Hort

Ball Hort

Ball Hort

Costa Rican Overview

Last year, I was able to take a two week class trip to Costa Rica and Nicaragua. We were able to drive through most of the country, visit with locals and learn about the different agricultural products those countries have to offer. It was an incredible trip and opportunity to visit such beautiful countries.

Costa Rica

Map of Costa Rica

The service and tourism industry has taken over Costa Rica recently. The service industry now represents over 70% of their national GDP with industrial at 22% and agriculture coming in third with only 6%. While this is a big change and a dramatic decrease in the agricultural GPD, 14% of the workforce is in agriculture.

The main exports and products that Costa Rica produces won’t be a shock to anyone – coffee, bananas, pineapples, sugar and ornamental plants. Familiar companies such as Dole, Del Monte, Ball Horticulture and Grupo Acon play large roles in production across the state.

Check back later this week to see more of Costa Rica and its beautiful products 🙂