A Trip to Remember

Paige M. Costa Rica 2

Staff Writer

It all started with an announcement one day before school about an upcoming trip to Costa Rica with Mr. Dan Page, world geography and AP human geography teacher, and before I knew it, the day to board an international flight to Costa Rica was approaching at lightning speed. Little did we know that not only would getting on that plane bring us to a tropical and foreign country, but also to exciting new experiences and lifelong friends.

Traveling to Costa Rica for February break seemed like a dream to Jessica Batten, a junior, Emma Gilbert, a sophomore, and I. We were the only three to go on the trip from Woodstock High School. All of us played lacrosse, we all knew each other, and we were all so excited to leave the dreary weather of Georgia behind. When the day came, we said goodbye to our parents, went through security, and still it did not seem real. Not until we landed in San Jose and met our tour guide, Jonathan, did it all become a reality.

Jonathan was a friendly man who fluently spoke English, Spanish, and French due to his many different living situations. When we arrived, it was evening, so he took us to our hotel room in San Jose and left us for the night, and we greatly looked forward to the adventures that would face us the next morning.

As we made our way to the breakfast room the following morning, we realized that we were to meet our other tour partners from Canada, New York, and Massachusetts. All of these groups had around 10 people each and came from Ontario, Albany, and Boston. The itinerary for the day included climbing the Poes volcano, going on an environmental tour, and visiting a coffee plantation. Batten said, “This was a really fun day for me because it was our first full day experiencing the country. We got to see how much the country really does value and protect nature and its surroundings, and the coffee was amazing.” This all occurred in an oversized charter bus, which continued to be our transportation for the rest of the week.

The next day we woke up early yet again, as we would for the rest of the week to follow, and got on the bus to go kayaking on Lake Arenal. After a quick swim in the lake, we continued our journey to the waterfall. We climbed many stairs and seemingly dangerous passageways and finally made it to a beautiful yet forceful stream of water. We swam and relaxed for a while there and then turned around and hiked right back up to the bus again. Our next stop was the hot springs, which were not exactly what we expected. We all agreed that we had pictured ourselves in large craters filled with bubbling water. To our surprise, the hot springs was actually just very large pools of various temperatures in an extremely nice hotel. They were heated by the natural temperatures of the nearby volcano. By the end of the day, everyone in our group was exhausted and surprisingly sunburnt. Kayaking had served as a learning experience, being that when one is nine degrees from the equator, sunscreen is very necessary. Then we boarded the bus with tired eyes and slept all the way to the next hotel.

The next day, Tuesday, was a travel day to the town of Monteverde. We scaled the continental divide on a charter bus, an actually frightful event, but with the help of our bus driver, Carlos, we made it out safely. The bus ride was about five hours or so, but during the trip, all of the travelers discovered new traditions, made bonds, and brushed up on our history of the country. When we arrived at our new hotel, we were provided with free time. Our travel group and chaperones decided to go to the nearby town and do a little shopping. We bought almost all of our souvenirs for others here, and everyone enjoyed ice cream and hanging out with some of the local kids. When we got back to the hotel, we ate dinner and stayed in the lodge for awhile, for reasons that consisted of available Wi-Fi. Once we all had received our daily dosing of face-timing family and friends, we proceeded to our hotel rooms.

Day four was a day that consisted of zip-lining, horseback riding, and planting trees. It is hard to fully put into words how extremely terrifying and exhilarating zip-lining was, but the best way to describe it is being hooked to a power line sized rope, and speeding from one mountain peek to the other over literally jaw-dropping views. It cannot be explained how high up we were, but to show our parents this amazing adventure, one of the other travelers took a video of the event by strapping a camera to her helmet. Only viewing this video could show how truly crazy it was to go on the longest zip-line in Latin America, almost a mile long, and other smaller ones as well. Next came horseback riding. The trails we went on were terrifying for someone inexperienced with horses, but throughout the trip we all learned to trust our horses and became much more comfortable in the saddle. Next we went to plant trees in a nature reserve. After this, we went back to the hotel, ate dinner, and had a bonfire. We enjoyed a native teen playing the guitar for the remainder of the night.

On day five we started the day with a crocodile tour. We took a boat out on crocodile-infested waters and watched in awe as our boat guide fed chicken to the reptiles. We also learned about the native species of birds that flew around the area. Following this event we visited a local Costa Rican school and presented them with the abundance of school supplies and toys that we had carried with us from the US. The smiles on their faces were priceless. We played games with them, got to know them, and even brushed up on our Spanish just by talking to them. We said our goodbyes and then continued back to our new hotel, one of the most gorgeous hotels I had ever seen, and were presented with the rest of the afternoon of free time. Considering the hotel was located right on the beach, we all enjoyed some time in the sun and at the pool, and for my first time, I touched Pacific Coast water.

Day six consisted solely of traveling to Manuel Antonio national park, named after a previous president, where we spent the entire day in a cove at the beach. The water was blue, the sand was white, and there were sloths and monkeys hanging everywhere in the trees nearby. We tediously applied sunscreen, compliments of our previous burn lesson, and enjoyed the day.

Day seven was our last full day in Costa Rica and with our new friends. That night we went to the cultural dinner. We traveled back to San Jose for this event and enjoyed a fancy dinner with native dancing and the most amazing view of the city that one could ever imagine.

This trip was easily the most exhilarating time that I have ever had. I am so blessed to have had the opportunity to go on this trip, and I will always remember it as one of the best weeks of my life. The endless experiences and adventures, along with the friends that we made, will never be forgotten. Batten said, “Mr. Page was such a cool guy to travel with. I wouldn’t have wanted to go with anyone else. His previous visits to Costa Rica in the past helped us navigate, speak the language, and understand the culture.” He presented us with so many opportunities and gave us the freedom that was deserved and needed to get the amount that we did out of the trip.

All students should have an experience like this in their high school career. No matter where the location, it is the most beneficial learning experience and provides students with a chance to meet new people and take on culture in a whole new way. Mr. Page is already recruiting students to go on his Costa Rica trip for next year around the same time. After the trip, Mr. Page stated, “It renews my faith in the future of the United States to be able to interact with other countries, cultures, and people as well as these girls did.” I would easily give anyone the recommendation to go. Gilbert added, “If you get the chance to go, go. I wish I could tell you in words how beneficial and life-changing it was, but you really won’t know until you get the chance to experience international travel with your school.” Though we can try, no words can truly describe the experience that we had; all we can say is, “Pura Vida.”

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Very cool thanks for sharing…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: