Entry 2: June 21-29, 2011
It’s hard to believe that our trip is coming to a close. However, I must say the second half was equally as awesome.
June 21st we went to Volcano Poas and the La Paz Waterfall Gardens. I had never been to an actual volcano before and it was really awesome. It was definitely cold and right when we got there it was too cloudy to see anything. Literally all you could see was white over the railing. So we went on a 15 minute hike, that seemed to be entirely uphill, to a lake overlook. Absolutely remarkable. When we made it back down to the volcano the sky was perfectly clear and it was probably one of the coolest things I have ever seen. However, the waterfalls were just as cool, but I had no idea I would be seeing more than waterfalls at this place. There was a mini exotic zoo where I finally got to see some of the world’s most beautiful creatures. I saw jungle cats taking cat naps, had butterflies land on me in the butterfly garden, witnessed the beauty of a scarlet macaw with my own eyes, held a toucan on my arm, watched monkeys playing, and got eye to eye with a red-eye tree frog. After the animals we saw the casita exhibit, which portrayed Tico life 100 years ago and then we made our way to the waterfalls. The first waterfall we saw was around 85 feet, but the second, White Magic, was 125 feet. We were able to get close enough to this one to get right in the mist of the waterfall. They were awesome.
Our third weekend in Costa Rica was spent in Montezuma. And I must say that Bali, Lorri, and I had quite the adventure. We wanted to see the Montezuma waterfalls, and I assumed that they would be easily accesible. San, a local of Montezuma, was our life saver. He helped us venture down the river, literally in the river, to get to the first two waterfalls. The first was simply to look at and the second was huge. The current was so strong in the water of the second one that we weren’t even able to sit on the rocks. So San takes us up the mountain to the third waterfall. It was a decent size and there was a rope swing out over the water. So Lorri and I gladly took this opportunity and jumped. After we were satisfied with our adventure, San took us out of the jungle and showed us some small swimming holes out on the beach to wrap up our journey. Had I known I was going to have to conquer the jungle I would have been better prepared, but I think hiking in rainbow flip-flops bumped me up to champion status. Other than that we spent most of our time hanging out on the beach or at Chico’s. We also accomplished some Pacific coast shopping while we were at it.
We wrapped up our trip with a tour of Café Britt. We learned a tremendous amount about coffee and its history, but my favorite part was getting to simple everything available in the gift shop. I was able to wrap up my gift purchases for my friends and family back home too.
The Tico culture is one of a kind and Costa Rica is awesome. I hope that I can definitely come back here one day and as far as this trip goes, everything was pura vida.
Entry 1: June 8-19
Wow. That is about all there is to say about Costa Rica.
The town of San Joaquin is small. It closes down early and gets started even earlier. Every morning the rooster beside my house goes off at 3:30… and then again every hour. My host family is great and they really make me feel at home. I expected the living situation to be difficult, considering this family doesn’t speak English, but it is even harder than I imagined. The families here are really close and I must say I live in a full house. There are seven of us: madre, padre, me, and my four host brothers.
June 8th we visited Valle de Orosi, Ujarras, and Cartago. We checked out some ancient, beautiful Catholic churches.
Our first weekend here we went to Pozo Azul. I rode a horse, zip lined, and went rafting through the Sarapiqui jungle. It was absolutely beautiful. There is something about the nature here and it is the greenest green possible. The flowers are exotic and the birds are fascinating. Our rooms at Pozo Azul were actually giant tents with beds in them. It was like roughing it in style. The showers were solar powered and this place was definitely the epitome of ecotourism. Despite the bugs and ridiculously loud howler monkeys that were located right outside of our tent, it was a really awesome experience. On the way home we went stopped by the Tirimbina Biological Reserve and learned quite a bit on the history of chocolate. We were able to witness the entire process and we even got to help out. I can’t think of a better way to wrap up the weekend.
Our second weekend was spent on the Caribbean coast. Lorri, Bali, Cecelia, Jessica, Emily, and I went to la playa negra. The sand was volcanic and black. The place we stayed was phenomenally landscaped and had a natural pool formed by earthquakes and filled by the Caribbean Sea. There were sloths hanging in the trees right above the pool. Speaking of, Bali and I went to tour the sloth sanctuary and got to get up close to those remarkable creatures. We all ventured out to a reggae/calypso concert Saturday night.
Our social work at La Asociacion Obras del Espiritu Santo wasn’t able to work out for us, but we did get to go for one awesome day. We learned about the association and played with the children for a few hours. That is a great program that does a whole lot for the children of San Jose and it is drastically expanding itself and making improvements. God definitely has awesome things in store for that program.
Since the orphanage didn’t work, we currently are able to teach English classes at the public library and visit a local nursing home.
I’ve collected some awesome souvenirs and improved quite a bit on my Spanish. The culture here is very different and studying abroad is a life changing experience. I dove headfirst blindfolded out of my comfort zone and I’m getting along here just fine. The first half of this trip has been incredible.