By Eleanor Patel and Avery Marshall
We started the day by eating at a buffet in our hotel, which consisted of waffles, cereal, fruit, yogurt, eggs, and more. Next, we got prepared to go surfing at one of the beautiful beaches here in Costa Rica. Once we arrived at the beach, we put on sunscreen and skipped out on the bug spray for once, and went to test the water. To our surprise, the water turned out to be quite warm. While waiting on our surfing instructors we played in the ocean, jumping over waves and splashing each other, and experienced the local animals that included many types of crabs, including hermit crabs. Once our instructors arrived, we got a lesson on riptides, their dangers, how to avoid them, and how to see them coming. We also learned how to control your surfboard while in and outside of the water and what to do when you see a wave you want to catch and everything you do afterwards.
Later, after practicing getting up onto our boards in the sand a couple of times, it was time to head into the ocean. We started by catching small waves and quickly learned that balance is a key component to staying on your board. Some other things that we learned were to get up fast, bend your knees, keep your feet apart, and that you must find the sweet spot on your board in order to stand up and surf. We took a short break in which we reapplied sunscreen, drank water, and had a few snacks. Once we got back into the ocean, we caught about six more waves. After we finished surfing, we were covered from head to toe with sand and could not wait to get to our next event.
The next thing we did was go to a waterfall that was only known by the locals and was very serene and peaceful. There we rinsed off the sand, looked at the beautiful view in front of us, swam with our friends, and ate sandwiches for lunch. Once we got back to the hotel, it was time to relax for the day. The majority of us didn’t get enough water and went swimming in the hotel pool and played fun games. Next, we all took a shower before dinner and had time to pack, play pool, drink smoothies at the hotel restaurant, and prepare for dinner.
For dinner, we went to a nearby restaurant called La Fogata and had pizza and pasta. To end the night, we had our last A.N.C.H.O.R. and shared a lot about what we thought about the trip. This trip has been the adventure of a lifetime that we will cherish forever. We will never forget the bonds, friendships, memories, and knowledge that we have gained, and we leave this wonderful country better people than when we arrived.
By Thomas Boren and Marcus Humplick
On day 6, we started with a goodbye from us to Cecilia, which made us all terribly sad. After we said our farewells and thanked Cecilia for an amazing stay, we took a bus ride all the way to Dominical. We entertained ourselves with cards and lots of conversation throughout the bus ride. We stopped at a supermarket with an hour left of the three and a half hour drive and bought a bunch of snacks to eat during the bus ride to Dominical.
Once we arrived to this small town, we stopped for lunch near the beach. When the bus stopped, we all quickly ran down to the coast and were splashed by waves while we skipped rocks. The water surprised many of us as we were not paying attention and got a nice refreshing splash from the sea. After a long bus ride, many of us were hungry and we gulped down cheeseburgers, quesadillas, and spaghetti. After eating, we drove all the way to the entrance of the canopy tour. During the bus ride, we were all very excited to be zip lining and hunting down animals with our eyes.
When we arrived, Javier took our order for a pizza dinner while some of us explored and bought souvenirs related to the rainforest. Then, we all made sure we had applied large amounts of sunscreen and sprayed ourselves with just as much insect repellent. The tour guides geared us up and prepared us for the canopy tour ahead. During the walk up to the zip lines, we saw wild chickens, large rodents, lots of leaf cutter ants, bats, and to our dismay, spiders. Everyone was about to explode as we saw the first zip line and immediately began choosing an order for us to cross. However, the excitement had to be held in as a sloth appeared through the trees and began sprinting at an amazing 1/8 MPH. There were eight zip lines in total and each one as good as or better than the last. One zip line lead us to a tree in the middle of the forest. This tree held an observation deck and allowed us to see everything around us. A sloth held onto a branch right below us, but we soon had to leave the observation deck.
Once we were done, we hiked down to the entrance where we ate watermelon and again went to the gift shop. The experience was short but incredibly epic. Still, all good things must come to an end, so we hopped onto the bus and headed to the hotel to check in. We explored the hotel area and saw lots of iguanas and lizards climbing throughout the trees and houses. After a long, exciting day, most of us were ready to cool off, and raced towards the pool. We swam around and played Marco Polo, and sharks and minnows. We showered to get the pool water off and got ready for dinner. It consisted of some of the best Pizza in Costa Rica! Then we headed back to the hotel for some rest. Those were just some of the highlights of day 6.
By Alex Jacoby and Fletcher Ratliff
This morning in Costa Rica, we woke up to a nice breakfast consisting of toast, eggs, bananas, pineapple, and tortillas prepared by Cecelia. Shortly after, we piled into the bus and headed into the Costa Rican cloud forest. We then arrived at the Quetzal Paradise Park and enjoyed its nice view of the valley with hummingbirds feasting upon nectar from nearby flowers as well as from feeders.
Our fearless leader, Javier Cano, led us to the trailhead for a short but sweet hike. On the hike, we encountered many things such as a waterfall, a plane crash, and out-of-breath chaperones. After our long trek, we made it back to the Quetzal Paradise restaurant and enjoyed trout, chicken, rice, beans, plantains, Coca Cola, and sour guava juice. Afterwards, we returned to the bus and headed back to Santa Maria de Dota.
Once arriving we took advantage of some downtime consisting mostly of basketball and multiple games of Uno, before returning to the house of the former principal of Escuela San Raphael. We had to return to finish our paintings of traditional Costa Rican houses that we had started the day before. Within an hour and a half and multiple packs of Oreo cookies, coffee, and ice tea, we had completed our new souvenirs from the village of Santa Maria de Dota.
After returning to Cabinas Cecilia, games of basketball and Uno began once again to fill in the time just before dinner. Around a half hour later a delicious dinner consisting of beef, rice, beans, broccoli, and tortillas was brought out by none other than Cecilia herself. However, during the middle of dinner, the lights went out and a surprise cake emerged from the kitchen for Alex Jacoby for his 14th Birthday. Javier, our guide, also brought out chocolate and vanilla ice cream. The song was sung and everyone eventually wound down for the night, heading to our rooms to begin packing in order to be ready for the trip to Dominical with a stop along the way to take zip lining canopy tour.
By Amelia Stotland and Annemarie Graham
Today was our fourth day in Costa Rica and our last at the local school. To start it off, we went to eat breakfast at the nearby café we had eaten at for the past couple of days. We had eggs, toast, sausage, watermelon, and fresh squeezed strawberry juice. After the amazing meal, we headed to the school. Once we arrived, we played soccer with the kids. Then the bell rang and the kids had to resume classes. We continued playing amongst ourselves until Javier came with more varnish to finish the benches. Half of us continued sanding and painting the benches, while the other half painted recycled tires to become planters. First, we tried to simply brush off the dirt, but most of it was engrained into the tire. Instead of that method, we had to scrub them with soap and water. Once the tires were clean, we had to wait for them to dry before painting. In order to finish quickly, we went to help the others finish varnishing the benches.
After they were finished, the bell rang and all the kids came running and shouting out of their classes for recess. We had our snack of watermelon and organic bananas grown in Jackceline’s garden. Once it was all gone, we played with the kids some more. When the bell rang again, signaling that classes will start up again, the kindergarten class gathered outside to hit the piñata that was bought to say farewell. Each student who wanted had a turn at hitting it with a bat. After a while, the damage was minimal, so Javier opened it with his hands, and released all the candy. After their pockets and backpacks were filled with candy, the students came back to join us with some ice cream. After that we returned to the planters and varnishing the benches. The planters were now dry so we could start painting them with white latex. We finished a few layers of latex on the planters, and all of the benches. Next, the older kids in 1st, 2nd, 3rd, grade and up came outside for their turn at a different piñata. Only a few of the kids in the younger grades got a turn to hit because there were so many of them. Sadly, our time at the school had come to an end. We had finished all of our work, and we headed to lunch with our homestay families. There, we all enjoyed our final meal with them, and we played with both the kids and the adults. We gave them our gifts right before we needed to leave as a way to say thank you for welcoming us and feeding us delicious food.
At one o’clock, we had to head back to school to meet up with the rest of our group for our cooking class of how to make tortillas. We all had a small role in the preparation, whether it be shredding the cheese, mixing the masa, forming the tortillas, cooking them, and of course eating them. We made some tortillas with plain masa and others with cheese in the masa. Since we had just eaten, we were not very hungry, so we gave most of the tortillas to Cecelia to serve at dinner. We had just over an hour of free time at the cabins before we needed to go on our next adventure. When it came time to leave, it started raining again. We walked to the house of the former principal of Escuela San Rafael to create some traditional Costa Rican art. It was somewhat of a 3D painting on a slab of tree trunk. We used recycled materials and special paints to create different textures. Since we were working so hard on our paintings and being incredibly detailed, we didn’t have a chance to finish them. Tomorrow we will go back and put on the finishing touches. The rest of the evening was quite uneventful except for a few hectic beetle attacks during dinner and some delicious chocolate cake. We finished our A.N.C.H.O.R. conversation, played a few card games, and we were all exhausted from our long day. We will need lots of rest for our exciting day tomorrow!
By Avery Marshall and Eleanor Patel
Today, the Parish Abroad trip to Costa Rica started by heading down to eat breakfast at a local restaurant. There we had a wonderful meal consisting of rice, beans, bacon, toast, and plantains. After the scrumptious meal, we headed down to the school. There, we played an exciting game of soccer with the local students. When the bell rang, and the students had to resume their classes, we finished the game and waited to receive our instructions. We were told that the school needed their benches re-varnished. Before we could add a coat of varnish, we needed to sand the benches down to make the coating stick. After the tiresome work of sanding, we proceeded to varnish the benches. We found that working in pairs made the work faster and more enjoyable. To allow time for the varnish to dry, we played a quick, fun game of soccer amongst ourselves. Once the varnish dried, we sanded down the benches in order to have the second coat of varnish stick. We re-varnished the benches to give them a more in-depth color. Finally, the bell rang and the kids came running to play soccer once again. Once they returned to their classes, we tried to get back to work. We were planning to apply two more coats of varnish to the benches, sanding in between each one, but soon realized we didn’t have enough materials needed and would have to continue with the benches the next day. Now that we had finished our work at the school, we headed to lunch at our homestays. There we enjoyed an amazing meal and played with the local kids and adults. At one o’clock, we headed back to school to meet up with the rest of the group and said goodbye to our homestay families for the day. Once we reunited as a group, we proceeded to play a quick game of soccer before our next lesson. At the school, we were instructed to use natural resources to create a work of art. We were given three rocks, paint, and a branch to attach them to. With these few materials we were able to create a beautiful owl sitting on a branch to hang somewhere around our house. During this lesson, we learned many things about our surroundings and how to reuse things in creative ways. After these many exciting and fun events, we headed back to Cecilia’s Cabins to have some down time before heading out to Coopedota.
Coopedota is a local coffee shop that is one of the few carbon-neutral, coffee-producing facilities in the world. On our way to Coopedota, we learned about how rainy Costa Rica can be. In order to get to the coffee shop we had to dress in rain jackets, umbrellas, and more. There we tasted their highest quality coffee, which was an acquired taste that some enjoyed while others found that coffee was not for them. After drinking the coffee and learning about all the different types of beans, we participated in a tour of the whole facility. During the tour, we learned about the steps needed to make the perfect cup of coffee, how coffee is processed, the difficulties people go through, and how many workers it takes to make this facility run. Once we returned to the coffee shop portion of the facility we learned that we had time to purchase merchandise and food. By the time, everyone was finished purchasing their items it was time to walk back to Cecilia’s Cabins for dinner.
Once back at Cabinas Cecilia, we found time to get in a few more soccer ball kicks before dinner. Dinner was an amazing meal consisting of pork chops (of which Marcus ate five), mashed potatoes, and an assortment of vegetables, and to drink we had homemade limeade. After dinner, we participated in a game called True Colors. To play True Colors each person would choose five cards of different colors that contained adjectives to describe themselves, and then we sat in a circle and learned about what each cards’ color means. Javier explained that each color was a different type of leadership characteristic. He described how each color was different from the others, and had an activity to show us the many differences. To end the night we had our nightly routine of A.N.C.H.O.R. Marcus and Thomas lead an activity that talked about our accomplishments, news, concerns, hopes, obscurities, and read two readings from a packet. In order to settle down we had a nice game of Uno and then had time in our cabins to relax, get ready for bed, and prepare for the next full day of fun.
By Marcus Humplick and Thomas Boren
Day 2 was the most fun so far this trip. We woke up at 6:45 and walked to the town square area of Santa Maria de Dota. We ate breakfast that consisted of yummy pancakes, fresh pineapples, and bananas. Then we headed to the center of the town square where there is a park. We played a name game to introduce ourselves to the program leader, Javier. We then did an exercise that tested our comfort zones using a rope placed in a circle to represent our comfort zones, and when Javier asked a question, we would either stay in the center of the circle, or move outwards according to how uncomfortable we were. We then went to school to learn about the problem with flooding and to plant bamboo trees. We learned that the bamboo helps to soak up the extra water when it is too wet and it puts it back into the ground when the land is dryer. We then met our homestay families who gave us lunch in their homes. We talked to the families and got to know them. It was strange at first being in a new person’s home, but with some time and patience on both ends, things became less awkward. We then returned to the bed and breakfast and got directions for a scavenger hunt/race. We split up and tried to finish everything to get to the finish line on time. All groups had to complete three activities. First, we polished and painted signs with the names of trees on them to help the children in schools learn about the different species. Second, we designed bracelets or earrings for loved ones made of bamboo and beads. Third, we made empanadas for a delicious snack. Once we completed all of these activities, we all reunited at Coopadota, a great coffee shop and favorite of the locals here. Afterwards, we returned to Cabinas Cecilia to have dinner and to talk about day 3’s activities.
By Annemarie Graham and Amelia Stotland
Our day promptly started at 5:15 when everyone arrived at the airport with big smiles and great attitudes. Not really, but we eventually got there. We said our final goodbyes to our parents and the siblings who were nice enough to come. We filled into the security line right behind a large group of D.C. bound students. Although this process was quite lengthy, we managed with small conversations about past traveling experiences, and what we wanted out of this trip. Once through security we made our way to our terminal. Of course, with a few stops at Aunt Anne’s for some cinnamon sugar pretzel bites and frozen lemonade. We boarded without issue except for some spilt change, and we were in Houston before we knew it.
Because we landed in Terminal C in Houston, we needed to go all the way across the airport to get to Terminal E. With the idea that we had plenty of time to spare, we stopped at a small store so those who needed gifts could get them. While we did get our gifts, the main objective was clearly snacks. Realizing that our plane was beginning to board in less than 5 minutes, on the other side of the airport, we booked it to the Skytrains. We all crammed into the small train car as it promptly lurched forward with alarming force, rendering quite a few of us off balance. We finally get to the other side of the airport and hustle to our terminal just in time for us to board.
We make ourselves comfortable in the very back of the plane preparing for takeoff, but it does not come. We continued to wait and heard quite a bit of commotion behind us with the flight attendant screaming, “We can’t leave with empty spaces; we’re missing too much stuff”. Thirty minutes go by and still no take off, but we cannot leave out the maintenance lady who came to help and solve the problem. While she did eventually solve the problem, first she had to start an argument with the attendants about their miscommunication and whether or not they did not have the correct things. We eventually took off and hour later and safely made it to Costa Rica.
Everyone found their bags, and we managed to keep everyone’s passports in their possession. We boarded the bus with our leader Javier as we continued on our route to Santa Maria de Dota. Snacking on Oreos, special Costa Rican bananas, juice boxes, and delicious Costa Rican chicken and cheese pastries, we played games, took naps, read books, and any other sort of thing to keep us busy. Javier told us that the reason why some of the roads were under construction is that Costa Rica sits on the faults of many different tectonic plates that cause earthquakes. We made a quick stop at a local shop before arriving at our home for the next few days, Cabinas Cecilia.
Cabinas Cecilia is in the middle of a big coffee plantation, so there are beautiful gardens, many different species of wildlife, and all the decorations in the adorable cabins are homemade by Cecelia. We unloaded the bus, placed our bags in our rooms, had a short meeting, and from there we had a little bit over an hour before dinner of free time. We started by playing basketball and passing the soccer ball around, until we all merged together in one group, and played some sort of soccer related game in teams of 2, and boys vs. girls. The weather started out with a light drizzle, but progressed quickly to a total downpour. We kept playing until about 20 minutes before dinner, and we took that time to clean up and get ready.
Cecelia prepared a delicious dinner of rice, beans, and chicken with tortillas and vegetables. We all ate so much and even went back for seconds multiple times. After diner we played a few failed games of Uno and B.S. (bologna sandwich) before we had our A.N.C.H.O.R. talk with Javier. We discussed our appreciations, news, concerns, hopes, obscurities, and read a few quotes. Then, we all went back to our cabins to get some sleep and prepare for the adventure of tomorrow.