Costa Rica 2018

Student reflections

Gemma – Sadly, now sitting in Gatwick airport waiting a million hours for the flight home we’re all thinking about the last two weeks. For me, my most memorable and favourite moment was releasing the turtles into the sea. I had such a surprising emotional response and it made me completely realise that if I ever had a second thought about studying environmental conservation, I could just look back at that day and I’d be right back on track. I didn’t experience a least favourite moment during the trip. However, the 10k hike through the rainforest was pretty challenging and exhausting. With this is mind, I have to say it was worth it without a doubt. I made friends with the guys from Futuro Verde and was able to swim in the sea!! Being in this tropical ecosystem is amazing and another highlight would have to be the time spent in Monteverde, although it wasn’t releasing turtles, seeing sloths was pretty cool. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the entire trip and would definitely recommend anyone to come here.

Samir – Going into the trip, I didn’t know what to expect  (keeping myself fairly in the dark about the itinerary) and so my expectations were quite neutral. Even a couple of days into it, I was still unsure as we had not done much in terms of CAS. However, on reflection, the work we did with Futura Verde School was the obvious highlight and the main reason for my enjoyment of the trip. Other certain aspects did not appeal to me as I knew they could be done on any holiday if I came with friends or family e.g. walking round San José, but working with the school penetrated that tourist aspect of going away where we were directly helping the community. This was fulfilling and allowed me to understand the ‘once in a lifetime’ feature that the trip was advertised as being like. 

Jordan – In retrospect I think that the trip itself has gone by a lot quicker than I had anticipated. However, the days that we participated in were filled with activities that kept us very busy. Personally, I would have liked people to be more proactive, getting stuck in from the beginning but when they came round it was with smiles and laughter on their faces. For me, the best part of the trip was meeting the students at Futuro Verde school as they are studying the same course as we are but we have more resources to be more successful. I think that the students have had a significant impact upon my way of thinking. I would like to mirror their perseverance to succeed in spite of obstacles. Overall, I think that this project was well worth it because we were able to go and do stuff that you would never be able to do anywhere else in the world and I would highly recommend going on this trip if you are able to.

Patryk –  After a two-week journey of discovery in Costa Rica it was time to come home and look back at the trip. The trip had me excited for a long time before we went, and when we landed in San Jose I felt relieved. The air was dense, and it was warm. Skipping the hotels and drives, the main feature of the trip for me was the visit to our link school of Futuro Verde. The first impressions were surprising, the school was so open, with monkeys jumping in the tress, and all classrooms being open, with no windows. I felt so welcome straight away. The integration with the IB students, who are doing the same course as me, but half way across the world felt amazing. They spoke much better English than expected and it was easy to make connections, such as everyday life and IB jokes. I also immediately met my music soul mates of Mateo and Geo. Each day we could bond whilst munching on their delicious, nutritious food. The thing I loved was the interaction between year groups, in which they all talk to each other and chat ordinarily at breaks, which I feel that we lack over here. This was enforced during their peace practice, which we had the pleasure of attending. The year groups were split up and mixed with other students, and we reflected on our lives by focusing on the IB profile. This prepares these students much more for the IB and reflection and ToK is much more familiar to them. This allows them to grow up to be so much more balanced people, and it allows you to know yourself so much more, opening a door to appreciate life more. Additionally, it was fascinating to see how our charity work helped them and what it can do in the future. I also felt extremely proud by being able to help with their garden and recycling, although small things, they were jobs which had to be done and help them to focus on other things. The ecosystem of Costa Rica grew on me more and more each day. Specifically, when we walked through Cabo Blanco with the IB students. As we walked they showed me things I could never see with my own eyes, the flowers, birds, plants. At the end of that walk we reached a stunning white beach, with clear blue sea, as its waves crashed on the shore. Furthermore, we were approached by monkeys which took our bananas. I realised then how close Costa Ricans connect to nature which is around them every day, and they learn to live with it instead of against it. There are loads of people out their helping nature to sustain itself and help it survive against humans. As I raised money to pay for the whole trip, I felt very blessed to be able to see the other half of the world, and it was a worthwhile experience.

Atlanta – Being in Costa Rica has been an incredibly eye-opening experience for me. I feel inspired more than anything, inspired environmentally- at how Costa Rica is carbon neutral despite not going without vehicles etc. Inspired to change- at how little changes we make could benefit our world so much. But I also feel more inspired to help. Costa Rica is an incredibly warming community- everyone we came into contact with was so welcoming. However, these people are dealing with plastic washing up on their beaches that isn’t theirs and there’s no justice in that. It also became apparent to us that education in Costa Rica is in a state of emergency – there has been no school for the last three months due to strikes and every child in 11th grade sitting their national exams or GCSE equivalents will fail. Futuro Verde was one of the only schools in the peninsular that is offering these exams and it is this I feel, made us all aware of the power one person has to help create change. Although I overcame lots of challenges in Costa Rica the highlights outweighed them several times over and I would definitely visit again.

Caitlin – The thought of coming home is a bittersweet one. I’m definitely sad to be leaving Costa Rica but at the same time I’m ready to come home, knowing the memories I have made on this trip will stay with me forever. Within the past 2 weeks, I have been able to develop friendships with people I already knew but also connect with new people that I would never have met otherwise. My time in Costa Rica has definitely taught me to be more aware of things happening around me, and not to take things for granted just because they seem normal to me. The trip has also opened new doors for me, for example I’m currently considering going to volunteer at Futuro Verde School for a few months during my gap year after I finish my diploma. Overall, I think that the lessons I have learnt within this time will have a big impact on me and my choices in life.

Evan – It’s sad to leave Costa Rica. I’ve experienced things here In a way I haven’t before through our reflective and appreciative approach to the trip. There have been so many details in the ecosystem, the local people and projects that we have been fortunate to encounter and which have changed elements of my attitude towards life. I feel more internationally minded and conscious of our society’s areas of ignorance. I have become more aware of where there are many different ways forward to those we follow as the ‘right’ ones e.g. towards health and the environment at home. Whether these changes will last or are just part of being caught up in it all I am yet to see, but I definitely hope to re visit Costa Rica and will cherish the memories it has made for us all.

Costa Rica 2018 – Day eleven

Sightseeing and shopping in San Jose – our last day in Costa Rica

We started by taking a tour around the parks of San Jose before progressing into the city centre and visiting the National Theatre, as well as seeing a number of museums and art galleries. The main street in San Jose was an assault on the senses – the smells, sounds and general hullabaloo that comes with a big city was exciting, if not a little frightening – it felt like we were the only tourists in town. We visited the central market, enjoyed some weird-tasting ice cream, which the locals seemed to love and haggled like mad to get the best prices possible. Evan scored the deal of the day by buying two football shorts for $4 – bargain!

Our time in Costa Rica was coming to an end and after an event free couple of hours in the airport we headed for home.

Evan – I enjoyed our last day in Costa Rica. San Jose is my kind of city: vibrant, artistic, and a tad chaotic but still modern, clean and civilized enough to be leisurely. Some of us started early in the hotel gym (which was as sweaty as you would expect from a small, un-air-conditioned, window-walled room under the equator) which had us ready for big last breakfast to prepare us for the day. We walked out into the city via some of its historical parks. Lead by the clueless DJ Swanwick premium tour co., we learned about statues like that of the first Costa Rican woman, (who was also the king and the Virgin Mary) alongside umbrella wielding conquistadors and the tallest bamboo tree in the world. Jokes aside, San Jose’s sounds and colours were awesome; a notable component of its busy atmosphere was the teacher protests, which have put most Costa Rican public school students out of education for months. At our main destination – the central market, we stopped for local ice cream before splitting off to haggle for whatever caught our eye in the range of tightly packed stalls. I personally came away with an authentic ‘branded’ rucksack for a price leaving me a tiny bit guilty for the then frowning shopkeeper, and a couple $2 football shirts amongst my fair share of tourist tat. After that, it was back to the Hotel to get the bus to the airport for the dreaded 11-hour flight, which I won’t expand upon. Nice airport and a bit of free time to enjoy the free coffee (mum) and chocolate samples and an airport decathlon (me).

Costa Rica 2018 – Day ten

Bags packed, house cleanish – let’s get to Aronal and the Balbi Hot Springs! After enjoying yet another sore backside from the wonderful roads of Costa Rica and a nice stop off to enjoy the views of Aronal lake and dam (purposely flooded to generate energy from water power) we made to it the springs. What an experience!!!! The springs heated from the Aronal volcano were opulence personified. They consisted of a number of pools all set at different temperatures with the hottest being almost unbearable and not conducive with healthy sperm production – thank goodness for the chilled plunge pools. The unbelievably steep slides were insane and I was just grateful that I did not do myself a serious injury at the bottom. Jordan certainly experienced a painful wedgie. After a couple of hours fun and relaxation we enjoyed a spectacular buffet resplendent with a smorgasbord of delights including fruit, salad, a range of delicious mains and all manner of deserts – Samir managed to sample everyone of them.

The day finished with a marathon coach journey into San Jose; our final stop.

This morning started slowly- we had previously made plans the night before to visit the local town but with us all being so tired we decided to take our time, sleep for a bit longer and digest the busy days that had flown by. For Mr Swanwick however the morning had different plans as he set off for the clinic accompanied by Evan to combat his illness. For the rest of us- we prepared a breakfast of eggs prepared in every way known to man, with all the leftovers in the fridge and cupboards. After we all packed our cases and the missing members of the group arrived back, we all had a half hour reflection session, which really emphasised not normalising some of the things we were experiencing on this trip. Shortly after, we said goodbye to pudding (our temporary pet cat who lived at the treetop house) and loaded with sandwiches produced by Jordan and Samir we took off on the 3-hour journey to the Baldi hot springs.

Atlanta – The Baldi hot springs were not really anything many of us had ever experienced before- there were many different pools that ranged from around 20˚C to what felt like 200, but the experience was overall very relaxing and cancelled out the little tensions that had risen in the group after two weeks together. After we had dried off and dressed we hit the buffet at the hot springs; defo felt like a celebrity A lister for a brief moment. We had a final 3 hour drive before hitting the city lights of San Jose and crashed, waking up for our final day in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica 2018 – Day nine

This morning we woke up eager to volunteer at Centro Cientifico Tropical, the biological reserve in Monteverde. After scrambled eggs and toast for breakfast (thanks to the girls) we got the bus, which we very nearly missed, up to the reserve at 7:30am in the rain, with slightly less enthusiasm than in the sunny 30˚C heat. We met up with our tour guide, Dennis, who spoke to us about what we would be doing, why we were doing it and general information about the reserve. He led us to the tool shed where we collected spades, rakes and wheelbarrows, which we would later use to clear areas of the soil on the sides of the path. Making a clear and flat area in the soil would allow us to see animal tracks over the day and identify which animals are around that particular area. We all put in a hard graft in the rain, getting pretty muddy in the process. All was going pretty well until Dennis told us to take off our shoes and flatten the mud with our feet. The group had mixed emotions about this; Gemma, for example, loved every minute and spent her time sliding around in the mud, while Caitlin was definitely not enjoying the mud between her toes. After cleaning our feet, we set off on a 2 hour hike through the trails in some pretty heavy rain. Hopeful to see some new animals, we were keen to get going. Everyone was wet and cold and we didn’t see any animals on this hike but we were still able to appreciate the different wildlife around us. After losing Mrs Campbell and Gemma, who went on the quicker and more sensible route back, we enjoyed lunch in the restaurant at the reserve, before browsing in the gift shop and getting the bus back to the house. Back at the house, we took some time to relax and chill out before going out on a night hike.

Before the night hike, many of us had almost given up hope for seeing more animals such as sloths, snakes and toucans. However, with the help of Dennis and Norman, who lead us through the night hike, we managed to see all of the above plus a bioluminescent scorpion. This had quite an impact on members of the group (Caitlin cried) who had been looking forward to seeing these animals but had come to the conclusion that we wouldn’t get to see them. Once we got back from the night hike, Mrs Campbell made fajitas which went down very well. We spent the evening simply sitting together and talking, which was the perfect way to end a busy day.

Quotes of the day:

Samir: ‘Oh my gosh, it’s a raccoon!’ seen on the veranda of our house as we returned from the cloud forest.

‘That’s a stuffed bird – it’s not even moving’, on discovering our first bird of the night walk.

Costa Rica 2018 – Day eight

A long hard travelling day

The day started with a delicious breakfast of melon, banana, papaya and pineapple, plus a nice cup of slow roasted Costa Rican coffee at the Tambor Tropical hotel. All of the food that we have eaten during the trip has been freshly produced (no processed rubbish) and the people are incredibly active – no wonder the Nicoya peninsula has been rated as a blue zone because they have an unusually large number of people who make it to 100.

We said our goodbyes and thank yous to the hotel team and Juan Carlos who has been incredibly accommodating and selfless in giving the students many magical experiences from releasing turtles to racing around a plush golf course in golf buggies – what a guy!

We boarded our minibus and headed off to Monteverde with our ever reliable driver Juan Luiz. Luckily the roads were in pretty good condition, although we did experience the usual rollercoaster ride at points along pot-holed roads. We stopped off for Guava (a fruit that is grown on shrubs with plastic bags tied around each individual fruit to stop caterpillars and moisture destroying the crop). The ride up to the cloud forest in Monteverde was simply stunning. We quickly climbed to 2000ft and enjoyed some of the most beautiful views in Costa Rica – looking down the central valley and out to the Pacific ocean below, is a sight that will stay with me forever.

We eventually reached the Tree Top casa (our house for the next couple of days) and the students enjoyed getting lost in the maze of rooms. After finally sorting out the logistics of sleeping areas and bathrooms we settled down to a hearty evening meal generously produced by Caitlyn, Gemma and Atlanta – those girls sure to make a mean lasagne. We also got to meet our guide for the next few days, a friendly guy called Dennis who will be showing us the diverse range of flora and fauna in the cloud forest – tomorrow should be another amazing experience.

Mr S

Quotes of the day:

‘I’ve got to kick this thing before it kicks me’, Mr Swanwick feeling a little under the weather.

Caitlin: ‘It feels like I’m going to have a hernia’, as we hit yet another bump in the road.

Costa Rica 2018 – Day seven

Gemma’s thoughts:

What is a baby turtle called? The last few days have been loaded with anticipation which built up to today’s release of sixty six tiny hatchlings. Literally anything becomes an obstacle to them, from footprints to the masses of drift wood and debris, it felt like something so worthwhile and important to be able to help these 3 hour old turtles in the trek to get to the sea. Everyone’s awe and amazement resulted in Terry and Tilly the turtles, as well as Shelly and Mishell, being encouraged into the next section of their life. At first they were tumbling around in the shallow waves with no strength to resist the swell, one wave later, they were gone. I think for me this was the most emotionally evoking part of the trip and I may have even shed a slight tear. We were responsible for the whole beginning of sixty six lives, and in one pull of a wave, they were into the world.

After releasing the turtles we headed on up to the school and began some service, we were tasked with building egg carton panels to reduce the echo in their music room. This was enjoyable as we were left to our own devices to figure out the best way of doing this. We then split off to help out with the younger years of the school. I went into the second grade classroom to help the students with their ‘Sustainable Solutions’ project which revolved around targeting an issue such as air pollution or deforestation and looking for sustainable alternatives. I think this was really important to see as it showed how, at such a young age, that children are learning about ways to protect our environment. Hopefully with this, all these children will live to care and use the world around them in a sustainable way. It was also really interesting to interact with the children as it is a bilingual school, seeing how the children who struggle with English or Spanish are able to cope in a full class was remarkable. It was also a lot of fun. Something that was also interesting to be a part of was one of the higher level IB English classes which was incredibly engaging. It was an analysis of Macbeth that went into as much detail as it would have been taught back home, proving the international nature of the IB diploma.

Once lunch and a game of footy was over it was finally time to meet as a whole group. Evan and Patryk spoke about our efforts to fundraise for the school and introduced them to the Chique Week video which entertained laughs from both sides of the world. I then spoke a final thank you to everyone who made our visit to the school possible and spoke about some personal highlights. We then all exchanged social media accounts and final goodbyes. Being at the school was such an amazing experience and there are memories and friendships that will never be forgotten.

Now after packing up again and one last swim we are prepped to leave the peninsular behind and head up to some amazing scenery in the Monteverde cloud forest.

Quotes of the Day:

Samir in the pool: “I wish it wasn’t raining, I’m getting wet”.

Mrs C: “Patryk do you want to go back to the school so we can collect your heart?”


Costa Rica 2018 – Day six

Finally, we got to see some turtles (and baby ones at that). Juan Carlos gave the word before we set off for the day and we walked over to the turtle sanctuary on the edge of the grounds of our hotel to see the station where the whole ‘save the turtles’ operation takes place. We saw our first turtles which resonated emotionally for some of our group; both for the prolonged wait to see them after failed attempts and as one of the biggest attractions for the trip, it made some of us close to crying.

Following this we travelled to the school to partake in a special assembly called ‘Peace Practice’, an event that happens every week for all age groups in the school. This particular session was centred on the concept of ‘balance’ and how we can achieve it; as IB students, this is one of the attributes listed on the learner profile and so it was interesting to deeply explore it through this contrasting cultural lens of a whole Futura Verde assembly dedicated to it. The session had a relaxed and amiable atmosphere to expressing inner thoughts and feelings that may have been tougher to do in a more judgmental society, and it really encompassed the happiness and togetherness of the school which we have been welcomed into. After this, we helped with some gardening before experiencing a TOK lesson in the Costa-Rican style of teaching; we learned about the ways of knowing, including sense perception and imagination, covering contrasting cultural experiences on different jobs and practices whilst delving into deeper areas such as the race divide in America and how the lower-class are more similar than we may expect. I personally thought that this approach to the subject was enthusiastic and contemporary, and therefore more engaging because of it. We then went back to the hotel and caught a speed boat to an island which could not be accessed by road. We travelled to see an elderly swami/hippie who had ‘found enlightenment’, and was happy to share with us his outlook on life; this was greatly insightful and inspirational for many of us. Finally, we stopped at the Macaw breeding centre project attached to another Tambor hotel down the road. The best part of this was racing around the golf course in the golf buggies.

Quotes of the day:

“Do it, do it, do it”- Mr. Swanwick, followed by:

“GET OFF THE GREEN!”- Mrs. Campbell

“My 9 kids”- Mad hippie boi

Costa Rica 2018 – Day five

This morning we were suddenly awoken at 6am by Mrs Campbell encouraging us to get ready in two minutes to watch a batch of newly hatched turtles be released, but unfortunately it wasn’t to be as we were just too slow off the mark. Fingers crossed for better success tomorrow – we can’t leave here without witnessing baby turtles making their way to the sea. As things stand, we have to be prepared to get up at any hour to experience this – we await the call of the turtle man, Juan Carlos.

At 7.30am we set off to the school to go on a 10km hike through the Caso Blanco rainforest (the first area of rainforest to be protected by the Costa Rican government). For many years, it was only open to scientific researchers, but is now open a few days each week for the general public to enjoy. After a hearty breakfast of black beans, rice, sour cream (Gallo pinto) and fruit (a slightly strange combination but very tasty) we set off, without Evan, who sprained his ankle yesterday playing football, for the forest. The ride to the rainforest was nothing like driving at home. I know that Jersey drivers complain about the pot holes in the roads, but the craters on the roads of Costa Rica make for a very sore backside. Our bus driver did however manage to skilfully navigate his way through this terrain and only had to move one log out of the way.

The hike through the rainforest was initially overwhelming, being a complete assault on the senses. The natural beauty of the place was awe inspiring. Having studied rainforests for many years it was strange to finally see one in all its glory. After a quick picture we set off – soon to find out that our single 1ltr bottle of water would never be enough. The hike (renamed extreme hiking) was extremely tough. The terrain was treacherous in places and included lots of climbing and descending. At times it was not the best fun that I have ever had, but after a moment of reflection we realised where we were and soon pushed through, everyone was relieved and glad we did. We made it to the half way point, which was an idyllic beach with Caso Blanco island in the distance. The view was stunning and one which will remain with me for the rest of my days. During our break we took the opportunity to go for a swim and ate our lunch on the shore line shaded by coconut trees. The walk back was even more arduous, but we did get to see some monkeys, who ate our banana peels, and a Coati. We finally, made it safely back to the coach drenched in sweat and suffering from blisters.

Back at the hotel we enjoyed a well-deserved dip in the pool before enjoying a pizza from the neighbouring BTEC pizza express. We are still eagerly anticipating the arrival of the turtles even if it does mean getting up in the middle of the night.

Buenos noches and pura vida from Costa Rica.

Quotes of the day:

“You should take a tour on that!” –Samir

“What kind of bird is that?” said Atlanta. “It’s a deer”, said the guide.

Costa Rica 2018 – Day four

Jordan’s thoughts:

Good morning/afternoon. Today I’ll be talking about my experiences during the past 20 or so hours. So to begin things off it was a 2am wake up for me but it was a 4:40 roll call for turtle watching along the beach. Juan Carlos, our guide and the hotel manager, was able to show us the way over the rocks and streams, unfortunately we weren’t able to find any turtles; and on top of that we were less than 10 metres away from our hotel with just a stream to cross, supposedly inhabited by caiman, before we had to trek all the way back for a second 30 minute hike before driving home.

Despite the early morning start, we were able to meet up with the other IB students at Futuro Verde. During this time we helped out with their group 4 project which we had already participated in last year. It started off with them presenting their idea to us, which involved them looking at the issues with recycling and waste disposal in Costa Rica, before we tried to explain what we had done, in poor fashion. After some breakfast at 9:30am we started off looking and sorting through bags of rubbish from a range of places, domestic and industrial to determine how much rubbish different people produce. Obviously, there were some people who got well involved and some who didn’t, however, as one bright soul said “you get out as much as you put in” and this saying was taken to heart by those who were involved. After we had recorded the weights of the different waste materials we set to work on a “Hugelkultur” (German for permaculture) which is a process that involves the use of layering different parts of a hill which allows plants to grow freely and it is a more efficient method of growing plants than what we’re used to.

Soon after we finished building the Hugelkultur, lunch was finally served; surprisingly the food that they served was a full meal that was more than enough for some but really nutritious and healthy. The kids at the school are known to have some skill in volleyball; but my gosh they were impressive, not just because they were good but because everyone was getting involved no matter the age. This was a sight I’d never seen before as what I’m used to isn’t what I should be expecting from the trip. Regardless, after lunch we did a little bit of research for the Group 4 Project before the end of the school day. At this point, the temperature was at a high with everyone sweating, it got even worse with the prospect of Mr. Swanwick finding a table tennis ball before we got into a heated game going head to head. This worsened the sweat problem. Approximately 20 minutes of hard sweaty table tennis later I gave in and Samir played for a bit. During this time I was able to see what would later become the bane of my day, Hip-Hop dancing, but before we got stuck in me, Mr S and Samir were able to play some footie with some younger lads who exceeded expectations and thrashed me and Samir in a 2v3. Finally, the time had come, the dance class, after sweating profusely playing football in the heat it was 1 hour of cardio I did not need. Although looking back on it I really enjoyed it no matter what anyone says; it was a fun experience that literally sucked me dry of all body fluid. To put it into perspective the instructor said to pretend that you were a waterfall – I didn’t have to because I was sweating so much. After gruelling through the 1 hour session that was Hip Hop I realised stuff I hadn’t before like how good a dancer Patryk is and how bad my hand to eye coordination is and how much fun something can be if you just apply yourself to it.

Finally, we made it back to the hotel for yet some more exercise in this instance it was some more volleyball with Juan Carlos and some Futuro Verde students which was enjoyable because my team won, obviously! Eventually we grabbed some food, such as shrimp nachos, before heading off to the hotel. Overall, I found today pretty exciting and fun because I just got stuck in, no moaning or groaning I just did it, which is something that I’m grateful for because I feel like I have changed for the better.

Quote of the day:

‘Pretend you’re a waterfall … I don’t have to!’

Costa Rica 2018 – Day Three

This morning we woke up to an incredible sunrise and began to prepare for a busy day. Our bus was scheduled to pick us up for 7 but arrived at 7.30 which gave us time to apply sun cream. On our way out of the complex we were surprised to find that the pre-school at the end of the road was an IB world school which emphasised the enormity of the principles we’re gaining and the experiences we are fortunate enough to have, it also enforced our own international day away from ‘Chique Week’ at Hautlieu. We proceeded to Futuro Verde School which we were all excited about, having heard so much about the school and long anticipated arriving. We had a breakfast of pancakes, omelettes and fruit which as a group went down well, along with asking and receiving questions from the IB students we had met from the other side of the world. After a brief introduction we had a 40 minute Journey to Mal País to Zip Wire through the forest. Upon arrival and right up until the first of 8 Zip wires I didn’t think this would be an issue for me, but it presented more of a challenge than I thought. I did however persevere and making it to the end was incredibly rewarding.

The pre-school run by a lady called Sonya was our next stop after the Zip wiring. Sonya was an incredibly inspiring person who changed each of our perspectives in a different way, she also really influenced our opinions of Costa Rica and shared with us her story of life here. After spending some time with Sonya in her amazing environment we returned to Futuro Verde to spend some time bonding with the IB students from the school. The afternoon was spent at the IB co-ordinator, Stuart’s, house which just gives you a rough idea of how different their culture varies from ours. We engaged in two activities meant to connect us with the Costa Rican students. The two activities included a scavenger hunt and a creative ice breaker, which left us with a few friends. The real ice breaker, we soon found out, was in the mini bus on the way back, when we played songs such as Despacito, Taki Taki and some Shakira, which included both Spanish and English verses. The inclusion of both languages enabled us to all sing together but in the language we were most comfortable with. It’s this shared experience that we all found most valuable. We later returned to Tambor Tropical, where we are staying, and refreshed in the pool before dinner. That evening we saw a specular moon, and watched the fire flies before our early start the next day. – Atlanta

Quotes of the day:

Caitlin when Zip wiring upside down; “Let go! You what?”

Samir when being told we’re turtle watching at 4.40; “seize the day! No, that’s still night time”.

Evan on his hourly vlogs; “Hey guys, so I’m just doing a poo”.


Costa Rica 2018 – Day Two

A lot of firsts for us during our first day on the Nicoya peninsular yesterday. The day started bright and early (very bright), with a walk along the beach, a refreshing breakfast and a vibrant ferry trip across our first Costa Rican morning. Music pumping and fish jumping, the head boys danced whilst others gazed at the tropical birds and islands along the ferry trip. The A.Ms wildlife highlight award goes to the pelicans. At our destination, wading in sweat we lugged the luggage to the coach where we got our hands on some coconuts which we sipped from all the way to our hotel. Tasted like fizzy water if it was flat. Arriving at the hotel, we were amazed. In my experience, accommodation in foreign land is the type that starts disappointing and grows on you with struggle, but that wasn’t the case here, cheers mum. We took some time by the pool then went for lunch, I tried a popular local fish dish (ceviche) which was alright but not fish and chips, but its freshness was much more fitting to the climate. When we got back, I personally took a moment to stop and appreciate our situation. I was lying looking up at a couple Macaws (highlight animal of the PM) bursting with colour up in the trees. We talk about preserving the environment in jersey, but it’s hard to really understand why until you experience a place like Costa Rica. The ecosystem is so diverse, and so respected by the locals; they just naturally get it in a way we don’t. And, although I’m yet to see a bin which isn’t recycling or a tap which isn’t sign posted with a plea not to waste water; I’m yet to see a body of water without plastic waste floating around. This is where our waste ends up.

We ended the day with a bus ride bumpier than a pubescent teenager’s upper back to a sunset beach walk to ‘Banana Beach bar’ for dinner. We missed the sunset and they didn’t have bananas at banana beach, but the food was great and the walk involved hermit crabs and a hilariously weak attempt at long jumping a stream from Jordan. Another bumpy ride and some singing saw us home for some reflection and sweet dreams, awesome day.

Quotes of the day

‘It feels like every switch in my body is being flipped off, one by one‘’ Evan.

‘Not sure I like this manky melon’ Mr S   (it was papaya).

Costa Rica 2018 – Day One

After an early start and 12 hour flight we made it into San Jose airport. We were warmly greeted by our coach driver, Mr R. We then drove through some lush green countryside before arriving at the Mar Y Mar hotel in Puntarenas one and a half hours later. The students and Miss Campbell enjoyed a swim while Mr Swanwick had a kip. We are currently sat outdoors enjoying a wonderful evening meal of burittos, quesadillas and more. Local time: 7.50pm (that’s 2.50am Jersey time). Me thinks that we will sleep well tonight.


Atlanta: ‘It all looks like something out of an ESS textbook’.

Welcome to the 2018 Costa Rica trip page

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