Welcome to the 2016 Costa Rica trip page
We will post information here useful in the build up to the trip and while we are away will try to post updates or photos on this page as well.
Latest update. We have arrived safely in Gatwick. The connection to Jersey has been delayed due to fog earlier today causing some delays. We currently expect to depart at 13:00 (50 minutes later than scheduled), but please check Jersey arrivals.
27.10.16 0630 Jersey. The group are well in to their flight (BA2236) to Gatwick. You can track it’s progress using this link http://fr24.com/BAW2236/b6e753e
Wow, what a trip! It has gone by so quickly but we have experienced so much. Today we visited a volcano , saw humming birds and coffee plantations and had a lovely last lunch of… you guessed it… Cassada….meat, rice and beans. A lovely way to blow the city out of our hair and remember the beautiful scenery we have seen over the last 12 days. I am so proud of each and every one of the students, they have really done Hautlieu proud. Our bus driver ‘Drew’ captured the essence of the trip when he thanked the students and explained that many people come and go but even the Ticos ( Locals) don’t give back the way our students have done at every stage of the trip. Thanks to everyone for a fantastic trip, students and staff, and for memories which will last a lifetime.
Wow! How to start a reflection on such an emotional yet incredible day? From the moment I heard the itinerary for the trip I knew that this day would be one of my favourites. Visiting the orphanage, invoked a maternal response within me which I can admit, as a wannabe teacher, I do feel fairly often when helping young children. Today made me realise that the needs of the children were not the basic ones such as food, water etc. They are emotional. This struck me when a young four-year-old girl called Alison sat in my lap and just leaned against me; she didn’t want to play or be creative, she simply wanted to be held. The fact that I could help this small child by simply giving her attention changed the way I viewed the needs of the children. I can honestly say I will never forget that girl. The needs of these young children are not materialistic; for example, by letting one of the older children plait my hair and spend time together, I had made her happy. When asking if she wanted her hairband back she said it was “un regalo”, a present. This hit me hard. This young girl who had nothing, not even parents, was willing to give me the one thing that she had – for simply giving her my attention. Leaving today was definitely one of the hardest things for me. Trying not to cry in front of my peers became extremely difficult and I can honestly admit I am in tears simply reminiscing about the day. I will never forget the smiles, the shrieks of laughter and the simple atmosphere from today which I will take so much from. I am sure we are all now looking forward to returning home, with just two days left dedicated to travel. So from me, until Jersey Airport Arrivals, Adiós!
Tom was so popular with the children, they were hanging from him all morning, that he was exhausted.
Alright, reflection time.
Today has been one of the hardest days for service. We had to wake up earlier than usual, to get more time with the jobs that needed to be done. The maintenance team (which I was part of) was asked to help with the painting of the roof panels.
This wasn’t as hard as many other jobs, however, it took up most of our time. We collected the panels from the reception, then took them outside to be dusted and painted white. To many of you it may sound long and boring, but personally, it went quite quick. Looking back at all of our work for the communities we have visited, it shows how much a little bit of help can make a big difference.
Our work today would have taken the team at the orphanage a few days to complete, just like our work at Monteverde Reserve. It also shows how much we take for granted. We rely on machines to do our work for us, whereas, these people can’t afford lawnmowers or hoovers. It’s been a fantastic trip, we have seen so much; turtles being hatched and set free, a different look on education, the wild animals of the cloud forest. The trip is coming to an end, and we have people to thank. Our trip couldn’t have gone its way without Mr John (Johno), Mrs Wharmby and Mrs Campbell, without their help our trip couldn’t have happened. From all of the students on this trip we thank you all.
Our final meal out in downtown San Jose
But this trip wouldn’t have been as special without our incredible tour guide, Nat. He’s pulled us through thick and thin along with the work of his excellent driver, Drew. They have kept us safe during some tricky weather and road conditions – through floods in the peninsular, long nights and hot days, the crumbling roads up to Monteverde and the crazy traffic of San Jose. Nat and Drew you have been ‘mucho excellente’ – from all of us on the trip and all the teachers accompanying us, we thank you for all your hard work to make this trip as enjoyable as it has been.
Before coming to Costa Rica, we raised money for the orphanage by doing a bag pack at the Co-Operative, and we also had a bingo night, and a cake sale. Which you may or may not know!
This morning, we gathered the clothes to be all bought together, and got into small groups of 3. We each got given paints, glitter, paintbrushes, bubbles and chalk to decorate plant pots at the orphanage. However, one group of 5 offered to help out with the maintenance at the orphanage, such as raking and painting.
We then got onto the coach and had a short coach journey to a Costa Rican B&Q style shop.
In our small groups, we all picked a plant pot, and some fruit, vegetables and herb plants for the children at the orphanage to grow, and to eat. Each group had a budget of $30.
However, when we arrived, our plans were changed because the people we were talking to were not there today, so we had to work around this. Instead, we all helped rake the long, cut grass off of a small grass hill, and carried it away so the children can play on the hill.
After cleaning the grass off, we went over to say hello to the children at the orphanage. The children were timid but so welcoming. They immediately got involved in the activities we offered, despite the language barrier. We all went and did different activities with the children. Firstly, we got the parachute out. The children seemed so content with this, it was really nice to see how happy they were. After this, more people from the group joined, and we got the chalk and paint out and drew pictures on the main pathway down the orphanage. The children automatically attached themselves to us and were hi-fiving and hugging us. We started a game of “ama”, which is the Costa Rican version of ‘it’ with the children which was great fun. Towards the end of our day at the orphanage, we all made friends with the children, and did some activities with them such as paint rocks, help them climb the bars, and drew on the pavement with them. Overall this was a great day, and it was lovely to play with, and to make friends with the children.
Laurent was on the receiving end of face painting by some of the children.
We then had to say goodbye to the children for today to go eat a picnic lunch at the orphanage. This consisted of some crisps, iced tea, and also our own sandwiches which we made ourselves from a selection of vegetables and cheese. We also tried some pink nougat sweets with jelly inside, which was surprisingly good. After lunch we said our goodbyes for today, and went to the city of San Jose. We walked down the main street of the city, and went into some shops. We also went into the market and walked around the for 30 minutes before heading to some monuments in the city.
Our tour guide Nat gave us information about the places we were visiting, for example, the museum we went to was built in the late 1870’s. Opposite this museum was a hotel, which was the first ever hotel to be built in San Jose, but it currently closed for maintenance.
It is Luke Davis’ birthday today, so for dinner the tables had balloons on them, and we all sung him happy birthday, and gave him a card and a cake.
Happy Birthday Luke! Also, after dinner we all wrote down our funniest moments on a piece of paper, which were then read out.
Overall this whole experience has been absolutely amazing, and this day was another great day.
Today we left Monteverde and headed to San Jose; the trip lasted the whole day, with some stops along the way. Our first stop was at a roadside café where we saw toucans and macaws: these birds weren’t in cages, which was a very different experience to seeing them in the rescue centre – they looked much happier and more alive, for example one toucan was pecking at people’s shoes.
Photos courtesy of Lucy
After this we headed towards the Arenal lake: along the way, we saw some amazing views, such as the lake itself and the surrounding foothills.
It was a surprise to find out that the lake was actually artificially formed, and that the hydroelectricity from it powers ninety percent of Costa Rica. In total, the lake covers eighty square kilometres – it was certainly very impressive!
Eventually we arrived at the Baldi hot springs, where a buffet was waiting for us. We then spent three hours in the hot springs, which reinvigorated and refreshed us.
All in all, what we thought would be a dull day of travelling was in fact filled with new experiences, especially discovering some new music on the bus.
By Tom Le Moignan, Logan Temple and Harvey Turner.
Hola! from Costa Rica, today we went to Ecopaz park. The park was created as a public area for the locals to relax, play football, volleyball etc.
In fact, the first part of the word “eco” is derived from a Greek word meaning home which is very fitting for the local park. The aim of the park was to create a friendly area for families to have fun, give back to the environment by planting trees and they tried to recycle whatever they had instead of buying it. The park isn’t a tourist attraction and therefore many tourists aren’t able to take part in any of the activities in the park, this made us feel very privileged and excited to help out.
We were split up into groups to help out around the park, and we started off by planting avocado trees in our groups. These take 70 years to bear fruit!
One group was digging, turfing and filling bags with soil. Another group went around the forest to find saplings to replant somewhere else.
This is part of their idea of trying to do responsible reforestation. This means that they survey the area to find out which trees would be best suitable for the conditions and also which trees were previously located there. This made us realise that there was more to think about than just planting any random tree. You had to understand indigenous trees that lived in the area and how planting non-native trees could affect the ecosystem. The final group did some maintenance of the area by weeding the seating area and the play area so it looked nice for the locals
We ended the day off at the park by playing either football or volleyball.
(This was our tour guide Nat showing off his skills to one of the local players)
It made us feel part the of community because we challenged the locals to a game of football.
Jocelyn and Peyton
To show how much our efforts were appreciated by the staff at the Reserva Biologica Bosque Nuboso Monteverde, we were all presented with a certificate by Dennis, the brilliant park guide who looked after us. Here is Amber receiving her’s.
22.10.16 Jersey. A message from home, please read this to the group.
Hi tour team. Your trip and experiences are making us all very, very jealous. Each morning here, I really look forward to learning about all the amazing things you are doing and seeing. The blog and what you are writing is capturing sights and emotions brilliantly.
I am very proud of how you are representing Hautlieu and Jersey so far from home. Best, Mr Adkin.
Ps. Check the school website twitter feed for teacher gunging video and photos it’s worth it!!
This is an extra post before breakfast because of some superb photos that Lucy took on the Night Walk last night (and some humming bird close ups)
Hola! What a day. We were back in the Cloud forest and started our service, it is amazing how much it can help some people when lots of you do a little bit.
This morning, after a delicious breakfast, we were raking the leaves off of paths so that they are safe and not slippery when wet (which is always, it’s like a rainforest!). Whilst doing this we were able to see some of the amazing wildlife and species of plants. After having done this task, many of us had gained blisters from the rakes, we took a hike to the highest point where, if it had been clearer we would have been able to see both sides of the country, the Caribbean side and the Pacific side, I think my thoughts were made obvious by my exclamation of ‘Oh my god’, making the teachers laugh. The forests below looked to small, with the treetops looking like broccoli and the mist creating a serene atmosphere. After this we went to the large suspension bridge. I was determined to walk this despite my fear of heights, and I must say, I did it, granted I was clutching onto the sides, but I took the risk.
We then returned to the main entrance and on the way we found a sloth! A mother sloth with its baby way up high in the trees. This was astounding for me as I am almost certain I’ve only seen sloths in films. We then went and did an activity with our guide about making a sustainable house, I found this made me completely open up my imagination as I thought of weird and wonderful ideas. As we were leaving the classroom I heard a sudden shriek, someone had found a tarantula!
Of course, I went nowhere near it but it was really cool! Some of the others have gone out for a night tour of the forest however myself and a couple of others ‘opted out’, and hence why you have heard from me twice in a row. That’s all for today I’m afraid so buenos noches! Cerys
I am in danger of over using the word amazing, but the humming birds that we saw are!
Hola from the Cloud Forest!
After having woken up to my roommate (Peyton) shouting at me to tell me to get the crab, which she had found in her sock, out of her room, we started our journey to the cloud forest! This involved a 2-hour coach ride of half-asleep teenagers to the ferry, on which we had an amazing ‘healthy’ breakfast (fast food: chips, burgers, sandwiches). Then arrived back in Puntarenas. From here we had some interesting roads as we ascended Monte Verde with a sing-a-long to The Beatles. During the trip we tried a new fruit for most of us – lychee – it was delicious! I was very surprised to have liked it. We ate lunch at the reserve then got ready to walk.
We started our walk to the waterfall and the reserve was so unfathomably beautiful, I cannot describe how incredible I found it. The sounds were amazing as well with the crashing waves of the waterfall and the birds’ singing.
We saw loads of unusual things when we looked carefully and closely such as a small beautiful red flower on a tree branch found by Eleanor. Personally I found the reserve very calming as it was so different to anything I have experienced. I cannot wait to return to begin helping with the reserve tomorrow. Dinner at the hotel was amazing, the food never stopped arriving with a starter main and dessert. I am stuffed. Moral for today? Check your clothes, try new things, take in the beauty of the simple nature around you. ¡Buenos Noches todos!
Another busy and exciting day is over. After three days helping at the Futuro Verde School the projects were finished with effusive thanks from the staff and particularly the students.
In the afternoon we traveled to a macaw sanctuary and then on to the turtle patrol centre on the beach a Montezuma.
PURA VIDA DE COSTA RICA.
After a rather late breakfast, we spent our final day at [school name]. Our group, the English/Library project group, put our lesson plans into practise and one by one we read aloud to 3rd,5th and 6th grade students; I (Luke) read Esio Trot by Roald Dahl to my 5th Grade students, and I (Cameron) read Eragon; it got quite heated when I accidently triggered a small argument, sparked by the kids trying to decide who should take the book home, so we were obviously doing something right. Unfortunately, we then proceeded to lose the book and shortly following, we lost the students. Whilst this event unfolded, there was total peace in 5th Grade, as the students learnt new language terms and techniques, such as “onomatopoeia” and “connotations.” Following a lunch of rice and beans, our group defused any remaining disagreements which had caused a total mess in the library, and at last the school’s library project was complete… however, whether Eragon will be returned or not shall forever remain a mystery.
Quickly onto the bus, and to the turtle conservation project ran by student volunteers from across the globe, who had relocated turtle eggs further up the beach in a safe, cordoned off area, to keep the baby turtles safe from harm.
After watching their amazing work for roughly half an hour, we finally had the chance to get down and sandy. At the speed of a-thousand gazelles, we found ourselves raking sand paths to the sea, to allow the baby turtles to imprint on the beach for future breeding, and I (Luke) drew the short straw… quite literally… and had the “strenuous” task of handling the turtles, picking them from their container and starting their journey across the seas and oceans to their life in the wild. As Matt and I wiped the final tears of motherly love from our eyes, we watched the baby turtles swim into the Costa Rican’ Sunset.
Pura Vida Tortugas Pequenos… Summa Petamus and all!
Luke and Cameron
The weather has been quite remarkable today, it’s only rained once…it hasn’t stopped since we woke up, and it’s heavy! Consequently, the plans changed many times as we found children hadn’t arrived at the school because the roads were flooded, the biology group were unable to conduct their survey and the turtle sanctuary was closed.
However, we did have a great morning in the school working with the children who had arrived, then playing table tennis during the break.
The change of plan created a great opportunity to visit a Nursery School where the students found out a bit more about the life and culture of Costa Rica and cleared the playground of fallen leaves.
The day was finished with a lesson in how to relax with a one and a half hour Yoga class.
Throughout the whole day of heavy rain, constant adapting plans to suit the weather and new surprise experiences all the students demonstrated excellent resilience and threw themselves into everything with gusto. We have been very proud of their positive attitudes today. Mr John
We had our second day at Futuro Verde school today where we carried on with our different projects. Early on in the morning, three days began to feel too short to achieve everything I thought we would. All the teachers are really chilled and the kids are so cool. The health and safety is much more relaxed which is something we should take on board, health and safety in Jersey now feels way overboard. For example: the PE teacher was helping the kids to stand on tyres and rolling them in the rain on concrete. In Jersey that would only happen with a specially bought roll surrounded by crash mats. I think we’ve ended up too shielded (and this extends to other aspects as well). Because it’s been raining for the whole day (it stopped just a couple hours ago) the turtle sanctuary was flooded and we couldn’t go on the night watch. We still had a good afternoon though as we went to the Only Love nursery founded by Sonia (who’s originally from Jersey!).
We’ve seen groups from afar one or two times until now but never so close. It took for something to hit my head to realise I was standing under one – at least no one’s got urinated on YET. We haven’t heard any of their ‘howls’ as yet. Most of us have heard the noise at Durrell at home but it would be such a different experience hearing what they’re famous for in their natural habitat in the wild. Maybe it’s because all the groups we’ve seen have been fairly spread apart and they don’t interact with each other – although their howls can be heard from 15 miles away (I think about?) so that thought is possibly wrong…
I’m currently sitting outside of the room watching some ants congregate around a spilt something. I thought ants in Jersey were bad but in some not-a-nice-thought way I might just be glad to have them back, these are honest super ants. If we get back home, I’ll make sure to appreciate our ants (but only a little, I don’t want to make them think I like them).
Tonight we went to a yoga class run by a French lady (which is quite a nice reminder of home). We spent an hour and a half there and it was a great hour and a half. It was so relaxing and we learnt how to breathe in a way I’ve never done before – it felt quite weird, but vey zen. By the end we were all in a trance of calm. A lot of us are up for a school yoga group. My mum will have a field day knowing that – though I know that the comment, ‘it took you going halfway across the world to do it’ will be waiting for me.
Pura Vida! Hello from Costa Rica! Today we spent our first day at the Futuro Verde, which is a school that we have strong connections with in Costa Rica. We split up into three groups that all were looking at a different part of the school’s curriculum and how we could help them. The three groups were looking at reading, environmental science and maths. The maths group went to the beach and collected resources to make maths games that the children can use to learn and advance their knowledge. The school had an amazing feel and was very open to the elements which created a very different way of learning. The thing that struck most of our students was the amazing range of languages spoke at the school and the amazing linguistic skills of all the students who were all from a varying range of countries around the world.
After the school we went to do an aerial trekking course near our hotel. This put a lot of our students out of their comfort zones as it was very high up in the trees but everyone who completed the course definitely enjoyed it and would do it again.
We could and definitely should take so many things away from Costa Rica and the school. Simply the mentality of many of the locals is just amazing. They all seem so caring towards each other and the environment. The amount of consideration that they put into the environment when planning projects and especially the plan for the new school is just eye opening. It puts Jersey to shame in ways that we have never realised and we need to bring this back to enhance our lives and the community. Calum and Laurent
Pura Vidaaaa! We went to Futuro Verde school today and we were part of the environmental group. The students took us on a tour around the school, showing us the different types of insects and birds they had roaming around, and we felt so inferior! Their linguistic skills were far more advanced than ours and they knew so much about the environment yet were half our age. It also really struck us how they lived in such a natural environment and were completely unfazed by everything, such as when the rain came in, they were just running about in the mud shoeless and this was completely normal to them.
We were taken zip-wiring in the afternoon, and this really took a lot of people out of their comfort zone (Robyn !!!!) but they overcame their fears and completed the whole course despite the incredible heights (Robyn !!!!).
The Futuro Verde school’s efforts should really inspire schools in Jersey; they’re incredibly passionate about their environment and what they do to impact it, and they get by with so little compared to what we have. We really should try to share their mentality. Lucy and Robyn
It’s evening here; the rain is pouring down, the sky is booming and electric. The day was filled with frogs, geckos, centipedes, iguanas, hermit crabs and howler monkeys!!! We are loving the Costa Rica experience! The children of the Futuro Verde school were so excited to see us and to share their love of their beautiful country. So much harmonious, positive energy – we were all buzzing. Laura and Laurent presented the school with the three new microscopes that our group had raised money for. The students accepting the microscopes were thrilled.
We went from one heady experience to another…zip wiring! Talk about pushing comfort zones and taking risks! What an exhilarating hour we all had – flying above the trees like superman, or upside down or just clinging on for dear life. Looking forward to many more adventures tomorrow! Mrs Wharmby
16.10.16 Dinner tonight
16.10.16 Hola mi llamo Ben. Today we got up about 6:30 and I actually wasn’t tired even though I had jet lag, After this we ate a lovely breakfast but I’m was so hungry I had 5 helpings. Then we caught a ferry to Santa Teresa and I saw a turtle and a stingray which was so really cool but I was boiling hot. Then we went to the hotel to drop our bags off then we went for lunch. My friends and I had interesting food. We then went back to the hotel and relaxed in the pool. We all squeezed into a hot tub together which was hilarious. Finally we went to the Bananas restaurant. Throughout the day it had been amazing I have seen so many cool things and experienced new cultures and new food. Can’t wait for tomorrow. Quote of the day Cameron Campbell “I like pelicans” and Luke Davis “RIP Gerald the gecko”
16.10.16 Hola mi llamo Laura. Penny and I had a fab sleep and woke up at 5:00, showered and were super keen for some fresh coffee. We broke and then rebuilt the coffee machine, which was, in itself, a reflective point for us both. We engaged our pragmatic abilities to overcome this crisis. The end product tasted like brown water (but the coffee at breakfast was great). We were shocked at the vast amount of litter that covered the beach outside the hotel, we also saw this in the water whilst we were on the ferry. All of the year 13’s engaged with the locals and we enjoyed the Spanish dancing on the ferry. The coach journey from the ferry to the hotel was good fun. (Good vibes & mad bants) since arriving at our second hotel, we have all had a swim and bonded well as a group. We are all currently eating dinner in a cute beach hut/shack, the humidity makes the torrential rain that’s surrounding us simply background noise.
16.10.16 After a very long day of traveling yesterday everyone headed down for an early night and a well earned rest. No need for alarm clocks as our bodies are still on UK time so we were up at 5.30 and were very ready for breakfast at 7 in the lovely sunshine. Onwards to the Nicoya Penninsula and our base for the next few days. The ferry ride was lovely and the scenery was like the approach to Jurassic Park. The afternoon brought some time to unwind in the pool and prepare for tomorrow’s visit to the school. We have also seen a full year of weather in the space of 12 hours so we are packing for everything tomorrow, sun cream, rain coats and swim wear.
15.10.16 After a 2 hour coach drive we arrived at Puntarenus and had dinner at the hotel before settling in for the night.
15.10.16 Sadly we were only joking about the upgrade, the cabin staff kindly let us pose in the seats after everyone else had got off.
They are on the leg to San Jose…
Useful information or links: