Costa Rica 2017

   Welcome to the 2017 Costa Rica trip page

13.10.17 @8.20  We are off to Costa Rica.

Arriving at the Sofitel

 

We’ve survived Friday 13th! We started the trip at Jersey Airport, bright and early at 7:40am. It was only a short flight to Gatwick, but everyone seemed to fall asleep on the plane. We came straight from Gatwick via the shuttle bus to the Sofitel which is amazing and dropped off our stuff. Then it was straight on to the train and (a busy, busy) tube. A lot of us hadn’t been on the tube before so it was an exciting new experience for most of us. We had a trip to the Natural History Museum in London where we saw dinosaurs and learnt lots more about biology and other animals (we had a whale of a time!) We were then surprised by the teachers with a trip to Pizza Express where Mrs Campbell and a few of the students explored their musical talents on the piano in the restaurant! With full stomachs we walked briskly to Victoria Station and got the tube and train back to the hotel. We’re now getting ready for a 5:30am start tomorrow morning for the 12 hour flight to Costa Rica!

Bethia, Charlotte M, Beth and Lucy

14/10/17 @2048 UK time  The flight to Costa Rica landed a short while ago… Click here for flight data.

Day 2  14/10/17

Today was an eventful day! Early start at 5:00am this morning for a meet up in reception at 5:45am. We checked in our hold luggage then Mr Moss got us some fabulous croissants/pain au chocolat from M&S. We went through passport control where a couple of us (me, Candice, James, Mrs Campbell) got security checked which was a bit scary. When we got through customs we had an hour to kill at duty free. I have never been on a long haul flight, so when I got on the plane I was shocked at how big it was, and I completely underestimated how long 10 hours was. To pass the time there was lots of sleeping (aka trying to sleep), card playing, watching movies and listening to music. The food was nice, but I regret not bringing more snacks. Once we landed, we spent over an hour queueing at passport control, and then we collected our bags and walked to the coach. We were then taken to a coffee tour where we learnt about how coffee is grown and produced. While this was really interesting and some of us even did some master coffee tasting, which was handy because we needed the extra energy to get us through the rest of the day; we were all so tired that we were delirious. At the coffee tour there was a butterfly enclosure which had butterflies the size of a small horse!!!!!! They were cool, but also quite creepy. Our dinner consisted of traditional Costa Rican food (meat, rice, beans, and potatoes). We then went to a garden centre similar to B&Q to pick up plants and pots for one of the orphanages, and taking all the plants on the coach got us a few odd looks here and there. Once we (at long last) got to the hotel at 8:15pm (EST time) (aka 3am in the UK), and now it’s time for bed!!

Bobo and Candice.

Waiting to depart Gatwick…
About to board the plane.. Here we go…
Waiting to pass through Passport control..
On the coffee tour…
Masters of coffee..
Shopping for the orphanage..
We have plants!!
At the hotel and final instructions before bed!!

Day 3  15/10/2017

Sitting down with a bowl of pineapple at 6am for breakfast was not how we thought we would be spending our first full day in Costa Rica, after a long haul flight. We headed off to SOS orphanage at 8am. A bright coloured mural jumped out at us as soon as we entered the compound. Eyes of children peered down at us as we were sorting ourselves out into two groups; one group to help paint wooden doors and one group to help clean up the garden.  After spending one and a half hours completing jobs, we enjoyed fresh banana, pineapple and watermelon. Bringing with us gifts of chalk and bubbles, we headed up to different houses within the compound to visit and meet the children, and played football and hopscotch with them. Although we didn’t get to spend much time with them, we did have a laugh when the children asked if we were cowboys, due to our wide-brimmed hats. It was surprising to see that they had dogs with them in the orphanage – this is something that we think should be a part of all orphanages as an animal companion can bring a lot of joy to these children who don’t have that much. After parting ways with the children, we took a diversion to a shopping mall where we enjoyed a healthy and succulent alternative to the traditional beans and rice; McDonalds and Subway. Afterwards, we headed to the heart of San Jose. Andreas (our guide) showed us different monuments in the city, including the first Costa Rican theatre and the first railway line. We were delighted to enjoy another healthy snack of ice cream and milkshakes. Friendly faces appeared from stalls when we arrived at the market, trying to convince us to buy all kinds of paraphernalia. Back at the hotel, some of us relaxed in the Jacuzzi and swimming pool, before heading to dinner. After some CAS reflection with Mrs Campbell, we look forward to what we can bring to the San Jose orphanage tomorrow. Until tomorrow, pura vida!

Ellie and Candice

Starting the clearing work..
Cleared for growing vegetables
Painting the doors
Outside the theatre
A little shopping…
Best Wishes to all those supporting Chique Week from us all in Costa Rica

Day 4 16/10/2017

Hola a todos, a very productive day here in Costa Rica, up at 5am, still on Jersey time I guess. First up was the San Jose Orphanage, we were feeling quite apprehensive to meet the children, as we had been told it would be upsetting to leave them later. We were asked to help clean out and restore a house that hadn’t been used for 4 years and was now required. We removed and cleaned all the furniture that wasn’t needed as well as moving the furniture to another house. After some back-breaking sweeping, wiping down windows and running in terror from ‘tarantulas’ we got a bit wet using the hose to finish the job. We then had a lovely snack of bananas, watermelon and papayas… the papayas were left untouched – perhaps not the group’s favourite fruit! We eventually got to spend some much anticipated time with the children later, painting and decorating plant pots. This was a lot of fun and even with the language barrier we all understood each other. This activity left most of our hands and faces in glue and glitter. Our time there ended with some surprise ice creams for the kids, which they loved and we left on a high note after our time with the children.

Finally, we travelled to an ACTIVE volcano, the tallest volcano in Central America, according to Andres, our tour guide. Whilst there, we were persuaded into taking pictures that looked like we were on the moon, for Chique Week’s – Space Day. This was funny. The large craters were very fascinating and very unexpected. Can’t wait to see what tomorrow holds. Hasta pronto!!

Candela and Shelly

So, we have arrived in Punterenas after a long but fantastic day, ready to start the second phase of our trip.  The students were amazing today.  I am so proud of the way they all pulled together this morning at the orphanage.  They  worked really hard in the heat to get the job done, without complaint..(that’s it, in print…teenagers hands don’t dissolve when they come into contact with a dish cloth!!). It was heart melting to see every single one of our students on their knees playing with the youngsters; the noise and excitement levels from both was overwhelming..  After a visit to the volcano we were delighted to hear them sing their way through a 3 1/2 hour bus journey to Punterenas.  🙂

Mrs Campbell

 

Starting the clean..
Removing the furniture…
The big clean…
Polished down..
Washed down..
The hard working volunteers…
On top of the volcano the ground is Hot!!
Chique week Space Day in Costa Rica…

 

Day 5 17/10/2017

This morning we had our first and last breakfast at Puntarenas, which was lovely but it was a lot hotter than we were used to, but on the plus side we saw some really cool iguanas. We proceeded to catch the ferry from Puntarenas to the Nicoya Peninsula which was an incredible experience due to the view with endless mountains and stunning wildlife. It was so different to what we were used to, we thought we understood the ferry experience from having Condor in Jersey take us to France. Upon the arrival in Nicoya, we were instantly struck by the rural areas and the lack of houses, this was unexpected due to growing up in Jersey where there’s an abundance of houses. We then arrived at Futuro Verde, and were given a tour by the head teacher and were amazed by the differences between our two schools, even though we are both now IB schools. Firstly, theirs was more or less completely outside, with a lack of doors and windows and they had children from ages 3-18 all in the same school. This was completely alien to us we have so many different schools for all different year groups in Jersey. We got to see their library which we later found out was the only one in the whole of the Nicoya Peninsula. Instantly this made us rethink what we take for granted at home. After finishing there, we drove along some REALLY bumpy roads to the beach and collected plastic rubbish that we are going to use tomorrow to create a mural for the school. After relaxing at the hotel for an hour or so we walked to the beach to see our first Pacific Ocean sunset which was stunningly beautiful. Hopefully tomorrow will be as good as today!!

Charlotte and Lauren

On the ferry to the Nicoya peninsula..
Not quite St Malo!
Education amongst the trees at Futura Verde school…
Beach clean pacific style…
Sorting the plastics..
Relaxing in the hotel pool..
Breathing in the pacific air.. Pura Vida!
The sun going down over the Pacific..
A Beautiful Pacific sunset..
Post sunset smoothies at the beach bar…
Happy Chique week everyone! From all in Costa Rica..

 

Day 6  18/10/2017

Hola mi amigos,

Today we went back to the school, Futuro Verde, for the second day of activities. Though we were apprehensive, we were eager to be back. We were earlier split into three groups; sports, mural and turtle patrol. We began the day with a talk from the Psychology teacher about mindfulness, which involved a small PowerPoint, a TedTalk and we all learnt to meditate. We enjoyed his philosophy about mindfulness and being more at peace and present in the world. Tranquillity and connectivity was a theme throughout the day, as we got another experience of this later.

After this we had a session of volleyball with the students, which was an enjoyable experience. It was nice to see familiar faces that we had seen the day before, and get to know them a bit more. Volleyball was a good chance to communicate and bond with them in another way other than using verbal language.

We began our main activity today, in which everyone began work on the mural. We had collected plastic rubbish from the previous day, which some of us sorted through in to different colours. Others painted and primed the boards for the mural, while the art group sketched out ideas and plans for the mural. These ideas were inspired by the students who had discussed this prior to us coming. We believe they were delighted with our ideas, and our categorisation of plastics into colours and are ready to begin created the mural with us.

We saw a monkey. It was a good monkey. But it was sad because apparently monkeys don’t travel alone so it was assumed he was an outcast, due to disease, probably leading to death.

Following on, we visited a Nursery, owned by the previous owner of El Tico. She enlightened us on life in Costa Rica, and shared her own philosophy on life. We gave the children play tattoos and were able to play with them. We learnt that we should not let obstacles get in the way of our dreams, our passions and our potential.

We then did some yoga, which was a new experience for many of us. We all were able to release many of our worries, tensions and anxieties. We were lucky to do our yoga on a sheltered terrace and see the wildlife watching us. This was necessary for us to become in-tune with our surroundings, and become one with the earth. It was incredibly sweaty, however, by the end we felt chilled and relaxed.

This evening we reflected on the highs and lows of the trip, how the day went and what we learned. We find this to be a helpful and necessary aspect of the trip, in how we are perceiving these new experiences. It allows us to be more grateful about where we are, what is happening around us and how lucky we are to be here.

Adios chicos…

Chloe and George

Psychology and mindfulness class..
getting the hang of volleyball..
Artistic connectivity…
Sorting the plastics in to a colour palette..
Making connections..
Wildlife on site…
At Love Nursery…
Time for some relaxation.. Yoga style…
Chique week Cartoon day…

Day 7 19/10/2017

An amazing day!! Leaving the Hotel before 7 am and not returning until midnight! A day filled with so many things that the students will remember this day for, I hope, the rest of their lives.. We were given an amazing reception at Futura Verde school this morning and the students integrated brilliantly, problem solving on their joint activities. Really inspirational to see the students from such different backgrounds collaborating so effectively on their projects.  We then went to see a fantastic Macaw release programme, with a diverse range of unexpected additional wildlife! On to a turtle hatching station where we were incredibly fortunate to see, and help release over 135 hatchlings.. A truely incredible night.. I am sure the students will inform you more of this experience tomorrow..  as they were shattered and fell asleep on the bus back to the hotel…

Mr Moss

Integration through Art…
Releasing the turtles..

HOLA!

We started our day by taking our bus to Futuro Verde school. There we met with the directors of the school and they introduced us to the peace practise, which they do every week. The whole school sat in a large circle and we were then informed of the theme: Balance. We then sung a song about gratitude in Spanish. Although this is not something we are used to at Hautlieu, everybody joined in and it was quite fun. Music breaks all language barriers. After that we had a silent discussion, involving writing thoughts and feelings on the topic of balance on a large sheet of paper. This was felt odd at first, but quickly became quite natural. It felt fairly different to a verbal discussion in that past thoughts and feelings remained on the page, always present.

Sadly, we discovered that the aforementioned monkey had fallen out the tree and died earlier that morning, probably due to disease.

We were split into our groups. The sports group began setting up a Score Board for the Volleyball tournament next week, cleared the stones from the court, evening the ground and also painted marking lines for the volleyball court. This felt quite special as for a sport they had so much passion and perseverance for; they only had a basic net with the posts fashioned from scaffolding posts, concrete and 2 tyres, but now they have an even court with marking lines, and hopefully tomorrow would have a scoreboard to go with it. They were over the moon with the work we had done for them, which made us feel good, like this small job would play a big part in the whole school’s recreational time. The mural group worked on the mural for the entire day and the turtle group taught a class about the turtles.

Later at lunch, we played a large, intense game of volleyball. After only 2 days it was quite remarkable to see how we had actually become somewhat useful to our team, especially compared to when we first came. It is quite incredible to see how quickly someone can learn when he/she is enjoying him/herself.

We then went to a macaw sanctuary with a bird expert called Juan-Carlos. We learned that they were part of a breeding program to bring the Scarlet Macaw back to this region of Costa Rica. They were truly beautiful birds, with amazing colours. We also saw some other birds including a pair of hummingbirds! Juan-Carlos told us that some pairs of birds in the sanctuary were confiscated from homes who possessed them illegally. On the black market, pairs of birds can sell from 30000 to 100000 USD. Juan-Carlos’s friend, Alex, then took us on a golf buggy ride around the golf course he works at- some of us even got to drive! This golf course is quite remarkable as it aimed to disturb as little wildlife as possible and also takes part in the releasing of the macaws. Here we saw caimans, iguanas, many macaws and flocks of hundreds, if not thousands of white birds (forgot the name) flocking in to roost. It was quite breath-taking to see.

For dinner we ordered pizzas. The options were 8, 12 and 16 piece. This brings up an interesting language/culture point: everyone in our group instantly assumed they would be 8, 12 and 16 inch pizzas, and therefore everyone got a 12 piece pizza. What arrived was not a 12 inch pizza. They were huge, however it was not an unwelcome surprise!

After that, Juan-Carlos took us to Tambor bay, where we saw his release programme aimed at saving a species of the Olive Ridley sea turtle. He does this by digging and moving nests of eggs to his own land where they are safe from poachers, and then incubate them for 45 days until they hatch. Then they are released on the beach and they crawl down into the sea. As we were arriving a nest of 87 eggs was hatching. The little things, no bigger than the palm of your hand had a lot of energy, constantly flapping their flippers without tiring. We took them down to the beach and released them 40 m from the sea. It is fairly interesting to contrast how helpless say for example a human baby is in comparison to these tiny creatures, who bolted the 40 metres down the beach slope in a relatively short amount of time, following the bioluminescent glow of the sea. Despite this there were a few frustrating specimens that kept getting distracted by human lights further down the coast, and as a result they walked sideways, or even backwards up the beach. However we quickly corrected these and eventually resorted to leading them by stimulating their attraction to light with a flashlight and standing near or in the sea. Eventually we think we got all the turtles to the sea. This felt very special, as without Juan-Carlos’s help, these tiny, cute creatures would certainly never make it, due to predators and poachers. In essence our work is giving life to these creatures, which felt very special. In total we released 137 turtle hatchlings to the sea.

We returned knackered to the hotel at midnight, and prepared for the early start tomorrow.

Ada and Paul : )

Peace practice..
Collaborative learning through Art..
Working with the primary school students..
Caimans!
At the Macaw sanctuary..
Spotting wildlife Golf buggy style…
Caiman!!

The turtle hatchery..
Pizza night!
Transporting the turtles..
Releasing the turtles…

Day 8  20/10/17

Hola amigos, today was a good day. It began at Futuro Verde (our last day there!) where we finally completed the murals and the score board. We were all surprised with a gift each which consisted of a pad of paper, a pen and a personalised image of each of our faces. We played our final games of volley-ball in which we weren’t quite as bad as when we began – we got one rally! After exchanging social media accounts, we said a sad farewell to our new Futuro Verde friends. However, the day brightened up as we made our way to the ‘Mal Pais canopy’ where we did zip-wiring and crossed a bridge and rode a surfboard up in the trees of the forest. Everybody had different opinions, some loved it, and others agreed to disagree… “I nearly died”- Alica. After we descended from the trees, we returned to the hotel and enjoyed an authentic Costa Rican meal (especially hungry-boy James). After discussing plans, we made our way to the supermarket and finished our night at the Banana Beach where we drank smoothies, played on ‘areal ropy stuff’ while listening to live music, courtesy of ‘rainy season brothers’ who played saxophone and rapped in Spanish.

Pura Vida Lads, hasta luego..

Alica and Lucy

Presenting the murals…
Receiving the awards!
Saying goodbye to our new friends..
one final game of volleyball!
Being good listeners…
Riding high!

Flying Superman style…

Day 9  21/10/2017

Hi guys, I’ll try to make the best of the situation because in effect, today was a traveling day. First we had a final view of Nicoya as we drove to the ferry and as we did this we reflected on our experiences… On the boat we crossed over to Puntarenas, in the searing heat, having a very windy game of cards on route was a challenge, but where there’s a will there’s a way!! Following this, we had a 45 minute drive to our rest stop in an orchid foundation where we had smoothies, which was pleasant and relaxing. Next was the long drive and we travelled along the Pan-American highway for most of it, crossing right through the heart of Costa Rica as we did so. This was very cool. We even managed to stop at a stall at the side of the road to try fresh lychees, which was new for some of us. The final stage of our journey to Monteverde was a precarious climb up narrow roads with a sheer drop on the side. Big shout out for Louis our driver who smashed it, especially on some of the sketchy parts of the road. At least the roads were now cleared! However, we got through it together as a group. Taking our first look at Monteverde was spectacular, and we even had a brief amount of time for some shopping. We also saw our first real sighting of rain, amongst the clouds! Arriving at the quaint hotel in the middle of the rugged landscape made us look forward to our coming days in the cloud forest.

Cameron and James

N.B.. Due to the recent storms we had to take an alternative route up to Monteverde. The main route was closed as the bridge had been damaged and was not yet repaired.  We did see evidence of the landslides that had affected the country but thankfully, these were all cleared making the journey safe and not too lengthy.

Mrs Campbell

Safety instructions on the boat..
Relaxing and enjoying the pleasant smoothies en route..
In the town of Monteverde
Enjoying our delicious dinner together..

Day 10  22/10/2017

Today was our first day at the Cloud Forest, in Monteverde. We got there early so we could ensure that we would make the most of the day. To begin we met our park ranger, Kenneth, who gave us a brief overview of the cloud forest. He led us down one of the routes available to the public, where we got to see some magnificent views. On our way, we saw Costa Rica’s unique wildlife. Costa Rica holds 5-6% of the world’s biodiversity, (2.5% of which was in Monteverde). There was life all around us: butterflies, hummingbirds, squirrels, tropical birds and two agouti’s on our journey.

We were able to be of service by cleaning one of the public paths. What we did in an hour would have taken a couple volunteers a day’s work. We were focused and were able to work well as a group, tackling it in small groups of four, section by section. It was rewarding walking back along the path to see the massive impact we had made, and that we had helped the rangers complete such a time consuming task.

Lunch was the traditional cuisine, of beans, rice, salad and a choice of chicken or fish. During lunch, some of us went up to the hummingbird garden, where we could marvel at the different variations of hummingbirds. We were stunned at how graceful yet swift they were when flying. It is hard to understand the beauty of their movement which is caught in photographs, so we were more than lucky to witness such a spectacle for ourselves.

Later on, we set up soft soil pits for the prints of big cats, such as ocelots. These trails were not available to the public, and were there for the purpose of monitoring species. We look forward to seeing the results tomorrow. Then we went with the rest of the group to the hummingbird garden. It was hard to take photos of their cute little faces because they are speedy ones. Did you know their hearts beat as fast as 500-1500bpm!

Following on, we had enough time to venture down to the waterfall, which was down the path we had previously cleared, giving us a real sense of pride. At the waterfall, we all took a minute to appreciate where we were, by having a moment of silence. We rounded the visit off by taking some group photos, and heading back to the coach. There was a momentary lapse in transportation, where we had to walk for a bit, due to the road getting muddy, but we all managed to eventually make it back in time to get ready for dinner.

Dinner at Amy’s was legendary (us three had the burgers, would recommend, 10/10 review.) Off to bed for another day of adventure and wonder.

Adios amigos,

Shelly, George and Chloe

On top of the clouds…
The first trek of the day..
Clearing the trails..
The team on task..
Magical hummingbirds..
Setting our beds for tracks..
At the beautiful waterfall..
Enjoying our dinner at Amy’s restaurant..

Day 11  23/10/2017

Hola!

We started our last day in Monteverde bright and early. First we went to go and check on our animal tracks and made some plaster impressions of the imprints we found. They looked like coati tracks (we were lucky enough to see one walking close to us later on in the day).

After leaving the plaster to set, we walked along the trails to the suspension bridge in the forest. Despite some of us clinging on to the side most of the time, the view was amazing. At one moment, a cloud blew past us and we were in the midst of it; the feeling was surreal and not something we’d experience every day and it opened our eyes to where we actually were.

On our way back to the forest centre, it began to rain. None of us expected this, so no one was prepared with raincoats – even though we were in a cloud forest! Luckily for us, the typical Costa Rican torrential rain hit almost immediately as we got inside the restaurant. So far on the trip, we’ve managed to miss all the downpours, so we finally witnessed the torrential rain we’d been warned about.

After lunch, we went to the classroom to do an activity about sustainable living design. In our groups we had to design an ideal sustainable building and how it could help the environment. We had to present our designs to the rest of the group, and were then presented with certificates for our volunteer work at the reserve.

We had a lovely dinner in Monteverde, and then went straight to the night walk. There was lots of excitement before the walk, until we were warned about the poisonous vipers slithering through the forest, which made people a bit more anxious. Once we got on to the trails it was brilliant to see the forest at night. We were all in awe of a mother and baby sloth crawling along a branch, which was what we’ve all been praying to see all week. We were shown a tiny red eyed frog, kinkajous, a toucan, a lizard, a green viper sitting up in a tree and a huge tarantula. There was a point when we spotted three coyotes across the hill and only seeing their eyes shining in the light was slightly terrifying, but thrilling. Now back at our hotel and we are preparing for the return trip to San Jose tomorrow.

Buenos noches!

Charlotte, Bethia and Beth

Taking casts of the animal tracks..
On the suspension bridge…
View of the tree canopy from the bridge…
Luckily this rain didn’t hit us on the trek!!
A coati..
Giving our sustainable living presentations..
Receiving our certificates…
The end of the day in the cloud forest…
A mother Sloth (2-toed) carrying her baby..

Day 12  24/10/17

Today was a long but fun day. We started off by leaving Monteverde. The road was still being repaired in places from the recent storms. After a long drive through thunder and lightning, we reached the amazing Baldi Hot springs, heated by the nearby Arenal Volcano. Not even the thunder and lightning could stop us from having an awesome time. The many pools were fantastic to relax in and the waterslides were awesome. After this well-earned, relaxing experience, we had another long drive. Luckily we had some hot tunes to pass the time, which we sang to with merry voices as we headed back into San Jose. We finally reached the hotel where we first started out trip. Giving us an opportunity to reflect on how fast this experience has passed, and all the fantastic things that we have done. Pura Vida.

James and Cameron

Overlooking the Arenal lake..
Relaxing at the hot springs..
Arenal volcano
Eating with a view at the hot springs..
Luis and the bus..
Our last dinner in San Jose..

Day 13 and 14  25/10/2017 and 26/10/2017

Last one!!

After a lovely dinner, we were surprised with an awards evening. The awards consisted of five categories; leadership, caring, talent, bravery and energy. The prizes were little keyrings. In the morning we went to a local market in central San Jose. Negotiating the maze of passageways we were not accustomed to the smell of offal and pigs heads so it was quite a culture shock! Afterwards we returned to the first market we visited on the trip to complete our shopping for family gifts. Lunch followed with a traditional Costa Rican meal; including rice and beans that was delicious! Surprising Andres, Luis and Mrs Campbell with some gifts for their hard work and dedication brought a smile to everyone’s face – they were are very touched by our surprise gifts. We ran into some trouble at the airport as Bobo had left a gift in her suitcase- which potentially should have been carried as hand-luggage, however after a twenty minute discussion with the check-in attendant, she decided it was okay.

Currently, we are sitting at gate 3 in the airport typing this blog before going to grab some much needed burger and chips – Pura Vida!

Ellie, Candice, Bobo, Candela

Although I have had a great time in Costa Rica and would love for the trip to be slightly longer I am glad to be going home to see my family. See you soon!

Candela

It’s been an amazing experience in Costa Rica. I’ve seen so much I’ve never seen before and definitely want to come back eventually, although I’m looking forward to seeing my family and friends.

Charlotte M

I don’t want to leave! This has by far been the most incredible trip, I will take away so many funny memories and will definitely be coming back.

Bethia

Costa Rica has most definitely been the trip of a lifetime. I have seen things I never thought I’d see (like the sloths) and done things I never thought I would do (like releasing baby turtles into the sea.) I will never forget this experience.

Beth

The Costa Rica trip has been a once in a lifetime experience. I feel we have all seen and done amazing things and bonded closer as friends along the way. This will surely be a trip I remember for the rest of my life. Pura Vida!

Paul

This trip has been amazing, really got in touch with nature, made connections with students in Futuro Verde and have done more exercise I’ve done all year. All in all great trip, was worth every penny. Pura Vida

Shelly

This was a once in a life time opportunity, and I am glad to have been here. I will never forget the people I have met, the challenges I have overcome and all the joy along the way, I can’t wait to come back. Pura Vida.

Chloe

I’m incredibly grateful to have taken the opportunity to come to Costa Rica as it has forced me to push my comfort zones and take part in activities that I would never would have completed in my life otherwise, and has allowed me to make new friends and appreciate my surroundings more. Pura Vida

George

Absolutely loved the trip this year and I don’t want to go home. Highlight for me was definitely Nicoya with the turtles and zip wire it was brilliant. Such an amazing country and I will definitely be coming back.

Cameron

This trip was a life-changing experience, we’re all incredibly sad to leave. Highlight has to be spending time at the school and making friends with people from the other side of the world. Fingers crossed I’ll come back some day. Pura Vida guys 🙂

Charlotte B

Definitely worth it, this trip was amazing, from the people on the trip to the locals and of course the activities. The best thing was the zip wire, as it was even better than I had pictured. Hopefully I get the opportunity to return since it really is a beautiful country.

Lucy

I got to meet many dogs all over the place and didn’t get rabies once, even without an injection (because I am a risk-taker). I can’t wait to say ‘pura vida’ at everything for the next few months and annoy every single person I know with it. Everyone has already said how life changing the trip was and I agree entirely.   Pura Vida.

Alica

Best trip ever. Not only did we get to go on a zip wire and visit the hot springs (which were amazing), we also got to give back to the place we’re visiting and feel good about the work we’ve left behind at the orphanage, the school and the cloud forest. It really was life-changing – but the best part had to be seeing 3 sloths!!

Lauren

Even though there are obvious highlights from the trips, such as the zip wiring and seeing the sloths, I feel as if I have come away from the trip with a new perspective towards life and making the most of situations. Myself being inspired by the people of Costa Rica, who were all welcoming and made the trip enjoyable. It’s an experience I will never forget and will now adopt the Pura Vida lifestyle towards everything I do. Pura Vida !

James

Pura Vida has honestly become by moto for this entire trip. I am grateful for this opportunity that has opened my eyes to the vast amounts of options for my future; which I am so keen to hopefully experience. Each day was different and that made the entire trip so exciting. The people here are the ones to aspire to; so happy, free and care free. So all I can sign of with is; PURA VIDA AMIGOS.

Ada

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this trip. I only found out that I was going to Costa Rica two weeks before we departed, so I wasn’t involved in any of the planning and didn’t even have time to read my guide books. I did, however, get as far as reading Chapter 1: Why You Will Fall In Love With Costa Rica. I was sceptical! Is the place really that special? Well, I was proved wrong! The scenery is breath-taking: from volcanoes, to tropical beaches, to mile-after-mile of rainforest. The people are very welcoming and they are rightfully proud of their spectacular biodiversity. I really enjoyed driving around seeing unspoilt habitats and species I’d never seen before. Releasing the turtles was a truly unforgettable experience! Our Hautlieu students did us proud and it has been a pleasure to share this adventure with them. I hope they appreciate how lucky they are to have experienced all the wonderful things we have experienced in the last two weeks.

Miss Holland

What a trip! Despite the unsure (will we, won’t we?) start due to storm Nate, we have seen and done so much. There was evidence of the chaos the storm caused and the huge clear up operation to get the country back on its feet but thankfully, we were able to keep to our itinerary (mostly) and were warmly welcomed everywhere we went. I have been so proud of the way the students have thrown themselves into it all and really got to grips with the essence of Costa Rica.  They have worked hard in all of the projects and really made an impact.  The staff at all of the venues we have visited have commented on how organised and polite the students were and our guide Andres was very sad to see us leave.  The highlight for me was at Futuro Verde. It was wonderful to see our students share their excitement at becoming an IB school and, as they start their first cohort in the spring, I am sure that many of the connections the students have made will continue.  Last but definitely not least, I need to thank the unsung heroes of the trip: Mr. Moss and Miss Holland.  Alongside his endless enthusiasm for everything we have done, Mr. Moss has sat up into the wee hours loading up the blog in places with less than ‘speedy’ internet- a difficult task at the end of some very long, tiring days!  Miss Holland meanwhile, has tweeted our way around the country, uploading pictures and comments in the time it takes me to get my phone out of my bag! They have been wonderful physical and emotional support to us all over the last two weeks and the trip wouldn’t have been the same without them.  So, as I sign off Costa Rica 2017 trip, I hope that you have enjoyed following us. I will be in touch soon with an invite to a presentation evening where the students will share their experiences with you and some of those considering the trip in the future.

Pura Vida

Mrs Campbell

Wow! What a fantastic trip! One that has been packed full of activities and has really opened the eyes of our students to the broader possibilities that can occur of living and working abroad. I have found it amazing to see how the students have thrown themselves into activities and how they have tried to really understand why this CAS trip is so special; in developing themselves as people rather than just being on a holiday. At times, the early mornings were hard for some of us, and the days were long, but despite this and the odd cajoling, the students behaved wonderfully and were fantastic ambassadors for themselves, their parents and the school. They have been a real credit and everywhere we have been people have noted at how well they have behaved- they have done us all proud. The opportunities to help others in the orphanages brought much needed assistance, where many hands made light work of tasks (painting doors, preparing ground for a garden and completely cleaning a house) that otherwise would have taken an individual a week to complete. At the school Futuro Verde our students really came into their own and showed a real interest in an alternative way of approaching education. They were very productive in their tasks (creating a mural, preparing the volleyball court and making a scoreboard; and teaching a pre-school group for a field trip to release turtles). The students mixed really well with their peers from Futuro Verde and it was brilliant to see them exchanging email and snap chat contacts and build up a cross-cultural network of friends. We also were incredibly fortunate to be part of a turtle release programme which every person in the group showed such care and commitment to. Our timing here could not have been better, and we were involved in releasing over 135 turtles, our presence at this time was a real help to the handful of volunteers who normally run the programme.  Our final phase saw us exploring the cloud forests of Monteverde and although some of us were tiring at this point, we all found time for moments of deep reflection and appreciation of the wonders of this environment. I have no doubt that this experience has changed the students’ perception of their environment and engagement with conservation activities. I would like to thank the students for their wonderful behaviour that made it easy for us – the staff on this trip; to our guide  Andres whose knowledge developed a deeper understanding of the country in us; and finally to Mrs Campbell without whom this trip would not have been possible. I am not really able to convey the amount of time and dedication that is required to get a trip like this of the ground and yet Mrs Campbell has done this, smiling as always, in order to give our group of students a trip of a life-time, and I know the students are truly grateful for this. We have one more opportunity for further reflection on Monday lunchtime to share photos and memories of this amazing trip.

Mr Moss

The award ceremony..
At the award night!
In the market..
Our last meal in Costa Rica..
Making coffee the traditional way..
Andres our guide partaking of his favourite activity!
Andres receiving his gift from the students..
Mrs Campbell receiving a small gift from the students..
In San Jose airport about to board our plane back to the U.K.
At Gatwick and our final group photo boarding our plane back to Jersey..

That is it from the Costa Rica trip diary 2017 – Pura Vida everyone!

 

 

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