Costa Rica 2019

18th-19th October

We’ve all landed safe and well and the flight although long was very comfortable.  The great cabin service recognised our group early on and made the point of spoiling us and remarking how well behaved we all were.  Apart from Miss Bedward who thought we were on a roller coaster; see below. 

Post landing we had a short trip to our first hotel in central San Jose.  A great welcome and beautiful little courtyard full of local plants and flowers.  And having explored the large market and sampled some unusual ice-cream with notes of ginger and cinnamon, a local treat we are told, some are treated to seconds.

The evening draws in as we skip through the streets which soon becomes a wash with rain, bustling traffic and the sound of parrots playing stealthily in the tree lined streets.  Locals are a plenty and cast a surprised look over the huddle of wet students tramping hard and with purpose.  Quite clearly sensing an evening meal and an early night. 

We set off at 5:30 am tomorrow morning and look forward to a 3 hour road trip followed by a ferry to the peninsula where we will spend some time catching up on some well earned sleep.

21st October 2019

We woke up really early in San Jose and had breakfast. We got on a coach to get to the ferry to take us to Paquera the view was surreal and we still couldn’t believe we were finally in Costa Rica. We managed to get the early ferry but on the way there was an accident on the road which made us re-route.

Once we were finally at the Tambor bay were desperate to go straight into the pool, but we decided to look around our rooms first and in mine and poppy’s toilet was a frog which made poppy scream. We spent the rest of the evening in the pool and got called to the turtle hatchery to see the turtles hatch.  We ended up going in our swimming costumes, towel and flip flops. Jemima, poppy and I released the turtles down to the beach and it was really exciting and surreal watching them walk down to the sea.

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On Tuesday, we began our day with breakfast. The morning was very hot and dry which made a nice change to the wet previous days… We had breakfast outside by the pool which was nice fresh fruit and toast. I felt excited to go back to the school again but tired and still jet lagged. 

We arrived at the school and were taken into their science class. Just being in their school made me realize how lucky we are in Jersey and really opened my eyes to what the wider world is facing.

We all presented our “Group 4 Project” to the Costa Rican IB students. We then went down to a lake area just down the road from the school. I felt so lucky to get to experience this amazing place and see the diversity and differences to Jersey.

Next we began on the garden project. We had to work together to build a curved wall which would then be filled by plants. We started by placing the rocks, then added cardboard and plants. It was hard work but I felt like I was really contributing to the school and it’s really cool we get to leave our mark there forever.  

Whilst waiting for a material to add to the garden, we got a tour of the school from an IB student. As we were going around seeing all the areas and classrooms, I really noticed that the whole school was so connected with nature. The school starting from a young age was brought up being surrounded by nature and understanding, learning and respecting it. There was a young boy no older than 5 who came to us and showed us a caterpillar he found.

This really showed me how different the school was to Jersey, and made me realize that though we are lucky with our facilities and safety, we are not connected to nature therefore take it for granted and don’t think about the wider world.  After lunch we played a game of volley ball.  This was my first time playing but I had a go and everyone at the school was really fun and made me feel a part of it.

We took the boat to get to Hart’s house so he could tell us about his ideas and views on today’s world.  We were all a bit confused by the life jackets as we didn’t know how to put them on at first but we figured it out in the end. We then went to Hart’s house and he gave us his opinions and views on how the Earth works. 

He told us how us as a species can help her survive for about an hour and a half.  Then he answered our questions we had for him until the boat came to get us. In the end, either came out of this experience either confused, impressed, mind-blown or all of the above.  We had to go back to our hotel by boat, and Christian hated the ride, the fact we had to stop midway to put gasoline in didn’t help either.

We then hurried up to see some (endemic) birds in a reserve in the hotel we had our first meal in when we got to the island.  They explained us how they take care of them and why they keep them, we all left impressed and thankful for this experience.  

After the visit, some of us got to drive golf carts around the hotel to see more birds and a few people were a bit scared of others driving. Everyone still had fun. We then went to the shop to get some snacks before going to the restaurant and Dan paid twenty dollars for a volleyball, but he’s happy because the group will have fun in the pool. The restaurant is near the beach and we can hear the waves which is really relaxing.

By Peter and Christian ​

Wednesday 23rd October

Today started off with a lovely breakfast at Tambor tropical hotel of fresh fruit and granola.

We then journeyed on to the school we’re we started by planning for the peace practice session we will be running tomorrow with the Futuro Verde IB students. Afterwards we discussed our extended essays, which are in varying stages of completion, to gain understanding of better strategies for approaching to get it finished quickly.

After a second breakfast at the school, we got cracking on with the garden that we started yesterday which involved rock wall building, digging and filling the beds.

We then went to Montezuma to zip wire across the jungle , which included a waterfall where we were able to swim and jump from.

After that we took a coach to a nature reserve, where there were howler monkeys, capucins and red macaws (which were very loud!). It was a short visit because we rushed to the cemetery island which is only accessible by foot. Unfortunately we were running late and wasn’t able to fully explore it as the tide was coming in.

Finally, the day ended with dinner, for which we both had burger and chips (very Costa Rican we know!). Then the journey to the hotel commenced. Overall a very busy but good day in general.

By Heather and Dan

Thursday October 24th

Today Dennis and I went and spotted howler monkeys before sunrise and it was almost like a dream that I could step out of my room and see this view.

At the school We ran peace practice with the IB students and the group I was in was activity and I explained what the activity was about to all the students that came and this was a big step for me because I don’t like speaking to large groups of people and I felt like this was a step closer to being comfortable with speaking in large groups.

Then we moved onto completing our biology experiments were we were analysing the data.
We then moved onto the garden and it was really cool seeing loads of other students in the school willing to help and wanting to take part. Also there enthusiasm to new things and helping was eye opening because of how optimistic everyone was even the younger children . We also made a lot of progress on the garden which made me feel proud of myself and everyone who put in a group effort to try and finish as much as possible.

We then went to the nursery only love and it was very different to nursery’s back home because they were playing in mud and had freedom to almost everything They want. We helped make decorating a o for the day of the dead party they have planned then went to the beach to go swimming.


The first day at ecopaz

We had a pretty interesting start to the day as we had a guided tour with Dennis around ecopaz park. It was an amazing experience as we got to see the vast amount of trees that they’ve reforested. We learnt that they remove trees around the trail and then place them into a tree nursery to allow them to grow. After they grow they then go and place them into open patches of field which have been cleared for farm land. It was an extraordinary experience to see land we were going to try and help fill. Also, throughout the tour we learnt our roles and then set off into groups to complete them. These roles were: digging and filling soil, planting trees into bags, collecting trees and gathering leaves for compost.

We got to meet two of the people who work at the Ecopaz, Dominga (second in charge) and Melanie, who, even though they didn’t speak any English, still managed to share their passion and enthusiasm for what they did.

So, Dan, Christian and Jemima were all a part of the digging crew, because of the work we did at the school we were the most qualified for the job aha. It was a much easier task than we had to do at the school because the soil was so much healthier and softer, so the task went very quickly. Once finished, the three of us went to go and help the other group with the packing of the trees.

After the hard work done, the park allowed us to plant a couple of trees in the forest as a sort of ceremony and welcome into this amazing park. We had the privilege to dig the hole and plant the tree, which was really nice as it resembled a sense of rebirth that none of us had witnessed before. It was a truly mesmerising experience (big up Dacari Gilbert Hautlieu III and Ellen).

The sports section of the day was a really fun way of letting go and having fun with nature, as we were all allowed to play football (not soccer), volleyball and a bit of tennis which was all good for the activity strand of our CAS. Even in the hot weather we all still had a lot of fun playing without non-materialistic items like iPhones and video games. It allowed us to see the plant and play aspect of the park.

It was a great day as we met the amazing park staff and began the reforestation work of ecopaz. I believe we were able to help the community of Monte verde with this little bit of work to create a beautiful park.

Tuesday 29th October

Work carried on from yesterday, some people kept on digging and sifting the soil, some people collecting the saplings (including Heather and I) and the rest replanting the saplings. At one point it started to rain but that didn’t stop us from getting the work done.

After Sergio, the owner and director of Parque Ecopaz, arrived he gave us a talk which introduced us to a new point of view towards the forest as well as the biology of it. He suggested that we should approach nature with more love and respect, to not take it for granted and to treat it like family almost – he constantly referred to the trees and plants as he, she, the babies, etc. not just as objects. He definitely showed us all a new way to look at nature; something that I may try to take home with me – I live in the countryside and so are surrounded by trees which I will hopefully appreciate a bit more.

After the talk we all went back up to the sports area to play the games available (football, volleyball and tennis). For a man who seems so laid back, Sergio was certainly competitive and knew how to have fun. We played football which ended up being absolute chaos as no one knew who was in which team. I (Aimee) ended up being in the teachers & Sergio’s team and scored the winning goal which was fun. After that we played a quick game of frisbee before moving on to volleyball. Volleyball was just as interesting as football if not more so with again teachers/Sergio/Dennis/Parque Ecopaz team versus the students. I don’t remember who actually won in term of the actual score but in the end it didn’t matter because we all enjoyed the game.

Following the sports and lunch we walked into the nearby town St Helena for some souvenir shopping before returning to the park for a bonfire. We toasted marshmallows around the fire and exchanged our perceptions of the park as Sergio explained some of the history and his desire for the park, particularly the sport facilities, to have a positive social impact on the local community by providing a place for the residents to let off steam together and build a community spirit.

After the bonfire, we moved into the small house on the park to learn some Costa Rican dancing, which while not being perfect was very fun. I (Aimee) personally don’t dance very often because in my opinion I can’t dance to save my life, yet I found the night fun and somehow managed to get the basic steps somewhat correct by the end of the night. We also showed Sergio and some of the park rangers some English dancing which mainly consisted of the Hokey Cokey and the Macarena!

It was sad to leave Park Ecopaz, especially as we had only spent 2 days there and felt we could give more, but tonight was a brilliant way to say goodbye and end on a high note.

Heather and Aimee

Reflection 30/11

Today being our last day in Costa Rica, we had a chilled out day, less service and instead more activities. To start, it was a 2 hour drive from our Air B&B in Monte Verde to the Baldi Hot Springs which was found at the base of the volcano and drove past the hydro electric damn on our way which we learnt along with other renewable energy sources, provided 98% of the energy in Costa Rica.

We then spent a few hours at the Hot Springs which everyone deserved after doing service for the whole trip, this was a new experience for some people. Overall, it was a great finale and a relaxing ending to a fantastic journey.

The trip back to the hotel in San José took much longer than expected which gave us enough time for us to listen to the majority of the playlist created specifically for the long bus journeys. Tonight is the last night we are spending in Costa Rica so we are all a little sad but we’re trying to remember the unforgettable moments we experienced.