We are continuing to have many great experiences here in Costa Rica through our service projects and different cultural activities. We spent Sunday and Monday at Don Juan farm a 100% self sustaining organic farm. During our time at Don Juan, we received a complete tour of how the farm operates and had the opportunity to work along side with the workers. Our team assisted in the kitchen to help prepare meals and clean up and also working out in the fields. The farm is undergoing some major work right now and our group moved nearly 1000 papaya trees off the land and assisted in the planting of new beds. The farm is very active in the local community as it gives a lot of its food away to the less fortunate and needy in the town that they live. We stayed in little chalet style cabins on the farm. They were small, rustic, and cozy however hot water was pretty scarce. The group learned a lot about sustainability through the farming methods at Don Juan and had an opportunity to work along side the workers and everyone worked very hard.
Today we arrived at Monteverde which is in the Cloud Forest. Here is Costa Rica there are two climates. The Caribbean side is very warm and humid and the pacific side is more dry. We are in the northern pacific area today and tomorrow and the change in weather is huge. It is very windy and “cool” out tonight. It is very different from the humid and hot air we have been experiencing through the trip so far. The trip today from Arenal to here took us about 4 hours. The distance is not that far however here they do not have a highway or interstate system so the roads that most people use, in the US we would call secondary or back roads. Today we were on the same dirt and very bumpy road for two and a half hours and it was the main road into Monteverde. The drive was very scenic just very bumpy. Upon our arrival today we went on a canopy zip line tour through the forest on 14 different zip lines. It was drizzling, cool and windy, but still a lot of fun and something new for all the students.
Tomorrow we will spend all day in a national park working on trail maintenance. Check back to hear more about our service project in the forest.
We are having a great trip so far. On Friday we headed northeast of San Jose to a town called Sarapiqui. We spent Friday and Saturday night in cabins in a rainforest on the river. The views here are spectacular. The are many animals including large lizards, birds, and even monkeys nesting in the trees above our cabins. On Friday we went to a small school near our lodge and we painted the classroom in a local school. The school was very small with only 93 students that attended. The schools receives very little money from the government for maintenance and this project was a huge help to the school. The students and principal were very appreciative. After we painted a group of the students performed a dance and short show for us. On Saturday morning we went whitewater rafting in a river behind our lodge and during the afternoon we went on a cultural tour that showed us how chocolate is made from the cocoa bean. While we were on the chocolate tour we walked across the longest suspension bridge in Costa Rica which spans 920 feet. Today we head to the Arenal Volcano area and will spend Monday working on the Don Juan organic farm which should be an interesting and very educational experience. One of the things the students commented on yesterday was how much pride the residents of Costa Rica have in their country. No matter who you talk to the citizens are so friendly and excited about their country. Continue to check back and see what else we do during the trip and hear the student’s personal experiences on the videos.
We had a good trip into San Jose yesterday. All flights were on time, everyone’s luggage arrived, no problems getting through immigration and customs and our guide was there to meet us. Yesterday was a low key day. We met with our guide and discussed the itinerary and rested at the hotel and by the pool since it had been an early morning traveling. The town we stayed in last night was called Belen which is right outside of San Jose near the airport. The vegetation here is fabulous and we know will only get better once we get out into the rain forest and away from the city. There is a mango tree here at the hotel and one of the hotel workers picked a few for us yesterday and peeled them for us. Mangos from the produce section at Kroger has nothing on a fresh mango from the tree. Today we head northeast toward the Caribbean lowlands area. We look forward to sharing more as we really get started today.