Monday, July 29, 2019

The Traveler's Report 12 - Costa Rica

Pura Vida!  Pure life!

This is the motto of Costa Rica.  A dedication to a simpler life.  A life that is more connected to the Earth and it's protection.

And it's a motto that Jamie and her students picked up in their travels this year.

Jamie and her crew enjoyed the Costa Rica: A Touch of the Tropics tour with Education First (EF) Tours, spending ten days traveling the beautiful country. I’ve included their itinerary below, interspersed with Jamie’s commentary and pictures.

Day 1: Fly to Costa Rica
Meet your Tour Director at the airport
We finally made it to Costa Rica after two delayed flights. We’re ready to take in the scenery. Tomorrow we start the day with a tour of a coffee plantation(yum), then a nature hike to visit a volcano and onward to La Fortuna.

Day 2: San Jose - Arenal region
Bella La Paz Waterfall. Quick photo stop. Such a cool spot.

Our tour guide has given us a Scavenger Hunt. We’re on a mission to be the first group to complete it.

Take a tour of a coffee plantation
Our tour of Doka, the top rated coffee plantation 3 years in a row. Doka is famous for providing the highest quality coffee in the world. There is a Starbucks University just down the road. Needless to say we LOVED this tour!!!

Travel to the Arenal region
Visit Arenal Volcano National Park
Hiking up Arsenal Volcano National Park

Day 3: Arenal region
Enjoy a kayaking trip on Lake Arenal
Visit La Fortuna Waterfall
Participate in a cultural exchange with locals
Visit the Arenal hot springs
Our Chocolate Tour in La Fortuna was such an amazing experience for obvious reasons since a majority of us are addicted to the lovely taste of chocolate but this tour provided so much more. Our wonderful guide Chapo not only entertained us with his fun and inviting personality but he made us think. Although the cacao beans were originally produced in South America, it was Central America that began to produce chocolate as we know it from the plant. Even though there are more plantations in Central and South America it is Africa that has over 70% of all chocolate production. It doesn’t take very long to find out why. Labor is cheap because it is child labor. There is a documentary on YouTube you can check out and see what companies are purchasing from these labor camps. Hint: Hershey’s is one.

Day 4: Arenal region - Monteverde
Travel to Monteverde
Explore on your own

Day 5: Monteverde
Participate in a canopy adventure - Zip-lining
Our stay in Monteverde was such a great escape. We’re higher in elevation so it feels a good 10 degrees cooler which is a nice change from the weather back home. Our zipping tour was more intense than any of us expected with 10 zip lines and a hike to get them but, oh, man was it amazing!!!

Visit the Santa Elena Cloud Forest
Day two in Monteverde and our stop along the way. We went on a nature walk through the Cloud Forrest Reserve both in the day and night. Let me tell you we experienced a lot more creatures in the night tour and since the first one was a pit viper I was very alert for the rest of the night tour.

The view driving away was absolutely breath taking. One of the great things our tour director came up with us to do in order to interact with the locals was doing a scavenger hunt. One of the bonus activities was pay it forward and how we did that was by purchasing items for a family in need whose little girl, Pamela, has special needs and will be undergoing her 5th surgery soon. Though the view from their house is a million dollar view they are living in less than comfortable place. Yet this family of six lives with joy, faith and each other. It doesn’t take long to realize the things we can take for granted.

Day 6: Monteverde - Central Pacific Coast
Travel to the Central Pacific Coast
Visit the Rainforest Adventure Park, where you can ride an aerial tram above the canopies, explore a nature trail, and visit a butterfly sanctuary
Enjoy a crocodile jungle safari boat cruise
Crocodile just chillin on the side of the road. This was the only shot of a crocodile before we went on our crocodile cruise as my phone died as we boarded the boat but we got to see several crocs of all sizes while on board.

Day 7: Central Pacific Coast
Visit Manuel Antonio National Park
This was our view while staying in Jaco. We got to see magical storms out on the ocean at night. It looked like something out of a movie.

Manuel Antonio National Park was the highlight of this stop with the howler monkeys trying to take your lunch and the beautiful beach. We liked to play in the ocean and let the waves crash on top of us. We ventured off onto a little island and watched an iguana try and catch its lunch and lots of little crabs scurried across the rocks.

Day 8: Central Pacific Coast - Sarchi - San Jose
Travel via Sarchi to San Jose
Explore on your own

Day 9: San Jose
Enjoy a whitewater rafting excursion
11:23pm tonight I awoke to what sounded like a stampede of teenagers going down the hall in our hotel. As I flung back the covers to the bed I quickly realized we were experiencing an earthquake. Shortly after I have all three of my girls knocking at my door while the guys chilled in their room. We laughed afterwards but in the moment it was slightly terrifying. Everyone is ok, no damage or power outages just a good dose of adrenaline pumping through our veins.

Day 10: Depart for home

Next up in this series, our anniversary cruise.

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