Day 1: After having entered San José late the night before, we all went straight to bed to be ready for the day's activities. A late night usually means an early start and, sure enough, we were ready to be picked up at 6 am to go white water rafting. The 2 hour drive was well worth it when we saw the beautiful river, Pacuare. 3 hours and some involuntary swims later, we arrived at the end soaking wet and got ready to head back to the hotel. Exhausted from the early start, everybody pretty much passed out on the way. After dinner came perhaps the highlight of the day when we went for a well deserved ice cream at POPS.
Day 2 was a pretty uneventful transport day from San Joaquín to Monteverde. We got to experience the great mountain roads that lead into our home for the next two weeks. Then we met our sweet host families that would take care of us for the coming weeks.
Day 3: It seems that the host families had done a good job, because everybody was happy and loquacious on the bus ride to the school. Then began Spanish class. We have been thrown into the deep end of the pool with Spanish in our host families and Spanish at school, so naturally our heads were a wee bit heavy already in the break. Luckily it was soon lunch time, which we got to make our selves. Having filled our stomach with empanadas, we were ready for our dance class and walk-about in Santa Elena. Despite the rain this went really well and we became familiarized with the area. The take home things were a weird building, a strange animal on a roof, and lots of crazy fruits that don't grow in the supermarket in New Mexico.
Day 4 started of with Spanish class and then we went to the sustainable farm, Monteverde LIFE. With a solid traditional lunch in our bellies we went around the farm and saw the coffee production. The biggest hit was the visit to the goats and pigs. When we had had our well deserved coffee break to dry off, we got to work. On a farm, there is always something to improve, and, of course, Aggies know farm business, so some of us went to fill bags of soil for the coffee plants, others packed and labeled the coffee, while the last group brought out their artistic side and made signs.
Day 5, again, started with Spanish classes – soon they'll make us write this blog in Spanish, yikes... Since Monteverde is very well known for coffee production, today we went on another coffee tour. After the lunch, lemonade, and coffee, we set of to the farm. Turns out they do not limit themselves to coffee but grow sugar cane and a little bit of chocolate as well; who knew that sugar cane would be so sweet? This, of course, makes the taste samples much better, and we filled up on the delicious chocolate. Thank you to Trapiche and our guide, Jairo, for showing us around.
Day 6 was a day of high rises and lower falls. We went zip-lining through the Monterverdean cloud forest, and we started right on the continental divide, meaning that on one side of the mountain the rivers run for the Pacific Ocean while on the other they run for the Caribbean. After 7 lines and a free fall, we headed home to prepare for Friday were we would head to Flamingo Beach for some much needed time away from the rain (fingers crossed).
Weekend Get-Away: After having suffered the down pour in Monteverde for the last week, we got lucky and saw the sun set, when we went to the coast. We went straight from the bus to the beach with our bathing suits on, ready to enjoy the water and see the sunset at Playa Penca. When the sun was no more, we went to dinner. The next day, we went to Tamarindo where some people enjoyed the beach while others took surfing lessons – we almost stood all the way up! After a quick lunch, it was time for the catamaran cruise. An easy journey later, we arrived at a secluded bay with a hidden beach. We got out our snorkeling gear and pool noodles and hopped in.
Last Week: The Tuesday after coming back from the beach, we went back to LIFE Monteverde to finish what we had started the week before. Some channeled their inner Picasso while others were out in the field digging holes and planting new coffee stems and trees to restore the forest. LIFE was pleased with our assistance and we took a lot from it. The very next day, the group divided: 1 went bungee jumping and the rest went horse back riding. Both were good fun. On Thursday, we walked around the forest at night hoping to see animal - luckily, we did. We saw a sloth, a spider, two armadillos, bell birds, a tarantula, and other insects; a good haul.
Friday was our last day of class and ended with the infamous graduation ceremony. All passed and we could with peace at mind head to the hot tub to celebrate a job well done before getting up early to go back to Heredia and the airport. We started with a bang at POPS so it was only natural that we would end there as well.