CATAWBA COLLEGE 2019 - Aventura en Costa Rica

It was a humid, sunny and rainy Sunday when the group landed at the SJO airport. You know in Costa Rica everything is posible, talking about wheather conditions. They had a little stop in a very famous supermarket to do a little grocery shop for the week. Then we continue our way to CPI Heredia to take a look of the school where they are going to be studying for three weeks. Also to wait for the host families to come and meet their new family member. After the welcome orientation the girls leave the CPI campus to start the full immersion and to go have dinner with their tico-family.

The students came to Costa Rica to learn spanish. They are going to be studying for 4 weeks. Four hours per day during mornings with “tarea” for home every class day. But learning spanish is not all what they are doing here. They had a latin cooking class where they prepared Patacones which is basically fried and crushed green plantain. After we eat the Patacones that we cooked the girls were prepared to go to the dancefloor and make some latin steps. They had a latin dance class with teacher Andrea. They got to know the basics to dance salsa, merengue and bachata. It was very fun!!

Later on we had a walk around San Joaquin downtown. San Joaquin is a small town, so the girls got to see the church, the soccer field, the city hall, restaurants and other important places that may visite later while they are living in the area. We played a photo treasure hunt in downtown were they had to ask the local people in the streets about important facts of Costa Rica.

Catawba College group has a particular schedules where they have some free afternoons where they can go explore by themselves.

The first weekend we travel to Manuel Antonio beach town. It was a 4 hours drive to get to the hotel. On the way there we made a stop in a very famous restaurant to have a very typical lunch accompanied with a nice view of the mountains. Also we stopped at the Tarcoles river`s bridge where you can go and see one of the largest crocodiles in the world.

Once in the hotel we got the night for relaxing, rest and get ready for the next day`s adventure. Manuel Antonio National Park is one of the most visited parks in Costa Rica.

It was drizzling early in the morning but that create the perfect condition for a walk in the forest and also for the wildlife to show up. We were so lucky because we got to see a lot of animals like monkeys, racoons, the famous three toed sloth, lizards, frogs, bats and some others. I say we were lucky because some people that have visited the Park before don`t get to see so many wildlife. Once we got to the beach the sun came out for us to enjoy a perfect day.

Next day the girls had the morning free to spend time at the beach and do some souvenir shopping at the local tourist stores. In the afternoon we started our way back to Heredia to get ready for another week of spanish classes at CPI`s school. 

During the week a group of costarican indigenous called "Borucas" came to the school to share their culture and show us part of the traditions that they keep in their community. The girls asked some questions about their traditional celebration. "La fiesta de los diablitos" is a party that they celebrate every year where they represent the fight against the Spanish conquers many years ago. During the celebration they use masks that the shape and paint. The girls got to see their artcrafts and also they had the chance to learn how to sculpt a mask.


On the second weekend the girls and I had and excursion to the Caribbean side of Costa Rica. White water Rafting in Siquirres town on the Pacuare river. The best river in the country for Rafting and Kayak competitions. So during rainy season the conditions are even better for the adventure. We rode rapids level 3 and 4. It wasn`t easy at all but our effort and teamwork made it possible. Amazing experience through virgin tropical forest and some amazing waterfalls. After we ate lunch we started our way back to the central valley to continue their costarican immersion.



Diego QR

UNCG- Llegada a Costa Rica

¡El grupo de University of North Carolina Greensboro (UNCG) llegó a Costa Rica con mucha energía!

The group from the University of North Carolina Greensboro (UNCG) is already in Costa Rica full of energy and looking forward to enjoying the experience in Heredia, Monteverde, and Flamingo.

The mamás and papás Ticos welcomed them as members of their families!



They started their week with a dance and a cooking class to immerse themselves in the culture and learn more about traditions and gastronomy in Costa Rica. One could not tell it was their first time doing this!   





They are enjoying the trip as a group and making the most out of this amazing experience in Costa Rica. 




St. Francis University

Day 1.

After arriving in San Jose, the group went directly to Super Snacks restaurant, where they tasted typical Costa Rican food. One of the most popular/traditional dishes in Costa Rica is called Casado, which literally means “married man”. After lunch, the group took a toured around San Joaquin de Flores, located in Heredia province. During the tour, the students had the opportunity to become familiar with this quiet city. We explored some of the supermarkets, where they have many different types of tropical fruits. Once arrived at Centro Panamericano de Idiomas (CPI) the group was received by staff members. In addition, they received an orientation, where they received useful information about Costa Rican culture. Finally, each member of the group met with their host family and they went to their new home.

Día 1.

Después de llegar a San José, el grupo fue directamente al restaurante Super Snacks, donde probaron comida típica de Costa Rica. Uno de los platos más populares / tradicionales en Costa Rica se llama Casado, que literalmente significa "hombre casado". Después del almuerzo, el grupo realizó un recorrido por San Joaquín de Flores, ubicado en la provincia de Heredia. Durante el recorrido, los estudiantes tuvieron la oportunidad de familiarizarse con esta tranquila ciudad. Exploramos algunos de los supermercados, donde tienen muchos tipos diferentes de frutas tropicales. Una vez que llegaron al Centro Panamericano de Idiomas (CPI), el grupo fue recibido por miembros del personal. Además, recibieron una orientación, donde recibieron información útil sobre la cultura costarricense. Finalmente, cada miembro del grupo se reunió con su familia anfitriona y se fueron a su nueva casa.

Day 2.

The students were taken to their new classroom and met with their Spanish teacher. Classes are from 8 am to 12 pm, with a 20 minutes break in between, where students go to the cafeteria and grab some snacks. After classes, the students had a cooking class in which they made “picadillo de chayote” a typical dish here in Costa Rica. This activity was very fun, and the students really enjoyed it. After they finished cooking the food, the students made Corn tortillas. Once everything was done, we set up the table and enjoyed the delicious meal. Not to mention that the students had the opportunity to attend to a Latin dance class. Our phenomenal dance teacher taught them how to dance bachata, merengue and salsa. Finally, we left for Heredia. Here in this beautiful town we visited "el mercado". Every day, hundreds ofheredianosvisit this market in search of domestic products, such as: fruits, vegetables, meats just to mention a few. The students walked around and also stopped in an ice cream shop where they bought "raspados" and a typical Costa Rican ice cream. Next to the Market we can find Central Park. Here the students walked around and saw some of the oldest buildings in the city. Our second day in San Joaquin was great!

 Día 2.

Los estudiantes fueron llevados a su nueva aula y se reunieron con su profesor de español. Las clases son de 8 am a 12 pm, con un descanso de 20 minutos, donde los estudiantes van a la cafetería y toman algunos bocadillos. Después de las clases, los estudiantes tuvieron una clase de cocina en la que hicieron picadillo de chayote un plato típico aquí en Costa Rica. Esta actividad fue muy divertida, y los estudiantes realmente la disfrutaron. Después de que terminaron de cocinar, los estudiantes hicieron tortillas de maíz. Una vez hecho todo, preparamos la mesa y disfrutamos de la deliciosa comida. Sin mencionar que los estudiantes tuvieron la oportunidad de asistir a una clase de baile latino. Nuestra fenomenal maestra de baile les enseñó a bailar bachata, merengue y salsa. Finalmente, partimos para Heredia. Aquí en este hermoso pueblo visitamos "el mercado". Cada día, cientos de heredianos visitan este mercado en busca de productos domesticos, tales como: frutas, verduras, carnes, solo por mencionar algunos. Los estudiantes caminaron y también se detuvieron en una heladería donde compraron "raspados" y helado típico de Costa Rica. Junto al Mercado podemos encontrar el Parque Central. Aquí los estudiantes caminaron y vieron algunos de los edificios más antiguos de la ciudad. ¡Nuestro segundo día en San Joaquín fue genial!

Day 3.

In the morning the students spent four hours of immersion with their teachers. After the class, the group had a couple of free hours and used them in a very productive way doing group work. Finally, we had the opportunity to meet Gail Nystrom. During this time, Ms. Nystrom spoke about her Humanitarian Foundation (CRHF). She explained how this Foundation was created, what they do, their mission and some opportunities for students to help.

 Día 3.

Por la mañana los alumnos pasaron cuatro horas de inmersión con sus profesores. Después de la clase, el grupo tuvo un par de horas libres y las usó de una manera muy productiva haciendo trabajo en grupo. Finalmente, tuvimos la oportunidad de conocer a Gail Nystrom. Durante este tiempo, la Sra. Nystrom habló sobre su Fundación Humanitaria (CRHF). Explicó cómo se creó esta Fundación, qué hacen, su misión y algunas oportunidades para que los estudiantes ayuden.

Day 4.

As usual, our students spent four hours in the classroom. Right after class we went to La Carpio to do community service. Once we arrived at our destination, they provided us with a delicious lunch. During this time, the group had the opportunity to talk with the founder of the foundation. In addition, we walk through the town. The group was amazed by the living conditions of the people living in La Carpio. It was wonderful to see how the group showed compassion for the needy. After the walk, the students had the opportunity to teach English to the children of the Foundation. They spent a couple of hours playing, interacting and getting to know the children. Finally, the ladies of La Carpio provided us with hot chocolate. It was a wonderful experience for the students. They enjoyed their time here at La Carpio and we are pleased to see how generous and humble the students are.

 Día 4.

Como de costumbre, nuestros alumnos pasaron cuatro horas en el aula. Justo después de clase fuimos a La Carpio para hacer servicio comunitario. Una vez que llegamos a nuestro destino, nos dieron un delicioso almuerzo. Durante este tiempo, el grupo tuvo la oportunidad de hablar con el fundador de la fundación. Además, paseamos por el pueblo. El grupo estaba asombrado por las condiciones de vida de las personas que viven en La Carpio. Fue maravilloso ver cómo el grupo mostró compasión por los necesitados. Después de la caminata, los estudiantes tuvieron la oportunidad de enseñar inglés a los niños de la Fundación. Pasaron un par de horas jugando, interactuando y conociendo a los niños. Finalmente, las señoras de La Carpio nos proporcionaron chocolate caliente. Fue una experiencia maravillosa para los estudiantes. Disfrutaron de su tiempo aquí en La Carpio y nos complace ver cuán generosos y humildes son los estudiantes.

Day 5.

Last day of classes in Heredia! After classes we went to San Jose, where we had a delicious lunch. Our students had the opportunity to explore San Jose. Our tour guide, Catalina, explained historical events of this beautiful city. The students really enjoyed their time exploring the city. 

Día 5.

¡Último día de clases en Heredia! Después de las clases fuimos a San José, donde comimos un delicioso almuerzo. Nuestros estudiantes tuvieron la oportunidad de explorar San José. Nuestra guía, Catalina, explicó los eventos históricos de esta hermosa ciudad. Los estudiantes realmente disfrutaron su tiempo explorando la ciudad. 

Day 6.

Field trip day! On our way we stopped at Sarchi for a cultural visit. They showed us how the oxcarts are made and also the students had the opportunity to buy souvenirs for they loved ones. Once we arrived in La Paz, the group saw some of the most exotic animals and plants in Costa Rica. Finally, we arrived at and the waterfalls and the students enjoyed the beautiful view and took a lot of pictures.  

Día 6.

¡Día de excursión! Nos levantamos temprano por la mañana para ir a las Cataratas de La Paz. En nuestro camino paramos en Sarchi para una visita cultural. Nos enseñaron cómo se hacen los carritos de buey y también los estudiantes tuvieron la oportunidad de comprar recuerdos para sus seres queridos. Una vez que llegamos a La Paz, el grupo vio algunos de los animales y plantas más exóticos de Costa Rica. Finalmente, llegamos a las cascadas y los estudiantes disfrutaron de la hermosa vista y tomaron muchas fotos.

 Day 7.

Good bye Heredia! Saying good bye to families was the saddest thing students had to do during this trip. After saying good bye, we departed to Monteverde. Before meeting the new families, the group had an excursion in “El trapiche” and learned how coffee, sugar and chocolate are made. Right after the tour we had an activity where the students became familiar with the new town. Finally, each student met with their new host family.

 Día 7.

 ¡Adiós Heredia! Decir adiós a las familias fue lo más triste que los estudiantes tuvieron que hacer durante este viaje. Después de decir adiós, nos fuimos a Monteverde. Antes de conocer a las nuevas familias, el grupo hizo una excursión en "El trapiche" y aprendieron cómo se hacen el café, el azúcar y el chocolate. Justo después de la gira tuvimos una actividad donde los estudiantes se familiarizaron con la nueva ciudad. Finalmente, cada estudiante se reunió con su nueva familia anfitriona.

Day 8.

First day of classes in Monteverde! After arriving to CPI, the students met their new teacher and spent four hours studying Spanish. After classes, some of the students decided to spend a couple hours in the jacuzzi, while others had free time to explore Monteverde. At night, the group had the option of going on a night hike. During the hike, the group had the opportunity to see some of the most exotic animals here in Costa Rica. 

Día 8

¡Primer día de clases en Monteverde! Después de llegar a CPI, los estudiantes conocieron a su nuevo maestro y pasaron cuatro horas estudiando español. Después de las clases, algunos de los estudiantes decidieron pasar un par de horas en el jacuzzi, mientras que otros tuvieron tiempo libre para explorar Monteverde. Por la noche, los estudiantes tuvieron la opción de ir a una caminata nocturna. Durante la caminata, el grupo tuvo la oportunidad de ver algunos de los animales más exóticos aquí en Costa Rica.

Day 9.

As usual, the students spent the morning in classes. Free afternoon!

Día 9.

Como de costumbre, los alumnos pasaron la mañana en clases. ¡Tarde libre!

Day 10.

Hump day! Another beautiful rainy day in Monteverde. After class, the group had lunch at “La cuchara de la abuela”. This wonderful place is well known for serving excellent traditional Costa Rican food. Right after our delicious lunch, we went to the Monteverde Reserve for a guided hike. Although it was raining a bit, the group had the chance to see some of the most exotic birds and learn about them. We also had the opportunity to see monkeys and some beautiful waterfalls. As always, each student dined with their families and had free time to explore Monteverde. 

Día 10.

Hump day! Otro hermoso día lluvioso en Monteverde. Después de clase, el grupo almorzó en "Cuchara de la abuela". Este maravilloso lugar es conocido por servir excelente comida tradicional costarricense. Justo después de nuestro delicioso almuerzo, fuimos a la Reserva de Monteverde para una caminata guiada. Aunque estaba lloviendo un poco, el grupo tuvo la oportunidad de ver algunas de las aves más exóticas y aprender sobre ellas. También tuvimos la oportunidad de ver monos y algunas hermosas cataratas. Como siempre, cada estudiante cenó con sus familias y tuvo tiempo libre para explorar Monteverde.

Day 11.

As usual, the students spent the morning in classes. Free afternoon!

 Día 11.

Como de costumbre, los alumnos pasaron la mañana en clases. ¡Tarde libre!

Day 12.

As usual, the students spent the morning in classes. Free afternoon!

 Día 12.

Como de costumbre, los alumnos pasaron la mañana en clases. ¡Tarde libre!


Day 13.

Another weekend in Costa Rica! The students had the option to do Canopy Zipline. Along the way the group admired fantastic views of the surrounding forest. We started riding tram up the mountain and from there we rode seven cables that go up to 328 ft in height and 2460 ft in length. This was a unique experience for the students. After that we had lunch at Sabor Tico, this restaurant is well known for serving great Costa Rican food. Finally, the group had some free time to explore Monteverde for one last time.

 Día 13

¡Otro fin de semana en Costa Rica! Los alumnos tuvieron la opción de hacer Canopy Zipline. Durante el transcurso, el grupo admiró las fantásticas vistas del bosque. Comenzamos a viajar en tranvía a la montaña y desde allí montamos siete cables que alcanzan 328 pies de altura y 2460 pies de longitud. Esta fue una experiencia única para los estudiantes. Después de eso almorzamos en Sabor Tico, este restaurante es conocido por servir excelente comida costarricense. Finalmente, el grupo tuvo algo de tiempo libre para explorar Monteverde por última vez.

 Day 14.

Good bye Monteverde! Once again, the students had to say good bye to their wonderful host families. The students will spend their last week in Flamingo. This place is well known for having some of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica. In our way to Flamingo we stopped at Llanos de Cortes waterfalls. Once arrived at Flamingo the group had free time to enjoy Flamingo beach and see the sunset. Finally, each student met with their new family.

 Día 14

¡Adiós Monteverde! Una vez más, los estudiantes tuvieron que despedirse de sus maravillosas familias. Los estudiantes pasarán su última semana en Flamingo. Este lugar es conocido por tener algunas de las playas más hermosas de Costa Rica. En el camino a Flamingo paramos en las cataratas de Llanos de Cortes. Una vez que llegaron a Flamingo, el grupo tuvo tiempo libre para disfrutar de la playa de Flamingo y ver la puesta de sol. Finalmente, cada alumno se reunió con su nueva familia.

 Day 15.

 First day of classes in Flamingo! The students arrived at CPI and received a tour of the school and then met their new teachers. As usual the students spent four hours in the classroom and then had the rest of the day to enjoy the beach.

 Día 15

 ¡Primer día de clases en Flamingo! Los estudiantes llegaron a CPI y recibieron un recorrido por la escuela y luego conocieron a sus nuevos maestros. Como de costumbre, los estudiantes pasaron cuatro horas en el aula y luego tuvieron el resto del día para disfrutar de la playa.

 Day 16.

As usual, the students spent the morning in classes. Free afternoon!

 Día 16

Como de costumbre, los alumnos pasaron la mañana en clases. ¡Tarde libre!

Day 17.

Hump day in Flamingo! Today was a very fun day for all the students. They started the day with Spanish classes and then we had lunch at La Palapa in Tamarindo. As usual, the group spent the afternoon on the beach, in addition, they had the opportunity to take surf lessons. Finally, some of the students decided to watch the sunset on the beach, while others spent time with their families.

Día 17.

¡Hump day en Flamingo! Hoy fue un día muy divertido para todos los estudiantes. Comenzaron el día con clases de español y luego almorzamos en La Palapa en Tamarindo. Como de costumbre, el grupo pasó la tarde en la playa, además, tuvieron la oportunidad de tomar clases de surf. Finalmente, algunos de los estudiantes decidieron ver la puesta de sol en la playa, mientras que otros pasaron tiempo con sus familias.

Day 18.

We can’t believe that the time to return home is approaching! Today the students spent four hours in the classroom and then had the rest of the day to enjoy the beach. 

Día 18.
¡No podemos creer que se acerca el momento de volver a casa! Hoy los alumnos pasaron cuatro horas en el aula y luego tuvieron el resto del día para disfrutar de la playa.

Day 19. 

Last day in Costa Rica! The students had their last Spanish class, then had they a final ceremony where each student received their certificate. After that we saw a video that captured every single moment of the travel. Finally, the group spent the day at the beach and had one last dinner with their families.

Day 20.  

Time to go back home! Thank you so much for visiting Costa Rica. It was a pleasure to have you all here at CPI. Safe travels!

Día 19.

¡Último día en Costa Rica! Los estudiantes tuvieron su última clase de español, luego tuvieron una ceremonia final donde cada estudiante recibió su certificado. Después de eso vimos un video que capturó cada momento del viaje. Finalmente, el grupo pasó el día en la playa y cenó con sus familias. 

Día 20.

¡Tiempo de regresar a casa! Muchas gracias por visitar Costa Rica. Fue un placer tenerlos a todos aquí en CPI. ¡Feliz viaje!




Inicia la aventura de 29 días en Costa Rica. Nuestro grupo llego el 11 de Mayo en 3 grupos distintos al Aeropuerto Juan Santa María, donde poco a poco nos fuimos conociendo. Para nuestro segundo día, fuimos a conocer un poco la capital del país y su historia. Este mismo día después de una caminata por la capital tuvimos la oportunidad de comer nuestra primer comida típica ´´Casados´´. Después un delicioso almuerzo iniciamos nuestro camino hacia las montañas en Monteverde, donde nos estaban esperando nuestras primeras familias ticas. Iniciamos semana con la gran experiencia que fue visitar El Trapiche, donde aprendimos sobre café, caña de azúcar y cacao, seguido de esta increíble experiencia tuvimos nuestras primeras clases de español.

Our adventure keeps going, we visited Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve where we walked for 2 hours in the jungle, seeking for the wildlife. We were lucky to see one of Costa Rica's most famous birds, the Resplendent Quetzal as well as other flora and fauna; right after this we had and incredible lunch at Sabor Tico. Next day we had our fisrt free morning where we visited Santa Elena town and relax before class.  In our 5th day in Costa Rica we got the opportunity to visit a zip-line, where we saw the tree canopies and flew within the clouds ending with a vertigo jump.


Our second week has been a very challenging week but at the same time it has been a week of happiness and personal growth.  We had Spanish class and time to visit different beaches close to Flamingo area. As well we visited and help to excellent NGO´s CEPIA and Siempre Amigos. In CEPIA we had the chance to get to know the project that helps different communities in Guanacaste province, here we played with kids, colored and did different activities with them. With Siempre Amigos we help building a room for a young man how had an accident helping some else. Here is what some of the members of our group think about this two amazing experiences:


  • ´´I saw a piece of myself in every kid that I played with today. The one that is slow to speak and shy, the outgoing ones, the loner, the one that makes everyone laugh and enjoy each other. It made me want to help even more or come back again and volunteer more. ´´


  • ´´Guanacaste in my eyes is rich. Not monetarily, but rich with its people and culture. People like Erenia Blandon, the children and our community guide help me to reflect on the impact I was able to make today, by having an appreciation and respect for their community.´´

Siempre Amigos:

  • ´´Although it was hard work and really difficult at times to keep going. It was an amazing feeling to know how much we help! ´´


  • ´´Siempre Amigos, ay Dios mio where do I begin!

…Definitely get my respect. I never seen cement mixed on the floor (ground) until today. They put their sweat, maybe blood and possibly tears into their work for sure. There is some decent people left in the world still. And the fact that we were helping another guy around my age who lost his ability to walk from helping someone else… just wow… A community full of love and support it´s so heartwarming to see and loved being a part of it. It just makes me want to help my own community in some way. Even if it´s little, that little thing could possibly mean so much to someone, you honestly never know.´´

Sigue la aventura… Han sido unas últimas semanas bastante movidas.  Hemos avanzado muchísimo con nuestras clases de español y hemos tenido increíbles experiencias  aquí en Heredia. Visitamos Carpio un de los barrios en los cuales hicimos lo posible para poder ayudar en conjunto con CRHF (Fundación Humanitaria). Aquí trabajamos en distintos proyectos, como ayudar a embellecer el área sembrando distintas plantas. De igual manera  trabajamos con niños de la zona y aprendimos un poco del día a día en el que ellos viven.  También hemos tenido momentos un poco más relajados visitando el sur de Costa Rica y visitando el área de Rey Curre, una de las pocas áreas indígenas dentro del país y el parque nacional Manuel Antonio.

Nuestros últimos días estuvieron llenos de emociones, después de nuestro ultima visita a la Carpio y la preparación de la presentación final de nuestro programa. Afortunadamente tuvimos la oportunidad de relajarnos un poco y visitar las Cataratas de la Paz, donde logramos conocer y estar junto a muchos animales e insectos. Las presentaciones finales fueron un poco estresantes, pero muy emotivas. Logramos ver el crecimiento personal que tuvimos cada uno de los integrantes del grupo, al igual logramos compartir un poco del viaje y la experiencia obtenida en estos 29 días juntos gracias al Centro Panamericano de idiomas (CPI).

Leslie Corrales


Rollins College 2019

Day 1 started in the Juan Santamaria International Airport when the group arrived. We were lucky enough to see a rare natural phenomenon, the 22 degree Sun Halo, over the airport. After this impressive sight, we went to our much needed lunch date at Super Snacks where we were introduced to the Costa Rican dish, el casado. Having eaten well, it was time for a tour of the neighborhood where we would be spending the next week. Walking around many cultural differences were being noted such as: the very gated houses and how difficult it was to cross the street.

After a long day of traveling with many new impressions we went to sleep, excited for the next day


Day 2: Sunday started off with a traditional Costa Rican Catholic Sunday mass. The priest gave an inspiring sermon and when we had received the communionand shook hands with the nearby churchgoers we headed out to see what San José had to offer.

We started at the local farmer's/flee market and saw all it had to offer in fresh fruits and vegetables as well as second hand items. We were even lucky enough to be offered a drink fresh from the coconut! The tour continued throughout historical San José onwards to the National Museum. We were, once again, in luck as the museum did not charge a cover due to it being the 132nd anniversary. Inside we walked the history of Costa Rica all the way from the pre-colombian natives, through the Spanish reign, and ended in the present day. We also saw the famous, mythical, pre-colombian spheres that are found around Costa Rica. We ended the tour with what was widely deemed the highlight of the day: The Town Market. Although not in full effect due to the time and day, the experience was good. We also got a chance to practice our negotiations skills in Spanish when we successfully haggled the home made hammocks down from 14,000 colones to 2,500 colones. Then again, we should expect nothing less from Rollins' business students.


Day 3 was the first week day of the trip. We used this day to visit the Costa Rican Investment Promotion Agency (CINDE). CINDE has more than 35 years of experience attracting foreign investments, and they are doing really well. Francesca, our speaker, told us about all the competitive advantages that Costa Rica can offer multinational companies, if they invest in the country: Highly skilled and educated work force, the happiness of the people, good living conditions, and the investment climate. However, Costa Rica does not just welcome anybody. They are picky and will reject a company's offer to invest if they do not believe that the company in question adhere to the rather strict environmental standards in Costa Rica.

The day concluded with the first official Spanish class at CPI. Unofficial lessons had already been given by our host families the evening before and on the morning of this day. We went into the class with high expectations, hoping to be fluent Spanish speakers by the end of the week.


Day 4: Today was all about a local success story. Grupo Britt was our host for the day and they put on a show. Firstly, we heard from the HR manager, Roberto Ureña, who told us about the history and present of the company. It was a captivating tale and example of how you can grow your business in a positive way without exploiting your employees or nature. It is amazing how well this company treats their work force.

After this, we went on the small Tour de Coffee. Our lovely guides covered everything from the history of coffee, over the growing of the plants, to the final product in the stores – and they did it all with a smile! They did not do it alone however. Valued group members Tyler and Kyle were recruited to participate; Tyler stood in for a coffee picker and had to work hard in the sun for his 3 dollars; Kyle enjoyed the daunting task of being place in charge of quality control where he first had to learn how to correctly taste the coffee. Big thanks to both!


Day 5 was a Wednesday and we kicked the day off bright and early at 7 am. After having traversed the San José morning rush hour, we arrived at the American Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Kevin Díaz received us with open arms and layed his vast business knowledge on us. In fact, he had so much knowledge to share that we ended up spending an additional hour in the Chamber. After this, we went to Heredia and walked around the cozy city center.


Day 6 was a day of lasting impressions as we visited the organization, Boy with a Ball. They showed us around the precarious neighborhood they work, El Triangulo de Solidaridad, and we saw first hand what people will do in hope of a better life. This was a very inspiring experience and more than one student expressed interest in coming back to help whatever way they could. After a delicious chicken lunch cooked by a local lady, we moved on to another event with Grupo Bitt. We were given a tour of their chocolate factory and saw everything from storage to production and quality control.


On Friday Day 7, we left San Joaquin and went to country side. The highlights of this weekend excursion was the visit to volcano Arenal, hiking, swimming in waterfalls, and the hot springs. When the weekend turned to Monday, we packed our things and headed to Monteverde were we had some afternoon classes before meeting our host families for the week.


Day 11: Our first full day in Monteverde kicked of with a tour of El Establo hotel. We saw how they catered to their customers and learned exactly how much money is spend on maintaining pillows, towels, and lines. After this, we walked to the nearby women's artistic collective, CASEM, for a traditional lunch of rice and beans before the afternoon classes. In the afternoon, we made our snacks in the CPI cooking class. Of course this was a big hit – maybe it was because of the chef's hats we all donned.


Day 12: Today started with a down pour. Luckily for us it stopped when we reached our tour around the combined coffee and sugar plantation, Trapiche. On this trip we were given many insights into how to make coffee, sugar, and chocolate. They drove us around in a traditional Costa Rican ox-cart, la carreta, and we learned that big oxen can be very scary when they suddenly move.

The afternoon was highlighted by a visit from the indigenous group, the Borucas. They had brought their cultural masks and where gladly telling everybody the story of why and when they used them. They even demonstrated how to make a mask and how to weave textiles. These techniques have given them the opportunity to make extra income and put a lot of familiars through school.

Day 13 started out bright and early in the Santa Elena Reserve Cloud Forrest. Full of hope of seeing all the cool animals that Costa Rica has to offer, we went into the wild. Unfortunately, this morning the animals were not putting on a show, but that is what happens when you don't go to a zoo. We did manage to see a Tucan, some squirrels, and a millipede.

After a quiet morning we needed some action to liven up. Luckily, we had zip-lining planned! We got strapped in and had a practice run before we headed out to the actual course. 7 lines, a lot of yards, and free fall later, the tour was sadly over and we headed to Santa Elena for lunch.

Day 14 we learned more about coffee. In fact, we are becoming quite the experts! We drove a little bit down the mountain on the muddy back roads of Monteverde to Monteverde LIFE. Our guide, Guillermo, welcomed us and started the tour with a lecture on the history of the farm and how they have succeeded in incorporating very sustainable practices into their business model. We then walked past the farm animals that they still keep and learned about their role in becoming a self sufficient farm. For instance, the pigs produce methane that LIFE uses for their gas stove to cook dinner for the visitors. The afternoon was highlighted by the last Spanish classes and a dance class with Latin dances.