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.

Welcome Queen's College 2019!

Welcome Queen's College 2019!

The heat wave of Easter Break just arrived, and with it came our friends from Queen’s College! ??

Flying in directly from the warm tropics of the Bahamas ?? , this group of high school students has joined us to spend a week learning Spanish in Heredia and exploring the cultural and natural sites our beloved Costa Rica has to offer! ?? 

So far, our students have indulged themselves with local foods and fruits from the farmer’s market and from Heredia’s central market, have drunk quality coffee at Britt Coffee Tour ☕️ and have spotted ? , toucans, butterflies? and waterfalls at La Paz Waterfalls Gardens! 

Yet, these first days of adventure couldn’t be complete without a visit to the local mall and a ride in the public bus ? , just like the locals do!

Apart from all these exciting new adventures, they have walked (A LOT!) and started Spanish classes with their professors! ?

Many say that so far it’s been a wild ride and that the classes are fun and the food good! ? 

So for you that reads us, stay tuned, because more of this adventure is to be recorded!

Pura Vida!

Patricia ??



VMS in Costa Rica 2019!


The adventure began once they landed in Costa Rica. A warm and humid weather was waiting for the group to come and feel the tropic temperatures leaving behind the cold and the snow from Colorado.

All these kids are here to learn Spanish and to have a full experience in how we costaricans live our life. Learn about our culture and traditions in different ways is also part of the plan of this amazing journey.

The first day in Costa Rica after leaving the airport we went to CPI School in Heredia to have an orientation for the group. It was about some important aspects to have in mind during all the days that they are going to be here.

One by one the host families were arriving to the campus looking forward to meet their new "hijo/hija". Some kids were nervous about meeting their "familia tica" but after all everything went well. Later one by one every host family leaved the school to go home and have dinner with the new member of the family.

Day 2: Beach day in Manuel Antonio. We visited the National Park which is one of the most visited NP in Costa Rica. After a long trip on the bus. The group enjoyed watching animals that probably most of them didn´t know before. For example sloths, huge iguana, monkeys, "Jesus Christ lizard" and some others. It was a sunny and beautiful day. The kids loved the beach and the water. They got a great time in the paradise and one they got tired we started our way back to the central valley.

Day 3: On Sunday we did something very "costarican". We went to a stadium to watch a local soccer game (Alajuela against Perez Zeledon). They ate the typical snacks that you can find in any local game. They were happy supporting and making some cheers for our team but it wasn´t enough cheering because  Alajuela lost the match (final score 1-2). Later on we went to San Jose which is the capital of Costa Rica. We walked around the main streets where almost all the museums and theaters are located. A mini tour inside of the National Theater guided by Catalina was good for the kids to learn part of the costarican history. And then we finished the weekend with some shopping at the "Mercado Artesanal" where they bought souvenirs for their families.

Day 4: On Monday the teachers pick the kids up from their houses to show them San Joaquin and walk around the town before taking them to the Spanish classes at the CPI Heredia Campus. During the week they are going to be learning the language in the afternoons (4 hours per day). After classes they always have time to play soccer or basketball or volleyball in the fields located in the patio of the campus. Then once the sun starts going down the students get ready to come back to their houses and have a nice dinner with their "familia tica".

Day 5: Today is a unique and special day. Do you know why? Well because today we are going to visit a Herpetological Refuge located in Santa Ana. There they have reptiles and amphibians but not just that. They have other wild animals that were damaged by an accident or by bad people who was trying to hunt them. Some others are in the refuge because their old owners didn´t want them anymore so they leave them behind. They kids were excited to see all those animals. They also had the chance to feed some animals like monkeys, a baby deer, birds, sloths, badgers and turtles.

After an amazing morning with the animals we had lunch in a very yummy restaurant to recharge energy and keep learning Spanish at the CPI School.

This VMS story in Costa Rica will be continued as the days pass by.

Pura Vida!

-Diego Quesada


Francis Parker Middle School in CR 2019

We invite you to become part of this amazing adventure that Francis Parkers students are starting in Costa Rica. It´s going to be a week full of adventure, learning, friendship and self-growth.

Day 1. The group landed in Liberia airport, right away we got into our big bus and drove to Flamingo beach were we stayed at Casa del Toro, where the adventures starts.

Day 2. The students got to enjoyed their first Costarican meal. We had a free morning on which we enjoyed of friend time on the pool, before we headed to the awesome experience of a Catamaran ship. On the boat the students got the chance to swim, snorkel and great food.

Day 3. One of the longest days of the trip. We got up early morning enjoyed our breakfast and had the chance to visit Playa Conchal, right after this got to our hotel check-out and got on the bus on our way to Monteverde, in the road we stop in Santa Cruz, la ciudad de Folclor Costarricense, here we got to know the town and asked locals about their community, after this got back on the bus for another 3 and half hour ride to the Mountain (Monteverde). Once in Monteverde we got oriented on what was going to be the rest of our week and got to know our host families.

Day 4.Starting the spanish class day, the kids were divided in small groups of 3-4 people to have a personal experience learning spanish  and learning about the culture of Costa Rica. The next days, there will be classes in the morning and will be divided in 2 groups(Pura Vida & Tuanis) for the afternoon activities.

                Pura Vida Group: We had a delicious arroz con pollo in Sabor Tico followed by the most adventurous experience for many of the kids. Zip lining through 7 cables in the Cloud Forest and a vertigo jump that had everyone with an adrenaline rush.

                Tuanis Group: We had the experience to visit a sustainability farm called Life Monteverde. Where we had and amazing lunch made with different ingredients grown in the farm. As well got the chance to know part of their project and what they do. We walk through a Cafetal and saw the difference between healthy coffee plants and sick ones. Right after we started helping them in the farm, watering trees/plants and working with compost.

Day 5.

                Pura Vida Group: Our afternoon started with a homemade lunch from El Trapiche Tour, we then were divided in 2 groups to learn about 3 important processes of 3 products that are planted in Costa Rica. We learned about sugarcane and its properties and ways of processing the sugar, cacao beans and how to end with a delicious chocolate and  coffee beans; its importance for Costa Rica and how to get from the bean to the cup of coffee.

                Tuanis Group: Our afternoon started with another great lunch made in Life Monteverde, right after we split into 2 groups and flowed-up with the work we started doing the day before.


Stay in touch for further details of our next days in Costa Rica! 

-Leslie C & Fabiola F 

NMSU in Costa Rica 2018-2019

NMSU Aggies están en Costa Rica!!

Les doy la bienvenida y les invito a formar parte de esta gran aventura  de los chicos y chicas de la Universidad Estatal de Nuevo México en Costa Rica. Serán dos semanas de aprendizaje, español, aventura, amistad y sobre todo mucha diversión.

Aquí una breve reseña de lo que ha sido esta primera semana en Monteverde para el grupo.

Día 1: Llegada al Aeropuerto Juan Santamaría, la mayoría de los chicos pasaron la noche en La Dehesa B&B, cómodo lugar en San Joaquin de Flores donde tuvieron la oportunidad de descansar antes de la aventura.

Día 2: El camino a Monteverde sin ninguna duda es una gran experiencia para muchos, subir las montañas entre guindos y camino de piedra con vistas increíbles del Golfo de Nicoya. Los chicos estaban muy emocionados y nerviosos de conocer a su familia tica. Una experiencia donde podrán conocer más sobre la cultura tica, sus costumbres y aprender mucho mas español.

Día 3: El día inicia con clases de español, donde cada estudiante poco a poco va mejorando su español, gramática y ortografía. Para el almuerzo los chicos tuvieron la dicha de disfrutar de una clase de cocina y aprender cómo hacer tortillas, cocinamos un delicioso arroz con pollo, ensalada rusa y tortillas con fresco de maracuyá. Seguidamente ya con mucha energía, aprendieron a bailar salsa, merengue y un poco de cumbia, todos mostrando sus mejores movimientos en la pista de baile! Por la tarde hicimos una caminata a Santa Elena para conocer los principales negocios, supermercados, restaurantes, etc de la zona y disfrutaron de un rico helado de la Fabrica de Quesos.

Día 4: Feliz Año Nuevo! Este día, muy esperado por todos, realizamos el canopy tour en Sky Adventures. Una actividad llena de aventuras y perfecta para vencer el miedo a las alturas, no hay duda de que los chicos pasaron un tiempo increíble.

Día 5: Clases de español nos esperaran para iniciar nuestro día, es increíble como los chicos cada día practican mas su español, conocen palabras nuevas y mejoran. Por la tarde nos esperaba un día de trabajo en Life Monteverde, finca sostenible cuya producción es principalmente del café. Los chicos aprendieron características importantes en una finca sostenible y acerca de la importante relación que tiene Life con un grupo de 45 nicaragüenses que vienen a Costa Rica por unos cuantos meses durante la época de recolección de café.

Espero esten atentos para conocer mas sobre los ultimos dos dias en Monteverde y el fin de semana!

Muchas gracias.


-Fabiola Fuentes