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Travel Studies: Costa Rica

DAY 1
We started the day with an early breakfast before heading to San Jose. We visited the central market where we spotted several pet shops and fruit stands. After that, we rode a bus through the rainforest and stopped for lunch at a local buffet. There were many Central American specialities, although a few of us decided to have pancakes instead. We returned to the bus and drove to our next hotel, the Tirimbina Biological Reserve. Once settled, we went on a chocolate-making tour. We learned the process of making chocolate bars and tasted multiple versions (cocoa bean, hot chocolate, solid chocolate). It was delicious! For dinner, we had rice and beans. Afterwards, some of the students went on a walk and were surprised by a monkey passing in front of them. It was an enjoyable and eventful day. We headed to bed excited about our 6 a.m. birdwatching tour tomorrow.
- Maia and Mikeala

DAY 2
We woke up before 6 a.m. for prime light to see birds. We saw toucans, hummingbirds and even a sloth! We learned the names in Spanish - from chachalaqua to quetzal. Everybody was in awe at different points during the walk. After breakfast, we toured the rainforest. We now understand the meaning of that name - it rained twice during the walk! The canopy of leaves acted as a semipermeable umbrella. We didn’t see many animals, but we learned about bats and the origin of vampires. Then we saw how a little red bean is turned into our parents’ and teachers’ daily life-saving cups of coffee! The coffee was tasty, for those of us who enjoy the taste. Lunch was great, too, with more rice and beans. After lunch, we worked at a shelter, either painting, washing turtles or scraping the ground and spreading rocks to help conservation in Costa Rica.
Another group of students went on tonight’s night walk, and there was a lot of screaming! (Imagine the volume from a concert, but coming from only 13 students.) To be fair, it was dark and there were a lot of spiders (harmless daddy longlegs ones). There was quite a bit of complaining - either by students scared of the bugs, or by students complaining about students scared of the bugs! 
Dinner was great. We wrapped ourselves up in our bug nets and watched the three constellations visible from our room. Good night, Costa Rica!
- Cooper and Ella

DAY 3
We started the day with a bird walk alongside our tour guide Miguel. We saw hummingbirds, toucans, a sloth, iguanas, and the national bird of Costa Rica, which is the yigüirro (the clay-coloured thrush).  
After breakfast, we went on another walk with Miguel. Once again, we were fascinated by the incredible diversity! Next, we drove to the small community of Cope San Juan, enjoyed lunch with our kind hosts, and practiced our Spanish with the hosts. After lunch, we played soccer with the community. It ended up pouring rain, which made the experience really unique. After dinner, it was dancing time. When we got to the hut where this was to take place, music was already playing, and many local residents were there. Two teenagers from the community showed us complicated dances, which many of us tried but failed to keep up with. It was a blast. Mme. Carter and Mme. Daignault pulled out their dance moves, which had the students laughing and dancing along. When the evening’s festivities were over, we walked back under the stars to our homes in the village. 
- Sadie

DAY 4
We woke up and had breakfast with our host families. The food was great! Then we went to the elementary school to play tag, Stella Ella Ola, elephant football and soccer with the children. They were shy at first, but by the end they were very outgoing. We had loads of fun. After that, we took a fruit break and ate cantaloupe, mango and watermelon. We all needed the refreshments! We spent the latter part of the morning playing a giant game of soccer and volleyball with the high school students, which was lots of fun. It was so hot out! The sun was shining and all of that running around was very tiring. Lunch was served in our respective houses and then it was time to go. We were all sad to leave. We said goodbye and headed to La Fortuna. On the way the guide explained how to cultivate pineapples. He said that you could use the seed in the top of a pineapple to grow smaller pineapples, but they don’t grow miniature pineapples because it wouldn’t make a good profit. Miniature pineapples would be so cute. The most interesting thing we learned today was there used to be cyanide in pineapple seeds. In La Fortuna, we bought ice cream and souvenirs, and looked around. After finding our rooms at our new hotel, we spent the afternoon at the pool. It was cloudy and a little cold but we still enjoyed it. We had a delicious supper and had the evening to ourselves. Some walked back to town for gelato, while others stayed at the hotel to play cards, hang out with friends and relax. We have another exciting day to look forward to tomorrow.
- Emma and Ana


DAY 5
We had breakfast at 7:30 a.m. so we could go kayaking at 8 a.m. Breakfast was eggs, rice, cheese and beans. We kayaked in a lake and at the end of our trip went swimming. We headed to an organic farm for lunch and had a tour. We saw chickens, leaf-cutter ants, cows and sugarcane, and tasted exotic and unusual plants. We tried some sugarcane treats and made our own sugarcane juice by having two people squeeze the sugarcane and a third person pull the branch out of the machine. We had free time before dinner to shop in town and hang out with friends. Dinner at the hotel was spaghetti. At 7 p.m. we went to the hot springs, which had a variety of hot and cold pools with miniature waterfalls. It was a fun day. 
-  Zeyd and Palmer

DAY 6
We congregated in the dining area for an early morning breakfast. As we wiped the morning from our eyes, we put on rubber boots and helmets and went into the Venado Caves. After changing out of our wet clothes, we took a small break at the hotel and hopped on the bus to go ziplining. We zoomed across the trees like Tarzan and descended 100 feet! That evening, we walked into town for our last taste of gelato, and packed our bags for San Juan.
~ George, Mia, Adam, Alp and Tom


DAY 7
We woke at 6:30 a.m. for breakfast before leaving the hotel. Our first stop was a volcano, where we hiked for two hours. Despite the challenging climb, the view was gorgeous! We ate lunch at a traditional Costa Rican buffet restaurant, where we enjoyed a delicious selection of local delicacies. Afterward, we headed to a butterfly garden, where we learned about metamorphosis and the different species of butterflies. Then we took the bus to the airport hotel, for dinner and an early night to prepare for tomorrow’s departure. 
- Abby & Schuyler