Sunday, July 31, 2011

Unique Experience with Costa Rican Family

Today we had the priviledge of being welcomed into the home of a Costa Rican family.  Not only did they share their way of life with us – from pineapple harvesting and cultivating, to farmwork with cows, to making cheese, to planting trees to help their sustainability efforts.  We met members of the entire family during this process, which allowed us to experience the culture in a way we did not anticipate.  The family even treated us to a homemade lunch, which was unexplainably delicious! 

While there, we were able to meet with the principal of their school.  There are around 50 children in their school.  Our students met with a few of the local children, and were able to hand them school supplies for which they were extremely grateful.  The principal said this means so much to them.  We watched intently as the children looked through the supplies that we had provided, and then we experienced a truly heartwarming thing:  one of the local girls asked us in Spanish if she could open her bag of supplies to see what she had received.  Her face beamed!  At that moment, our students were interacting with the family and the children – some of our students were even speaking Spanish.

As we left, the family expressed their sincerest thanks for our visit, reiterating that they not only appreciated the school supplies but also the chance to host us as it truly impacts their lives.  WOW.IMG_1102[1]





Hiking in Juanilama: Community and Eco-Farming

Today is July 31, 2011. This morning we visited a plantation that grew pineapples ‘ananas’ is the true word for pineapples. We participated in learning about pineapple farming and we got to plant a chute a small new pineapple plant. The right was organic without any pesticides because they use plastic to try to prevent weeds just like the one I use on my garden. We then went on a hike to a waterfall to swim; along the way there were thousands of army ants that were on the forest floor. They bit me until Eric loaned me a pair of socks to protect my feet when we got to the waterfall it was awesome. I went in the water and it was so weird because I’m used to salt water but it was refreshing. After we were done swimming we hiked back to plant trees. I planted mahogany  and another tree that supports the green macaw. That’s all for now but I will blog later. Peace.


In the Water

Today we went in a stream. The water was really cold. There was also a lot of rocks on the ground, so it was slippery. It was really cool. There aren’t any waterfalls were I live, so that was a great experience.


Night Hiking

We came back from night hiking and it was so fun! we saw so many things like frogs, spiders, etc. The best of all was an ARMADILLO!!! It was cool because we went on a bridge the was really long. We swayed a lot. We don’t get to see these things in California.


A Wild Ride

Today we went kayaking at a river swamp. It was very tiring and it helped your upper body strength. We got stuck sometimes against some logs. It was very shallow so the paddle kept getting stuck. Kayaking was very fun though and i would want to go again. The river swamp was brown and it smelled really bad. The water was warm i felt like swimming in it, but it looked dirty. I saw some birds from a distance and they were very pretty. I thought i was pretty good at kayaking. I have never gone kayaking before and i knew what to do. Like my mom always says “ You never know if your good at something unless you try.


Snorkeling Surprise

Today we went snorkeling. Since this was my first time doing this I didn’t know what to expect. all of a sudden Marlene and I saw a huge green fish and it was amazing.  At the end I thought snorkeling was a fun and great adventure.


Kayaking and snorkeling

Today we went on a bike ride down to the beach.  The bike ride was fun enough, getting to see Costa Rica, but then it got even better.  We went kayaking.  After going in the ocean for a couple of minutes, we went down a river.  It was great.  The only problem was that we kept getting stuck on logs that fell into the river.  Other than that everything was good.  After kayaking we went snorkeling.  The water was perfect.  It felt so good to be swimming.  We saw a lot of coral.  There weren’t that many fish, but it was still good.  So far the motorized canoe rides from yesterday are still my favorite thing from the trip, but I love it all.

See you soon Mom and Dad




Today was so fun. We went biking to the beach. We rode on beach cruisers. The roads were really bumpy and then they were flat. It was a great experience to go out and see the trees and plants.


Discovery Costa Rica Trip

On the first day in Costa Rica we arrived really late due to our 2 hour delay. When we finally arrived in Costa Rica we went through customs and got our bags. We then went to our hotel; the Country Inn and Suite. The next day we went to Puerto Viejo on our way to our hotel, we went to the Veragua Rainforest Research Center. There we ate lunch, visited some exhibits on lizards, frogs and snakes. We also visited a waterfall, rode through a gondola, and finally we fed butterflies, collected their eggs, set them free, and hung their cocoons. On the third day we  had a long drive, when we finally reached our destination, we went in a motorized home-made canoe on the way to the Bribri Tribe some of us stood on Panama, and we had a lot of fun. When we reached the Bribri Tribe reservation we donated things to their schools, visited their high school, and finally made chocolate and had lunch. On our way back to our vans, we took the the motorized canoes,back to the town we were dropped back off at. On the fourth day (today) we had breakfast and rode bikes for about two miles to the beach. There we snorkeled along the reef and went kayaking in the ocean and in a river, now we are headed to our next hotel in Sarapiqui .

Making Chocolate

The Bribri tribe makes their chocolate in a way free of preservatives and unpleasant chemicals.  To start the process they dry and roast the cocoa beans.  After this step they crush them beans with a large stone, and then shake the platter in a specific way as to shake of the crushed husks.  Next the crushed beans are ground into a pulp using a hand crank.  After all this work the chocolate is still very bitter, so to counteract that bitterness they mix in condensed milk.  The resulting chocolate is natural and delicious (especially when one dips a banana into the chocolate.)


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Bribri Tribe

We rode in motorized canoes up the Yorkin River.  The view was amazing because we were right in the middle of the rainforest and were able to see sloths and birds such as the Montezuma Ondependula. At the Bribri village we gave donations to the schools and got to see how they live and learn. To finish of the visit we participated in chocolate making, archery, and the making of roof sheets.


Eric’s Blog Busing

Most of this trip has been spent on a bus. We have used the same bus to get to places. It is also used so we can see Costa Rica at a glance. We have seen sloths and different parts of the trip. We also use it for socializing and catching up on sleep.

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Eric’s Blog Dallas

When our plane landed we prepared for our layover. This is where we met Alex, Jeff, Kai, Abbey,Marlene, and Jenny. After the introductions we got something to eat at a resturant called Fudruckers. After that we found out that our plane was going to be delayed. So we spent that time playing games and listening to music..

Eric’s Blog Airport.

  Today i woke up happy as ever. I had been invited to go to Costa Rica with Discovery Student Adventures. My cousins and there friend were going and i was also invited by them. I am very excited to do all of the adventures listed and be able to spend a once in a lifetime opportunity with my cousins. When i walked into the airport i walked to my friends and we talked about the trip for a while. When everybody had arrived we went through security and checked our bags. we then waited for our plane to leave Philadelphia to Dallas. I was so excited to get on the plane and officially start my trip.

Eric’s Blog Day 3

Today we left our cabin to visit the bri-bri tribe. We split into groups and went to a spot where they had canoes waiting for us. By this point it was pouring which made the ride uncomfortable. Costa Rica 2011 eric wood 041

After we got there we had a tour of the tribe’s village . We were introduced to the kindergarten and elementary school buildings where we dropped off our presents. The we went to the high school where we met the highs school studens and their principal.  Next, we went through the village and  helped part of the tribe make chocolate.Costa Rica 2011 eric wood 064 It was sooooo good I wish I could have taken some home. After saying adios and leaving the village we went back to the canoes and made the trip back. It was very nice scenery and peaceful.

Eric’s Blog Day 2 part 2

I just finished my trip to the rain forest and we are on our way to our new hotel. First we went to a really cool waterfall  Costa Rica 2011 eric wood 022After that we went on a realy cool gondola ride where we saw Howler monkeys and sloths.Costa Rica 2011 eric wood 023. Next, we went to the exhibits my favorite one was the butterfly exhibit

which is where we got to help the scientists collect egg, wings,, and hang cocoons.Costa Rica 2011 eric wood 025

Eric’s Blog Day 2

Today we woke up and had breakfast outside. I tried a new fruit Costa Rica 2011 eric wood 004 it was amazing. After that we went on a bus ride to the rain forest and we are going to a special place that will teach us about the animals of the rain forest

Eric’s blog Day 1

On our first day here we went from the airport to the hotel which is when we met our tour guide Mayor. When I got into my room I found out that I was rooming with my cousin and his friend.we got situated and ready for our first day in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica 2011 eric wood 002Eric Wood

Friday, July 29, 2011

A Tasty Treat

Today we made chocolate with the Bribri tribe. We had to separate the husk from the bean and then grind it and mix it with condensed milk to make it sweet. After the process was finished,we got to taste it with bananas. The bananas taste sweeter than the ones we have at hom, and of course the chocolate was too!


Best day EVER in Costa Rica!

Today we went on a canoe and visited the Bribri tribe. We went through the Yorkin River. I didn't know what to expect. When we arrived, I felt sad because they don't have roads and they live in huts. They use all of their natural resources to make things such as huts, chairs, tables, etc. Our houses are nothing compared to their huts.


Eye Opening Excursion to the Bribri Village

Today our group took an unforgettable trip to the Bribri village. The Bribri are indiginous people to Costa Rica, who live remotely in the mountainous rainforest near the Yorkin river. To get to the village, we rode in dugout canoes down the Yorkin - observing wildlife and flora as we went. Upon our arrival, we were greeted by Prisca, one of the female elders of the tribe. She thanked us for coming, and we were educated on how our visit to their village is an important part of their evolving culture. She is the president of their women's organization of artists, which was started 18 years ago to assist with the economy of the tribe. They began with two women, and the organization has grown over the years. Currently, this club offers unique experiences to visitors such as ourselves to obtain a glimpse of their lifestyle. Their buildings are simple with thatched roofs made of palm leaves, and they mostly walk everywhere. It is rare for them to have canoes such as the ones we used to get to the village. They compared having a horse to having a Lamborghini, so as you can imagine we only saw one horse on this trek.

Our first stop was their elementary school. This one-room school really gave us a perspective as to how fortunate American students are. There were few books, an old blackboard, and a few wooden desks and chairs. Unfortunately, the students were not in school as the weather was too bad this morning. The students walk to school, which takes them 1-2 hours. We were able to deliver school supplies to one of the elementary school teachers on the school's behalf. In the supplies, we included soccer balls - which the teacher said would mean the world to the students as they had none.

After a brief hike, we visited their high school. Again, the school was only one room. The school principal greeted us warmly, and was appreciative of the school supplies that we were able to bring to the school. Our students noticed that there were no computers, or many of the basic school supplies that American schools. We had a chance to meet the students, who ranged in age from 16-24. Even though their was a language barrier for some, we did our best to ask each other questions.

Then, we went to their kitchen to make chocolate. A representative from the tribe taught us how to crush the cacao beans with a large, heavy rock on a wooden platter to get the bean out of the shell. The aroma was remarkable, and we all commented that we wanted to bottle that scent & take it home! We each had a chance to crush the beans. Then, they showed us a special technique to toss the crushed cacoa beans into the air to separate the shells from the bean. Next, we took the crushed beans and processed them through a hand-powered grinder. Our host mixed the bittersweet concoction with condensed milk to create the most delicious chocolate dip for our fresh bananas. We could have eaten our weight in chocolate!

They treated us to a traditional lunch, which was delicious. Following lunch, one of their representatives showed us how to use use their techniques to make the thatched roofs. We all got to tie palm leaves onto the bamboo to create a section of roofing. Then, he showed us how to shoot a traditional arrow. They normally use this type of arrow to spear fish. It was amazing to see the kids cheer one another on as they each tried to hit the target - which was a large palm seed.

I wish we could share all of the unforgettable signs, sounds and smells from this journey with you! I think today was one of amazing learnings, and also fostered an appreciation for all of the things that we have that we often take for granted.


Hi family,
Today was very fun. While at the beginning it poured, it got better. My favorite part was moter dugout canoe ride. It was really fun because the scenery was great and the boat was fun to ride. Once we got to the Bribri tribe, we got to see how they live. It is very interesting to see how they get by on a lot less than us. We also made chocolate. First we ground up the cocoa beans, then liquified the beans with a hand crank. The chocolate was very good. I also ended up slipping in mud 3 times, giving me the award for the most clumsy of the day. On the way back in the canoes, we raced. Our canoe won by a mile. Tomorrow we are going snorkeling, which will be really fun.


Hi to Home from Mitchell

Hey mom, dad, Sydney, and Sam. I wanted to say hello and I am having a great time and it is going to get better.


Veragua Rainforest

We went to the Veragua Rainforest. While riding on a gondola we were able to see sloths and howler monkeys in the trees. Then we hiked to Puma Falls and saw red poison dart frogs. Also in Veragua, we saw displays of tarantulas, snakes,lizards, and frogs. On our hike around the rainforest we spotted things like green and black poison dart frogs, lizards, butterflies, and stick bugs. The forest was incredible, and it was an excellent experience.


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Amazing Adventure at Veragua National Park

The first day of our Discovery Student Adventure was truly amazing. On our drive to Veragua National Park, Mayer shared his vast information about Costa Rica with our group. We learned so much about the local infrastructure, history, everyday life, and more. We truly are learning every moment!

We spent our day exploring the Veragua National Park. We experienced a sky tram ride above the rainforest canopy, witnessing troops of howler monkeys, tucans, sloths and leaf cutter ants in their natural habitat. At the base of the sky tram ride, we hiked to Cougar's Waterfall. On this hike, we saw a variety of frogs, birds, and lizards in the rainforest. The experts shared information about every animal we saw.

After our hike, we learned about frogs, snakes and butterflies through very unique exhibits. We were fortunate enough to have an exclusive experience with the biologists at the butterfly garden on very special projects. In the butterfly house, we collected butterfly eggs and picked up wings from butterflies who had passed away to contribute to research efforts. We also had a chance to put out a special meal consisting of mostly bananas for the butterflies. Then, we headed into the research center to work alongside the biologists to catalog cocoons and place them in the "hatchery" cases. The icing on top of the cake is we were able to release butterflies who had just emerged from their cocoons into the butterfly garden. It was awesome!

We then headed to a new lodge, Almonds & Corals. It is a lodge with a very unique concept and is "green". Before our delicious dinner, we were able to go to the beach to dip our toes in the water and explore the sand. The sunset was beautiful!

We will share photos with you soon - the group is having more fun than we thought possible, and are eagerly awaiting our trip to the Bribri village tomorrow.

It is nearly impossible to convey everything that was learned into one blog post. We can't wait to share our memories!

Eau Claire, 6 days and counting

Looking forward to seeing you all in Dallas as we meet up to head down to Costa Rica! Don't forget to bring your passports to the meeting August 1st and if you have a chance jump on and post an answer to this question on the blog....(don't forget to sign your name!)
What is the ONE THING you won't leave home without?

Meet Mayer

Our in country expert. He provided the best inside information to our teachers in February, and can't wait to take us into the Costa Rican rainforest tomorrow to discover things we have only imagined. Stay tuned for more details as we start our journey!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

We have landed!

Pura vida! We are off!

Off to Costa Rica!

Students from all corners of the U.S. are gathered in Dallas, TX., gearing up for an amazing adventure in Costa Rica! We are getting to know one another while waiting for the plane to board. Everyone is SO excited to see what is in store for us. From ziplining, to kayaking, to learning from the BriBri tribe, the students are having a difficult time defining what they are most looking forward to experiencing.

Stay tuned for details as we continue on this trip of a lifetime. Pura vida!!!


Texas Airport

We are in the Texas airport waiting for the airplane. The group for the trip is great. They are all really nice. I can wait to get to Costa Rica. There are so many good things planned for our trip.


Kai & Geoffrey - ready for take off!

Portland crew heading to Dallas - so excited & can't wait to zip line!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Post from Kyle W.

We went to a Costa Rican school on day 7--I forgot to blog about it so
here it is. After we finished canyoning (waterfall reppelling)we drove to
a small house with a large back yard surrounded by a fence on the outskirts
of town. Once I got out I figured out that it was actually a school. It
was very small and was about the size of an average classroom in elementary
school (this was the size of WHOLE school!). It had 2 whiteboards and one
chalkboard and only had one piece of chalk so we gladly gave them a large
box of colored chalk. The teacher was pleased. The school held 30 students
ranging from kindergarten to about 10th grade, with only one teacher and 1
cook. They don't have enough food for all the kids to have breakfast, so
some kids don't eat. There was only one third grader in the whole school.
All the kids learn together. Once we finished giving them all the school
supplies--markers, watercolors and a lot of paper, we went outside and
divided up all the kids into 2 teams. We played soccer and man were these
kids good! I think they play a lot of soccer, their playground is a tiny
field of grass. They don't have any toys for entertainment besides the one
kid who was lucky enough to have an Iron Man bike. So we gave them a Jenga
blocks set. All the kids who weren't playing soccer were trying to figure
out how to play with the blocks and ended up just taking turns building
things. I was surprised nobody fought over the blocks, like what would
have happened in any U.S. school. Everyone in Costa Rica was super polite and
considerate, even the drivers. I was also amazed to learn that the kids
had to walk up to 3 miles to get to the school everyday they got a chance to
go to school. Sometimes they have to help their family on their farms, but
given the choice they would rather go to school. They say it's very fun
and they enjoy learning. If only all children felt the same way about going to
school. It made me appreciate how convenient our schooling plan is. The
kids stay at school for a long time, they were still there around 5:00 and
only just starting to get ready to leave.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Final Post by Kyle W. - Day 7 Recap

On day 7 we went rappelling. On the drive there, there were so many cute dogs. They just run wild. Once we got to a trail we hopped in some 4x4s and drove to the set up station. We hiked up to the waterfall and waited in line until it was our turn (amongst the 35 students). Once it was my turn, I made the mistake of looking down. I learned there is a reason for the term “never look down”. It felt like there were a million butterflies in my stomach. But once I strapped onto the rope, I immediately gained the trust to jump down. As I rappelled I lost grip and started going down faster and faster. The best thing I could do was hold on tight and jump on and off of the cliff face. Once I got the hang of it I started to slow down. It was very fun and got my adrenaline pumping fast. The first rappel was next to a waterfall. On the second rappel you’re actually in a small waterfall. In the third. It was a 20 foot free fall and another 20 feet of jumping on and off of the rock. On the fourth, we were in a large waterfall. In the fifth rappel, you definitely get wet! The water blasting against your face is very refreshing. Once I got to the bottom the man who unclipped me asked if I enjoyed the shower. I absolutely did! On the hike back up to the top I was quite glad that I was so wet because it was HOT! On the way back we learned a man named Antonio wakes up at 4:30am every morning and checks all the harnesses, all the ropes and all the trails. By the time he is done, the tourists come in and he helps them repel down. Guess how old he is…71!!!!!! We made sure to thank him at the end. At the end of the day we had to sign a bunch of paperwork for customs. We got to bed at around 9:30 and had to wake up at 4:00am to go home. The long plane ride was fine because we had TVs! When we arrived at the airport I was welcomed by my family, even my dog, and was glad to be home. But this was a trip of a lifetime and I am so thankful to have gone!

Post from Kyle W.- Day 6 Recap

Kyle Day 6
On day 6 we went zip lining at the Arenal Reserve. First we put on our harnesses, then we boarded the sky tram and then we rode up to the metal platform where the first zip line was held. Once we were taught all the positions for zip lining it was time to get in line. I was about the 16th in line. So it didn’t take that long to get to the front of the line. Once I got to the zip line, they strapped me in and my heart started pounding! The person who strapped me in counted back from 5 and let me go at 2! Once I started gathering speed I got to see the whole lake of Arenal and a great view of the rain forest. The wind in my face and all the fresh air was very exhilarating. I was so astounded that I almost forgot to spread my legs before I got to the platform. Unfortunately I guess I wasn’t heavy enough, so I got stuck a few times and had to climb upside down on the zip line like a howler monkey. On the second zip line I got to see some very dense rainforest. Luckily I didn’t get stuck on this one! On the 3rd zip line, on the other hand, I wasn’t so lucky. I had to climb upside down for the longest time. More zip lines passed and finally we got to the last zip line, it being the longest, fastest and lowest to the rainforest. We zoomed through a hole in the canopy and returned to a large metal platform. As I was looking off the edge waiting for everyone else, I saw a brown and black spotted bird flying from branch to branch chirping at something. After about a minute I finally looked at what it was screaming at, a giant black snake with large bright yellow spots! I watched the snake climb around the tree and finally when it was time to go it looked at me and yawned. He was only about 20 feet away from me, so it was a bit scary. After everyone finished zip lining we slipped on our bathing suits and rode to the hot springs. Quick fact: the Arenal Volcano heats these hot springs. The hot springs were very refreshing and we got to stay in them for a couple hours. One corner was so hot that I could only sit in it for about 5 seconds! After we had to get out we ate dinner at the hot springs and many people tried avocado for the first time.

Mr. Traynor figured it out!

Hello everyone-

This is Mr. Traynor writing..... I am very excited to spend a week with you all in an adventure of a life time! 14 days to go! See you all on August 1st for our final meeting before travel! Don't forget to bring your passports!

Eau Claire group - 2 weeks from today

We are so very excited only 2 weeks from an amazing adventure!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Pura Vida! Final post from teachers.

Family and Friends,

We leave early tomorrow to return to the United States.  It has been a joy to see the students grow as individuals and as global citizens.  This surely will be an unforgettable experience for all of us.  Parents, thank you for trusting us with this responsibility.  We are honored.  We hope this adventure has a profound impact on your children’s lives and that memories from this trip are with them for the rest of their lives. 


Nate, Shoni, Kirsten, Michele, Jackie, & Donna

Coming Home

Hey mom, How are you?  I cant wait to see you but I’m sad too, it was nice here.  We went rappelling and it was fun.


Danielle Grant

Hey mother, I had to buy the souvenirs with my cash and my card would not work.  I cant wait to see you guys tomorrow.  I got to go rock rappelling down a waterfall.  It was really fun.  I love you guys and I didn’t get a lot of souvenirs unfortunately but I’m glad you showed my pictures.  I missed my church buddies.  To Tamia and Karima, Te Amo Mami…….it means I love you guys. Goodnight, I have to get up at 4:15 AM

Haley Kaplan

Today we went to a Costa Rican elementary school that had some 2nd graders, one 3rd grader, and some sixth graders. We donated materials to them like pencils and markers. After that we played soccer with the kids and talked to them. The younger ones were all adorable and they were all awesome at soccer.

Karina Smegal

The trip to Costa Rica this  week was really fun we did all sorts of stuff but now the last day has come to say goodbye to Costa Rica and say hello again to America. I’m going to miss this country mostly for the jaw dropping rainforests. To get to the point, we went repelling today ands it was really fun and we got soaked!!!! So soaked  that we had to bring a change of clothes otherwise we would have gotten the bus seat soaked all the way through!!!!!! Even though i will miss this country I’ll still remember the awesome experiences i had here. Chao………

-Karina S,

Haley Gutierrez

Today we went to a school that only had one teacher and the teacher was also the principle, there was only one class room and the grades are mixed together. It was really neat to play soccer with the students because they might not interact with people from another country.  The experience was so cool, I will never forget it.

Jacob Nibali

Today we went rappelling and visited a school here in Costa Rica. I am coming home tomorrow and can’t wait to see my family.

Love you guys,



Today we went rappelling off a waterfall. It took courage and was out of the box. It was the best thing that we have done on this trip!!!

Splish Splash and extra recess!

After yesterday’s zip lining, today’s rappelling was much easy to overcome our fears with. Well, that is if you didn’t look down on the first one which was 165 feet up. The hardest part was getting over that first edge and pushing off with the “frog” jumps. What a blast though to jump through the waterfalls! The weather was perfect!

This afternoon we stopped by a small school and donated supplies. The CR kids introduced themselves in English and we all introduced ourselves in Spanish. This was followed by multiple questions from both sides, then a rousing soccer match. Some of the students were so good at soccer that they would definitely be first string on any team in the USA…they had unbelievable moves! Seeing the school made me truly appreciate the conditions that I work in at my school.

Homeward bound tomorrow – sad to see this trip end, but I will treasure the wonderful memories!

Donna P.


And it comes to an end… by Michele

Well, our final day was absolutely fantastic!!!!  I had been rappelling before, but never like this…our first drop was 165 feet!  We have five drops in all, three of which were through waterfalls.  I think all of our students are now adrenaline junkies!  No one chickened out, we were all very brave.  Many of the students commented on family members and how they would have faired…the consensus was Marylin would freak out, Kate wouldn’t even go near the edge, Karina’s dad would love it, and Leslie would’ve given it a shot with encouragement from Elizabeth.  After a delicious lunch, we hopped on the bus for visit to a local school.  I’m sure others will tell you all about that part of our day…

Signing off.


Post by Merina >3 >3:)

     Hi everybody! I am excited to come home, having lots of fun here but I want to go home. I have bought lots of surprises for you guys I think you’ll like.

    Today we went waterfall repelling and it was absolutely terrifying, zip lining was way more fun. I mean, the water repelling was cool but I don’t know if I’d do it again. I’d definitely do the zipling again though. What we had to do was lean back off the edge of the waterfall (the first one was 160 ft high) and just let go and fall. Luckily the people were really nice and they’d let you go slow. But then they just dropped the rope and let me free fall like 500 times and I screamed the whole way down like “oh my god oh my god oh my god” It was so scary. I also got a huge scratch on my stomach that we thought was a wasp bite because it was so puffy but it turned out to just be a scratch.

   After that we went to visit one of the schools and we brought gifts for them. The kids there were soooooo cute!!! There were six graders, 3rd graders, and 2nd graders. But I think the 6th graders looked more like 10th graders and the 2nd graders look more like preschoolers. They all worked in the same room with each other. We played soccer “Futbol” with them. No wonder the South American teams always win, the kids at the school flattened us. Even the 2nd graders. It was embarrassing. They kicked the ball so hard, and one of the sixth graders hit two of our people in the head by accident. It was pretty funny.  One of the little girls (i think she was a 3rd grader) gave me and Olivia a rubber bracelet haha.

     xoxoxo ~Merina~

Posted By Ellie <3


How are you all? I am having soooo muuuuch fuuuuun!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YAAAAAAAAAAAYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I went rappelling down the waterfalls!!!! The first place to rappel is like on a cliff-like place that lands in the water, I had to get my shoes all soaked AGAIN! They haven’t been completely dry for SEVEN DAYS!!!!!  I am having tons of fun!!  The second rappelling spot was actually in a waterfall and it feels like you are hooked up to a rope crouching over the edge of the cliff and then you have to JUMP OFF THE CLIFF\WATERFALL and then you have to slide down the rope and when you see the wqaterfall you push your feet through it to the rock surface underneath the water and you bounce, bounce, bounce all the way to the bottom, I kept bouncing and going into the water and I couldn’t see!!  I finally got to the bottom and and got out of the line thingy and I walked a few minutes to then next place! I’ll tell you more when I GET HOME TOMORROW!!!!!!!! :( :( :( :O WAHHHHH!!!!

Love, Ellie <3

Costa Rica

Hey it’s Jami!

What’s up guys? So yesterday we had been at the hot springs and I couldn’t type for long but I have plenty of time now that we are on the two hour bus ride back to San Jose. Tomorrow we leave to go back home and I am excited to see my family and friends, but sad to leave Costa Rica. Just today we met a guide on the way to the waterfalls that has never been out of the country so he really wanted to see snow just like people in Spokane, Washington want to see the jungle. I also thought it was interesting that because Costa Rica is close to the equator there are no four seasons. There are only the wet season and the dry season. just earlier today we rappelled WATERFALLS!! It was so scary at first, just like the ziplines, but after the first waterfall, (165 feet high!) it was exciting and everyone was pumping with adrenaline. We did a total of five waterfalls all together but the ones after the first one ranged from 50 feet to 95 and we got WET! This whole experience has been so amazing I feel like I could do anything after that.


Jami Pratt

Day 7

This is Liam. We just got back from rappelling down several waterfalls. They strapped us into a harness and told us to jump off, which we did. we got soaked multiple times by the waterfalls. now we are going to a school, where we will help out.

end of trip. Wyatt

Just got back from rappelling on the water falls and we are on our way to a school.  Tomorrow morning we are leaving our hotel and going to the airport.  Hey mom we’re going to get the Gretsch on Thursday.  I think I’m getting to Dulles airport at around 5.  I got my mom, dad, and brother Alex gifts. Pretty excited to get home. It is 2:05pm on Tuesday right now.

You fall, I fall, WATERFALL! by Jackie M.

We got off to an early start today so that we could keep our appointment with Pure Trek Canyoning.  After we suited up in our gear and listened to a thorough safety talk complete with demonstrations we headed out by covered pick up truck/jeep to the first waterfall.  There were five waterfalls in all.  The heights were: 1) 165 ft., 2) 85 ft., 3) 45 ft., 4) 75 ft., and  5) 90 ft.  We got soaked on waterfalls 1, 3, and 5.  While we waited for each part of our group to finish we had time to look around at the gorgeous waterfall canyon forests.  Several blue morpho butterflies sailed by us as we waited.  One of the younger Pure Trek guides took time to tell me about the eldest guide, Don Antonio.  Don Antonio is out on the Pure Trek waterfall trail every morning by 4:30 a.m.  He checks every step on the trail, every rope along each trail staircase, every stationary cable, every platform, and every cable stay carabiner.  Don Antonio was the one who originally carved the waterfall trail through the forest back in 2001.  Right now he is 67 years old, but he gives the younger guides a run for their money each and every day. 

After we climbed back up to where the jeeps met us to return to base camp, Alex, our awesome bus driver, took us to Pure Trek’s main headquarters where we changed clothes, ate a delicious lunch, and got an opportunity to purchase a dvd full of photos of our group.  There are some great shots on this dvd!  we also said good bye to Paige at the restaurant.  Her parents came to pick her up, and the lucky gal gets to stay in Costa Rica with her family for another five days.  We’ll miss her!

The Costa Rican Times

Hi this is Anna:]. Today Emma has decided to sleep a bit so I will be writing a bit about the night tour of the rainforest.

We went on a night tour of the rainforest. Our guide was Wendy she was very nice. To get to the rainforest we had to cross a hanging bridge. The bridge was not one one of those wooden ones with a small bit of rope as the handle bars, this was a very nice one that looked like a mini version of the Golden Gate Bridge, except it was green. While we were walking on the bridge 2 raccoons running strait for us . They ran in front us us and had no clue we were there until they got really close then they tried to turn around really fast but just crashed in to each other. They were very cute.We also saw a lot of frogs, a few of them were very large. We saw two poisonous snakes, and a cockroach bigger than my camera. Since we were in the very back we didn’t get to see very much because we didn’t have very good flashlights. We  also saw 2 tarantulas. I have never seen a tarantula in the wild. When we were done we had to walk back on the bridge. The walk back seemed much shorter, and that is the story of the night walk.

The Best 2 Days

This is from Holland and Corey.  Sorry we didn’t blog yesterday, we were zip lining and relaxing in the hot springs. Today we went rappelling and we are on our way to a school. We have had a great weak. Mom when we get home can we get pizzas and buffalo wings? Love, bye.

BEST DAY EVAR!!! (a.k.a) Day 7

Tommy here, and I am sitting in a bus, after rappelling down a 200 foot waterfall, plus one that was a 75 foot free-fall!  THE EPICNESS BURNS MY SOUL!!!!  We also saw the peak of the volcano that is almost in our hotel’s backyard.  Now we are going to a school where we have donated some money, I think, but it better be worth the 2-hour drive,(I’m not optimistic). I send love to my dog, my mom, and my dad.  Speaking of which, mom, if you are reading, this please have pepperoni pizza ready when I get back.


Still Alive,


p.s  I have acquired a taste for Strawberry smoothies! 

this is Brian

Today we went rappelling down the waterfalls it was so amazing even though we got soaked.  Now we are on our way to the next hotel for the night and we are coming home tomorrow.  I have some amazing things for my friends and family.  Alecia i miss you and can’t wait to see you I have an amazing birthday present for you. Mom I have coffee.  The rest of you will find out what I got tomorrow.  So until then, bye.

Eco Termales by Gabriel

I think the hot springs at Eco Termales were very relaxing. It was cool how the water is naturally hot in the different pools.  The pools were on different levels of the hot springs area.  I enjoyed relaxing with my friends.  We had dinner at Eco Termales.  My favorite food there was the chicken.  Everything was laid out fajita-style, and the chicken was definitely the best.  The tortillas were good, too.  They were different from the ones back home because the Costa Rican tortillas were thicker.  When we got back to Lomas del Volcan I went back to my cabin and I went to sleep.  I miss my parents and my brother and sister, but I especially miss my father because I haven’t seen him for a month (I was in Ecuador before the Costa Rica trip). 

Shelby Bliesner

Today I went zip lining today it was so much fun! I conquered my fear today of heights! I loved it so much! I am so sad that we are leaving in a couple of days! I am looking forward to buying presents for all of my friends and family!


Costa Rica


hey what’s up?! We are at the hot springs and it is hot!! I love it here, so relaxing but I can’t talk long because I am wet!!!!!!!  I love you!!

Jami Pratt

costa rica

emily s.

Today we went ziplining and it was so much fun!!!! that was the highlight of the trip so far.

I miss my mom and dad. but I am having so much fun here, and I hope I get to go on another trip again soon!!! I saw howler monkeys, and heard them.

Freeman at the hot springs

Tonight we are at the hot springs!  There are three levels of heat: Hot, Hotter, and WOW BABY THAT IS BURNING!  Fortunately, there are cool pools as well.  We have had an amazing day – zip lining, time at the hotel pool, and now hot springs. I was so proud of my students doing the zip lines.  It was so cool to see them conquer their fears – it inspired me to do the same! Tomorrow is our last full day here.  We are astonished at how fast the week went and are so sad to see it ending.  Tomorrow, we are going in 4x4’s to some really neat waterfalls where we will hike up for about 20 minutes and then we rappel down. Hopefully, my students and I will all have the nerve to do that! After that, it is off to do some souvenir shopping, then on to our hotel in San Jose.  We have all made many friends that will be hard to say goodbye to.  As  a teacher, I feel so blessed to experience this in person as well as through my students’ eyes. We love DSA and we love Costa Rica!

Donna P.

Posted by Ellie

Hello!!! How are you all? I  am doing great!! today I went ziplining in the rainforest!! I first went on a small  short line, then I went on a longer one, it was easy! then I went on a HUGE tall line it was huge! At first it feels like a huge high upside down fast roller coaster,  then it felt like a more relaxing ride, I could see almost everything, except for the landing platform! it  was hidden in the trees! I also went on one that was SIX HUNDRED FEET IN THE AIR!!!

Love Ellie

Haley Kaplan

Today we went ziplining above the canopy of the rainforest. At first I was kind of scared but then I got over it and it was really fun!

Haley Gutierrez

Today we went ziplining and it was really cool to see all the amazing parts of Costa Rica from above, the scenery was beautiful!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Post by Eamon

Today was the day for zip lines! I was originally nervous but I had fun after the 3rd one. There was 7 zip lines and I did all of them. When we zip lined we had to curl up in a fetal position and then bring our legs up to our elbows. I had a really good time! After ziplining we got to the hotel had lunch, and swam in the swimming pool! Then we went to the hot springs. They were so warm! After the hot springs we had dinner at the hot springs.


Post by Kyle Day 4

Sorry I haven't blogged in a while but days have been super packed. First we went bike riding to a beach on the Carribean. On the way we saw: sloths, monkeys, and a bunch of hermit crabs. Then once we got to the beach we had a drink of mango juice and then we put on our snorkling gear and started swimming. We saw a lot of ones, yellow and black striped ones and I even saw an eel!! The water was very clear and very warm. Once we were done snorkling we grabbed a canoe and started paddling. Half way through I got tired and let the person in the back do the work. Then he got tired and wanted to jump off into the water and by the time we got back almost everyone was there....but it was fun!! When we got back to the hotel we got ready for a night hike. We saw a bunch of animals. We saw poison dart frogs, leaf cutter ants, and two pit viber snakes. We also saw a species of ants called bullet ants. If you get bit by one it feels like a bullet wound for up to four hours! Once we got back to the room I hit the bed and didn't care that it felt like cardboard! I fell asleep pretty fast. Love you and miss you all, Kyle!

Post by Merina

Hi everyone!!! Today we had a bit of a change of scheduele, because yestereday it began thunderstorming so we couldn't go ziplining, we went today instead. First we went zip lining on two small zip lines, and then we went on a very large one. We had to curl up into a fatal position, and then when they pushed me off I screamed the whole way! After the 5th one I began to get used to it though and I didn't scream as much. The view from the zipline was amazing, we could see Lake Arenal, as well as the Arenal Volcano. I also saw a three toed sloth.
After lunch we left for the Hot Springs. The hot springs were so beautiful, unfortunately I didn't get any pictures because I didn't want to get my camera wet; but Shoni got some. There were four different levels and the hottest felt like boiling water, no one went int it except for Kirsten, Stewart, Kyle, and Olivia. I dipped my arm in but it was too hot. The people who did go in thought it was so hot they had to stay out of the water for 15 minutes! Then we went into the dining room and had sauteed fish, grilled steaks, homemade tortillas, beans, rice, salad, and rice pudding with coconut; it was DELICIOUS. While we were swimming I also had a Virgin Strawberry Daiquiri with pineapple, lime, and cherries.
Tomorrow we are leaving for our new hotel in San Jose and repelling down waterfalls. San Jose is a six hour drive from here so I will probably sleep, and listen to my iPod.

Post by Ellie L.

Hello Everyone!!!
I hope you are all having lots of fun! I am enjoying Costa Rica SO SO MUCH!!!!! I wish we didn't have to leave... :O I had a lot of fun today!! I told you all about the ziplining already so I'll skip because I was freaked because I thought that the ants were going to bite me! (the patio was covered with big ants (they were big!) When I got in to the water it was sooo hot!! :) I got out immediatly!! I almost DIED!!! JUST KIDDING DAD!!! :)Anyway, I stayed in there for about... two hours I think? Yeah, two hours. It was great! I didn't want to get out! (luckily I did!!) and, every fifteen minutes we had all the way into this freezing cold rock pool, I liked it more in the cold water rather than the hot!!! I then had to get out and go eat dinner at the place we swam at and I had rice with vinegar and olive oil (no soy sauce or maggi in Costa Rica :( WAHHHHH) And I had chicken in a slightly spicy sauce. I had salad with tomatos and avacados and lettuce (of course!) and carrots and zucchini and olive oil and vinegar! DELICIOUS! AND I water! and alcohol-free Pina Colada and Coca-Cola Light that is the only brand of Coca-Cola! Coca-Cola Light! Adios Mi Amigas and Amigos!!!
Love Love Love!!! Ellie! ~~~~~<3 <3 <3 <3 <3 :)

Post by Kyle W.

Hey guys and gals I'm back, so this is what happned on day 5! We woke up, packed our bags and then got on the bus for a four hour drive! After the drive we got to Hotel Arenal and ate our very anticipated lunch. It was so tasty! We went back to our rooms and unpacked quickly so we could get to the bus, so we could go ziplining. After we unpacked we walked to the bus and all of a sudden, BOOM POUR POUR POUR it started raining and their was lightning every where! So we had to postpone the ziplining for the next day. So we got to just hang out for the night and watch the thunder storm. It was fun and sort of nice because I was really tired, thats about it. I'll blog more when I get back from dinner so bye for now!

Post by Stewart Cope

Hey hows it in Idaho. Having a great time in Costa Rica! Got to go ziplining today it was awesome!
Then after that got go swimming in pool here at hotel. Then went to a natural hot springs/hot tub
place. Hung out in all the hot tubs had a great time and had a wonderful dinner. Sad that we have to go home in two days:( But happy to get back home and see u all!

How high can YOU fly? by Jackie M.

We all became zip-lining experts today!  We flew down the slopes of Volcano Arenal at top speed.  The weather cooperated, and we had more sun than clouds.  It was crazy cool!  Everyone was brave enough to go down all eight lines.  Some of the kids saw sloths, blue morpho butterflies, lots of other types of butterflies, various other insects, and a neo-tropical bird eater snake.  The local name for this type of snake is “mica”.  They climb high up into the trees and eat the young nestlings.  We knew that something was up because the birds in the tree with the snake were really loud and upset.  The mica snakes can grow to a very long length.  They are not poisonous to humans, but they can inflict a wicked smack on a human’s arms and legs by whipping its tail.  It also smacks birds away with that fierce tail. 

All of the kids were quite pleased with themselves for being successful zip-liners.  Now it’s back to Lomas de Volcan for another delicious meal, and then we;ll take a dip in the swimming pool.  After the pool, we’ll hop on the bus to go for a dip in the hot springs.  Woo hooooooooooo!

Day 6

This is Liam. we got back from flying on wires above the trees(or ziplining, whichever you prefer). we got strapped into harnesses, and clipped to a wire which was in turn clipped to a ziplining device. we then flew through at about 30-40 miles per hour. awesome, right? i am now drinking soda and looking at the volcano, which is beautiful, huge, and a little bit eerie.

No injuries(yet),


Day 6


It’s Tommy again, back from zip-lining.  WOW, it is a RUSH I am wired from it, and I am trying to calm down before we head to the hot springs, a net book in my lap and a virgin strawberry daiquiri in my hand to relax.  Spanish television is hilarious, and we saw a old Billy Mays commercial in Spanish.  Also we saw  one restaurant that turned out to be an iguana preserve.  They were GIGANTIC.

Still Alive,

Yours truly

Tommy Pahl 

Post by Wilder Cufley

Today we took a roughly half hour long bus ride to the Sky Adventure Center to ride on the zip line. There were 8 cables in total, the first two were mostly practice though, lasting only 5-10 seconds each. We also took the SkyTram up to the SkyTrek (Zip Line). Later we will go to the Hot Springs to swim and eat dinner.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Amazing accomodations ~Vicino

Good evening, Buenos Noches! Well despite our rained out afternoon, we are in high spirits and excited for zip-lining in the morning. A blessing in disguise, the thunderstorms provided the children (and teachers) with some much needed downtime. Students spent the afternoon watching TV, napping, playing games and walking around the beautiful grounds in between the rain drops. Watching the thunderstorms, at the base of an active volcano, from the protection of a covered bar area, Corey, Holland, Gabe and I played a game much loved by my famliy - yes mom and dad, the obsession of Shanghai has spread! Dinner time came and went and the children returned to their rooms for an early night I type, bed checks have been completed, and it's only 8:20, 40 min ahead of schedule!

Looking foward to zip-lining, pool time and hot springs manana!

*Michele V.

Change in today’s itinerary due to inclement weather.

We’ve arrived at the beautiful Lomas Hotel at the foot of the Arenal Volcano.  Zip-lining today was unfortunately postponed due to thunderstorms.  We are re-scheduled for 9:30AM tomorrow morning.  Mornings have been clear and sunny thus far, so I’m confident there won’t be any problems.  The students today instead enjoyed a relaxing afternoon in their accommodations reading, playing games, watching television, and napping. 

- Mr. S.

Do you wanna iguana? by Jackie

I know that several of the other DSA travelers already wrote about our wonderful kayaking/snorkeling/biking day so I won’t say much more about these activities.  However, I did notice that the reef is definitely on the decline.  There was some coral bleaching and a lot of siltation that was smothering the reef.  Very sad.

Last night at La Tirimbina was incredible!  We went on our night hike with Jaime.  My group so a fer de lance, two hog nosed vipers, a pit viper, and several large brown toads with venom sacs behind their eyes.  We also say a bungee spider that drops down on a line of silk at high speed to catch its prey.  The forest was filled with lots of interesting night time sounds.  It was crazy cool to go over the suspension foot bridge over the roaring river.  When we went back over the bridge this morning we looked down and saw blue morpho butterflies, and we looked up and saw more howler monkeys.  Really cool!

Today we stopped at a store that was part market and part iguana rescue facility. We made friends with the large green iguanas.  They were really interesting.  They are accustomed to humans, so we could get quite close.

hi - Paige

We saw vipers and iguanas.


this is Brian and Wilder

Last night we took a really cool night hike and saw some really interesting creatures.  We saw a fer-de-lance, a pit viper, bullet ant, nocturnal frogs, kinkajou, and leaf cutter ants.  The hotel rooms felt like closets with beds and a bathroom. This morning we got up ate breakfast and we took a small walk before the bus left for the day.  Right now we are headed to the most active volcano in Costa Rica which Costa Rica is most famous for. as well as heading to the volcano we are also heading to a zip-lining course which is the #3 zip-lining course in the world. But I still cant wait to see my family and friends in a couple days.  So this is Wilder and Brian and bye.

Costa Rica 1/2 day 5

This is Wyatt.  We just made a stop on the way to the Arenal reserve with the zip lines to a iguana reserve and took a bunch of pictures.  Yesterday we went kayaking and snorkeling on the Costa Rican beach.  That was the best part of the trip so far.

Day 5+ half of 4

This is Liam. yesterday, we went on a night hike at Tirimbina, the lodge where we stayed. while we were crossing the (wobbly) bridge, two raccoons came barreling down the bridge, and bumbled almost right into us. also, there was a pit viper, a tarantula, giant flying cockroaches(!), and 3 wolf spiders. today, we saw the beautiful view off the bridge and we are in transit to our next hotel.

Still awesome,


Day 5 and evening of Day 4

It’s me Tommy, again. The night hike was fun, and we saw 4 different snakes, one of them, a baby Fer de Lance, whose mom is 4 feet long!  We also smelled (unfortunately), and heard a pig called a pickory.

We are en route to a hotel and from there we will go to a zip-lining place, Tommy signing off. 

Our 5th day in Costa Rica

This is Corey and Holland.  We went on the night walk yesterday we saw a tarantula, 2 pit vipers and a giant cockroach that can fly.  Today we are going to go zip lining we are going to have a great time. We can’t send Aunt Jackie the postcards because we don’t have stamps.  Love you mom and dad.  Bye!


Last night we went on a night walk! I was a little scared at first but then i got used  to it. We went across a bridge and let me tell you it was way out of my comfort zone! But i got over it and went across it! Today we are going zip lining and i am sure it will be a lot of fun!


Costa Rica


Hi guys! We just had the midnight trek last night. SO FUN! But it was not a trip for those who don’t like spiders! Mom, you would have freaked out at the size of some of these spiders! AHHHHH! We also saw a Hog-Nosed Pit Viper and a Fer-De-Lance (snake). Neither of these snakes were extremely big but they were pretty for a snake lover (me!). Well, all is well with Shelby asleep next to me on the bus ride to our new hotel and where we will zip line. I love you Marley, Staci, Dad, and Mom and can’t wait to get home and share everything i have seen, heard, and experienced! Bye for now!

Jami Pratt

Costa Rica trip day 5

Hi, everyone i just wanted to say that the night hike last night was terrifying but, extremely awesome! My group and I saw 4 snakes, 5 frogs (3 found by me) and heard a lot of birds. Today we are going to zip line through the rain forests and sleep overnight at the Arenal VOLCANO!!!!!! I’m so excited and nervous at the same time.  Can’t wait till tomorrow to see what we’re doing then. Chao…

Karina S. (:

Danielle Grant

Hey Mommy I miss you guys and the trip is going bye so fast!  I will see you in like three days and I have lots of pictures that I know you will like as well.  I went on a night walk and saw a lot of different creatures including snakes.  I also got to meet a president which was a lady and was the leader of the Bri Bri Tribe. LOVE YOU!

Jacob Nibali

I am very much looking forward to today’s activities. Today we are going zip lining. I am very excited for the future activities here in Costa Rica but I am also excited to come home and see all of my family.

I love you all.


The experience by Olivia Nemec

Today were going zip lining over the jungle canopy and seeing Costa Rica from a whole new angle. Last night we went on a night hike which let us experience the jungle in a new way. We have visited a native tribe and walked through Costa Rica’s lush jungles. We will also be repelling down a waterfall!Only Once in a life time!!

The Costa Rican Times Episode II

Hello.  This is Emma the animal lover

And this is Anna:]

Yep. :) Today we’ll be talking about the past two days in which we canoed to the Bibri tribe, made chocolate, brewed coffee the old fashioned way, biked to the beach, walked and walked some more, snorkeled, and kayaked back to the bus.  We’ll also be adding a small jokes page.  Anna will start first with how to brew coffee.  But, the Bibri tribe way!

The Bibri tribes does not use electricity or gas in anyway. They do not have a machine that  uses batteries. What they use is a small sack that water can through that is hung on a small wire. The sack is about six inches tall. Fist they place a bowl underneath to catch the coffee. Next you add the ground coffee into the sack then pour hot water in the sack. Once you pour the water over the coffee, cofee starts pouring into the cup. We also did they same thing with coco beans. we added some ground coco beans into the sack poured some hot water over and something kind of like hot chocolate came out the bottom. And that is how coffee and hot chocolate is made in the Bibri Tribe.

Thanks Anna:].  Now here I am with information about the canoe ride to the tribe, and back.

On the canoe ride to the Bribri tribe, we saw a lot of things.  First of all, we saw a toucan flying over us!  Then we saw a emerald basilisk, a green lizard with a green crest on its head. It looked a little like a chameleon!  We also saw a lot of waterfalls, probably formed from all the rain from the rainforest.  We were really lucky on the way there, it wasn’t raining! On the way back, we weren’t so lucky.  Anna and I took off our ponchos before the ride, but soon it started raining again.  To put it simply, we got DRENCHED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  (Do you think that’s enough explanation points, Anna?)

(No, you should add a few more to really exaggerate the point)

Ok.  To put it simply, we got DRENCHED!X100,000,000,000,000 (Better?)

(I guess, but next time put some more)

(All right.  How about this.)  To put it simply, we got DRENCHED!!X200,000,000,000,000  (There.)

( well if you just added more you should have put more than that)

Oh boy.  Last time….  To put it simply, we got DRENCHED!!!!X900,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000  My gosh.  IS THAT ENOUGH ALREADY?!?!?!?

( Just perfect, but really add a little MORE next time,okay??????????)

(oh fine.)  Anyway, We saw a stork on the way back.  Ok goodbye now.  (next time YOU should add more question marks!!!!!!)

( No no, question marks aren’t as important as exclamation points.)

We have to go soon, so we’ll start the joke page.  Why did the toucan go over us?  Because he wanted to know the way to San José!  Ok, we have to go now.  This is Emma the animal lover, signing off.  Have you spayed/neutered your pets yet?  Patrick, are you having fun?  Good :)b This is Anna signing off and don’t eat my jelly beans.

Day 4

Tommy here, with one of the best days since I arrived.  First, we kayaked to a small public beach where we grabbed some gear for snorkeling in the reef.  It was cool, but some of the coral was dead and no longer vibrant.  A little bit of a letdown, but the bike ride back was nice and refreshing.  We have left the hotel and are now on our way to another one.  We are driving and still have another 2 hours to go.

Still alive,


Corey and Holland’s Fourth day

This is Corey and Holland. Today we went sea kayaking to a beach where we went snorkeling. After that we biked back to the place we started. Right now we are on a bus to our next hotel and to go on a night walk. We miss you very much Mom and Dad. Bye

Stewart Cope

Having a great time here in Costa Rica. Got to go eat home made chocolate and bananas from the native tribe here in Costa Rica. Got to go snorkeling and kayaking in the Caribbean ocean today it was awesome.

posted by Stewart Cope

Costa Rica

Hey it’s Jami!

Yesterday we visited the Bribri tribe by motored canoes. After enjoying wonderful chocolate and bananas and hot chocolate we headed back.

Today we took a short bus ride to bikes all lined up. Then we had a nice bike ride to the beach! Finally! We also took a short walk up to a small cliff to look down at the water and it was beautiful! Once on the beach again we hit the water first snorkeling then kayaking! Refreshing! Now we are on a four hour bus ride to our new destination. The Hotel and where we will take our night trek! Bye for now!

Jami Pratt

Shelby B.

Today was so much fun! first we woke up and had an amazing breakfast (like always) and then we headed out to go on a bike ride snorkel and go in a riding was amazing and very refreshing! then we went on a very VERY muddy hike up to a point that had a wonderful view!! then we went to the snorkeling it was very fun! then we went in a kayak and that was the first time i have ever been kayaking and it was a different thing to do it took a while to get used to it but after a while i got better and it turned out to be a lot of fun!


Costa Rica-Day 4 (Elizabeth M)

Hi Mom, hi Dad! I miss you guys a lot, but I’m happy to be in Costa Rica. Today was a really fun day (well its not over because we’re on the bus to the place where we will be staying and doing the night hike). We went kayaking, snorkeling, and biking! My favorite would be the snorkeling because of how beautiful the coral and the fish were, maybe also because i love the beach so much. Anyway, the kayaking really reminded me of you ,dad, because i know you enjoy kayaking a lot. It was sea kayaking, which is cool, but also a little scary! It was also 2-people per kayak, so i was with Karina. We had a good time but our arms got really tired and we got some salt water got in our eyes. Sometimes i really want to go home but mostly I'm happy. Tell Noanie and Chief i cant wait to visit and i love them. Same to you (and dad) and share the blog with dad. Only 3 more days (not including the fourth day which is the travel day)! 

All my love, EMM xoxo

Costa Rica trip

In the past few days i have experienced some incredible moments like taking a tram through the rain forests, learned the process of making chocolate, canoed, kayaked, snorkeled in the beautiful reefs, bike ridden through the streets of Costa Rica, and we even saw breath taking butterfly gardens, tonight we are going on a night hike through the rainforests of Costa Rica, and I can hardly wait till tomorrow when we get to visit Costa Rica’s only active volcano! I’m having a blast so far and am sad that the trip is over in 3 days, it went by so quickly. Still nervous about rappelling down the waterfall (: i hope I’ll have a blast tomorrow…

Karina S.

Post by Shoni….

We’re off to another great start today! We biked through the “jungle”, saw monkeys and sloths, hiked to a beautiful lookout point, snorkeled in the Caribbean (beautiful, amazingly warm water by the way), and Kayaked back (what a great workout…we’ll all be sore tomorrow)!! The kids are getting along great and learning tons about the Costa Rican culture and history! We are preparing for a night hike through the rain forest to see some animals that were apparently too busy to come to play with us today (so don’t expect too many posts tonight)! :-) You’ll hear some great stories when when get back! Miss you all back home!

~Shoni J.

Donavon Brinkley

Hi Mommy Trinita how are you? I’m having so much fun today.  We went snorkeling in the water and it was cool.  It’s so pretty here and I’m sorry but I don’t want to come home.

Jacob Nibali

This morning was so amazing. We went  kayaking in the ocean and it was  AMAZING! We kayaked from one section of the beach to another. At this part of the beach we got on our snorkeling equipment and went snorkeling. We saw a corral reef and several different types of fish, big and small. This trip so far is absolutely great. On the other hand i can’t wait to get home and see all my family.

      I love you all.

-Jacob N 

Danielle Grant

Hello mother, how are you guys?  Don’t worry I’m okay, I just hated being on the plane for so long.  I love you guys and I am keeping up my money belt.  I keep it with me wherever I go.  I’m going to be bringing you guys all back souvenirs.  I think Mr. S. sent you a few pics of me doing a few things. I did go snorkeling but I didn’t go to far.  I’m looking forward to going ziplining and I think about all of you everyday.  Love ya!  

Post by Wilder Cufley

This morning we went to the tide pools by the hotel. After that we went  on a bike ride to the beach. After that we went on a short walk through the edge of the forest. Then we went snorkeling. We also kayaked for a short while back to the bus. Then we packed up and drove to the next hotel.

Posted by <3 Ellie <3 :)

Hello everyone!!! I hope you are all having a fun day, because I sure am!! Today has probably been one the best so far! first, we  got to wake up later in the morning,7:00! IT WAS THE BEST!!  Then we had a delicious breakfast, dried banana, eggs, pineapple, melons,and some fresh banana that tasted super good, like warm sugar on your tongue! amazing, better than our bananas! Then, when we had eaten our breakfast, we got all loaded up in our Bus, and drove for 30 minutes to a hotel called Almonds & Corals is that pretty? :) then we got  bikes to use, I got an electric blue bike. we biked for 20 minutes  down stony roads and muddy roads,  dirt roads, concrete and sand (ARGHH! IT WAS SOOO HARD TO BIKE IN SAND!) then we went on a beautiful but muddy hike all the way up to a ledge hanging over the ocean, :) we took an awesome picture up there!! then we hiked all the way down and got into snorkeling outfits and went snorkeling . I saw several  schools of fish and one HUGE fish!  the water was soooooo warm!! we then had to come out and we went into a Kayak and kayaked for 30 minutes we then swam for a little while. we took a shower back at our hotel. and now we are on a four hour bus ride. it’s not as bad as you’d think, a lot of naps!!

always look on the bright side, love,  Ellie :)


Post by Merina

     HI everyone! Today we are leaving our hotel and heading towards the Arenal Volcano to our new one. We rode bikes this morning to the beach, where we snorkeled by the coral reefs and then went canoeing! Snorkeling was amazing, we saw tons of fish and coral, but I eventually just took all my gear off because I could swim better without it. Tonight we are going on a night hike and I am very excited:)


this is Brian

This morning we got up around 7 o’clock, packed every thing up and headed to breakfast.  We ate eggs, plantains, rice and beans and orange juice.  Next we got our day packs and got on the bus to go kayaking. We got everything for the kayaking and we walked down to the ocean, got in our kayaks and we then started to paddle.  Now this is the funny part because Donovan and I capsized our kayak.  After we kayaked to our destination we snorkeled for a little bit and then we biked back.  Overall so far its been pretty cool.  I have some great pics to show when I get back and can’t wait till tomorrow.  So bye!

Post from Shoni and Kirsten

Connections are not great here, but everything else IS!!! We're having a great time and learning so much! We'll try to blog more when we have better connections, but the kids are documenting their experiences in their journals!! Even our cameras are starting to give us problems from the humidity. Kirsten's camera died. Shoni's taking pictures for her, so don't worry...between the two of us we'll piece together a whole camera! :-)

Yesterday we had a lot of activities: hiking, kayaking, snorkeling, and a night hike!! Today we're off to the volcano and ziplining. We'll post more when we can! Miss you all back home!

~Shoni and Kirsten

Friday, July 15, 2011

Brooklyn Park makes chocolate!

We had a fabulous day with the BriBri today!  We learned about plants for food and medicine, observed customs like removing our shoes before entering a building, and helped process cacao into chocolate by hand.  Fabulous! 

- Mr. S.


Chocolate! by Jackie M.

Today we had an exciting ride up a shall ow river with a rocky bed.  The BriBri men have been navigating the river since they were children, and they know every channel.  They are also really strong because they have to pole the canoe (while loaded with passengers and/or goods) up and down their watery highway and through the shallow, rocky areas.  It was impressive! 

One of today’s highlights was the tour of the medicinal plants led by Don Guillermo.  Don Guillermo also took the kids through the different stages of turning cacao into chocolate.  The women who were responsible for the food at today’s lovely lunch took the crushed and milled chocolate and added condensed milk to it.  As you will see from the picture, it was spoon-lickin’ good!  All the NCCES and CCES kids are really doing well.  They have been respectful, kind, and positive.  LOVE THEM!


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Freeman meets the Bribri

Today, the students learned about a whole new way of life from the tribe.  It was amazing to see how they live and what they go through on a day to day basis just to do basic activities like school.  We also truly learned the quantity of precipitation in a rain forest.  It was incredible.

Donna P.





Day 3 in CR

This is Liam. This morning a cat came up to me and mewled like it expected something from me. It even jumped on Holland’s lap. The cat would not leave me until i left. When we went on the motor canoes, we went so fast through uneven water that if you drag your hand it drenches the people behind you. then when we were getting the medicinal plants tour, it started raining, but we thought it would stay light, but as soon as we ate lunch, it POURED again! We had to go back in our motor canoe when it was pouring, thereby drenching us to the bone.

Still kind of damp,


Day 3

Tommy here, and having fun.  We saw a native village today, and we had lots of time see waterfalls and stuff.  I almost touched Panama, but I did not! WAAAAA!!!  Dinner was good-old fatty American food, plus some tasty Ice Cream.


p.s. I learned that there is no pomegranate fanta! I am very sad about that.   

Costa Rica

This is Wyatt R.  Today in Costa Rica we were canoeing and it started pouring and nobody had their ponchos so we were all soaking wet in the tiny bus on the 1 hour 45 minute long ride.  After we got back I got a Fanta so I’m good.

A New Culture

This is coming from Jacob Nibali. I love how this trip helps you opens your mind to aspects of a very different culture. Some of the aspects are things like food and rules. some new foods i tried are exotic fruits and chocolate. I saw a new rule today while visiting the Yorkin village which was that we must take off our footwear before entering the cement floor of the food hut. Some other new things that happened was the weather. It could be warm one minute and cold the next.

I love you all.


our third day

This is Corey and Holland today we took a hour canoe ride to a Costa Rican village. at there we took a tour and saw all the plants there. later we made chocolate and ate it. mom we need aunt Jackie's address so we can send her a post card love you mom bye

Day 3: The Bri Bri culture, post by M. Vicino

Today began partly sunny and the rain held off until about halfway through our journey.  We took motorized canoes up river to the village; about a 45 minute trip.  We were immersed in this unique way of life, far removed from the hustle and bustle of DC, where we learned about indigenous plants and their various uses.  A snack was provided soon thereafter and our lunch consisted of chicken, beans, rice, and hearts of palm with tomato and spices.  After lunch, we were guided through the process of turning raw cacao into delicious chocolate.  On the way back, though through a downpour, the canoes were going down river which allowed for a much quicker return trip.  Soaked yet thoroughly pleased by the day’s events, we returned to our hotel.  Hot showers, a nap for me, and a fine meal of American cuisine brought a delightful end to a fantastic day.



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Post by Kyle Wolfe

Today was really fun, We woke up at 5:30 and drove for an hour and a half, on the drive we saw two monkeys, one being the alpha male and the other being his mate. When we arrived we traveled to the Bri  Bri village on a canoe. We learned how to make chocolate and coffee from scratch. We met the president of the Bri Bri tribe and I met a really funny kid. On the way back in the canoe it started raining like crazy. Today I learned that a banana is a herb, the largest herb in the word! Miss you guys!Kyle

Post by Eamon Leonard

Today we went in a canoe to the village of Yorkin and learned about the culture of the Costa Rican tribes. The Bri Bri tribe showed us how to make chocolate and coffee without electricity. We also saw howler monkeys.

Post by Wilder Cufley

Today we went to the beach. We went on a motorized canoe to the rural village of Yorkin. We learned how to make chocolate, and were able to eat it too. We ate it with unripe bananas, which taste like potatoes. On the way to the boats we saw a couple of howler monkeys! The lunch the Bri Bri (The tribe inhabiting Yorkin) was excellent. We had rice, chicken, unripe bananas, beans, and a plant called monkey tail. Turns out the Bri Bri eat fiddleheads!


It’s wet here. The food is good. I’m having fun.


Beautiful Costa Rica

Costa Rica is very very beautiful! I am  having a wonderful time! Today we went down a river, ate a homemade lunch, make homemade chocolate and hot chocolate, walk in the rain, and get soaked when going back up the river! I am glad I am at Costa Rica!


Post by Merina

     Hi everyone! Having a great time here in Costa Rica! Today we traveled by Canoe (with motors) in the pouring rain to visit the Bri Bri tribe. There we made chocolate, coffee, and hot cocoa, and the people there made us a delicious meal with rice, chicken, fiddleheads, squash, and palm tree pulp. Tonight we are going to the beach by our hotel to check out the crabs and do some swimming.

       lots of love,


Posted by Ellie Leonard

Hi mom and dad!!! How are you? I am good! today was awesome, it rained a lot though! Today we visited the Bribri tribe, we rode in a wood canoe for 45 minutes, it was the most amazing ride ever!! when we went through the waves i put my hand in and it skimmed over the surface and splashed myself! and we saw Panama!! we also saw Panamenian cows!! the little calf’s were drinking the river water and when we came by he reared up and reared and trotted everywhere! when we arrived we got off the shore and there were a TON of little dogs and a few little puppies. we went up and made chocolate sauce with roasted Cocoa beans and we crushed them and ground them and dipped bananas in them! I’ll tell you more later, i love you!!!!!!

love love love, Ellie

I’m having tons of fun!!!

Brooklyn Park got wet in the rainforest!

This is Mr. Stottlemyer… We’ve had a busy 2 days thus far!  Our first day consisted entirely of travel, however we made it to Costa Rica in great spirits.

We started early this morning to head for the Caribbean coast.  We had a brief ride on the Pan-American Highway, followed by a ride on CR 32 through the volcanic mountain range and over the continental divide. 


Below, the “dirty” river, discolored by volcanic sulfur.


Sampled fruit…

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We arrived at Veragua Rainforest Research and Adventure Park in Limon.  We viewed the canopy from a tram, hiked to a waterfall, and assisted experts in methods that further butterfly understanding.

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The Caribbean Sea.

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Time to call it an evening!  Pura Vida!

Mr. S.

Adventure Details

Duration 8 days
Destinations San Jose
Arenal Volcano
Caribbean Coast
Focus Ecology/Conservation