Costa Rica Trip

Sophomores in Costa Rica
By: Michael Tellini ’18

DSC_1056IMG_1615This January, the sophomore classes from Covent and Stuart Hall along with several faculty members traveled to Costa Rica. This was the second annual trip, following the amazing experience the current juniors took part in a year ago. The students anticipated river rafting, hiking, horseback riding, and jumping off a waterfall.
Excited faculty and students arrived at SFO airport on a Saturday evening. Whisked off on two planes, Avianca and United, the groups stopped in San Salvador and Dallas, respectively, before landing in the capital of the small nation, San José. Tired after hours in the air, the crowd of students and staff climbed into buses and headed to their resort. Half asleep but still excited, the students still awake took in the tropical landscape and scenery outside their windows that more than made up for the lack of legroom.
Stopping only to observe massive crocodiles in a river below a bridge and to eat some lunch, the group arrived at the hotel on Sunday afternoon, almost a full day after starting their journey. They enjoyed the afternoon cooling off in the pool, receiving room assignments, and eating their first of many meals consisting of rice, beans, and vegetables, after which the tired group headed to bed.
Split up into three groups, the next three days the students and faculty participated in activities such as ziplining, horseback riding, jumping off waterfalls, and serving at a local school. Only a few minutes away, the ziplining took place in a very young rainforest, left wild after years serving as a plantation. After hiking for around an hour and learning vast amounts of information about the wildlife along the way, groups took turns jumping off ledges over chasms and jungle, past toucans and monkeys at heights up to 125 feet. Christopher Potter, a sophomore student from Stuart Hall, described it as “a great experience that gave me a different perspective of Costa Rica from up in the canopy of the rainforest.” Although the ziplining presented a great way to see nature from a vantage point in the trees, horseback riding allowed the travelers to get a glimpse of the tropics up close on the ground. A trail through the jungle led to a picturesque waterfall. One by one students and faculty alike made their way straight up the face of the rock with water gushing into their faces and only a rope held by their slippery hands preventing them from falling off the slope to the rocks below. They leapt from 25 feet into the pristine water, cooled off, saddled up, and headed home. On another day, the sophomores had a chance to practice their Spanish when communicating with several students at a local elementary school. Introductions were made, conversations held, and soccer was played, uniting citizens of two distinctly different countries through the international game. Following the match the sophomores presented school supplies and small gifts they had brought. In addition to giving much needed supplies, the group helped paint the school. Despite the scorching sun and humid conditions, the job was completed. To cool off, the group traveled to another nearby waterfall where they took turns swinging off a rope swing into a deep pond at the base of the waterfall.
The afternoons during the week provided a time to relax, play pool or foosball, and swim, while the evenings consisted of salsa dancing, learning to cook Costa Rican food, a tour of medicinal plants in the area, a talent show, a local high school dancing group performance, and time spent sharing stories over meals of (you guessed it) rice and beans.
During the final two days spent at the hotel, the group went river rafting, helped with some much needed work at a local turtle egg sanctuary, and went to the beach. The water from the river was so enjoyable, several students climbed out to swim before the rafters made a stop at yet another waterfall along the river. After performing some hard manual labor creating a habitat for turtle eggs to be sheltered from poachers, the following day the group headed to the sandy shores along the Pacific side of the lush nation. Entertainment at the beach included body surfing, football, and frisbee not to mention some caves only a short walk away. Exhausted, the group started the trek home by riding for three hours in buses to a hostile in San José before flying out the next day.
Apart from the fun activities and time spent together traveling, the group benefitted greatly from being in such close proximity to each other for the course of an entire week. “I felt like it was a good opportunity to learn not only about myself but also my classmates,” said Max Depatie.
Through dancing and rafting, swimming and leaping, the sophomores benefitted greatly from the shared experience of travelling together to Costa Rica, making the second annual trip a massive success.