At 9 pm local time, everyone had arrived safely to the San Jose airport. We had a quick snack of emapanadas, boarded our bus and arrived at our beautiful hotel Brilla del Sol. A quick walk down the road and we discovered a hamburger place for a quick dinner before bed.
Language and Cultural Lessons
Today we woke up at 6 am, ate a delicious Costa Rican breakfast as provided by the hotel, then boarded a bus to the Costa Rican Language Academy. There we were greeted by language teachers who split the group into teams of people that had spanish experience and those that did not. One hour of Spanish lessons and everyone felt a little more comfortable with each other and being in Costa Rica. We then had a one hour dance lesson in which we practiced the meringue and salsa. Bryan and Bella displayed magnificent footwork and really got the hang of it! For lunch, the cultural professors showed us how to make delicious empanadas by hand. Katie made the best empanada of the day!
The afternoon was spent in San Jose in the Artisan’s district, where we were able to shop for locally-made gifts. Everyone definitely learned a bit about bartering and smart shopping during this experience. We ended the day by playing games in the hotel courtyard, then eating a delicious pasta dinner cooked by the hotel.
Today we boarded the bus at 7 am and drove to the Diamante Caverns in Las Tumbas. Upon arrival we were greeted by our wonderful, competent guides, who led us up a steep mountainous hike. We huffed up the hill to a beautiful organic farm and ate fresh sugarcane and bananas. After our natural snack, we hiked through a waterfall to our cavernous accomodations. The guides made us a delcious burrito lunch, then we hiked to another waterfall, into which we swam and explored for a bit. James found a cool way to get behind the waterfall and led the group through. We returned to our home under the rock and played cards until dinner. After dinner we explored the area and found many glowing fireflys. Truly a magical day!
Diamante Caverns, Part 2
We woke up in our wonderland campground under the waterfall and hiked above the cave to yet another waterfall. We were able to jump in from the top (15 feet) and swim around. Devin really enjoyed jumping in! One of our guides showed us a glass frog, which was a small and amazingly transparent frog. We then made our way to the waterfall above our campsite, where we rappelled right next to the water. Jeremy rappelled very smoothly-a natural! A first for many of us!
After this wild, rainforest adventure, we hiked down the mountain to a bus awaiting us, which then transferred us to a quant campsite right outside of Uvita. Here we met our Shaman friend and caretaker, Marvin, who taught the kids about animals and nature. We were quick to bed tonight, as the next morning held great fun for us.
Surf and Turtle Conservation Day
Today we went to the nearby beach at 7 am and met our very cool surf guides, who gave us boards and a lesson on how to safely catch waves. Everyone caught a wave this morning! We rinsed off, ate lunch and went back to the beach in the afternoon for another 2 hour surf session. Emily caught a great wave!
After surfing, we had dinner and took a bus to the nearby sea turtle conservation office. Here we learned about the sea turtle project, and the importance of the patrols that we would be walking the next few nights. We then walked down the beach looking for sea turtles to lay their eggs. The rain was very heavy, and although we did not see any turtles, we had a pleasant night walk along the beach.
Surfing/Sea Turtle, Part 2
Another great surf session this morning! Robert caught a big wave and learned to turn on his board. Our shaman friend Marvin showed us his treehouse, which was the most literal treehouse any of us had seen. The tree was a “walking tree” and he manually formed the tree around the house with his hands. We had another amazing afternoon surf session, then rested for a bit. Marvin then drove us to a nearby English school for adults. Here everyone paired up with a student and practiced their English with our group. It was great to meet some natives and help them learn english. Bella and James then made some delicious chicken curry and the surf guides came by to show us pictures they took of us surfing. We then went to the sea turtle beach and did another patrol.
Surfing/Sea Turtle Final Day
This morning, many were tired from the night patrol, and everyone except Robert, Scott (one of the leaders) and James slept in. The mentioned boys went out on a very special surf lesson with the guides, in which we paddled far out past the whitewater to the initial surf break. Here we learned to paddle into 5 foot waves and surf the green face. James caught a stellar ride on a massive face! We then returned to the camp and read and relaxed in the reading room treehouse. After lunch, we went out for another surf session, in which Bryan was able to catch a big green face wave. The final sea turtle patrol was pleasant, and we returned to camp early to get some much needed rest.
Today we woke up at left our amazing camp by 8 am. After stopping to buy groceries, we arrived to Puerto Jimenez and checked into our hotel. We took warm showers, washed our clothes, and enjoyed an afternoon in a bug free, air conditioned hotel room.