The Fulton Science Academy 2016 Costa Rica class trip was made up of six students. The arrival to Costa Rica day the group had testing and orientation at the Heredia CPI campus.
The weather was overcast but it didn’t diminish the warmth with which the home stay families welcomed the students.
The first night was spent getting to know the Tico, or Costa Rican, families. Everyone got a taste of Costa Rican food and it was an early night since the following day was packed with activities.
The first full day in Costa Rica the group walked around the local town of San Joaquín which is within walking distance of CPI. It was cloudy and threatened rain. A few of the more interesting sites and important landmarks were pointed out. The soccer field, the local school, the uneven sidewalks, all were part of the getting to know the town.
Then back to CPI for dance class! This is always a most fun activity although a bit intimidating if one doesn’t know the steps. But that is OK since it was only the Fulton group who was there and it was made fun with the tropical music and cheerful spirit of the dance instructor. And that is why it's called dance class.
Next on the agenda was cooking class. This consists of making a traditional Costa Rican meal and getting to eat it too! Today the group made "picadillo de papa" which consists of finely chopped potatoes with lots of herbs and seasonings.
Tortillas were also prepared. This is always a fun and very much hands on activity. :)
Ingredients for the lunch were washed and chopped, seasonings were added to the different dishes being prepared, and finally the tables were wiped down and set for lunch. This was lunch on that first day.
In the afternoon it was time for some Spanish classes. Notebooks, pens, and pencils were at the ready for the lessons to be imparted.
Then in the evening it was back to the home stay families, a nice welcoming Costa Rican meal and time spent with family.
In the first few days in Costa Rica there were two birthdays! They were celebrated with cake and singing, of course! ¡Feliz Cumpleaños Ben and Sophia!
Then it was on to a fun public bus ride into the city of Heredia where the group ate lunch at the market. Every city has a local market which is basically how a modern mall began. This is always a worthwhile cultural experience. One can get pretty much anything at the market, be it weird fruits, odd vegetables, all kinds of food, household goods, clothing, etc. The sights and smells of the traditional market is an experience unto itself. There is a lot of hustle and bustle: the market is where the action is!
While in Heredia the group had a cultural treasure hunt and walked around the main plaza to see the sights. The Fortín was visited as well. This is a historical landmark and the people are proud to show off their guard tower that was built in 1876 to defend the city. Now it’s only a historical emblem.
In the evening it was movie going time and a visit to a modern mall. Quite the opposite visits in one day!
Wednesday of the first week the group got to go to a nearby volcano: Volcán Poás. This is a National Park and is one the best known and much visited. It´s located in the Central Valley and so it’s easy access from the CPI Heredia campus. This volcano has one of the largest craters and if one is lucky and it´s not cloudy, you can see the large lake. It rises an impressive 2,700 meters above sea level and so it´s often cloudy, wet, and rainy. This makes for lots of biodiversity, plants and animals alike.
The next day the group was scheduled to do volunteer work about a half hour away from the CPI campus. The group arrived and was given an orientation by the lady who is in charge of the program. Then it was the hands on experience of the actual volunteer. The morning went by quickly and lunch was served. Then back to CPI for the afternoon Spanish classes.
The evenings were spent with the host families and enjoying the time with them.
The week was coming to a close but another must do activity was a canopy tour zip line. The drive was around half hour (again, really close to CPI) and everyone was geared up with harnesses, gloves, and helmet. The safety talk was given and the tour began! There was a bit of a walking involved but nothing too strenuous. The zip lines were a bit scary but mostly exciting! It was an adventure Fulton Science Academy will not forget!
On the weekend the group had a trip to Arenal Volcano. This is one of the most famous volcanoes in Costa Rica. It used to be the most active, with lava flows to be seen flowing red at night and loud rumbling noises coming from its belly. Now it is dormant and only rarely does one see plumes of gas clouds coming out of it. One thing that hasn’t changed for the Arenal area is the awesome hot springs surrounding the volcano. This is a chance to experience natural hot springs due to the volcano’s proximity. The group took advantage of the first rate facilities and ate and relaxed for the evening.
The next day the group walked around the local town of La Fortuna. There is a pretty park in front of the main church and surrounding the park are all kinds of souvenir shops, restaurants, ice cream shops, supermarkets, etc. For the late morning and lunch the group visited a local typical organic farm where they got to see the various crops, animals, and ended with an authentic lunch prepared with ingredients grown on the farm.
Then it was back to the Central Valley for one more night before having to say goodbye to Costa Rica. It was an amazing experience, an opportunity and chance to expand horizons, get to know a different culture and language live with another family for a week, and over all awesome trip!
Thanks for coming Fulton Science Academy and we hope to see you again very soon!
Pura Vida! :)