Weekend 1- Waterfall Gardens, Volcanoes, Coffee Plantations and host family

Hey all,

So the first weekend in Costa Rica was pretty busy, we got thrown right into it. We got to San Jose on Saturday around 3pm and went to the school where we are taking our classes. It is called Mesoamerica, a small Language school where they teach Spanish and English, the Elon Center here in Costa Rica. The person in charge is Linda Holland, she is sort of like a dean of the students on the trip but she is the owner of the school, which is also a private business. Anyways we got to the school around 4 and we were picked up by our host

Carlos (Papi), Nikki, Dani and I eating out one night

families. My host family is obviously the best. I am only the second person that they have hosted for a semester so they are relatively new at hosting students long term.  Anyways my family is awesome, my mom and dad are Arleyne and Carlos, and I have two siblings, a 20 year old brother Dani and a 17 year old sister Nikki. They are extremely awesome and friendly, and it has been a blast living with them up till now.

We spent our first night, Saturday night with our host families getting settled in and stuff, but then our activities started bright and early at 8 am Sunday morning.  That morning we all met up at Parque Sabanilla  (a pretty central location to everyone) to catch the bus for our Sunday adventure. Our adventure started at the Doca coffee plantation.  We arrived shortly after 9:30 and we were fed a delicious Costa Rican breakfast of gallo-pinto (rice and beans), fresh fruit, eggs and fresh coffee, straight from the plantation. It was some of the best coffee that I ever had to this point. Costa Rican coffee trumps all. After breakfast, we went on a tour of the coffee plantation and we saw how the coffee beans are picked and processed before it becomes a the coffee that we brew and drink. It was interesting, we learned how of the coffee produced only 10% of top quality coffee is kept in Costa Rica and all the rest exported to stores like Starbucks. Despite this however, the 2nd class coffee which is sold locally is often better than the top quality that is

Kyle, Caroline and I during the plantation tour

exported because those beans get mixed in with coffee from all over the world so it loses its flavor, there fore 2nd class Costa Rican coffee trumps all (or at least Starbucks).

After the plantation we went to the Poas Volcano. Costa Rica has several dormant and a few active volcanoes that have turned into nature parks for eco-tourism. There was a bit of hike associated with this stop because it is a volcano we had to hike up to the tope to take picture and see the inside of the crater of the volcano. That would have been awesome however if the weather was better. There were think clouds everywhere. Since the volcano is pretty high point we were practically standing in the clouds and it was extremely windy. We could not even see the crater because the cloud cover was thick. It was cool though because we were in the clouds. It wasn’t raining but everything got wet because we were practically walking in the clouds.

We waited at the top of the Volcano for probably around an hour hoping that the weather would change but things never got better so we left and went to La Paz Waterfall Gardens. These were awesome and extremely pretty. We had lunch provided for us at the gardens then we practically explored the gardens freely. There were lots of exotic birds like Toucans and Macaws, there was a butterfly garden, tree frog place, and a collection of dangerous snakes. They even had Jaguars, Pumas and sloths! After we looked at the animals, we

Molly and I catching butterflies at La Paz

walked along a path that went past the three waterfalls that the park were named after. These waterfalls were simply amazing and beautiful, more eco-tourism. Eco tourism is when you use the environment as a means of attracting and promoting tourism. This generates revenue from tourism and increases awareness and helps with environmental protection. After the waterfalls we went home, ate dinner with our host families and prepared for school because we are students, so we had to prepare for orientation and our first classes etc.

This first weekend was lots of fun and I bought a Costa Rican hat that I wear just about everywhere. It has become my trademark but I like it and its utility (its got a small pocket at the side). Although technically not part of the weekend later that week the Political Science class we took a field trip to the Asmblea Legislativa, which is like their version of the Parliament or Capitol Hill. It was a really cool experience because we met many Costa Rican senators and even a former first lady.

Political Science Class with former first lady at Asmblea Legislative

That’s about it for the first week and weekend. That week was mainly orientation and our first week of classes. I am taking a full 16 hours so things are difficult. Especially since the days end at around 10pm but start much earlier at around 6 am. I am taking Latin Ameircan Politics, Latin American Literature, Spanish 227 and the Upper Level GST on food and so far so good with classes. They are challenging and require a lot of time with work but it is not impossible. Anyways I now have to catch you up on three more weeks of activities.

Blending in with nature to attract butterflies at La Paz

Until next post (prolly later tonight or tomorrow)

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