June 11: First Day in Costa Rica

From Travin ’16

June 10, the day before we left, we all arrived in Spruance-Alden Science Center eager and elated to venture out to the magnificent and exotic Costa Rica. For a few of us, this expedition would be our first time outside of the United States traveling to a foreign country. Together, along with Pacho and Sara, our trip leaders, we all packed the teaching supplies we plan to donate to five rural “escuelas” we are visiting.  Additionally, we practiced the Bruno Mars’ “Count on Me” song we plan to sing to the children during our visits.   As one could imagine, no one in the group was particularly enthusiastic about singing it acapella.

As expected, many of the students, including myself, planned to not sleep that night since we had to depart George School at 2:00 a.m. Groggily and lackadaisically, we all struggled to pack the bus in order to depart from GS. We arrived at the Newark airport and began our journey to Costa Rica. We moved through security and found our gate and then it was official, the journey was truly happening and we would be leaving in less than thirty minutes at 5:30 a.m. sharp. Our first layover was in Houston, and then after that, we would be officially departing the U.S. for Liberia, Costa Rica.  However, whenever someone said Liberia, I would confusedly look around and question why we were headed to Africa.

Six and a half hours of air travel later, as well as two time zones away, our plane touched down at noon in Liberia, the capital of the Guanacaste Province, which is adjacent to Nicaragua on the Pacific coast. The simplistic beauty of the landscape overwhelmed me and I was struck with a very distinct heat wave upon exiting the building. Afterwards, we stopped at the German Café for a quick lunch, which included “sandwiches de pollo”, “casados”, and fajitas. Our tour guide, Mario Cordoba, was kind of enough to take the group to “el supermercado” to get “helado” (ice cream) and also learn how the currency of Costa Rica works; one dollar is equivalent to five hundred thirty Colones. Finally, we traveled the hillsides of the active Rincon de la Vieja Volcano on an unpaved road toward our rustic lodge, which used to be a cattle ranch, to relax for the evening and get a good nights rest so as to prepare us for tomorrow’s explorations into this national park.

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