From Maria ’15
Today consisted of two things: relaxation and travel. This morning we all reconvened in the dining room for breakfast at 6:30 a.m. and discussed what our day was going to look like. As this was our last day at the Rincón de la vieja, we had to bring our entire luggage to breakfast with us. Our plan was to head to the beach and then to travel to our next destination: Monte Verde.
It took about an hour to drive to the beach and it was absolutely worth the wait. When we arrived at the beach, we were all blown away by the blueness and the clarity of the water. It was a protected beach, part of a huge preserve, which was perfect for our little group to invade. White-faced capuchin monkeys and tree iguanas greeted us there. After we all stripped down to our bathing suits and coated ourselves in sunscreen, we dove right into the calm waters of the Pacific Ocean. To our amazement, the water was crystal clear and had the perfect temperature—not too cold, not to warm, but just right. We proceeded to practice our strokes by swimming out into the ocean and coming right on back. On top of practicing our swimming skills, we tried to teach Mailyse how to float, played Frisbee in the water, and had splashing contests with one another. All in all, the morning at the beach was quite successful. After we all showered and dried off, we piled back onto the bus to have lunch at Liberia. We then got ready to tackle the 3 or so hour bus ride we had to embark up the mountain range to reach our next hotel, Montaña Monte Verde, which was over thirteen hundred meters in altitude, which is the equivalent to 5,000 ft.
During the bus ride, all of us alternated between sleeping, talking, absorbing the magnificent views provided by the mountains and climb in altitude, and learning interesting facts about the area. Some of the cool facts we learned were about the education system in Costa Rica. We learned that Elementary (Primary) school is public and mandatory, which is the equivalent of elementary school in the USA as it goes up until 6th grade. However, it changes when the Costa Rican kids reach secondary school as that school ranges from grades 7 through 11. By secondary school, the attendance rate drops about 70%. Like the United States, they have both private and public schools in Costa Rica. The secondary and university levels require a cost but unlike the US, are more affordable for the families with children going through the education system. Once we reached the hotel, suffice it to say we were all blown away by the difference in location and were more than happy to walk on the ground with our own two feet after fearing for our life as we not so cautiously forged our way up the mountain.
Due to the fact that we arrived earlier than expected at the hotel, we were provided with the opportunity to go learn about the ecological importance of bats and visit a bat cave. We learned that the largest bat was 1 meter in height and 2-3 meters in wingspan. We also learned that bats are better and more in control with flying than that of a feathered bird. Because of the time that we arrived at the bat cave, we were also lucky enough to watch the bats be fed with watermelon and watch them in their natural habitat. This was by far one of the coolest activities we have yet to do thus far.
All in all, day three was quite the success and it can only get better from here!