From Tim ’16
This was a typical travel day, which was mostly spent on the bus. We had breakfast at 7:00 and hit the road right shortly afterwards. The bus drive was done in two stages, taking almost 5 hours. As we descended 1000 vertical meters, we went through many beautiful sites such as steep hillsides dotted with houses, plantations and wind farms. The houses on the mountain were small yet colorful, which represent people’s outlook on life: not extremely wealthy but happy.
After two hours of lots of winding turns, we stopped at a primary school to meet the kids and played with them. Some of us played jump rope and others split into two teams and played an intense game of soccer. Knowing that I am not a great soccer player, I decided to be a photographer instead. Although we had some GS varsity players going vs. middle school kids half their size, the kids’ devotion to soccer and fearless determination gave our guys a hard time. From this experience I realized how much soccer means to people in the country. After soccer, we sang Bruno Mars’s Count on Me to the kids, we preformed really well. In return, the kids danced for us. It was very cute. We delivered school supplies and gave hugs to all the kids. When we hit the road again, I kind of wanted to stay and re-live my childhood a bit. We gave another teacher a ride to her one-room “escuela.” She wanted us to stay, but we still had a long way to go to get to La Fortuna, our lunch destination.
After the sweet little stop at Tilaran, a sleepy town on the foothills of the Tilaran Mountain range, we approached for the second largest man-made lake in Central America—Lake Arenal. This lake was completed in 1979 to provide hydroelectric power. Being close to Monteverde, it captures the runoff which is brought down by its multiple rivers. Originally, the lake not only provided water and recreational sports for tourists, but also accounted for over 60% of all the electricity used in the country. Costa Rica used this project to launch its ambitious green initiative: to generate all of its electricity using renewable sources, a feat that was met for the first time in 2015. If the world would learn to harness clean energy like Costa Rica, it would help slow climate change.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t hike the volcano as planned (due to rainy weather) even though it sat right in front of us (we will actually have to go to the other side of it to see signs of lava flows). We could just see its base, the top was covered by clouds. Arenal volcano was active daily from 1968 to 2010, making it one of the most active volcanoes in the world. It has gone silent recently, but there are still signs of magma activity in the form of numerous hot springs. Our hotel has numerous pools of hot spring water each at a different temperature. We might have a chance tomorrow or the next day if the weather cooperates. The weather is unpredictable in the tropics. Instead of climbing the volcano we went to buy gifts in La Fortuna, which are expensive but elegant. Today is a relatively easy day, something unusual in this service trip.