S: Costa Rica 2011- Regents' Scholars Program
FC: Costa Rica
1: Pura Vida-Pure Life! Hello, good-bye, LIFE IS GOOD! "Pura vida" is the unofficial motto of Costa Rica and perhaps, a way of life! It expresses how Costa Ricans live, happy and proud of their country and what they have. It can express perseverance, a strong sense of community and celebrating good fortune and living life slowly.
2: Walking around down-town San Jose. Below is a piece of the Berlin Wall. Our guide said it was purchased to remind citizens to live peacefully and unified.
3: Visiting the National Theater and a large cathedral in downtown.
4: Our second night there was a cultural presentation that went over all the different dance styles of Costa Rica. We also had a delicious meal! | The best part of the dance presentation was when they came and grabbed people from the audience and made them shake it!
5: Play date at Guarderia el Manantial Children's Center. We brought children's books and t-shirts from the university as gifts to the students.
6: You can see that all the kids kept us quite busy! From the time they said go, it was non-stop playing, running, jumping and climbing. It was fun to practice a little Spanish with some very patient teachers- the kids!
7: Mi amiga Katy (Kah-Tee). From the first second she was glued to my leg, we were friends. She drug me all around that playground and OBSESSION is mild for how she felt about my camera! While she was happy to be in the pictures, she was more interested in taking them! Future photographer, maybe?
8: All the kiddos lined up and were ready to play! And then, they taught us a few fun dances!
9: More dancing! After our morning at the Children's Center, we went for lunch at a local restaurant. To keep the group entertained while waiting on the amazing lunch to arrive, the guides had planned various dancing games. I think everyone's competition gene came out!
10: Universidad de Paz | A trip up, down and around the mountains revealed this amazing place. A university dedicated completely to peace studies and founded by the UN. It's a graduate school boasting students from all over the world.
11: Trip to the Farmers Market
13: Fruit-Tasting at Irazu Volcano- After our hike around the volcano we enjoyed the native fruits found during the farmer's market scavenger hunt.
14: After our morning adventure at the local farmer's market, we journeyed into the country-side to see the Irazu Volcano. The area is a national park and people were running and hiking. It was great to be up so high to feel the clouds around you and also how cool and thin the air was.
15: Irazu Volcano
16: The Basilica de Nuestra Senora de los Angeles is in Cartago. Built in 1639, it was built after a local peasant girl discovered a small statue of the Virgin Mary carrying the infant Jesus. During construction, several earthquakes halted construction and it was finally moved to the place where the statue was found.
17: In August the Basilica becomes the end point on an extensive pilgrimage of about 2.5 million Catholics throughout Costa Rica. Many join in the 22-kilometer walk, some the entire way on their hands and knees as a display of their piety. | Cartago
18: After visiting the national cathedral we traveled through the mountains and went for a traditional lunch at La Casona del Cafetal restaurante. It was AH-MAZING! My favorite part was the fresh-brewed coffee prepared table side. You can also see below that Reba really enjoyed the coffee flan, too!
19: Ruins of the 1693 Inglesia de Nuestra Senora- Ujarras
20: Heading to San Carlos to stay at the Tiljari for the "adventure portion" of our trip! We stopped in Sarchi along the way to pick up some local, hand-made crafts. We all bought some really awesome hammocks that we regretted afterwards because we had to haul them around!
22: It's time to ZIP LINE around the Arenal Volcano. Super fun soaring in the air!
24: Waterfall at La Fortuna and the Stairs of Death- all 600 of them! | La Fortuna
26: Rafting on the Sarapique River with the Muchachas del Fuego and our amazing guide, Abel!
27: Muchachas Del Fuego
28: Oh... it's just an iguana.... Doesn't everyone say that? Like we see crickets, Costa Rica sees iguanas! You get to where it doesn't even surprise you! Except me, who was standing on a chair while these photos were being taken!
29: On the road again.... headed to Punta Leona | This is our friend, we picked he and his mom up on the way through a village. They were heading to his school. Most rural students walk or take buses to get to school.
30: Have you ever seen anything this magnificent? This was the beach attached to the hotel area at Punta Leona. It was about a mile walk from our cabins to the beach but so worth it once you got there. It was late in the day when we first arrived but still so breathtaking. Playa Blanca is on the Pacific-side of Costa Rica. Everything is gray because of the volcanic ash in the sand and rocks.
31: The beach is surrounded by very dense forests. It is one of the last remaining stretches of forest and because of this, it is considered a wildlife habitat. No foliage or shells can be removed from the beach area, which was hard because there were so many beautiful starfish and sea shells. | Punta Leona
32: Falcon International School
38: El Dia de Futbol! | Amazingly, while we were in town the Costa Rican team was playing Nicaragua! The group was able to get tickets and it did not disappoint! While security was tight, (no change in your pockets, umbrellas, etc.) the experience was AWESOME! The ticos truly support their team. | The brand-new stadium just completed in 2011.
39: Have you ever had a Costa Rican hot dog? Neither had we! It's a little different, topped with fried potatoes and ketchup. Watch-out, the potatoes can be a little hard and pop off your permanent retainer! | Said retainer.
40: It was a sad farewell to Karol and Marvin. I can honestly say that we could not have asked for better guides during our experience. It was like leaving part of our group behind. Luckily, Karol's on Facebook!
41: A quick shot of the whole group our last night i in front of the "pajaro del fuego." It was an amazing adventure that will not be soon forgotten. I was pushed in ways that I could have never imagined but grew far beyond what I knew was possible. Pura Vida!