S: Costa Rica 2011
FC: Costa Rica 2011
1: St. Mark's Trip June 3 -June 18, 2011 | Costa Rica | Led by Sr. and Sra. Pulido William Clark Sam Eichenwald Arno Goetz Zachary Houillion Tyrous Ingram Richard Jiang Phillip Kopita Brody Ladd Eric Li Jalen Lynch Philip Montgomery Ben Naftalis Matthew Placide Avery Powell Robert Qin Eugene Song Paul Voorheis Richard Wood
2: Parents, Your son is about to start an incredible journey. They will come back with incredible memories. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you finalize your packing and planning: 1. No need to pack more than 5 days worth of clothes. Their "Mama Tica" will wash daily. 2. We will have dinner on the flight. However, please make sure to pack your son a snack. We still have a two hour bus ride once we get to Costa Rica. 3. In their carry-on backpack please pack them a bathing suit and at least one change of underwear. 4. Please, no need to bring a computer. It's all about the experience and we don't need the kids in front of a computer the entire trip. My wife and I wouldn't let that happen. 5. You will receive an email from me either tonight or first thing Saturday morning letting you we arrived safely. Saturday morning we will be in Manuel Antonio National Park to wrestle the sloths, monkeys, iguanas and take advantage of the ocean. Any last minute questions don't hesitate to ask. See you at the airport at 3pm. Gracias, Martin E. Pulido Veronica G. Pulido St. Mark's School of Texas "Prefiero morir de pie que seguir viviendo de rodillas."
3: Parents, Arrived safely smiling ear to ear. Off this morning for a small hike through Manuel Antonio National Park. Hope to see a variety of animals. Will finish hike at a private lagoon where we'll spend the morning swimming. Have a great day. More details to come. Pura Vida (the local hello and goodbye)
4: Pura Vida, We hit the jackpot!! Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that we would see all that we would see today. Even better, it was all up close and personal. At one point, we had howler and white face monkeys at arms length above our heads. It was a sight! The picture of the three toed sloth attached is without any magnification. We could have easily reached out and shook hands. On our hike out of Manuel Antonio national park we encountered the famous Jesus lizard and the very rare red faced monkey that is the smallest and rarest of all of Costa Rica. I won't rub it in, but on the proceeding email I'll include a picture of the red billed toucan we saw when we arrived at the beach. Tomorrow, we are off for a little white water rafting. Oh, the life of a St. Marks student. Enjoy the pictures. More to follow. Pura Vida,
6: Today we began our day with a buffet breakfast that we needed to have energy enough for our tour of a spice farm followed by a little white water rafting. As we walked down to the river for the rafting we took an hour tour of a spice and medicine farm. The small farm specializes in spices and medicinal herbs that can be used in medicine and cooking. We tasted all the different varieties of plants and trees the farm had to offer. The kids tasted cinammon, lemon grass, spearmint, and bitter root that is used in dentistry for numbing the mouth just to name a few. From the spice farm we broke up into four boats and took a rather challenging rafting tour of the Naranjo River of Manuel Antonio. We had a few fall in the river but through teamwork we pulled everyone back in. I won't name any names of who fell in, but one of them was quoted as saying he thought there was "foul play" involved. He said, Sr. Pulido, " I was pushed out of the boat. " After a two hour rafting tour we went to lunch and headed back to Heredia to meet our host families. An hour out of Manuel Antonio we stopped at the famous Taracoles River to see the famous gigantic crocodiles of Costa Rica. We saw at least six 15 foot crocs! Thankfully we were all safe on the bridge. We finally made it to Heredia around 5pm. The kids met their host families and away they went. The host families this year are veterans of the school. They specifically requested our kids because they are so sweet. My wife and I are proud to be part of the St. Marks community. We keep receiving compliments about the boys. Today, the kids begin their Spanish classes and after school we will take a walking tour of downtown Heredia. They will have the opportunity to try some very exotic fruits. Pura Vida, Sr. Y Sra. Pulido
8: Today the kids began their Spanish classes. They are all off to a great start. The teachers are already complimenting the kids on how studious and hardworking they are. After class we went to downtown Heredia via public transportation to get a glimpse into the life of a local "Tico." When we arrived the students participated in a scavenger hunt that had them engage the market and the people in it. They tried some very exotic fruits and soon learned that some of the strangest looking fruit tended to be the most delicious. While doing the scavenger hunt the clues led them to an ice cream shop. Needless, to say the ice cream sundaes hit the spot. Tomorrow we are off to rappel off the side of a mountain adjacent to a waterfall. The pictures should be outstanding. Everyone is having a great time. All the students should be calling home on a schedule from the school. If you have any questions please feel free to email me.
10: The kids are all tucked in class and having a great time. We are off on a rappelling adventure this afternoon with some great photos to follow. Sr. Pulido
12: "Señor, I can finally put that time I've spent on playing "Call of Duty" to good use." "I feel like a Navy Seal, Señor." These were just a few things I heard from the kids yesterday. We spent the afternoon after class rappelling the "Los Chorros" waterfall. You can't really tell by the photos, but it has a 200 foot face that is broken up by two ledges on the way down. So, in reality, it is really a collection of three 60 to 70 foot drops. As you can imagine, the views were absolutely spectacular. The kids attacked the face and had an incredible time. Not one individual had so much of a scratch. Today, we're off to do our one and only volunteer project on the trip. We will be visiting an elementary school in an impoverished area to work with the kids. Everyone is having an awesome time. Gracias, Sr. Pulido
14: Yesterday our kids participated in our volunteer project. We split the group up into two groups. The first group built the bunk beds and the second group delivered and assembled them. It was a four hour project that took the kids to the town of "El Carpio." The town is an impoverished community that was originally settled by Nicaraguan immigrants that came to Costa Rica during the early 80's when Nicaragua was hit hard by their civil war and earthquake. Our kids worked hard and were acknowledged for their handwork and desire to help. The director also mentioned how impressed she was with the level of questions the students had after we were finished with the work. You would have been so proud. Today we are off to hike the famous Volcano Poas. The volcano sits at an elevation of 8200 feet. We drive very close to the top of the volcano, but hike up the last hour to reach the peak. Enjoy the pictures.
16: After class we set out for the famous "Volcan Poas." This volcano is the most visited site in all of Costa Rica. It's set in a cloud forest at approximately 8000 plus feet above sea level. It was good for the kids to see the difference between a rain forest and a cloud forest. The entire time up the mountain you spend it in the clouds. In some of the pictures you can make out the haze which is actually the clouds. On this hike you can not only see "Volcan Poas" but also the "Botos" lake that is set in a dead volcano. The kids really felt the altitude and thinness of the air. The kids loved it. From the volcano we set out for a surprise trip to the "Sr. and Sra. Eses" wood factory tour. This factory works with all the exotic woods of Latin America. The kids were able to see how all the different jewelry and wood products were made from start to finish. Today we are off to the Cafe Britt Plantation tour. It is one of my favorites. The kids will see the process of how our beloved beverage makes it to our table from start to finish. I've asked all the kids to call home today because tomorrow we are off to Jaco for a little beach time. The kids will be on . their call schedule starting on Monday. Gracias
18: On Friday we set out on one of my favorite tours. Ben Naftalis who has come with me to Costa Rica for 3 years in a row says it's one of his favorites as well. This tour is from the world famous Cafe Britt plantation that exports its first class coffee all over the world. It's not consumed by most "Ticos" in Costa Rica because of the cost. The tour is set as a comedy that goes into great detail about the history of coffee as well as how it is harvested, processed, and packaged. At every point where volunteers were needed someone from our group was picked. Our beloved Brody Ladd was asked to pick some beans, and my wife and Ben Naftalis were picked during the portion of the tour where they learned how to taste coffee.
19: After our tour we ate lunch at the Cafe Britt and we had a surprise birthday party for my wife and Eric Li who will be celebrating their birthday's on this trip. ¡Feliz Cumpleaños! Finally, we finished the day with a walking tour of our neighboring city Alajuela. Enjoy
20: On Saturday we set out for a boat tour of the crocodile infested Taracoles river. Never in a million years did I ever expect to see what happened next. We started out on the river and immediately saw a whole host of wildlife. We even had the opportunity to see the famous Jesus lizard in action. If you were not aware this lizard is able to run on water. It was quite a site. Halfway into the tour our guide pointed out Osama, the largest crocodile on that stretch of the river. Crocodiles are very territorial, so that's the portion that this crocodile has sectioned off. What happened next I didn't believe would have happened. Our captain parked the boat and proceeded to lure the 18 foot crocodile directly adjacent to the boat. ¡Increíble! One of the kids on the tour said, "Señor, you can't see this in Dallas."
22: Next, as we were driving through town and our driver saw the famous Scarlett macaws in a tree. Bird watchers from all over the world come to this section of Costa Rica to see these birds. These birds are on the verge of extinction due to their trade. By most estimates, there are only 500 in the wild. We were very fortunate to see these birds. Finally, we arrived at the beach and gave the kids some free time. Today, on Sunday, we are off to Monteverde. Next week we hit the zip lining and hike through the cloud forest.
24: Today on our first day in Monteverde we set out on our first of two zip lining canopy tours. The first one on the list is Monteverde Sky Trek. It's a ten cable tour that begins with a 15 minute sky tram tour to the top of the mountain through the clouds. On this tour you fly through the clouds. This is going to be a true cloud forest experience. A few of the kids confessed after the tour that they were a little scared. However, the experience blew them away and was better than they ever imagined. This evening, I'm adding on my two surprise excursions. We are visiting a frog and a snake farm. The life of a St. Mark's middle schooler. Enjoy, Sr. Pulido
26: After last night's tour my wife and I took the kids on our surprise tour of a Herpetarium. The kids really enjoyed the experience. Our tour guide spent over 1/2 an hour explaining all the different types of snakes in Costa Rica. In addition, he went into great detail on how to spot venomous snakes. However, the kids really enjoyed it when our tour guide decided to feed some carnivorous frogs, lizards and a boa constrictor. The kids ran over to the tour guide as if he was handing out $100 bills. My wife and I decided to skip the show. It was a little too much for me. The boys loved it. This morning, we set out on our horseback riding tour through the picturesque town of Monteverde. The pictures do not do the tour justice. We travelled over mountains and through the dense cloud forest. The cloud forest was so dense with vegetation you couldn't see the sky. The horses were used to following each other and it was a great experience for everyone. Next, after our tour on horseback we decided to surprise the kids by taking them to an ice cream factory and buying the kids ice cream. My wife and I were instant heroes. The kids are now in cooking class and will eat what they make. They are currently trying to prepare a few traditional recipes from Costa Rica. The boys are decked out in hair nets and all. Tomorrow we are will do the famous "Trapiche" tour in Monteverde. It's a farm that grows sugar cane, fish, bananas, and coffee. At the end of the tour the kids will make candy. Good times,
28: Yesterday your sons prepared a wonderful lunch. We have some chefs in the making. It was delicious and enjoyed by all. This morning we set out for our "Trapiche" tour. A "Trapiche" is a type of grinder that is powered by oxen to crush sugar cane to extract the sugar. On this farm your sons learned about fish farming and growing bananas, coffee, and sugar cane. Every step involved in harvesting all these food products were taught in a very hands-on fashion. Your sons even made their own candy using the sugar they extracted from the Trapiche. Tomorrow morning we are off on our hike through the jungle that ends at a beautiful waterfall. The wildlife we will encounter as well as the views will be phenomenal. Enjoy, Sr. Pulido
30: After an hour hike, we spent a little time swimming at this beautiful waterfall. Tomorrow, we end our two week adventure with famous Extremo zip line tour of Monteverde. Enjoy,
32: Sr. y Sra. Pulido, Here we are at Extremo zip line. Es muy alto, muy largo y fabuloso. -Brody Ladd
33: Dear Brody, So glad you had a good time. Just wish we could've gone too! Love, Mom and Dad | Brody Ladd St. Mark's Group Costa Rica