Costa Rica 2015 Blog
* Costa Rica 2015 Trip info and photos are also available on the SFCSD Facebook Page.
Thursday, February 13, 2015 - Thirty four Mynderse Academy students left Seneca Falls at 6:45 am for the much awaited trip to Costa Rica. The group split for two plane trips to Newark International Airport. The entire group departed Newark at 5:59 pm for the 5 1/2 hour trip to Central America. The plane trips were smooth and all arrived in Costa Rica at 10:30 pm (11:30 pm Seneca Falls time). Students went through customs and got their luggage before meeting the tour guide (Carlos) and boarding the coach bus to El Rancho Hotel. The group arrived at El Rancho Hotel at @ 11:30 pm, got room assignments, and settled in to the rooms. All were great travelers and weary after a long day. The thirty four students and five chaperones had arrived in Costa Rica. One of the first things all learned was that "Pura Vida" is a famous saying and means "all is good" or "good life".
Friday, February 14, 2015 - Students and chaperones woke up to glorious sunshine and warm temperatures. Some students even took a swim before breakfast. All had traditional breakfast items; fresh fruit, rice, beans, eggs, and sausage at El Rancho. Following breakfast, students gathered their school supplies and departed the bus for a day of community service at a local primary school. We arrived at the school, met the principal, said hello to the kindergarten students and proceeded to learn about the community service projects. Our tour guide, Carlos, told the students about the three projects; providing a fresh, clean coat of paint in the computer room, cultivating a sustainable vegetable garden to be used for lunches, and painting a mural on a section of wall of the school. Students broke into three groups and proceeded to begin the tasks. The group charged with painting the computer room moved the chairs and tables, cleaned the walls, and began applying the fresh coat of paint. The group charged with creating a garden prepared the sight by moving rocks, created rows for planting, and developed a system of half-cut pop bottles hanging from a string system for holding rain water, and planting radish, tomato, cilantro, and cucumber seeds. The group charged with painting a mural planned the mural, made sure they had the right Spanish phrases and included alphabet letters and numbers. Amazing and impressive cooperation and collaboration saw each of these projects through by day's end. Students also had the chance to visit the kindergarten students in their classroom and interact with them. They provided the kindergarten students with crayons before they went home for the day. The other students were not in session as teachers had a staff development day. Thus, the remaining supplies were left with the principals to share with needy students when they returned to school the next day. (By the way, this was the students second week of the new school year. They attend school from February through November.) This truly was an amazing and unforgettable day for all participating Mynderse Academy students.
Saturday, February 15, 2015 - Students and chaperones woke up to another glorious day. After another El Rancho breakfast, all left for the day trip to Poas Volcano and the Coffee Plantation. The bus trip up the mountain was interesting. The winding and narrow roads are nothing like we have in Seneca Falls. We are grateful that our bus driver, Max, is an excellent driver. The countryside and views as we traveled up the mountain were breathtaking. Students also experienced various types of homes and saw first-hand how many Costa Ricans live (which makes them appreciate where they live in Seneca Falls). We finally arrived at our location, which was 2,700 meters above sea level and above some of the cloud formations. We hiked to various points at the volcano. Unfortunately, it was cloudy and it was not possible to see inside the crater opening. However, all got the sensation of hiking up the volcano and different look-out points. This is definitely something that the students may never get to experience again. It was a great opportunity and learning experience. Following lunch, the Mynderse Academy group traveled to a Coffee Plantation, where they learned how coffee, Costa Rica's second largest export, is grown, made, and processed. Interested students were able to taste-test different coffees. Some purchased Costa Rican coffee to bring home for family members. Following another day filled with great learning experiences, the group traveled to the next hotel in La Fortuna.
Sunday, February 16, 2015 - The group woke up to a rainy day. Following breakfast, the group headed to a hike in the Rain Forest. We had hopes of seeing another volcano, Arenal. However, the weather one again prevented everyone from seeing Arenal. However, the three mile hike through the rain forest and across seven hanging bridges was fascinating. Students saw various plants and vegetation. Even though there was a steady rain, all had a valuable and memorable experience. Following the hike, the group headed to Baldi Hot Springs. Following a buffet lunch, students donned their bathing suits and experienced a number of hot spring pools. The pools are heated from Arenal (volcano) and approach 110 degrees. Even though it was still a steady rain, students thoroughly enjoyed their time at Baldi Hot Springs. The group headed back to La Fortuna, walked around town, saw La Fortuna's Central Park and Church, then enjoyed dinner at a local restaurant.
Monday, February 17, 2015 - The Mynderse Academy group checked out of the hotel in La Fortuna and boarded the bus for the trip to Jaco, which is on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. We left the clouds and volcanos and headed back into the clear skies and warm sunshine. The group stopped in Tarcoles to eat lunch and experience zip-lining. All successfully completed the 11 zip lines. Even though most were quite nervous, all felt successful in completing the course. We then completed the rest of the journey to Jaco and settled in to our beachfront hotel. After checking in, students quickly changed into their bathing suits and experienced the warm waters of the Pacific Ocean and a spectacular sunset. This was another day filled with new adventures and learning experiences.